The Pixilated Podcast

Devon Pasha | Drexel University | Pixilated Podcast Season 2

July 06, 2022 Patrick Rife Season 2 Episode 11
The Pixilated Podcast
Devon Pasha | Drexel University | Pixilated Podcast Season 2
Show Notes Transcript

Devon is the Associate Director, Alumni Events, Office of Alumni Relations at Drexel University

Devon Montgomery Pasha, CMP, CED is a passionate events professional who specializes in nonprofit and advancement events. She applies over 15 years’ experience in event planning to help Drexel University create engaging and impactful experiences for their global alumni network. She currently serves as the Associate Director of Special Events for Alumni Relations specializing in signature events and engagement. A believer is purposeful and mission driven events, Devon leverages design thinking and empathy driven systems to design events that maximize impact and support for Drexel University.  

Prior to applying her skills in Higher Ed, Devon worked on notable special events around the Philadelphia region including work for the Philadelphia Eagles, the Philadelphia Waterworks, and the Fairmount Park Conservancy.  

Devon has been a featured speaker and volunteer for CASE and has been recognized for her passion in elevating the importance of events in Advancement. Devon holds a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College in Music and B.S. from Drexel University in Culinary Arts and Event Planning. Devon earned her CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) certification from the Events Industry Council in 2020 and a CED (Certified Event Designer) designation from the Events Design Collective in 2021. She is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Creativity and Innovation from Drexel University’s School of Education and is an adjunct professor for Drexel’s Hospitality Management program.  

You can connect with Devon Pasha on:


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Patrick Rife:

All right. Hello and welcome to another episode of the Pixilated podcast. I am your host Patrick rife, welcoming you. Thank you for joining us excited to treat all of you, our listeners to another awesome interview with another event professional. This time we have somebody from the higher education space. We've been focused this year on trying to find little niches throughout the event diaspora to learn a little bit more about the specific things and today we have one more deep dive into a place that I hadn't learned a lot before. So before we get started preexisting condition here so we actually recorded this interview last week, and yours truly, somehow forgot to hit record. So we're on double time here with with Devin and her and her time that she's giving us she's agreed to rerecord it. We're not going to try and go note for note, but we may refer back to that last conversation. So when we're doing that, listeners, just understand that we are talking about those previous nuggets of wisdom that that I lost. So that being said, Devin for the second time, welcome to the Pixilated podcast.

Devon Pasha:

Thank you, Patrick, so much for having me. I really appreciate the opportunity.

Patrick Rife:

Definitely, I am so glad that we're not going to miss out on this chat. Because I think it's gonna be great. Even if it's the second time around, for sure. So similar to the first time before we get into our chat, why don't you just kind of you know, let everybody that's listening, know a little bit about who you are, what you do, where you come from. So that way they have a background for our conversation.

Devon Pasha:

Absolutely. Well, hi, everyone. My name is Devin Montgomery Pasha. I'm the Associate Director for special events here at Drexel University. I've been specializing in special events in higher ed for the past. Oh goodness, 10 plus years, I've been in special events for the better part of 20 years, which is kind of hard to say because I still think I'm a young person. But when you kind of reach that 20 marker like oh, I've been doing this for for a while maybe maybe this is what I chose to be when I grew up. I started doing special events actually in college. I we all had to work at Bryn Mawr College and food service and I wasn't feeling the hairnet mashed potatoes scooping jive. So I asked what my options were and I happened to be a catering and event facility on campus. I said I think that's think that's more my speed. I'm the head chef there and the general manager kind of saw I had a knack for for the industry. And both took me under their wing and I spent all four years in college basically majoring in events and culinary and, and you know, while also getting a really good and very useful liberal arts degree. But I always like to say I majored At Wyndham because I spent probably more time there than doing homework I should have also been doing. And fast forward 17 years at Drexel University, that same general manager called me up one day and said, Hey, your name came up in a meeting today, I have the perfect job for you, if you want to keep doing special events in higher ed. And that's how I made my way over to Drexel after kind of a winding career and special events. I've worked everywhere from private catering facilities, outsource catering facilities, country clubs of large and small restaurants. But always, always having something to do with events, I appreciate that all those different places gave me a different client base different stakeholders to work with different challenges. But always always, somehow this special event found its way back into my job description. And when I started doing it for higher ed, I really found a great niche and over the past couple of years have spent my time really trying to merge the two industries together. I think higher ed needs more event professionals are thinking about professionals could find and bring their love and expertise to the higher ed sector. I'm also a certified meeting professional I got my CFP in 2020 wasn't going to let the grass grow. And from there actually joined the event design collective and achieved my CD certification in 2021. And they've been good enough to let me stay on with them. So looking forward to getting my CD plus this year to become an instructor for them as well.

Patrick Rife:

Amazing, amazing. Well, that's a great tee off. So just to get right into it. I think one of the things and I and I kind of highlight this in my intro but you know, one of the things that is exciting to me about this year is really getting a chance to to talk with people who are within these, you know subsections of the events industry and really getting a chance to learn about, you know what those differentiators are right so I think it's interesting that you said you know, like getting more CMPs into the into the higher ed space right which is like Kinda crazy, right? Because it's not like, like, higher, it's just starting to have events. Right. They've been, they've been having events for a while now for a long time now. Yeah, yeah. So I think the what would be interesting is, you know, tell us why a cmp? Like, what is it that, you know, what is it that you see is the potential to benefit by this, you know, commitment to more legitimization of like, what those people are in the roles that they're doing and what they're trying to accomplish?

Devon Pasha:

Absolutely, I'm not sure if everyone's familiar with a cmp it's given by the events Industry Council, there's a little over 11,000 CMPs worldwide. And really, for, like most professional certifications, it just signifies to the industry that you have a basic and assumed level of knowledge and level of expertise, which I think is really important because suppliers can go TMPs and vendors can get CMPs planners can get CMPs but really, it just brings us all together, you know singing from one Hypno or playing from one playbook that we all kind of understand what a stakeholder is and you know how much square footage per person you should give in a ballroom and things like that, but, but really it just signifies that that you're dedicated to the industry and you're aiming for this professional certification. To bridge the two together higher education is no stranger to events. You know, commencement being one that most everyone would agree of every institution has at some point. You know, look at the final four that just wrapped up I know the ladies played last night I was sad to see my my UConn Huskies didn't get their their next win. But, you know, sporting events are great, you know, for large schools of you know, who might even have bowl games or, you know, championship opportunities. convocations going forward to things you know, that I work on personally like alumni weekend's reunions homecomings. These are, you know, a cornerstone of your, you know, both your time as a student that you participate in, and your time as an alumna, you know, we're not stranger to events, and get this idea of having event professionals, on staff at institutions does feel a little bit new. I think in the past, there's this sort of sense that, oh, anyone can do it, you just pick the hall and just order the food. And I say, just specifically because I think in in the events industry, there's no such thing as just we're seen as artists and scientist and you know, homeowners have a craft. But in some industries, we're still seen as like, a little bit of a reactive order taker, like, hey, we need to plan the annual fundraising gala. So just go find the ballroom, we should put 400 People make sure they have dinner and something to do. And, you know, I'm sitting here with a notepad and answer Would you like fries with that? You know, it just seems kind of like, you know, that that reactive order taking, bringing CMP professionals and people who focus on experience and craft these experiences and ask thoughtful strategic questions, that changes the game a little bit, you know, imagine going back to that same person who's prescribing their order to say, well, what is the makeup of this year's attendance group? Now, you know, how old are they? Is there a call to action at the end of the gala? Are we stewarding them for gifts already given? Or are we trying to get them to maybe give a little bit more to participate in a campaign to participate in a single fundraising effort? Are we naming the building and and showcasing an impressive donation and dedication to institution? With this named building? There's there's questions to ask because each of those questions yields a piece of information that you build the experience from. And I think that's where that beautiful bridge is, is bringing a cmp or event professionals into a place that is very strategic about how it stewards, its, you know, its donors, its students, its alumni base, and Ringling bringing us together to bring that artistry and bring that science in that craft to those institutionalized and history events. You know, even if it's commencement, or even if you've done alumni weekend, every year for 100 years. That doesn't mean there's not ways to innovate it. And maybe what you need is someone who asked those strategic questions to craft those experiences to help you reach your goals.

Patrick Rife:

Sure, sure. Sure, sure. You know, it's, it's great. And part of the reason that we're clearly going to do this, this chat for a second time is it's bringing new things to mind. I recall having been at whatever some event, and the keynote speaker for the event was the man who was the director of the athletics program at University of Maryland. And he had been, you know, like, a marine or like, you know, like, one of these just decorated humans, right, like all the accomplishments like, you know, that type of person. And no surprise and eloquent speaker right. clearly like a leader, like all of those things, and he, he took aim at the topic of athletic scholarships, and he was like, so there's this perception right? athletic scholarships, right? Like, why? Like, why did the dumb jocks get, you know? Or the dumb jocks get scholarships when there and I'm going to use the like, the knowledge like, first of all, like, we're talking about, I'm throwing a lot of assumptions here, right, like, but you know, like that whole that narrative, right? Like, jocks are dumb, like, Why? Why should they get free rides to school, and this then the third, and it was great, because he was like, but you know, but but people are naive and understanding what what that program can accomplish. And he said, so for example, and he like, gets deeply into this, these data and numbers, and he was like, so, you know, when Maryland one last time they won the NCAA tournament, he was like, by us winning the NCAA Tournament, it multiplies our admissions applications that we get by like 7,000%. And it will hold that way for three years, and then we'll lose 5% for another seven years, until we come back down to and that's provided that we don't have winning seasons that we aren't able to continue to capitalize off that momentum, he's like, what people don't understand is that when a school goes from needing to spend their marketing budget of millions of dollars to make sure that they have the appropriate amount of applicants to have the appropriate amount of registered students at the beginning of the year to have the income they need to operate. As soon as that changes, all of that money is able to be reallocated into their mission driven opportunities, right, all of a sudden, they can say, Okay, for the next 10 years, we can give away, you know, like new scholarships that are academic scholarships, or that are focused on like an underserved section of our community that we think needs to be better represented on campus. And he's like, ultimately, that like the dumb jock that gets a scholarship and comes in and plays on a team that is winning, that changes the fortunes of the university and frees up potentially millions and millions of dollars that can be redeployed into education focused initiatives. And that, you know, I think that to put a bow on the statements, I really want to hear kind of your feedback from it. But like, that's what we're talking about, right? We're talking about when it's more than a party, when we understand that drinks will be had laughs will be issued accolades will be received. But there are other things that are taking place, right, like we talked about last interview, like Alumni Weekend, right? It's about making people feel great about their school, it's about spirit, it's about coming back to campus, it's about like going to your favorite bagel spot. Again, it's also about getting that alone, to consider becoming an annual donor, right to the school. And like, both of those two are important. But it's not every planner that doesn't have the foresight to understand, right, that this is an ecosystem.

Devon Pasha:

Absolutely. And I think it all goes back to to purpose and mission. And even in teaching my students, you know, the concept of planning these events, I always go back to three things, mission goals and objectives. And I really think for having someone who's who's strategic enough to understand that every event has a mission, or plays a part in the mission of your organization, and to take a step back and see where does this fit in, towards reaching that towards supporting the mission? And institutions are perfect examples of this, you know, institutions of higher learning, or where global change making happens? You know, you're thinking about research, I was lucky enough to help with a virtual event, because we were soldiering. COVID that was featuring people at Trenton University who'd gotten grants to do rapid research during COVID times. And one of them was medical innovation. It was how do you work on intubating someone and keeping them intubated, while also protecting them and giving them some sort of coverage? In this sort of, you know, how do you do that while they're still COVID going on. So you have you know, masked doctors and whatnot, but you have to intubate them and they're open, you can't mask them if they're intubated. And it was fascinating, all of the doctors and, and, you know, engineers who got together to think through this problem, and we're in their garages with shower curtains and, and wood and, you know, and going back together with research and talking about this, and, and I say all that to say, you know, though I was the planner and helping to facilitate and push this virtual event out. It was fascinating to listen to it was an educational opportunity. And that's what's great about institutions, thinking about smart fabrics thinking about social justice and change Ange thinking through, you know, producing the world's next great athletes or, you know, looking to, you know, the Kamala Harris or, you know, historical institutions that are producing our next world leaders. And these are all domestic and you want to celebrate that you want to celebrate these stories of alumni who, who are changing the world who are the first first to do something. And that's great. And that lives at these institutions. They're products of the institutions, everyone puts the college or university they went to on their bio. So when you think back to celebrating and bringing people together, and wanting it to be purpose and mission driven, why not have someone ask the question? How does this gathering help us with our mission? How does this event help us reach a goal for this year for this campaign for this group of people? And it's a really important question to ask and having someone on the team who will go back to leadership and say, well, actually, I've got a few questions. Who is this for? What is the goal? And how does it help us move the needle forward? If you can't answer that, maybe we stopped for a moment and before we put $10,000, down on a ballroom or pay a $20,000 hold a per diem for a speaker or entertainer. Maybe we stop for a moment and make sure we can answer those questions. Better yet, what do you want these these stakeholders he's attendees to walk away with? It's one of the cornerstones of my work with the event design Collective is is this sort of you you enter the event one way the proverbial event, and you leave profoundly changed. So what what is the change? What do you want us to enact upon them? Is it a call to action is it to galvanize them, so they all want to get out their checkbook while they're there, as soon as they get home, and donate their their value treasure to university or towards this particular building? Scholarship campaign? Is it an opportunity to share stories. And so when you want to evoke emotion, you want them to go on an emotional journey with you to feel something to evoke a powerful sense of nostalgia, or caring or empathy. You know, all of that is powerful. But our job as the designers is not to just pick a place and just order some pretty napkins and have some delicious food. It's those components added onto a journey added on to that sort of profound delta that these people are going to pass through to come out different on the other side with the desire to change behavior. Now that that is a fine art and a science. And that's more than just, you know, a reactive order taker who will find the building and order the food that someone who thinks through that group, who empathizes with them, who asked questions about them, who tries to understand where this person is coming from? What are the barriers to entry? And what can we create and design within this proverbial space to get them to do what we want them to do? And get them to feel what we want them to feel?

Patrick Rife:

Yeah, well, well stated. well stated. So, you know, so here's a question for you. And, you know, like, I think that you know, it can be ideological, or it can be tactile in terms of talking about technology. So like, inside of your inside of your day to day, right, you have colleagues right there. They're more than just you planning things at Drexel, I would presume. And, like, we've just gone through a huge watershed moment in the events industry, right, like new technologies needing to be adopted, right, new philosophies needing to be adopted, new practices, and protocols needed to be like the whole rulebook had to be thrown out and kind of written. And even now, right, like, it's still happening like that, that rewriting of the rules is still happening. And it will continue to happen for another 36 months, right. As things open up as we mesh is like, hybrid becomes some kind of reality that actually has products that are built for it, as opposed to like this. There's a lot of ambiguity going on there. There's

Devon Pasha:

a lot of hybrid. I mean, really, and truly, there's a lot of faux hybrid just because you're live streaming, something that people in the room are watching does not make it a hybrid event, it means that you're some passes people who want to be engaged, but but if you're not planning something specifically for your online audience, it's not a hybrid event. It's just a live streamed event, which is which is different, but to your point, yes, there's lots of lots of newness.

Patrick Rife:

So my question for you is right, like whether, like how do you onboard that stuff? Right? How does how because, like, in my experience, I work extremely. Like I work with University of Maryland. I work with Johns Hopkins, I work with Villanova. I work with GE, double all of these, so many universities that we work with for a long time. But inside of every single one of them, you know, like, I got, like 40 contacts. I have 40 clients at Johns Hopkins. And it doesn't, can to be linear, under any stretch of the imagination, but at the same time, you can only do that, but so much at like, I think in the past, it was easier to do that now that the technology boom in the event space has been accelerated so rapidly, you know, like, it's been kind of foisted on almost everyone. And there's you like, add that with the great resignation. Add that with not the great resignation, but everybody that just got pushed off the boat 20 months ago, because there just wasn't, it wasn't sustainable. So there's all this career change. There's all this like flux that's kind of happening. How do you as you know, as an elder statesman in your organization, right, you've been there. You're part of the fabric of the Drexel events community, and you're still there. How you got How do you guys where do you how do you meet that challenge? You know, like, how do you find new technology? How do you bring in new best practices that that you hope all of you can try to form a united front and present and now a word from our sponsors.

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Devon Pasha:

Absolutely. And that's a that's a wonderful question to add something to think forwards and, and really so applicable, I think, to institutions, because institutions of higher ethics are very traditional, we're steeped in our traditions, we're steeped in our, our history, and innovating that history and, and forcing some change is really difficult when wanting to honor the traditions of the past. So looking forward to all of this change in all of this flux, and still wanting to honor the institution's history, you know, we are at at at a, a great crossroads. I think, again, I bring it back to how do we do that while also honoring the past. And I think that's where the strategic part comes in. More than just now we can't do things the way we've always done them, which is a common refrain any planner, or someone who does planning in higher ed will always hear the same thing. Why can't we move this to here or change that? Well, we've always done it that way. And if we don't have this event, then this group of people will be so upset. Okay? How big a part of the population is that group of people that will be upset if we change the gala, if we move to this event, if we change this format, because if we lose, let's say that's point 5% of your total population, that you have to call and personally Stuart and say, We know that coming to this is one of your favorite events. We are looking to change the format to reinvent and innovated a little, we'd love to have you still be our guests and come and see if it still brings that sense of joy and nostalgia. We're going to happily comp your ticket this year, knowing that this is still your favorite, but it's going to look a little different. We still want you to be a part of it, while at the same time a new and innovative format. Maybe it's interactive. Maybe it has a real and true hybrid component engages 20% More of the population who you haven't gotten to come to that event. What's the ROI of that, especially if they're younger, and you're going to have more time to steward them more time to get them onto that engagement pipeline more time to get in front of them with messaging about engagement, volunteer opportunities. Notice I haven't said gifts yet. We're not we're not even there. We're just we're just, you know, we're just tilling the soil. We're just planting some seeds of engagement, volunteer opportunities, nostalgia and fond memories of the university. And after respectful amount of time, hey, here's an ask. You know, it's, there's, there's, there's really a science to it. But it's, it's where this innovation is necessary to look strategically things that no longer function for the stakeholders that you have. And also honor the fact that, you know, we do live in a digital world. Now, we do live in a place where people want, you know, they want Alumni Weekend to be an app on their phone that they can find their way around, they want the symposium to be both have online components, and in person components. I want to be able to network with people online who don't live near me. And I think especially when you look at most institutions, we all have our, you know, our tier one markets, or, you know, gold markets where a prime Mayor primary portion of our alumni live. But we also people who live further afield, one of my favorite alumni, volunteers lived in Alaska, and I worked at Bryn Mawr College, and she would get on phone calls with me, she came to alumni weekend, we just had to plan phone calls around the time where you know, she could participate, you know, you know, eight to 10 hours different timeframe. But, you know, she wasn't coming to everything. And we certainly weren't bringing programming to her. But now with digital world, it's like, you know, she could log on to a networking event, maybe it's lunchtime for her, or maybe she doesn't mind getting up in an early morning to join what would be an evening programming here in Philadelphia. And that's the thing, now we have an opportunity to engage those folks. And we have because we've gone digital for the better part of two years, how do we maintain that engagement, while also going back to the events in person that people know and love and look forward to? And again, it all goes back to that strategist and all goes back to that designer who can sit with the program manager sit with the a VPS and the executive leadership to ask those questions. What is the goal? Who is this for? And how does it move us forward? So I think it's a really beautiful hybrid of basics, just really good, essential, basic strategic question asking with, you know, inserting those those new opportunities, looking towards software or platforms that meet those goals and objectives, it's not just purchasing platforms to purchase platforms, it's how does this meet our needs? Does this move us forward? Does this engage the group that we want engaged? So I think that's that's kind of where that that dovetails nicely.

Patrick Rife:

So I mean, how is you know, how is Drexel approaching the idea conceptually, of, of hybrid, because to me, like I expected you know, when virtual hit, like a big point was, you couldn't just take your, your offline audio audience and move them online, like it's was not apples to apples like that. So the reality is, is that you're building a whole new funnel with a whole new subset of people that are that are able to attend, which had like, crazy benefits, right? Like, if you're, whatever, the American Heart Association, and all of a sudden, your gala goes, virtual right, then ostensibly, anyone that that cares about, you know, heart research globally, now has the ability to engage with your organization. You know, my thought was that people would understand that this was their opportunity to build a real community. And that, you know, rather than it being like coming to our virtual event, you know, like, really, you're just like, it's your digital entry point to our community, right, and the type of content that we're going to serve to you there, it's not going to be make sure you're there from six to nine to like, watch the live stream of the awards gala happening in a building across the world, right? It's, instead it's, you know, like, here's, like, here's the keynote, or here's the keynote transcribed in like a readable format, because like, you might want to read it, or we've repurposed it, and we've made it, you know, like a slide deck, because you might want to present it or like, like, how do you how do you tangibly take that moment, and rather than having it be this individual transactional moment, instead, it's a drawing in right to have them participate in more present from a global perspective, right, from a year round perspective. So you know, rather than it just being this, this one time instance, you know, like, whether it's a wiki or whether it's being able to go and reconnect with the people that were there, whether it's like there being follow on events and content that complement that initial thing, you know, like it's, I expected it to be freed from the realm of being an event and instead just being another blip and in the ongoing process. such just having a community that is about whatever the organization is that you know, like, largely, that has not transpired. But as we're talking like, I also think about Blackboard, right? Like, like, like Blackboard is the there's a lot to be like, we could have a whole podcast talking about what Blackboard has been accomplishing for 20 years. And like, all these new tools, right, because a lot of virtual event platforms are just like, you know, not even know code, website builders that let you drop in different widgets, you know, like, video here like this, where you put the code for your poll, this is where you like, execute these, like, very rudimentary things, you

Devon Pasha:

know, you said some great words there. And I, the one I really want to pull out is community. And I think, you know, when you think about events, you're you're building communities, even if they only last for from six to nine in the evening. It's a micro community, and you want to feel a part of that community. Humans at their very nature are tribal, you know, if you if you look at, everyone knows a basic, you know, biological evolution you probably took in high school at some point. But we are tribal. And we do look for our tribes, we do look to feel included. One of the things you think about at events is making people feel included. And if you see everyone kind of gathered around and you're on the outside, it's really hard to feel, you know, like you can break into that group. And so you might keep your back against the wall and be like, I don't know, like, I don't know anybody here and it brings up all these sort of fight and flight like risk responses. Community is really what we're striving for, both in in person events and our online presence. And what we've striven to do is to use online tools and to use virtual events as part of a hybrid event program. So we've gone back to in person, I'm looking forward on the calendar to our alumni weekend, which will be starting on May 19. It's our first live in person Alumni Weekend since 2019. So we're looking to bring that story back to the institution bring it in person together, there are no virtual components, it is not hybrid that is an in person event, which complements other community building events online. So ability to have our Drexel University Black Alumni Council do a book launch online. And everyone from all across the nation who feels a part of that community or who was welcomed to be a part of that community to celebrate that they had a book launch got to be a part of that. And they were community and maintain themselves as a community for one night. Now, we also invite everyone to join that same group in person. Now, if you felt over the past two years of virtual programming, that you really enjoy being a part of that community, you may feel moved to come and join us in person because they have in person components. And you want to feel and meet that community in person. And now link up and network or, you know, the greatest communities, especially at higher institutions are your class gears. So we're gonna we're looking at engaging our 50th reunion class of 1972, which is August I remember when the first games I ever did was 1960, two's 50th reunion. So it feels odd in this sort of multiple cycle that I sort of switched decades, and that that group that I that I love it, Braemar is gonna be celebrating their 60th reunion. But all that to say that's a community that's who you came in with us who you started with. That's your class year that is, that is an emblem of pride, are you where it is like, that's, oh, that's the Eric graduated, hey, I graduated the same year, we have something in common, we're part of that same tribe or community. So how do we engage that group to come back and celebrate this momentous milestone, and make them feel an achievement as a community? So that's kind of where I would go with answering that question is, we look at all of our experiences, whether they're fully online, or they're in person, to see how we build a community, how we bring members of that community together, and make them feel connected. Again, whether they're all in the Zoom Room together with an amazing speaker, teaching them all the same thing, or they're all sharing common stories, or they're in person, and they're here on campus, and like, oh, that used to be this building, or Yes, I remember when that was there. And look, there's Mario, like, I hardly take a picture. I haven't taken a picture with Mario since I was, you know, 25 years ago at the basketball game, things like that. It's it's, I always think through what brings them that sense of community, what makes them feel a part of the group. How do we make sure we're not excluding people with the event layouts with the entertainment with the food? All of those things go through and I tried to sit you know, as one of my mentors has always had sit in the attendees chair How do we design each experience. So, you know, from their perspective, they feel included, they feel safe, they have all of their sort of basic needs being met. And then we elevate them and activate them, so that they get to that reach desired behavior. And sometimes it's just that sometimes it's just making them feel part of that community. So they keep wanting to join us via that community, I think that's one of the important things to remember is, is you're always looking at it through the person's perspective, and trying to build that, you know, work through those sense of, of that tribal nature and making them feel included. And whether that's messaging or programming, or entertainment, etc, that's kind of, for me what I think through when bringing people together, and how we are going to continue to do that moving forward with a combination or a hybrid approach to community building, which is going to be partially online and partially in person.

Patrick Rife:

So what do you see? What do you see as the biggest challenge is to what's next. Um,

Devon Pasha:

I think for the events industry, I think we're at a precipice to where we all want to move forward in the eyes of our C suites. And our executive leadership again, away from that reactive order taker to proactive strategic advisor, proactive strategic partner, I actually just got finished speaking about sort of the future of the events industry, for MPI in New Jersey, and that was the same thing, it was going back to basics, and remembering the purpose, the mission, the goals, remembering the people who were trying to engage, and at the same time becoming those strategic partners, versus, you know, oh, she's such a great party planner, it's like, listen, I do plan a lovely party. But as you said, before, it's so much more than that, it's so much more than, than the dumb jock getting a scholarship, it's so much more than just people together in a space eating food, there's, there's an art, there's a science to it, to get them to do what you want them to do. And I think that's where the industry is, is reminding our C suites, that every time people come together, that there should be a purpose, there should be a desired behavior, and utilizing an expert, whose job it is to design experiences to get that behavior change. That's what you want to do. Like, that's who you want on your team, versus, you know, all the other players in the room, you know, you're talking about bringing people together, ask, ask an event professional to come to come sit in, or just want a seat in the room getting a seat at the table, you know, that might be especially for higher ed, you know, two or three years down the line, but, but I think that's where we are. And I think higher ed is always a little bit behind sort of corporate America in that way, where it's hard for us to be as innovative as we want to be in the events because of that sort of, you know, handcuffed to tradition. So I think for higher ed especially it's honoring tradition honoring historic spaces, and moving forward because all of our alumni are getting younger, larger more diverse, so it's how do you honor the past while moving forward and looking to the future and still creating a sense of inclusion? For all of your alumni you know, you don't want to leave your older alumni in the past are say that they're not good enough because you're only have an eye to the future. But that's where I think we are is what can we sundown what can be honored put on a shelf and revered while also looking forward to creating new and purposeful events.

Patrick Rife:

Yeah, good answer. Good answer. So we're we are rapidly running to the end of our time together, Devin but before before we wrap up, I definitely have a few fun questions of which I've changed them from the last time because otherwise they wouldn't be fun at all. So if you love those answers, you can sneak them in real quick because I understand that you put a lot of effort into into the shrimp salad answer the last time but I just thought it would be a little bit boring for you can act surprised about these fun questions. I can live with new fun questions. And the first question is, somebody is visiting Philadelphia for the first time and they like just need to get outside and walk like they you know, they've got an hour to kill. And they want to get some air and they want to get some some steps on on the Fitbit. And kind of see it where do they go?

Devon Pasha:

Well, I would definitely say Oh, City and Society Hill, even if you don't go into any of the historic spaces, it's definitely, to me one of the most beautiful places in the city. And I think it's because and this does refer a little bit back to our other conversation, but it's so it's so important. I think it's because Philadelphia works so hard to preserve its history. So being able to, you know, even if you take the l really quick down to like second street or Fourth Street and just be able to walk around, you know, you can walk by help for Sally, you can walk by Benjamin Franklin's grave, you can walk by, you know, Independence Hall and see the Liberty Bell kind of, you know, through the glass and, and see, you know, world's worth of people coming to experience that history, it's, you know, it's you can reach out and touch it, you can look at it, you can breathe that air, you can walk that same street, I just think it's so it's so impressive and it's just a beautiful area to walk around. It's also you know, it's fun and a little touristy so there are like, you know, your fun t shirt shops and amazing ice cream parlors and coffee shops and parks to sit in. There's so much beautiful green space down there as well. So I would definitely put people down there. You know, bonus if you get to go during the summer when they have the historical reenactors walking around. And you can see people in costume and there's a Fife and Drum Band or my favorite is they have General Washington and he does this recruitment for the Continental Army. And all these kids who are there for school groups are tourists lineup and they get what looks like old broomsticks and they get to pretend to be in the Continental Army and George Washington is there and they make them march up and down the square and and you can see their faces like you know, no, it's not meeting Spider Man at Six Flags, but it's history and it's cool. And it's where we're from and it's our story. And they just think it's a great place.

Patrick Rife:

Awesome. Awesome. That's that's a good answer. So good. In fact that while listening, I totally spaced on number two, but I haven't it's right there. What is it? Oh my gosh. Oh, so next one is this is like this is like a shout out to the to the real locals. What's your favorite? Like, what is your favorite like boutique, your favorite shop? Like right? Like Philly is a wonderful place. Oh, actually, I remember I was gonna say. That's what I was gonna say. I was just gonna share an anecdote, which is I remember the first time I went to Philadelphia on a school trip in the second grade and it was to see the Liberty Bell. But more importantly to me, it was to go with my mom to the mall that was in the movie mannequin. You're seeing that movie before.

Devon Pasha:

Kim Petrov back in the day.

Patrick Rife:

I can control that's so funny. I hadn't a mannequin in 35 years. I certainly know her I've seen my fair share of Sex in the City in my life. But anyway, I just wanted to say that because that was like the Liberty Bell was cool, but not as cool as the fact that because you know that we watched that movie with my mom. You know when I was Yeah, I was a little kid. So okay, anyway, back to the boutique. Yeah, what's your shop like?

Devon Pasha:

That's I think it depends on the neighborhood. Like I was just on South Street actually and there's two shops down there at once called minimalistic and the other one is called garland of letters and they're kind of these two I would say you know hippie kind of new age you know your crystals and your you know your Paula Santo and your home incense and and all your good like I used to love going in there when I was in high school you know, we were cool teenagers and South Korea it was like really for like alternative types of people and you just felt like you could be cool to be anybody you wanted and like I said just happened we taking a great walk on Saturday took myself on a date with Philadelphia and I walked all around and they were still there post COVID I was like you have no idea how happy I am to see that you're still here because it was just you know, it's it's different and it just allows for different peoples and honestly like the energy in those jobs is so so good. You know, even if you don't believe in in crystals or incense or energies, it's just it's a place that you can be different and it celebrates different, which I really love. So those are fun shops. But I also love Main Street Mani on Main Street, manioc is just great for people watching and native Philadelphians and it's it's not you know, it's not so much for tourists. There's an amazing vinyl shop that's still there. It's called Main Street Music but you know that that really celebrates you know music and vinyl and independent artists and I just got you just like really love that that you know there's very few preserved like vinyl shops left right yeah, so those are you know, there's like fun places where you just go and you support local business and you you know support the local community. matric Manik is great for that they're very big on their on their local community and celebrating that so yeah, those are sort of my fun, my fun shops but that's the best thing about Philly though is that Anything you want to be anything you want fine, I think he wants to eat. Like, if it's just find a neighborhood and there's just like a special little catch a special little shop that's like just for that.

Patrick Rife:

Alright, last question. So when you stumbled into that shop at 16 or 17? What had you just finished listening to like in the car on headphones?

Devon Pasha:

Oh, definitely live live was my life was my band back then.

Patrick Rife:

Is that because Pennsylvania or, you know, I

Devon Pasha:

don't I don't remember what it was. I think it's because I stole Throwing Copper from my sister. And I never gave it back to her. But just was like, that was just something. It was a CD. I think. The other thing I stole I stole from her, which also is a lifelong passion is meatloaf. Love meatloaf. And anyone who knows her ever seen me sing karaoke is at some point, meatloaf is part of my repertoire. Love meatloaf, but But yeah, live something about echo checks voice and, you know, chat on the drums and the bass. And it's just just always every song is kind of like, hits home. And they're like, equal parts kind of like New Agey, and like equal parts just like, you know, just vocative rock and like, depending on what mood you're in, there was a song for you. And they were still putting out new music back then, when I was in high school, so I remember my high school boyfriend bought me their new release, and it's my senior year of high school. So it was, you know, that was there was a love moment for us. But But yeah, I think it was like, five was the album that came out when I was in high school. But yeah, it just didn't matter. Like, you know, what your vibe was there was like, you know, slow songs and rock songs. And they were very into, you know, preserving independent music and they still made their own music. It wasn't auto tuned. It wasn't pop, I was never never like been like into pop. That is just like that was like real music and real artistry. And they wrote real lyrics. And I said it for me.

Patrick Rife:

Love it. Love it. Devin, before we let you go. Let everybody know, where can they connect with you? How can they follow along?

Devon Pasha:

Absolutely. LinkedIn is always the best place to find me for anyone interested in connecting, hearing more about the event design collective CD program, the CMP. So I met Devin Montgomery Pasha on LinkedIn, you can always find me there. For those of you who are interested in email, it's dm pasha@drexel.edu. And I look forward to connecting with anyone is interested in continuing the conversation or hearing about this trip salad, which you may not have gotten to hear.

Patrick Rife:

So there you go, you have to email to find out the food tips, okay. And also a really good sweet tooth opportunity there. So for all of you that are wondering about these things, that's how you need to find out about it. So Devin, thank you for your grace and time I feel like this chat was just as good. Maybe it was fun. So and now we're old friends at this point, absolutely. embarrassed in front of you. Like I've like there's been multiple hiccups along the way. So, now we're building up to it.

Devon Pasha:

Patrick, thank you so much for having me. And thank you to your entire podcast audience for for listening. Yeah, I look forward to being a new, a new convert and listener and helping making some new connections and friends.

Patrick Rife:

Yeah, definitely. Alright guys. That's it. Again, a great interview. I hope that you all enjoyed it. If you did, you can do two things for us. The first thing is you can leave us a review your reviews help more people find this podcast. Our whole goal with producing it is just to get great guests ask them good questions so they can share their knowledge and then the more listeners that we get to tune in, the more we get to spread that knowledge so your five star review will really help us accomplish that. And second, certainly not least is make sure that you hit the subscribe button. You know whether you're listening on Spotify or Apple Music or wherever you consume your podcast content. If you hit subscribe each time we publish a new episode you'll get notified and you can tune in and check it out. So that's it. I thank you for your attentiveness and your ears and until next time, I am Patrick rife. He's