It’s great to be back on the show

The Imperial Dade Women’s Leadership Committee includes (left to right): Kim Price, Dr. Felicia Townsend, Valerie Burd, Nicole Goulet and Sonali Pillay

A long, hot summer is coming to an end. I hope everyone enjoyed the season as many traditional activities have finally resumed. With fall fast approaching, the kids are back in school and football season has officially started.

One of the highlights from a business perspective was the return of the trade show. From national shows like ISSA and NRA to our regional Imperial Dade Innovations shows, it’s just great to be back. In Atlanta last year and in Fort Lauderdale earlier this spring, we had the pleasure of welcoming our customers and supplier partners for the first time in over two years.

While we’ve embraced the technology, there’s simply no such thing as the ability to be face-to-face again as an industry and a community. Those interactions that simply cannot be duplicated through Zoom.

That said, I’m particularly excited about our upcoming Imperial Date Innovations exhibit at the Meadowlands Exposition Center at Secaucus on Wednesday, September 21. In setting the agenda for our shows, we identify our customers’ current pain points and select guest speakers who can address these issues. It’s become clear over the years that the best ideas come from industry veterans, rather than professional speakers. A highlight of this show will be our female leadership panel Imperial Dade, which was the most popular breakout session of 2019.

I have been involved with industry organizations that focus on advancing women’s professional growth including ISSA Hygieia Network, Women’s Foodservice Forum and Women in Network. I experienced the positive impact of their programming which inspired our female leadership panel.

This year’s theme for the panel is lead the change. We brought together a diverse group of women representing manufacturers, service providers, non-profit organizations and distributors. Each panelist is an expert in their field and committed to DE&I in the industries in which they work.

Our Operational Marketing Manager Lauren Belskie is managing our educational sessions this year. She has crafted a list of thought-provoking questions for our panelists that address many of the issues facing leaders today. It is sure to be a lively discussion with different perspectives and lots of take-away ideas for the audience.

Our panelists include Kim Price of Georgia Pacific. Since joining GP Pro in 2015, she has risen through the ranks in various roles in Pricing, Field Sales, Sales Channels and Strategy, Enablement and Efficiency Sales. Kim assumed her current role as Vice President of Sales in 2021. Kim is passionate about employee development, diversity and inclusion in the workplace. She has been a board member of ISSA’s Hygieia Network since 2018 and will succeed me as Co-Chair of Hygieia this fall.

We are very happy to welcome Dr. Felicia Townsend. As Director of the ISSA Hygieia Network, Dr. Townsend oversees the operations, development, and implementation of leadership conferences, educational webinars, a mentorship program, and outreach efforts for the Hygieia Network in the States. United States and Canada. She works with more than fifty-five business leaders on eight committees, councils and an executive advisory board. Felicia began her adult education career as the Director of Business and Industry Services at a community college.

With over 20 years of facility management experience, Valerie Burd is a seasoned leader responsible for all aspects of ABM’s $850 million education business, which works with hundreds of K-12 school systems, colleges and universities across the United States to provide a cleaner, healthier, and more engaging learning environment for students, faculty, and staff. ABM firmly established as the partner of choice in the education services market, Valérie and her team are focused on operational excellence, customer satisfaction, employee engagement and new business growth strategies.

As an advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion, Nicole Goulet will share her expertise in running initiatives that retain and promote women in the jan/san industry. During her 27 years at Diversey, Nicole has held a variety of sales and marketing roles including business development, key account management, product management and global marketing. His professional accomplishments include brokering strong partnerships with suppliers and customers, maintaining Diversey’s market leadership position in numerous product categories, and launching numerous innovations, many of which have won ISSA awards. She currently sits on Diversey’s North American leadership team, where she drives strategic growth objectives.

Completing the panel will be ours Sonali Pillay. She manages Imperial Dade’s strategic initiatives, including the organization’s environmental, social and governance program. She works closely with our CEO and CFO on growth strategy and special projects. These include sustainability-related projects that Imperial Dade is working on to reduce our impact on the environment and help our customers achieve their sustainability goals. Prior to joining Imperial Dade in 2019, Sonali held senior roles at American Express, Amazon and Edelman Consulting. In 2013, she founded Browsy, as part of the DreamIt Ventures accelerator program.

Join us at the Expo for a full day to learn from our panelists, speakers and “test drive” the very latest solutions in an effort to find what can help you achieve your business goals.

Yes, online registration remains open until Expo day (walk-ins are welcome and on-site registration is available). For more information on registering for the Innovations Expo, visit or the event registration page.