Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

Deborah Sexton
President and CEO






Deborah Sexton joined the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) in March, 2005 as President and CEO. In conjunction with this role, she also serves as President of the PCMA Education Foundation.

A 30-year veteran of the meetings and convention industry, Sexton previously served as President of the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau (CCTB). She joined the CCTB in 1994 as Vice President of Sales and Services, and under her leadership, the Bureau's sales team broke all former sales production figures and the services department successfully expanded the benefits available to customers. In February of 2000, she was promoted to Executive Vice President, where she oversaw the Bureau's membership, sales, and services departments, and then became president in February 2002.

Prior to joining the CCTB, Sexton was principal for Sexton Hospitality Services, a sales and marketing consulting firm for hotel management companies. From 1987-1989, she was Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Coastal Hotel Group. Throughout her career, she also has held sales and marketing positions with Sonesta International Hotels Corporation, the Hyatt Regency Chicago and the Midland Hotel Chicago.

deborah sexton and her dog millieSexton serves the Convention Industry Council (CIC) as Immediate-Past Chair of the Board. She also is an active member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), the International Association for Expositions and Events, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI). She formerly served on the Foundation Board of Trustees of PCMA, ASAE and DMAI, and was an officer of the Board of Directors of MPI. In addition to the MPI Board term, Sexton served a second term on the MPI Board Executive Committee. Sexton is an ASAE Fellow.

Sexton advanced her commitment to industry education by serving on the Advisory Boards of both the University of Central Florida, Rosen College of Hospitality and the Kendall College, a Chicago institution dedicated to hospitality and the culinary arts.

She has received much industry recognition, including being named in both 2013 and 2012 by Successful Meetings as one of the 25 most influential people in the meetings industry. In 2013 she received the Samuel B. Shapiro Award for Chief Staff Executive Achievement - The highest honor the Association Forum bestows on an association professional. In 2010 she received the highly coveted Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo (AIME) Outstanding Contribution International Award for best practice and overall commitment to the industry. She was also named by Meeting News' one of the 25 most powerful people in the meetings industry in 2008, 2007, 2005 and 2004. Also in 2008 she was named one of Tradeshow Week's 100 most influential people in the exhibition industry and she was inducted into the BizBash Chicago Hall of Fame.

In 2007, Sexton received the MPI Chicago Area Chapter's (MPI-CAC) highest honor, the Kathy Osterman Award, she was one of the 2006 New York Society of Association Executives Woman Meeting Industry Stars, and earned the MPI-CAC Presidents Award in 1990. Sexton was also recognized by the Chicago Hospitality Community Hotel Woman of the Year Award in 1988 and the Chicago Society of Association Executives (now Association Forum of Chicagoland) Distinguished Service Award in 1986.