The Room Block
The Room Block
Evolving Events & Enacting Change, with Carrie Abernathy and Derrick Johnson

We’ve had so many conversations about the opportunities for diversity, equality and inclusion that exist within our industry but how many of those have resulted in actionable takeaways? Carrie Abernathy and Derrick Johnson, events industry leaders and co-hosts of the virtual talk show, Events: From Black to White, are ready to enact change. They join me in The Room Block to discuss the required evolution of the events industry, specific ideas to get us there, and why now is the time. Are you ready to change the world? Whatever your position in this industry may be, every one of has a chance to move the needle and our collective actions will make a difference.

Carrie Abernathy, CMP, CEM, CSEP, is co-Founder of the Association for Women in Events. She is currently the Lead Meeting Planner for the Industry Engagement team at Altria Group Distribution Company. Additionally, Carries runs the blog “A Woman with Drive” that ties in her love of all things golf and leadership together. For 15 years, Carrie has enjoyed working in the meetings/ events world and connecting with others.

Carrie has also served on several advisory councils and committees that include: PCMA’s Emerging Leaders Committee, Cleveland CVB Advisory Board, Team San Jose Advisory Council, Reno-Tahoe Advisory Board, Salt Lake City Advisory Council, Monterey Advisory Board, Destination Hotels Advisory Council, Green Meetings Industry Council Foundation (Chair- 2014/2015).  She has received several industry accolades and was named Collaborate Magazine’s “40 under 40” industry planners to watch. She was also named Smart Meetings Magazine’s Top 50 Smart Women of 2017 and inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2019.  That year, she was named Successful Meetings Magazine’s “Top 25 Most Influential” in the meetings industry as well.  Carrie has been a finalist for the prestigious “Meeting Planner of the Year” honor for PCMA.

Carrie currently lives in Virginia with her min pin Ginger and you’ll often find her golfing or playing tennis in the summer with her nephews, and skiing in the winter.

Learn more about Carrie at

Derrick Johnson, DES, CMP is a skilled association executive with over 15 years of driving global business development and creative strategy. As a transformational leader, he has coached and optimized the contributions of over 30 cross-functional teams and hundreds of people, developing sustainable roadmaps for organizational growth. As a millennial with a passion for leveraging technology to navigate disruption, Derrick provides a solid, yet unique, perspective into the domain of change management and the future of associations.

Derrick serves as Director of Event Strategy and Development and Chief Diversity Officer for Talley Management Group, as an independent consultant, sits on three global association boards of directors (PCMA, LGBT MPA, and LGBA) and contributes thought leadership as a public speaker on the future of associations and businesses, continuous professional development, and the evolution of technology. In Derrick’s free time, he captains a flag football team part of the DC Gay Flag Football League.

Watch past and upcoming episodes of Events: From Black to White at