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Meeting & Event Planning Instructors
Jill Wien Badger graduated from Florida International University’s School of Hospitality Management and has over twenty years of industry experience. A veteran of Hyatt and Westin Hotels & Resorts with experience in food and beverage management, as well as sales and marketing, she has been a contributor of feature articles for The Meeting Professional Magazine and is a frequent guest lecturer of hospitality topics. (teaches in the San Marcos program)
Marlene Blas, MTA, CMP is the Associate Director for meetings and events at California Western School of Law and holds a Masters in Tourism Administration from The George Washington University. Current appointments include: Membership Advisory Council for Meeting Professionals International, Editorial Advisory Board for Southern California Meetings + Events Magazine and Advisory Board for a peer reviewed journal. Blas is a three-time recipient of the Wyndham International-United Airlines Scholarship, and co-authoring of a meetings and events textbook. Marlene is also the Program Advisor for the Meeting & Event Planning Certificate in San Marcos. (teaches in both the San Marcos & Temecula programs)
Pierre Charmasson, is currently the Director of Sales for Velocity Audio Visual, Inc., located in San Diego. Pierre has an extensive background in the hospitality industry and is regarded as a well-respected Meeting Professional. Pierre’s list of credits includes Video & Film Producer/ Director, Live Event Producer, Meeting Manager, Professional Auctioneer and Voice-over Talent. An advocate for continuing education, Pierre enjoys sharing his experiences both on and off the air. (teaches in the San Marcos program)
Sandra Chong, Esq., is currently Assistant General Counsel for San Diego Unified School District. Prior to that, she worked in two law firms where she successfully represented hotels, meeting event planners, and travel agencies in disputes and litigation. She is a frequent lecturer in hospitality law. She has also organized large scale events for and provided legal advice to the Asian Business Association and San Diego Dragon Boat Team. In 2007, San Diego Metropolitan Magazine recognized her as one of San Diego’s top business and civic leaders with the “40 Under 40” award. (teaches in the San Marcos & Temecula programs)
Lisa English, CMP, CMM has wide-ranging experience in designing and executing meetings and conferences, special events, and incentives. With expertise managing planning teams for corporations, as well as leading operations for a third-party meeting management company, Lisa understands meeting management from multiple perspectives. She received the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation in 1999 and the Global Certification in Meeting Management (CMM) in 2007. She has completed intensive training with the ROI Institute, executive negotiations training from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, and leadership training from the Center for Creative Leadership. She has served on the MPI Membership Advisory Council, NBTA SMMC Committee, and the PCMA National Marketing Committee. Lisa is uniquely qualified in the area of Strategic Meetings Management (SMM), and is experienced in designing and implementing Strategic Meetings Management Programs (SMMP). Lisa is also the program advisor for the Temecula program. (teaches in the Temecula program)
Karen Holmes is a third-generation designer, praised in a Riverside Press Enterprise article for her "ability to blend business sense, artistic flair, and sensitivity." For over 20 years her innovative deisgn projects have included meeting and events; interior and architectural designs; and various communication formats. Karen holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business/Markeing; studied Comparative Cultures in Paris, London and Salzburg; and is a graduate of the CSUSM Meeting & Event Planning program. She has also written for various publications on the subject of Design.
Leslie Mercado has been in the hospitality industry for close to 30 years. She began her career as a high school student working at the front desk and restaurant of a small San Diego hotel. She studied business and accounting in college before deciding to pursue a career as a travel consultant. She enrolled in Travel University International where she received certification as a travel agent. Leslie specialized in corporate and incentive travel, as well as group travel. She was responsible for coordinating all of the finite details of a group’s itinerary and escorted many of the groups to various destinations. Leslie decided to make a slight career change within the hospitality industry when her family began to grow and ventured into the world of hotel sales, catering & conference services. She is currently the Director of Sales for the Temecula Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, the destination marketing organization responsible for promoting tourism to the Temecula Valley.
Ed Nesfield, CMP, is the Director of Catering & Events for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. He is an accomplished leader with more than 10 years of event management experience consistently increasing sales, from conferences to conventions to concerts and catered events. He has a demonstrated track record of managing large scale events and budgets in excess of $1.5 million, including hiring, training and leading a staff of up to 45 employees. (teaches in the San Marcos program)
Lidia Pareno is currently the Private Events & Marketing Manager for FOX SPorts San Diego Gril in San Diego, CA. With more than twelve years in Hotel Sales and Hospitality Management, she brings extensive experience in Convention and Conference Services, Social Events, Wedding Planning and Restaurant Management. An alumni from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts College translates into her deep passion for all things food and beverage. Her leadership has lead to her team’s top ranking awards in event sales and prestigious dining recognitions. (Temecula)
Melody Brunsting's 23-year old company has promoted the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival for 16 years, worked with a non-profit organizations to raise funds for a Recreation Center, Old Town Temecula Community Theater, Chamber of Commerce Building, and rebuilding Dorland Mountain Arts Colony. For 12 years she has been producing year-round events in Old Town Temecula for the City of Temecula. She has worn awards for advertising design, photojournalism, marketing, and public relations. Her most recent awards were for marketing of the 2011 Calfest Best Marketing Campaign, and the International Festivals and Events Association Gold Pinnacle honors for the Best Media Kit and Most Effective News Stunt for Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival. She has also won an IFEA Gold Pinnacle for best new campaign/social media. She has a Bachelor of Science from California Polytechnic University Omona (1980) and continues to update her marketing knowledge to be cutting edge through her social media assocations, seminars, and courses. She has also studied at UCLA in the creative writing program and is often a presenter at Calfest Conventions for current marketing trends. (Temecula)
Annette Nielsen's passion is wedding and event planning for over 25 years. Growing up in Oregon provided her with a different perspective that has benefited her greatly when she transitioned to the Temecula area in 1998. Over the years she has had the privilege to work with top notched wedding and event facilities, running a successful wedding event planning business along with founding and directing a local wedding networking organization. She brings to the table is a wealth of real world knowledge of the wedding and event industry regarding all aspects of events. "When you love what you do you can't imagine doing anything else."
Karen S. Charest is currently conference coordinator/ editor for the San Marcos Office of the WestEd Center for Child and Family Studies. She is responsible for setting up seminars for teachers on how to include children with special needs in early childhood settings, such as child care, preschool and elementary school. She also edits and produces all seminar teaching materials, handles online registrations, holds participants’ hands before and during the seminars, oversees onsite logistics, etc. Karen has a diverse background from writing and editing for publications such as the Los Angeles Times and Teleflora Magazine to producing employee communications for corporations such as the Southern California Gas Company and the University of Southern California. Her event planning gigs have ranged from two international conventions for a non-profit that drew over 20,000 individuals each to organizing her son’s wedding – and everything in between.
Deborah Thomas AHE CSEP CDP, Hospitality Trainer, is an adjunct professor of hospitality at Mesa College and Stratford University. Thomas is the founder of the School for the Service Arts, a service training and development company. She is an Accredited Hospitality Trainer (AHE) and western regional sales director with the Federation of Dining Room Professionals. Ms. Thomas holds the prestigious certifications of a Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) and the Certified Dining Room Professional (CDP). She is a hospitality trainer and catering consultant, a chef, and a restaurateur, specializing in teaching and consulting, with an emphasis on small hospitality company operations in the food and beverage management arena. In California, Thomas owned and operated a highly successful off- premise catering company, earning many industry awards. Upon the sale of her renowned company, she decided to follow her dream of raising the level of hospitality worldwide through online programs and classroom learning in the academic and corporate venues.
Tammy Minor, CMP, Events Manager, in 2005 moved to San Diego from Washington, DC to work for Concepts Worldwide, a third party meeting planning company, as an exhibit manager. Tammy managed everything from a 20 booth tabletop show to an 85 booth Franchise Conference. Tammy also worked as a meeting coordinator and planner, learning all sides of the business. Tammy now works for NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants in Carlsbad, CA. NAMM operates the largest and longest-running musical instruments and products trade show in the United States. In 2013 the show boasted over 92,000 attendees and over 1400 exhibiting companies. As the Events Manager, Tammy plans all of the events that go on in and around the show as well as assisting exhibitors with finding space to host their own events at the show. Tammy earned her CMP in January 2011.