Industry Icon Award


Industry Icon Award

 Mary Pat Heftman Named 2019 Industry Icon Honoree

Mary Pat Heftman, who has overseen the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show for two decades, will be honored as the 2019 TSNN Awards Industry Icon honoree, on tap Nov. 15-17 in Dallas.

“I am honored to be receiving the TSNN Industry Icon Award, and I am grateful for the support, mentoring and inspiration of my family and so many leaders and colleagues throughout my career,” Heftman said.

She added, “I continue to be motivated by the power of tradeshows and the economic and social impact they have on our communities and all industries. Looking forward, I remain focused on innovating our customers experience on and off the show floor.”

Heftman will be honored during a gala weekend that includes an opening night reception filled with artists and music in Dallas’ Deep Ellum neighborhood, an education conference focused on the ‘neuroscience of events’ with The Brain Performance Institute, the TSNN Awards gala celebration and capped off with a brunch at the Dallas Mavericks E-gaming Facility.

“Mary Pat Heftman personifies success in the trade show industry, not only in consistently growing and innovating the National Restaurant Association Show and related events over the years, but also in tirelessly giving back to the industry,” said Rachel Wimberly, Tarsus EVP of business development. “We are thrilled to honor her at the 2019 TSNN Awards in Dallas.”

Heftman has had a long career leading the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, previously owned by the National Restaurant Association and now under the operational ownership of Winsight LLC. 

During the last two decades under her leadership, the Restaurant Association Show has grown exponentially and currently is the largest annual gathering of foodservice professionals in the Western Hemisphere.

During her tenure, she also has led the BAR Show, New England Food Show, Illinois Restaurant Association Show, numerous association and industry meetings, and has been a key player in enterprise-wide strategic development for both the National Restaurant Association and Winsight LLC. 

In her current role as Vice Chair of Winsight Exhibitions at Winsight LLC, Heftman continues to lead the strategic development and long-term growth of the Restaurant Show and Winsight entities.

Heftman is passionate about giving back to the industry through volunteerism with a focus on advancing government awareness of the convention industry’s impact on the social and economic growth of communities. 

She has served as Chair of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), PCMA Education Foundation Trustee, and Chairperson of the Major American Trade Show Organizers (MATSO).

She also has served in advisory positions for a number of tradeshow and business events organizations: The International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) Strategic Public Relations Task Force; the Board of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR); the Choose Chicago Board of Directors and Advisory Board; various committees of the Midwest Chapter of IAEE; Co-Chair of the PCMA Exhibits and Trade Show Task Force; and as a member of the Council of Hotel & Restaurant Trainers (CHART) Advisory Council. 

She also is a nationally recognized leader and speaker in the convention industry.

In addition to serving as a leader in the national business events industry, Heftman has been a key influence in Chicago.

Her voice has been instrumental in working toward increased exhibitor rights and McCormick Place operational reform resulting in job creation and economic growth throughout the city.

Heftman resides in Glenview, Ill. with her husband, and has one son, Michael.  She holds a BBA degree in marketing and management from St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, Ind., and is a graduate of Cardinal Newman High School, WPB, Fla.


Rachel and Britton

Past Honorees have included:




  • 2018 TSNN Awards -  Megan Tanel, AEM
  • 2017 TSNN Awards -  Sandy Voss, vice president of Informa Exhibitions
  • 2016 TSNN Awards - David Loechner, president and CEO of Emerald Expositions  
  • 2015 TSNN Awards – Britton Jones, president and CEO, Business Journals, Inc.
  • 2014 TSNN Awards – Karen Malone, vice president of Meeting Services for HIMSS
  • 2013 TSNN Awards – Henry Givray, president and CEO, SmithBucklin
  • 2012 TSNN Awards – Donald Pazour, president and CEO, Access Intelligence


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Rachel Wimberly