Expert Insights & Discussion Leaders
Engage!23 The Belmond Sicily Experience is unlike any other Engage! event as it will combine elements of our Retreats and Experiences and is focused on strengthening meaningful connections between our 100 like-minded luxury event industry leaders. Through next-level engagement at these exclusive 5-star hotels, we will focus on personal development and professional growth, featuring insights from outside-the-industry experts, peer-led discussions, and authentic networking while immersing in unique experiences. Please click the photos below to learn more about our facilitators and peer-led discussion leaders.
- Clinical Professor of Law, Columbia University, Founder/CEO of Ask for More
Alexandra Carter is a Clinical Professor of Law and the Director of the Mediation Clinic at Columbia Law School. She is a world-renowned negotiation trainer for the United Nations, Fortune 500 companies, U.S. courts and federal agencies, and more. In 2019, Professor Carter was awarded the Columbia University Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching, Columbia University’s highest teaching honor. Professor Carter’s first book, Ask for More: 10 Questions to Negotiate Anything, was published by Simon & Schuster on May 5, 2020, and became an instant Wall Street Journal Business bestseller – the first negotiation book solo-authored by a woman to make that list.
Professor Carter is a frequent media commentator on negotiation and pay equity for women, with appearances on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and MSNBC Live, Hardball with Chris Matthews, the CBS Early Show and NPR Marketplace. She is a contributor for NBC News’ Know Your Value, a news site devoted to helping women grow in their careers and reach their full potential.
- Vice President & Divisional Leader, Southern Europe, LVMH/Belmond Hotels
- Founder, Cheif Creative Officer
Bryan Rafanelli, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Rafanelli Events, works hand-in-hand with his clients to transform their weddings into unforgettable experiences. Known best for his customized approach to every project, Bryan and his team marry a unique and exquisite sense of style with careful attention to detail to ensure each event is truly exceptional.
Over the past 26 years, Bryan has built a company that prides itself in bringing its production and design expertise forward based on solid business tenants and processes for success in the full-service event planning space. His approach takes clients through the concept, design and execution of every detail of their wedding, creating enduring memories that last a lifetime. He has built a company to last from the bottom up and surrounds himself with a team that has the ability to pivot and change course during the toughest of times.
Bryan’s dedicated team of design and production individuals act on the philosophy that they are in the relationship business, and that every wedding is a unique creative challenge deserving of a one-of-a-kind celebration. His wedding clients include Fortune 500 families, public figures and successful entrepreneurs.
Rafanelli Events’ expertise extends beyond weddings, including destination and private events, corporate gatherings and non-profit fundraisers ranging in size from 15 to 15,000 attendees.
Bryan released his first book in the Fall of 2019, through Rizzoli. The book, titled “A Great Party – Designing The Perfect Celebration,” with the foreword by Chelsea Clinton, shares Bryan’s secrets for creating unforgettable parties, soirées, and gatherings.
- Creative Director, Lisa Vorce Co
Lisa Vorce is a world-renowned celebrity event planner and the owner and creative director of Lisa Vorce CO (LVCO). Recognized for her unmatched ability to design and produce flawless celebrations for the most discerning clientele, Lisa and her team have produced some of the most iconic celebrations of our era, including the weddings of John Legend & Chrissy Teigen, Kate Upton & Justin Verlander and Lea Michele and Zandy Reich. Her travels and events throughout the world – from Italy to St Barths to Vietnam – fuel Lisa’s creative work, providing her with the opportunity to marry distinct cultural aesthetics with inventive design wherever she goes. As an industry tastemaker with almost 23 years of experience, Lisa has been named a top wedding planner by Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Biz Bash, Brides, Martha Stewart, Party Slate and DWP.
- Owner, Jose Villa Photography
People often ask me how I developed my style, and how I create images that stand out in today’s highly competitive wedding market. Well, I am a fine art wedding photographer. My approach applies fine art photography to the living,
breathing, fast-moving phenomenon that is a wedding. For me, it is all about making something beautiful. Ultimately, my goal is to craft vibrant, energetic, fine art images that are as unique as the people in the photographs.
I’m humbled to say that I have been published in many magazines around the world including, Martha Stewart Weddings,Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Vogue Italia, Vogue Mexico, Vogue Bride Australia, Vogue Bride Japan, Geraldine Magazine, C Weddings, Flutter, The Knot, Instyle Weddings, Inside Weddings, BRIDES, Pacific Weddings, Cosmo Bride, PDN, American Photo, and many more around the world.
Named one the the top Wedding Photographers by Martha Stewart Weddings, Harpers Bazaar, Style Me Pretty, and Vogue; one of the top 10 wedding photographers in the world by American Photo Magazine, and one of the most influential photographers of our decade by PDN
- Owner, Joel Serrato | Wedding Photographer
Joel Serrato’s artistry in wedding photography is built upon a strong foundation of capturing pure moments of emotion, innocence, laughter and love. This gorgeous tapestry called life grows with each couple’s journey, which he captures exquisitely on film, time and again.
Specializing in huge, complex weddings—“the bigger the better”—and seeking clients who are crazy in love and aren’t afraid to cry. “I give my all to my clients. When I’m photographing your wedding, I’m in one thousand percent.”
- President, Michelle Rago Destinations
Michelle Lord Rago is an international planner, producer and designer. Her company is based in New York City but her experience and approach are global.
Michelle has worked in the field of entertaining and hospitality since graduating from the New York Restaurant School in 1988. In 2007 Michelle published a book, Signature Weddings: Creating a Day Uniquely Your Own.
Michelle’s greatest strength lies in interpreting the client’s preferences, assessing the possibilities and translating them into a well-planned and well-designed affair. Her years of hands on experience as a producer, design and planner have served her well for the complicated landscape of creating events worldwide.
Her recent projects in the Beckham Peltz wedding in Palm Beach, Sean McVay’s, coach of the Los Angeles RAMS to Veronika Khomyn as well as sound proofing a wine warehouse in Napa!
She and her team operate in many languages and cultures, although it is said Michelle’s native tongue is the Language of Determination.
- Managing Partner, Master Connection Associates
They call her the ‘Radical Mentor’ for a reason. She never stops and she says it like it is. Throughout all the ups and downs of the crazy hospitality, events, and travel business, she was a source of positivity and inspiration who helped many people not only survive but thrive.
As the founder of Master Connection Associates (MCA), Cindy Novotny is an icon in the hospitality industry. Her specialties are leadership, sales, and customer service excellence. She built MCA into one of the leading training and consulting firms in the world.
Her experience is vast in the hospitality and travel industry and is well established in other industries including professional service firms, automotive, real estate, healthcare, retail and more. Her popularity has no boundaries, and she is ‘a force to be reckoned with’. Cindy’s natural charisma, high energy, drive, humor, and passion guarantee her targeted message captivates the audience leaving them with reality-based skill take aways and actionable items.
Having logged over 10 million miles, Cindy is the epitome of the term ‘road warrior’ and jokes that she loves the smell of jet fuel in the morning. Her bags are always packed ready to embark on her next journey! Cindy authored a book ‘Living with No Balance…and Loving It’ that provides insight into her life on the road and how to create personal balance. Coming soon, her next book, ‘My Secret to Stamina’ provides helpful tips on how to deal with life’s exhausting issues.