TD Garden, Fenway Park, Hospitality Pros Share Expertise at Annual JWU Conference

August 2023 Update: Johnson & Wales University enjoyed an incredibly fruitful 5-year partnership as the Official Education Partner of TD Garden and the Boston Bruins. This partnership officially ended in June 2023.

This year’s Sports, Entertainment, Event — Management (SEEM) Leadership Conference may have been held virtually, but the College of Hospitality Management still managed to make it a huge success. Amy Latimer, the president of TD Garden, served as the keynote speaker; Latimer and speakers from Fenway Park Events and other prominent organizations gave students insight, advice and hope for the future.

Associate Professor Lee Esckilsen and Amy Latimer, president, TD Garden

Associate Professor Lee Esckilsen and Amy Latimer, president, TD Garden

The student-run event was developed under the guidance of Associate Professor Elizabeth Panciera ’09, ’11 MBA. Students worked on the conference through Directed Experiential Education (DEE) courses that provide real-world experience that often results from collaborative projects with industry partners such as TD Garden. JWU also works with TD Garden and the Boston Bruins as their official education partner.

Latimer began the day with words of encouragement: “You guys are already well ahead of me because I had no idea that I wanted to work in this industry. The fact that you are already thinking about sports, entertainment and events [careers] puts you well ahead of where I was.” She continued the conversation by answering questions from Associate Professor Lee Esckilsen and students about a range of career and industry related-topics.

Q. What do you look for when hiring?
Latimer: I look much less for the “perfect candidate” than at their work ethic, their commitment. I want somebody that’s smart, but I also want somebody that’s a cultural fit … how will they work within our team? That means a lot to me ...I tell people, “if you have 75% of what you think the job requires and you think you’re qualified, raise your hand, stretch a little bit, make a case for why you’re right for the job, and you’ll learn the rest.

Q. Many entry-level jobs in marketing seek three years of experience. What can I do to get that first job?
Latimer: There are positions [at TD Garden] such as game night ambassadors and [positions] in our service department for which you can come in and gain more experience. Also, working in minor league sports helps — you can get so much experience, you wear so many hats. That’s a really good proving ground as well.

Q. How do you maintain your integrity and stay true to your values working in a fast-paced, male-dominated industry?
Latimer: I remember going to my first NHL meeting for sales, marketing and community relations … When I walked into the ticket sales room, and I was the first woman and only woman in the room, I had to make a quick decision about how I was going to act and how I wanted to deal with that. I thought to myself, I am in here representing the Boston Bruins, an “Original Six” team. They have me here for a reason. I need to use my voice, I need to represent our brand, and it doesn’t matter, male or female … that was a bit of a turning point for me.

Q. Is TD Garden planning to continue its internship program?
Latimer: We will resume our internship program probably in the fall, with our season reopening.

Photos of Donna Jarvis Miller, Taylor Grinnell,  Cara Pratt, and Christopher Hubbard.Professional Panel: Starting Out and Forging Ahead
Next up was a panel of professionals from different areas of sports, entertainment and events who gave a glimpse into their careers while fielding questions from students and their host, Associate Professor Louis Pullano. Included in the panel were:

  • Taylor Grinnell, senior sales manager, Fenway Park Events at Boston Red Sox
  • Christopher Hubbard, owner, Emergency Production
  • Donna Jarvis Miller, director of membership operations & events, American Public Human Services Association
  • Cara Pratt, vice president of business development/partner, Boston at CSI DMC

Q. What is a typical day like for you?
There is no such thing as a typical day in events … everything is different, every client and every venue. The best advice I have is to learn everything because you never know what’s coming at you.

Q. What real-world skills are important for your role?
Being a team player, networking and jumping right into anything. At Fenway Park, there’s a lot of different departments that help us out; I’m working with facilities, food and beverage … there’s a lot that goes into it. So, juggling all that and having a sense of urgency.

Q. What challenges do you face in the industry right now?
We are “people-people,” and it’s hard doing that on a screen. It’s been about adapting. There’s been a lot of people out of work in the events field … but I believe we’ll come out stronger and wiser. We’re learning a lot, and hybrid is here to stay.

Q. What practical advice would you give someone who wants to start in the events business?
We’ve got openings for interns this summer and fall. An internship, especially in today’s marketplace, is what you need to be ahead of the rest. Interning this summer, working on virtual events and starting on some live events will give you an advantage over someone who has only done live events.

Photos of: Tim Anziano, Chelsea Holmes, Gregory RomeynAlumni Panel: Surviving and Thriving During a Pandemic

Led by Associate Professor Andrew Fraser, our alumni panel included:

  • Tim Anziano ’07, licensing manager, Major League Baseball Players Association
  • Chelsea Holmes ’11, CMP, meeting & event planner, John Hancock
  • Gregory Romeyn ’06; director of sports & entertainment, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment

All three alums touched on the big topic of the day, COVID-19, and described what it was like to be in their shoes when the pandemic hit.

As JWU students often hear, networking and building relationships are key. For Gregory Romeyn, that couldn’t be more accurate: “We relied on our relationships with certain companies, specifically Viacom, which we've done a number of events with in the past.” Viacom and Mohegan worked together to get business back on track. “We actually created a bubble in our arena ... then a number of others were developed based on what we did,” said Romeyn.” They used that bubble to put on and broadcast boxing events — some were broadcast internationally. “It was huge in terms of getting our name out there across the globe.” Besides renting out event space for the matches, Mohegan brought in money on rooms and meals for the contestants. “We got people back to work, and this was all based on relationships we have."

Tim Anziano’s world spun like a fastball when the MLB responded to the virus: “I was on my annual spring training trip in February 2020 when they started pulling players off the field because of this ominous virus that no one knew anything about yet.” Anziano said that not being able to sell merchandise at in-person games destroyed a lot of business, but they “weathered the storm” thanks to an old standby. “What really kept us going was the trading cards …. they are probably the hottest thing in the sports world now.” Coincidentally, “MLB The Show” [2020], had just launched when the pandemic struck, also helping business since so many people were stuck home and watching TV.

Chelsea Holmes had to transition from live to virtual meetings at warp speed. She and her team had used Zoom and Webex somewhat, but now they had to learn the ins and outs of those and similar programs straightaway. Holmes didn’t want to just hold virtual meetings, she wanted to create experiences. “How do we keep internal and external attendees engaged and make it fun, because Zoom fatigue happened early on.” They got creative. For a staff meeting that included employees’ families, they managed to have some Disney characters hold a drawing class and breakfast Zoom for them. “It was challenging to create those experiences,” said Holmes. She is also looking to the future. “I think we're ready for this to end, but we're also ready to adapt to what is going to be hybrid, and that will be the new normal for us.”

Young Professionals Panels Share Experiences
Nine young professionals — all JWU alums — joined students for Breakout Lunch Sessions to discuss their careers, breaking into different fields, and giving advice gained from their own recent experiences. They included:

Photos of: Galina Gruder, Christopher Licata, John MichosSports

  • Galina Gruder ’18, client services assistant, Boston Red Sox
  • Christopher Licata ’16, NFL editor,
  • John Michos ’18, account executive, Miami Dolphins

Photos of: Sheila DeMoura, Andrea Gianatiempo, Melissa Martino


  • Sheila DeMoura ’16, head of marketing & sales + artist manager, Heroic Music Group
  • Andrea Gianatiempo ’18, Conference Production Director, Fierce Life Sciences
  • Melissa Martino ’17, Digital Managing Editor, Townsquare Media

Photos of: Kristin D'Angelo, Kristiana Ignatjeva, Jordan LaceyEvents

  • Kristin D'Angelo ’17, MBA ’18, event producer, Twenty Three Layers Event Design & Production
  • Kristiana Ignatjeva ’18, events manager, Legends Hospitality
  • Jordan Lacey ’16, event marketing associate, J.P. Morgan; CMP-CEO-Founder, Light the Candle

When asked about the highlight of their careers so far, Christopher Licata’s answer likely made any sports fans listening green with envy: “I got to go to three consecutive Super Bowls, something a lot of people cannot say … Until this day I don’t know how it happened … Just having that exposure and being around the Kraft family and the Kroeke family, and going places you never thought this journey could take you … it started with ‘I'm just going to start my degree at Johnson & Wales and see where we go because I love sports,’ and then a few years later, here we are. You just never know.’”