Focus Session: We’re All in This Together

 We are All in this Together- Creating a memorable event
through experience,
trial and error

Jen Kramer, Director of Entertainment and Special Events, Navy Pier
Shawn Waskiewicz, Executive Director, The Flagship Niagara League
Gerry Copeland, Belfast City Council
Charlotte Kirk Elkjær, Event Manager, City of Aarhus

Video Presentation

It doesn’t seem difficult in theory–invite some ships, give them some dock space and let people board them. But, as Host Port Partners know, it is so much more than merely throwing a great party. In this session, a panel of North American and European host ports will share their key learnings on how they throw a successful event, year after year. This will be a moderated discussion of best and worstpractices for experienced and novice host port organizers alike.

Jen Kramer
Jen Kramer

Jennifer “Jen” Kramer is the current Director of Entertainment and Special Events at Navy Pier Inc., the Midwest’s number-one tourist attraction and destination. In this role, Kramer is responsible for all entertainment aspects and special event operations at Navy Pier, as well as developing new and fresh events for the facility. She oversees the execution of fireworks productions, the bookings of Skyline Stage and the Beer Garden, as well as the entertainment components of Navy Pier events such as Winter WonderFest, Tall Ships, Halloween, and year-round special event programming.
Prior to accepting her position at Navy Pier, Kramer was the Director of Sports Development for the City of Chicago’s department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, under both Mayors Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel. Prior to her role at the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Kramer served as the Assistant Director of Parks Services for the Chicago Park District where she managed all lakefront events including festivals, concerts, sporting events with corporate, individual and government clients.
Kramer is the immediate Past President of Special Olympics in Chicago and was the first ever inductee in the Special Olympics Chicago Hall of Fame in 2011 as a top fundraiser. She was named Event Planner of the Year by Friends of Downtown for the 2005 White Sox Victory Parade and the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Celebration. She has also served as a consultant for the Disney Company’s Magnificent Mile Parade of Lights, and is an adjunct professor at Moraine Valley Community College.
Kramer was born in Lake Forest, Ill., and raised in Wauconda, Ill. She is a graduate of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and The Walt Disney World College Program in Orlando, Fl. She is an active member at Old St. Patrick’s church, a student of The Second City, and currently resides in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago.

Shawn Waskiewicz
Shawn Waskiewicz

E. Shawn Waskiewicz has been involved in the Tall Ships industry for four years as the Executive Director of The Flagship Niagara League (FNL), which manages the Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara. Prior to his tenure at FNL, Waskiewicz worked in sports management for fourteen years. He held various positions with the Erie SeaWolves, Erie Otters, Philadelphia Phantoms and Philadelphia Flyers. Waskiewicz was part of a staff that helped the Otters franchise set attendance records five consecutive seasons. His strong sales and marketing background has paved the way for FNL to increase their bottom line by 30% over the past three years. In 2013, Waskiewicz and his staff hosted Tall Ships Erie 2013 in Erie, PA. During this four-day festival, an estimated 83,000 visitors attended to generate over six million dollars to the local businesses. FNL made a net profit of $462,000, the largest fundraiser in their 30-year history. Waskiewicz attributes this success to the more than 900 volunteers and corporate supporters.

Waskiewicz is an Erie, PA, native. He graduated from Edinboro University of PA with B.S. Business Administration, minor in Economics. Later he graduated from Mercyhurst College with M.S. Organizational Leadership. In October, 2015, Waskiewicz graduated from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, with a certificate in fundraising management. He plans on becoming CFRE (Certified Fundraising Expert) certified this spring. When he isn’t busy in the office, Waskiewicz enjoys spending time with his wife, Meghan, and baby Harrison.


Gerry Copeland
Gerry Copeland

Gerry Copeland has worked for Belfast City Council for nearly two decades. In this time he has help deliver many of the city’s iconic events through its annual festival programme. These range from: Belfast’s yearly Saint Patricks Day Parade and Concert; its annual City Marathon (now in its 34th year) to its Halloween and Christmas celebrations. His event management experience have also seen him help deliver: Belfast staging of MTV’s prestigious European Music Awards in 2011; Belfast’s Titanic Centenary Programme in 2012; the World Police Fire Games 2013; the 2014 Giro d’Italia Big Start and two festivals to host The Tall Ships Races (2009 & 2015). Along with his colleagues in Belfast Council’s City Events Unit and Belfast Harbour he assisted in bringing over 500,000 people to The Tall Ships Races 2015 which was welcomed by the Lidl Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival. The 2015 Tall Ships festival was the event in the city with £17 million generated for the city’s economy, alongside £5 million worth of national and international publicity.

Charlotte Kirk Elkjær is the Event Manager for the City of Aarhus. Charlotte was the project manager of The Tall Ships® Races 2014 in Aarhus and will also be the project manager of the 2019 Tall Ships® Races Aarhus.



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