Customer Advisory Board

The mission of the Customer Advisory Board is to serve as BestCities’ marketplace co-creation partner, providing counsel on trends and operational experiences to help guide the future direction of the Alliance. One of the fundamental values of BestCities is our commitment to results-driven partnerships so we have recruited key association and meeting executives to not only share their experience, unique insights and knowledge but to also become international Brand Ambassadors for BestCities.

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Lisa Astorga

International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis -ISTH-

The International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH) is a global not-for-profit organization advancing the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of thrombotic and bleeding disorders. Today, the ISTH’s impact and contributions span six continents. With more than 3,800 members in over 94 countries, we are now the leading thrombosis- and haemostasis-related professional organization in the world.

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Nisan Bartov

Nisan Bartov is Chief Operation Officer at CongressMed powered by MCI.

He holds degrees in Business Administration, Bank Management, Software Engineering and Social Media Marketing. Nisan joined the meeting industry almost two decades ago, and in the late 90ies, he pioneered in the development of online abstract and registration management tools which led him to specialize in eMarketing and Social Media Marketing. Nisan has worked with major PCOs in Europe and Israel, and has extensive experience and knowledge of the PCO and Association Management business. In 2011, together with two colleagues under the patronage of a renowned medical expert, he played a major role in the founding of CongressMed, a company which specializes in initiating international scientific congresses.

Driven by the motto “keep up with the times and time won't pass you by”, Nisan is always looking for new strategies to connect people, business and opportunities.

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Dr Bettina Borisch

World Federation of Public Health Associations

Dr Borisch is an MD and a Histopathologist, MPH and Fellow of the Royal College of Pathology (UK). Her scientific research work delves into neoplastic lesions of the immune system and breast cancer. Her interests also include community-based oncology, health communication and global health.

She studied medicine and history at the Universities of Kiel (Germany) and Lausanne (Switzerland). She is appointed professor and head of the Institute of Clinical Pathology / University of Geneva in 1995. She becomes the president of the Swiss Cancer League’s program against breast cancer. She completes an MPH in 2005 and orientates her activities to Public Health and Global Health. She joins the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine in 2005 (from 2015 on: Institute of Global Health.

She is Editor in Chief of „Pathobiology“ and the Co-Editor of „Journal of Public Health Policy“. In addition to her academic work she acts as the Director and Head of the World Federation of Public Health Associations and holds positions at several Committees of Public Health oriented institutions.

She was president of Europa Donna – The European Breast Cancer Forum and Founding President of the Swiss Forum of Europa Donna. She teaches at the University of Geneva, the Swiss School of Public Health and she also teaches patient support groups. She is (co)author of over 120 scientific papers.

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Tracy Bury

World Confederation for Physical Therapy -WCPT-

Tracy Bury is Director of Professional Policy at the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) where she leads on policy development and implementation covering practice, education, professional and social issues, as well as advising on WCPT’s subgroups and networks. She is also responsible for all aspects of planning and delivering the WCPT Congress. Her research and professional interests include evidence based practice, policy, service delivery models including direct access and self-referral, research and development strategy, knowledge translation, global health and professional issues. She has presented and published both nationally and internationally and served on national research committees. She is a member of the Advisory Panel for the Australian Centre for Evidence Based Physiotherapy and Associate Editor on the Physiotherapy journal. She is currently a Board Member for the Associations Conference Forum. Prior to joining WCPT in 2002, Tracy was Head of Research and Development at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy in the UK. As a practising clinician she focused on patients with musculoskeletal and rheumatology disorders.

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Michael Foreman


I have worked in the Association Meetings and Events Industry since 1995 when I was recruited by one of the world’s largest Professional Congress Organisers and Association Management Companies.
In recent years I have held senior executive management positions as Owner, Managing Director, Senior Strategic Consultant/Advisor and Sales and Marketing Director of various companies in the Meetings Industry.

The majority of my time currently is out of the Meetings Industry heading up a new venture in the UK in the Sustainability and Environmental Sector.

I have specialist knowledge in the medical association, pharmaceutical and device sectors including in depth understanding of compliance and guidelines in relation to educational and congress activity. I have developed niche experience in the area of corporate partnerships and have first hand experience of significantly increasing revenue for associations through strategic insights and management of industry partners and sponsors. Over my career I have built many close business relationships with a network of association leaders, medical professionals and senior pharma executives who I have worked with as well as with colleagues in the Meetings Industry.

I have sat on numerous industry advisory boards including Tourism Montreal, Confex & The UK Meetings Show & acted as a Liverpool Ambassador. I have recently been appointed to the Best Cities Advisory Board. I have been a board member of The Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO) on and off since 2009 & Chairman from 2011 – 2013. I was was appointed Honorary Life Member of the Association in 2015.

I am a keen triathlete & golfer & have a passion for charity, photography & international travel. I am married to fellow South African Lauren, have 3 gorgeous children Josh, Allie and Evie and don't forget Milo our portuguese water dog!

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Valerie Guillet

Societe Internationale d'Urologie

Since 1989, I have had first-hand experience with many of the operations functions involved in delivering international congresses of all stripes. From registration, to communications, to scientific programme, to on-site rubbish disposal, these formative years working with seasoned mentors were invaluable to my professional evolution.

In 2003, I joined the Société Internationale d’Urologie as director of scientific programmes and communications and, in 2010, inaugurated the freshly minted position of Congress Director. The SIU is an association of 4,000 international members, and operates from Montreal, Canada with a permanent staff of 12 covering all our areas of activity: membership, annual Congress, regional focus meetings, virtual Congress, online educational portal, publications, Foundation, corporate affairs and philanthropic initiatives.

My principal professional interests currently are strategic planning and structuring strategic alliances, rationalizing the destination selection process, working with DMOs to streamline needs and offers, thinktanking on the specificities of international congresses, meeting experience design, and drastically reducing the number of e-mails I receive.

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Ben Hainsworth

K.I.T. Group

Ben’s first congress was the World Congress of Cardiology in Berlin in 1994 - and he went on to spend the next 20 years consolidating the ESC Congress as the world’s premier event in that field. Leading the ESC's in-house PCO team he developed a host of specialty events, international alliances and online delivery platforms.

Last year he transferred his knowledge and experience to the PCO and AMC industry. He joined the Berlin based K.I.T. Group in January 2014 as Executive Director for Associations.

K.I.T. Group has a leading presence in the German and worldwide event management market serving the Information Technology, Medical, Political, Cultural, Sporting and Environmental sectors. Known for its expertise, commitment, discretion and reliability the group’s core values are synergy and competence.

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Venus Ilagan

Rehabilitation International Secretariat -RIS-

VENUS M. ILAGAN from the Philippines, is the Secretary General of Rehabilitation International - the first person with a disability from a developing country to serve in that capacity since RI’s establishment in Elyria, Ohio, U.S.A. in 1922. She was the first woman World Chairperson of Disabled People’s International. Prior to joining RI, Venus was the project manager of a national rehabilitation program which provided services to over 14,000 children and youth with disabilities in the Philippines. She has been a member of the Editorial Committee for the World Report in Disability – an initiative of the World Health Organization and the World Bank. She also participated in the development of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) CBR and Wheelchair Guidelines and was a member of a team which produced reports on disability for the Asian Development Bank and the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Venus actively took part as a member of Civil Society in the elaboration of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), contributed to the work for the Post-MDGs/Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has been consistently invited as speaker/resource person on disability and development in events of the UN and its agencies including the World Bank.

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Sarah Johnson

International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology

Sarah Johnson is the Chief Executive Officer of the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology, a professional membership association and UK charity. She has lead the Society through from its early years after inception to its current position as the leading international association on women’s imaging with over 13,000 members in 127 countries. In that time she has driven significant new initiatives in online learning and Education, increasing the reach and dissemination of the Society’s growing resources through satellite education, ISUOG’s outreach programme to underserved regions, regional ambassadorship programmes and partnerships, whilst overseeing the continued growth and development of ISUOG’s flagship World Congress and peer reviewed Journal. Her professional interests and early career began in science research in the same field and she holds a masters in non-profit management from City University, London. She remains passionate about the role of continued medical education in improving healthcare provision.

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Lauren Kramer

American Association for Clinical Chemistry

Lauren is experienced in many facets of association management, including strategic planning, branding, marketing and managing large-scale conventions. Her work at the International Council of Ophthalmology, the American Academy of Otolaryngology and the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging was global and diverse.

She wrote the transition plan for ICO to assume management of the World Ophthalmology Congress as well as the marketing and branding plans for the WOC, a global meeting of over 19,000 eye care physicians and professionals. At AAO, she was responsible for growing meeting revenues from $4 million to $6 million. Lauren has worked on programs in the US, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, the UAE, South Korea, Germany, Scotland, England and Italy.

Meeting Priorities is currently engaged in work with clients on events, social media and marketing plans, audits of CME/CE processes, designing educational sessions and contracting speakers, among other projects.

She served on the PCMA Board of Directors from 2000-2003, was a founding member of the Capital Chapter where she served as President, and is a member of the PCMA Foundation’s “Legacy Society”. Lauren has served on industry advisory boards and taught at a community college. She earned her Master’s in Tourism Administration from George Washington University in 2008.

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Prof LEE Yuan Kun

International Union of Microbiological Societies

Professor Lee Yuan Kun is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology at the National University of Singapore, where his professional interests lie in topics of Microbe-host interaction, probiotics, microbial fermentation, enzyme technology and photosynthetic algal biotechnology. His knowledge and strong leadership qualities lead him to being elected as the President of the Singapore Society for Microbiology and Biotechnology (SSMB).

As an expert in his industry, he was the former President of the Asian Federation of Societies for Lactic Acid Bacteria (AFSLAB) (2009–2014) and the current President of the International Union for Microbiology Societies (IUMS) (2014–2017.) He is also a Scientific Advisor to the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) Southeast Asia Region and Chairman of the Biological & Chemical Committee, Singapore Laboratory Accreditation Council.

Under his leadership, Professor Lee has led the Singapore Society for Microbiology and Biotechnology and worked alongside with Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to win the hosting rights for the World Congresses of the International Union of Microbiological Societies (IUMS) 2017, which is expected to attract around 4,000 foreign delegates over a six day programme.

Above all, Professor Lee is selected as STB’s Conference Ambassador and was recently awarded the Best Business Event Champion awardat the Singapore Experience Awards 2014, in recognition for his remarkable dedication and efforts in championing Singapore’s MICE industry. Professor Lee has also worked closely with STB on MICE 2020 –a medium-term roadmap jointly developed by STB and the industry to strengthen Singapore’s leadership position as a MICE city.

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Douglas Oliver

International Union of Basica and Clinical Pharmacology

Douglas William Oliver, has specialized through obtaining two doctoral degrees, one in Pharmacology and one in Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry in the fields of in vivo cerebral perfusion pharmacology and in drug discovery, respectively. He has been in several managerial positions since late 1980s. He served in several managerial positions since the age of 32. He was Director (Dean of Pharmacy) at the North-West University and Research Director of Drug Research and Development and Director of Pharmacy at North-West University. He held positions as head and Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry as well as head and is still current Professor of Pharmacology. He has trained more than 40 doctoral and master degree students in pharmacology and pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry. He is author of some 110 publications, USA, European, South Africa, Japanese patents and involved in more than 250 national and international presentations in 25 countries. He served as executive committee member of International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR); He is the Founder and Chair: of “Pharmacology for Africa” involved in training and capacity building on the African continent; President (past): South African Society for Basic and Clinical Pharmacology. He served as President of a most successful: 17th World Congress of Pharmacology 2014 (WCP2014), Cape Town recently. He has been appointed Ambassador of the South African of Business Events of the Department of Tourism. He has organized several national, continental and international congresses and has served on the boards of several international events. He has been active in medicine regulation since the late 1980s as an appointed expert in several committees of Medicine Control Council as member, chair and vice-chair (Pharmaceutical & Analytical, Scheduling); specialized task teams for biosimilars, non-substitutable medicines and complementary medicine. He is a current serving council member of Medicine Control Council. His regulatory skills extend to the field of regulatory auditing, i.e. Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) and Final Finished Products (FFP) and is also involved in regulatory training. He is certified European Council Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient auditor. He has serves on committees and as council member of the South African Pharmacy Council. He serves on several international scientific advisory boards. He is appointed South African Business Events Ambassador appointed by Department of Tourism since 2014.

He was a frequent marathon and Comrades runner, sky diver, bungee jumper. He is an advanced scuba diver and a keen underwater photographer. His hobbies are painting (oil and acrylic) and photography.

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Luca Segantini

International Society of Nephrology -ISN-

Luca Segantini is executive director of the International Society of Nephrology (ISN), a not-for-profit global organization incorporated in the USA, since 2009. In his role, he spearheaded ISN's transition from association management to independent operations. Under his leadership, ISN launched a number of successful new initiatives such as an education portal, a philanthropic initiative to eliminate Acute Kidney Injury by 2025 and improved its range of programs and events, including the World Congress of Nephrology and World Kidney Day. To support this growth, Luca expanded the ISN staff to 26 team members. Luca had a varied career, with roles in scientific publishing, communications and marketing, which gives him the experience and insight to effectively manage medical associations. A Milan-native, he lives in Brussels with his family since 2001.

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Jack Sim

World Toilet Organization

Jack Sim is the founder of World Toilet Organization (WTO) and BOP HUB, and a leading global advocate for sanitation. Formerly a businessman he founded WTO in 2001, after attaining financial independence at age of 40 and deciding to devote the rest of his life to social work.

WTO broke the global taboo around toilets and sanitation by bringing it to centre-stage with a unique mix of humour and serious facts. In 2001 WTO declared its founding day 19 November as World Toilet Day. In 2013, 19 November was designated as UN World Toilet Day - the day is now celebrated globally each year as a day to raise awareness of the need for action to end the sanitation crisis.

In 2011, Jack founded BOP HUB to help scale up market-based solutions to alleviate poverty and improve lives at the Base of the Pyramid (BoP). The organisation catalyses and strengthens cross-sector collaboration and participation in inclusive business in sectors including energy, housing, water, agriculture, and health.

Jack received the Schwab Foundation award for Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2001. He is an Ashoka Global Fellow, and was named one of the Heroes of the Environment for 2008 by Time Magazine.

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Richard Torriani

MCI Geneva

MCI is the largest global congress management company in the world with offices in 55 cities and 28 countries in Europe, India, Africa, Middle East, Asia Pacific, Canada, and Latin America. I lead the congress management practice with responsibility to manage MCI's global congress solutions and implement ambitious worldwide expansion goals.

My mission is to help associations and federations take advantage of all the possibilities of the digital age, through product development, engaging with the online world, and generating revenue.

We work with associations and federations to help them leverage expert strategic knowledge, regional resources and local infrastructure, tap into new markets, drive membership, increase efficiency and improve return on investment.

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Nancy Witty

International Society for Stem Cell Research

Nancy Witty has served as the CEO of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) since 2005. Before coming to the ISSCR, Nancy was the associate director of research administration at the New York University Child Study Center. Nancy also has served in senior administrative positions for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Northwestern University Medical School, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Nancy earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the department of behavioral disabilities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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