Sarah Vallely, Assistant Executive Director, Festival Management Group In keeping with the initiative of fostering the growth of those individuals who are interested in advancing within the Event Industry (which was discussed in the Opening Session of the 2014 Florida Festival & Events Conference held at the Walt Disney World Swan Resort in Orlando last month), the Emerging Leader Award honors an individual who is considered a “Rising Star” and shows dedication and leadership within an event or organization. The selection committee was extremely impressed with both the quantity and quality of nominations submitted for this new award. At the very young age of 17, Sarah Vallely joined Festival Management Group as a ‘volunteer’. Her first role was to assist with the management of the Garlic Chef Competition at Garlic Chef Stadium. While Sarah was completing her last few semesters of college, she also worked part-time at FMG then in 2011 was hired as a full-time employee. She was 21 years old at the time, way beyond her years in maturity and often fondly referred to as an “old soul”. She began with FMG in an administrative position and worked as a direct assistant to the Executive Director, Nancy Stewart. Being a very detail-oriented individual, she took charge and initiative to research files from prior year events, updated them without direction or instruction and began learning her way around the event business. She is dependable, a team player, professional, pleasant to all, and has an uncanny ability to work under extreme pressure. Just two years after being hired, Sarah was promoted to Assistant Executive Director and assigned to take on running Garlic Chef Stadium and Iron Chef Competition, along with two other contracted events. She met or exceeded budget requirements each year. In addition to those projects she also manages all proof of performance reports for events, updates and maintenance of three event websites and Facebook pages, manages timeline updates for six events produced by FMG, and minor graphic design projects required! From May 2013 to May 2014 Sarah completed Leadership Delray, was awarded “40 under 40” by Boca Raton Magazine, and is enrolled to begin the two year “Certified Festival & Events Executive” at the annual International Festival & Events Assoc. conference being held in Kansas City, Missouri Sept. 29 – Oct. 1, 2014. Congratulations to our rising star and 2014 Emerging Leader Award, Sarah Vallely.