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MeetPITTSBURGH Team
Andrew Ortale

Andrew Ortale

Chief Sales Officer
andrew.ortale@visitpittsburgh.com

Jennifer M. Vacek

Jennifer M. Vacek

Director, Convention Sales
jennifer.vacek@visitpittsburgh.com
412-325-0278

Kristen Turner

Kristen Turner

Director, Convention Services
kristen.turner@visitpittsburgh.com
412-325-0310

Sara Holzer

Sara Holzer

National Sales Director
sara.holzer@visitpittsburgh.com
412-325-0273

Razak Kadiri

Razak Kadiri

National Sales Manager
razak.kadiri@visitpittsburgh.com
412-325-0280

Robert Leff

Robert Leff

Senior National Sales Director
robert.leff@visitpittsburgh.com
412-627-4727

Molly Evans

Molly Evans

Business Events Manager
molly.evans@visitpittsburgh.com
412-325-0320

  • Meet Jennifer Vacek

    Q. What motivated you to get involved with the meeting industry?
    A. I’ve always been passionate about Pittsburgh, and I enjoy being a part of an event experience people will remember. Events give us the opportunity to take someone on an emotional journey!

    Q. What is your favorite part of a meeting/convention?
    A. Other than a signed contract? I love listening to the attendees’ parting experiences. Pittsburgh is almost always more than they expected, and it brings a smile to my face when we can share all the city and region have to offer.

    Q. What is your favorite Pittsburgh memory?
    A. The Pittsburgh Blizzard of 1993. Though the city was blanketed by nearly two feet of snow, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade STILL went on as planned! Pittsburghers gathered together, and it truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

    Q. What song is playing when your morning alarm goes off?
    A. “Bitter Sweet Symphony” by The Verve

    Q. Describe your perfect Pittsburgh day.
    A. My perfect day would be a crisp fall morning spent in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. Not only do I love to eat, but one of my passions is cooking – and, if you cannot find it in the Strip, then you don’t need it! I would start by grabbing a strong cup of coffee from La Prima Espresso, then hit the cheese counter at Pennsylvania Macaroni Company before grabbing spices from Stamoolis Brothers Co., biscotti from Enrico Biscotti, Mediterranean delicacies from Labad’s Grocery, fresh fish at Wholey and the world’s best lonzetta cotta from Parma Sausage.

    Q. What three words best describe Pittsburgh?
    A. Authentic, Passionate, Surprising

    Q. If you could take a visitor anywhere in Pittsburgh, where would you go?
    A. West End Overlook Park! A beautiful and lush greenspace leads to one of Pittsburgh’s best views of Downtown and the North Shore. There are benches throughout the park which allow you to simply sit and take in our city’s beauty.

    Q. What was the last book you read?
    A. Why We Can’t Sleep by Ada Calhoun

  • Meet Kristen Turner

    Q. What motivated you to get involved with the meeting industry?
    A. I have always loved the details that go into planning an event.

    Q. What is your favorite part of a meeting/convention?
    A. I love that feeling you get when you walk into a well-executed event and see all the things that you know took so much time to put together just appear to flawlessly happen. Only the planning team knows how much work goes into an event, and it’s a great feeling to see meeting event attendees benefit from that.

    Q. What is your favorite Pittsburgh memory?
    A. As a child, I remember going Downtown with my dad to drop off my sister and mom at the Civic Arena for a Cyndi Lauper concert. I was sad because I was too young to go to the concert, so my dad promised me something fun and took me on a “date” to Kaufman’s. I got a Rainbow Brite doll, and we stopped at a popcorn store where I could choose from more than 30 popcorn flavors. Of course, I chose butter popcorn!

    Q. What song is playing when your morning alarm goes off?
    A. As of late, I haven’t needed an alarm. My new puppy, Pepper, wakes me up every morning, right on time!

    Q. Describe your perfect Pittsburgh day.
    A. My perfect day is parking Downtown in the Golden Triangle, walking over the Roberto Clemente Bridge and going to a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game. I think my favorite part is looking at the city skyline from inside PNC Park.

    Q. What three words best describe Pittsburgh?
    A. Proud, Real, Hospitable

    Q. If you could take a visitor anywhere in Pittsburgh, where would you go?
    A. I would go to the Mount Washington neighborhood. You can tell Pittsburgh’s story from here and see it all unfold in front of you. I like to point out different attractions all while appreciating the beautiful topography of our city.

    Q. What was the last book you read?
    A. Untamed by Glennon Doyle. I call it my Lady Bible. It’s amazing!

  • Meet Sara Holzer

    Q. What motivated you to get involved with the meeting industry?
    A. I have a passion for telling the Pittsburgh story. Introducing clients to Pittsburgh and experiencing their reaction to our city never gets old! I also love the process of receiving an RFP, mapping out a bid and presenting it to the client.

    Q. What is your favorite part of a meeting/convention?
    A. As an attendee, I enjoy catching up with my industry friends and networking with my peers. I also love the educational component of every meeting I attend. I always walk away feeling inspired!

    Q. What is your favorite Pittsburgh memory?
    A. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2006 Super Bowl victory parade. I think all 300,000 Pittsburgh residents were out on the streets cheering on the team.

    Q. What song is playing when your morning alarm goes off?
    A. My alarm is my one-year old son yelling “Mama” over the monitor!

    Q. Describe your perfect Pittsburgh day.
    A. Breakfast in the Strip District and then a walk down to Point State Park with my husband and three kids. They love to run around and play near the fountain.

    Q. What three words best describe Pittsburgh?
    A. Friendly, Beautiful, Proud

    Q. If you could take a visitor anywhere in Pittsburgh, where would you go and why?
    A. The best view in the United States – the Mount Washington overlook after a ride up the Duquesne Incline!

    Q. What was the last book you read?
    A. Little Fires Everywhere by Pittsburgh native Celeste Ng. I couldn’t put it down. After finishing the book, I binge-watched the series on Hulu! Fantastic!

  • Meet Robert Leff

    Q. What motivated you to get involved with the meeting industry?
    A. My wife and I planned to open a bed and breakfast. Although that is no longer our “mission,” I still love to meet/travel and connect with planners/suppliers.

    Q. What is your favorite part of a meeting/convention?
    A. I have two favorites. The first is confirming a city-wide convention that has never met in Pittsburgh. The second is hosting that meeting and seeing the impact it has on the host organization and our Pittsburgh community.

    Q. What is your favorite Pittsburgh memory?
    A. Biking along the Great Allegheny Passage.

    Q. What song is playing when your morning alarm goes off?
    A. “Freewill” by Rush

    Q. Describe your perfect Pittsburgh day.
    A. The perfect Pittsburgh day starts with a bike ride along the Great Allegheny Passage. It includes attending a Pirates game at PNC Park (or a Penguins game at PPG Paints Arena or a Steelers game at Heinz Field), as well as visiting the stores along Penn Avenue in the Strip District. And, the day must include enjoying food and beverage in a unique Pittsburgh venue such as Federal Galley, Gaucho Parrilla Argentina, Pizzaiolo Primo, Eleven and The Milk Shake Factory.

    Q. What three words best describe Pittsburgh?
    A. City of Champions

    Q. If you could take a visitor anywhere in Pittsburgh, where would you go and why?
    A. I would schedule a trip up the Duquesne Incline to the top of Mount Washington. The cityscape view is breathtaking. We also would go to the Robert Clemente Museum – it's such a fantastic venue, and the Engine House 25 wine collection is amazing, too.

    Q. What was the last book you read?
    A. Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

  • Meet Molly Evans

    Q. What motivated you to get involved with the meeting industry?
    A. As a student at Kent State University's Hospitality Management program, I was a member of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA). I attended PCMA Convening Leaders 2017 in Austin, Texas and fell in love with the industry!

    Q. What is your favorite part of a meeting/convention?
    A. The energy in the room when you bring people together to share knowledge and new ideas!

    Q. What is your favorite Pittsburgh memory?
    A. The Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend. I ran the Pittsburgh half-marathon four times and each year is better than the last. The course runs through Pittsburgh's most lively neighborhoods and the energy of the tens of thousands of spectators is unlike anything I've ever experienced before.

    Q. What song is playing when your morning alarm goes off.
    A. The classic marimba iPhone ringtone.

    Q. Describe your perfect Pittsburgh day.
    A. My perfect Pittsburgh day would be a warm summer day that begins with a long run, bike or walk along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail with a friend. There are always festivals and events going on in the summer, so we would stop to walk around the Three Rivers Arts Festival, Picklesburgh, the Allegheny Overlook or the International Jazz Festival, depending on the weekend. We would spend the afternoon or evening enjoying food from the local vendors while listening to live entertainment.

    Q. What three words best describe Pittsburgh?
    A. Beautiful, Cultural, Innovative

    Q. If you could take a visitor anywhere in Pittsburgh, where would you go?
    A. We would have to take a drive and go through the Fort Pitt Tunnels. All visitors have to experience the anticipation of the drive and the unforgettable view of the city once the tunnel opens. From there, we would go to the Schenley Park Overlook. This underrated spot offers a unique view of the city and a view of Oakland while being surrounded by the calmness and peace of one of the largest green parks in the city.

    Q. What was the last book you read?
    A. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey