Our leadership team of seasoned, hospitality focused experts define industry standards around the world.
SVP, Commercial, Encore
Tara Higgins is a global business leader and 25-year event industry veteran. Having started her career on the corporate side at DaimlerChrysler, after four years she moved to the agency side, then onto business consulting and a co-founder of a start-up. Tara joined Encore in October 2019 as President of Hargrove, and SVP Commercial.
As SVP Commercial, she is leading the strategy and commercial vision as we continue to evolve into the most engaged, and effective event company for our customers across all event types.
Tara has managed and led multiple successful event businesses that offered results-driven events, experiences and campaigns across all event mediums; in person, virtual and hybrid experiences, for many of the world’s most recognizable brands from tech start-ups and others in hypergrowth state such as Alibaba, Salesforce, Rodan+Fields and Tesla to long standing Fortune 500 global organizations such as Cisco, Oracle, Nissan, Chrysler, Gartner to name just a few.
With much time spent within corporate organizations covering portfolio planning, contract negotiations, value-based selling, event pricing strategies and ROI modeling, the understanding of how direct customers look at overall event budgets in all categories has allowed for innovation with regards to go beyond individual projects and offer larger returns across complete event portfolios.
Before joining Encore, Tara co-founded Rival Nation, a first in mass-market sports fan platform start-ups. Prior to that, she spent 18 years in international general management and leadership at George P. Johnson, with her last four as Executive Vice President, Global Operations.
Tara also has her Global Executive MBA from Georgetown in International Business.
Scott Finlayson is a senior executive providing strategic and operating leadership across all aspects of the events and production processes. He excels at project management and is an accomplished general manager/producer. Scott’s innate knowledge of the strategic oversight and inner workings of events, theatrical production, theme park operations, and entertainment are unparalleled. He eloquently manages the most diverse and complex programming and thrives for such challenges and opportunities.
Finlayson started his career at the Disneyland Resort in California where he managed operations, stage shows, parades and fireworks, along with stage management and talent operations. Prior, he served as the Director of Entertainment Operations for Universal Studios Hollywood, where he was responsible for the delivery of all shows in the park, cartoon character and atmosphere entertainment. Most recently, Scott was the Chief Operating Officer for Blue Man Group, having served as Senior Vice President, Theatrical Productions and Senior General Manager, Live Productions for the company.
Scott is an inspiring leader who has built and nurtured excellent working relationships with partners, customers, executives, management teams, performers, technical crew, and staff. His superior management style and solid problem-solving skills have ensured that he always delivers results, on time and on budget, while maintaining creative excellence and safety standards.
Christine Kiesling has built an industry reputation as a strategic experiential marketing and client services executive. Throughout her career, she has led some of the most critical, strategic experiential marketing projects for multibillion-dollar global clients. As a brand champion, Christine develops a deep understanding of a client’s business objectives and leverages that knowledge to create sound strategic plans to meet the client’s goals.
With a strong tactical planning and execution acumen, Christine has led teams to accomplish dramatic gains in revenue and event attendance for her clients. She works directly with Hargrove’s sales executives to develop strategies that ensure clients’ needs and corporate objectives align. Before joining Hargrove, Christine held the position of General Manager for Nteractive Consulting, a global boutique agency. Prior to that, Christine spent the majority of her career at George P. Johnson and Jack Morton Worldwide. She has managed event work for IBM, Gartner, HCA, CA, Pitney Bowes, Sony Pictures, Workday, and Research in Motion, to name a few.
Will Alvey is one of Hargrove’s most accomplished sales executives with an extensive portfolio of long-term, high-profile client shows, including the American Society of Association Executives’ (ASAE) Annual Meeting & Expo and The Optical Society’s annual Optical Networking and Communication Conference & Exhibition (OFC). He joined Hargrove in 1996 with trade show experience he gained with another general service contractor. His focus on relationship building has bonded many clients with Hargrove in true partnerships.
When an event is more than an exposition, Will excels, with results always exceeding the client’s expectations. His portfolio is as broad as it is deep and is highlighted by a wide-ranging list of shows focused on the diversity marketplace. He directed Hargrove’s successful production of both the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, highlighted by Pope Francis’ historic visit, and the XIX International AIDS Conference. Will’s career, which spans more than two decades, is marked by a renowned commitment to service and expert understanding of convention center facilities across the country.
Ron Bracco is an industry visionary creating fully immersive event experiences for Hargrove’s clients. His unique, objective-driven approach enables him to help clients define their message and bring their vision to life, and his theatre background allows him to crack the code of monotony when designing large-scale events. Bracco has distinguished himself in the events industry for successfully identifying opportunities to expand Hargrove’s market and service reach as both a trend-spotter and thought leader.
Bracco joined Hargrove in 1998 and in just two years became a senior sales executive. In that role, he managed negotiations for many major, high-profile events in Washington, DC and throughout the country. Bracco leads new business acquisitions for the company’s largest accounts. As vice president and one of the industry’s most in-demand events consultants, Bracco has led the sales and strategy efforts for global summits and the country’s most prominent political events. He was instrumental in leading Hargrove’s sales, management, and design of the last five presidential inaugurations.
Ron Nicynski drives Hargrove’s experiential marketing production. His ability to conceptualize on a grand scale allows him to direct the company’s successful brand-promoting, award-winning campaigns, such as Bud Light’s #UpforWhatever multi-platform activations, along with the two Whatever USA and House of Whatever’s Super Bowl takeovers.
His Broadway experience as a producer, coupled with his eye for detail and insights into audience engagement, has elevated Hargrove’s experiential projects for numerous corporate clients, including nearly a quarter of the world’s top 100 brands. Ron immerses himself in a client’s vision and has the creativity and production expertise to bring the vision to reality. His work serves to attract the attention and achieve the results his clients come to expect of Hargrove. In addition to his experiential work, Ron serves Hargrove’s government and political clients as a specialist in media relations. His acute understanding of the workings of media organizations developed into his becoming an expert in media services for national and international conferences, conventions and summits.
John Aulbach began his career at Hargrove in 1998, becoming Director of Production Management in 2008. In 2016 he was promoted to vice president and joined the company’s strategic leadership team, helping develop production and operational planning to support the company’s continued expansion and growth. As VP, he leads Hargrove’s team of project estimators and production management professionals and oversees the work of the company’s extensive in-house fabrication craftsmen and graphics production specialists.
During his tenure, Aulbach has mastered the technical details of complex, prominent projects, including the dedication of the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven Udvar-Hazy Center, the 50th anniversary NATO Summit, and the annual AIPAC Policy Conference. John was the lead Production Manager for the dedications for the WWII Memorial on the National Mall and the US Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, VA. He was also instrumental in the building and logistical coordination of the official and ancillary events surrounding the last five Presidential Inaugurals.
Lisa Miller manages Hargrove’s event production department, leading the team responsible for the production and execution of all events, in-person, hybrid and virtual. Her team of event producers works closely with Hargrove’s operations and production management departments to bring clients’ visions to fruition. She works directly with clients to ensure that their goals are met in real time, and that messaging is as clear and effective as possible. Her extensive background supervising the execution of complex events along with her management and budget oversight skills are essential client resources. She is quick to thoroughly analyze challenges, and creative and relentless in pursuit of solutions that lead to best practices.
Prior to joining the Hargrove team, Lisa was vice president of Susan Davis International (SDI) and partnered with Hargrove on many high-profile events. At SDI, she was responsible for the management of the SDI Special Events Division. In this role, Miller supported the logistical planning and execution of the Dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, attended by over 100,000 people.
Jeff Iannarino is a logistical professional with over 15 years of operational experience. He is a graduate of Drexel University with a degree in civil engineering and expertise in warehouse operations. Jeff came to Hargrove directly from Framebridge, Inc. where he last served as the Director of Operations. He was instrumental in successfully developing leadership and frontline teams in a manufacturing environment while overseeing the operations.
Iannarino brought to Hargrove extensive experience in developing processes and procedures, analytics to increase productivity, hiring, training and managing a seasonal workforce – all key to handling various peaks in production throughout the year. Prior to Framebridge, Jeff was the Director of Plant Operations for Pepsi Beverage Company where he served for 13 years and was extensively involved in the plant safety program. He was instrumental in identifying and resolving issues of loss and breakage throughout manufacturing to customer delivery, directly impacting the bottom line. Jeff’s broad experience and expertise is a tremendous asset to the Hargrove warehouse, show site operations, and the company overall.