This year, Northwest Meetings + Events is introducing a new Hall of Influencers. The honor recognizes those individuals who have spent at least 20 consecutive years of service in the hospitality industry as planners, vendors or connectors. I am thrilled to add this special recognition to our readers’ choice “Best of” issue and delighted to introduce you to four of our region’s biggest champions (although, let’s be honest, you probably know them already). 


Niki McKay
Principal, Blue Danube Productions

Years in the industry: 20

About your company: Blue Danube Productions is a multiaward-winning, creative production company with years of experience managing, designing and executing the magic of video, audio and lighting. No matter what scale or how technical, its core mission is supporting event planners in producing indelible experiences.

First job in the industry: I started on stage doing children’s programs—singing, dancing, acting. I decided I was better behind the scenes. I never had aspirations to act professionally, it was just something I did for fun. My love for that eventually culminated into starting Blue Danube Productions.

Best piece of advice received: My dad was a great man and one of the most influential people in my life. I started Blue Danube Productions two years after he passed away. He always said:
1) Life is too short to drink cheap alcohol.
2) Diet, exercise, die anyway.
3) Just love each other.


Rhonda Pedersen
Vice president, customer services, Pedersen’s Event Rentals 

Years in the industry: 33

About your company: As a third-generation family business, Pedersen’s Event Rentals has always taken pride in offering high-quality party rental products. We strive to purchase the best tabletop items from vendors that share the same fundamentals when running their businesses. It is part of our fundamental vision to offer a superior rental product that is impeccably maintained without exception.

First job in the industry: My sister and I were our company’s chair washers. As an adult, I got a job at a prominent, off-premise catering company—first as a server and then as their operations manager. It helped me to hone my skills and eventually allowed me to return to the rental business with a new perspective. 

What you love about the industry: I love the variety of the clients, the quirks they have, the different problems that arise and the fact that I have a good time solving them.  I like that the rental industry is diverse and that everyone doesn’t have to do the same thing. The rental industry offers many roads to travel, and it is up to the individual business owner to determine which avenue they want to take based on their skill and the passion they have.


Maria Corvallis
President, Peter Corvallis Productions

Years in the industry: 28

About your company: For the past 50 years, Peter Corvallis Productions has grown, serving waterfront festivals, corporate events, air shows, politicians and trade shows as well as literally thousands of weddings. Peter Corvallis Productions has served events in fairgrounds, parks and parking lots, ballrooms and backyards.

First job in the industry: I was production assistant at Dolphin MultiMedia in San Francisco—if you don’t count helping my mom and dad since I was 10 years old.

Best piece of advice given to you: Make your bed each morning. It prepares you for the many tasks that come your way throughout the day.

What you love about the industry: I love creating an event from scratch, from the ground up, watching our clients get excited about what we can create. It’s seeing the end result of our efforts that keeps me coming back every day. 

Words of wisdom for others in the industry: Always work backwards from the need before you. 


Julie Dodds
Vice president, convention sales, Visit Anchorage

Years in the industry: 29

About your company: Visit Anchorage markets Alaska’s largest city to associations, visitors, incentives and tour operators. Anchorage is an unrivaled destination combining Alaskasized adventures and  metropolitan amenities. The Chugach Mountains loom large. Moose call the city home. Salmon surge upstream steps from downtown. You can almost hear the rumble of nearby glaciers. Delegates and visitors alike dream of visiting Alaska, and Anchorage is the perfect place to start the adventure.

First job in the industry: A summer college job waitressing and hostessing at Old Faithful Lodge at Yellowstone National Park. 

Favorite quote: “We didn’t come to blend.” 

Best piece of advice given to you: Be pleasantly persistent. It will pay off.

What you love about the industry: You get to meet and work with so many different people in so many different and diverse disciplines. There’s an association for everything. You learn so much from these experts.

Words of wisdom for others in the industry: Listen. Listen. Listen. Be personable and approachable. When you love what you do, it shows. Be pleasantly persistent. You never hear the word “no.” You hear “Not now, maybe next time!” 


Best Convention/Conference Venue

AND THE WINNER IS: Alyeska Resort

» Ted Ferry Civic Center
» ​Hotel Captain Cook

Best Hotel with Meeting/Event Space

AND THE WINNER IS: Hotel Captain Cook


Have an important event coming up? Need a little inspiration? Haven’t yet found the perfect venue? Not sure how to make the event an unforgettable experience? No problem. We have just the thing.

Our readers have chosen the best florists, venues, entertainers—plus everything else you might need. And we’re sharing that list with you. Here’s to the Northwest Meetings + Events Best of 2019 readers’ choice winners and runners-up—and to your next event!


This year’s three inductees into our annual Hall of Influencers are the brains behind our region’s most spectacular events and joyful celebrations.