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June 27, 2014

June 27, 2013 

For additional information,
Contact: Amanda Shell Jennings
Moxley Carmichael
(865) 255-0661

Knoxville Convention Center Sales Manager Kristi Sowards (right) accepts the President's Award from Meeting Professionals International's Tennessee Chapter President Melanie Clifford.

Knoxville Convention Center Sales Manager Kristi Sowards (right) accepts the President’s Award from Meeting Professionals International’s Tennessee Chapter President Melanie Clifford.

Kristi Sowards, sales manager at the Knoxville Convention Center, has received a prestigious industry award from the Tennessee Chapter of Meeting Professionals International (MPI).

Sowards earned the East Region President’s Award at the Circle of Excellence Awards gala at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. The Circle of Excellence awards are bestowed annually to MPI members who demonstrate outstanding industry contributions, leadership and professionalism.

“We are very proud of Kristi and pleased that her hard work was acknowledged by her peers in the profession,” Knoxville Convention Center General Manager Mary Bogert said. “MPI is the world’s largest professional organization for the industry and to be recognized by the Tennessee chapter of this prestigious association is a great honor.”

MPI’s Tennessee Chapter has more than 300 active members across the state. The chapter was established in 1979 to provide continuing education, professional development and business growth opportunities to its members. The international organization has more than 20,000 members in 70 chapters and clubs and is the global authority and resource for the $102.3 billion meetings and events industry.

Sowards, a 20-plus-year hospitality veteran, joined the Knoxville Convention Center team in 2011. She was voted the 2012 Knoxville Convention Center Leader of the Year by her coworkers and received the 2013 Pauly Award for Service/Supplier Employee of the Year from the Greater Knoxville Hospitality Association.

An active volunteer in the community, Sowards donates her time to nonprofits such as the Community Action Committee’s Mobile Meals, Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee, Girls Scout of the Southern Appalachians, Honor Air and United Way.

Originally from Maryville, Tenn., Sowards attended the University of Tennessee. She currently lives in West Knoxville with her husband, Scott, and three children.

About the Knoxville Convention Center

The Knoxville Convention Center, managed by SMG, is located in downtown Knoxville adjacent to the Sunsphere. It boasts a 120,000 square-foot exhibit hall, a 27,000 square-foot divisible ballroom and multiple versatile meeting rooms. For more information, visit

About SMG

Founded in 1977, SMG provides management services to more than 230 public assembly facilities including convention and exhibition centers, arenas, stadiums, theatres, performing arts centers, equestrian facilities, science centers, and a variety of other venues. With facilities across the globe, SMG manages more than 15 million square feet of exhibition space and more than 1.5 million sports and entertainment seats. As the recognized global industry leader, SMG provides venue management, sales, marketing, event booking and programming, construction and design consulting, and pre-opening services for such landmark facilities as McCormick Place & Soldier Field in Chicago, Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, Houston’s Reliant Park and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. SMG also offers food and beverage operations through its concessions, catering and special events division, SAVOR, currently servicing 130 accounts worldwide. For more information visit