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TSE Featured Speakers: Dona Liston & Emily Malaya

Meet the speakers of Catersource + The Special Event!

As we count down the days until we come together in Austin, TX, let’s get to know this year’s featured speakers. Get your calendar ready—there's a lot of great sessions coming your way! 

Dona Liston, President, Lambermont Events 

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Dona Liston has been in the event industry for over 30 years with over 1000 events under her belt. She started her business as Parties by Dona, organizing and entertaining at children's parties. Dona then added a retail party store into the mix. If that were not enough, her customers began asking her to plan their weddings, and a Wedding Consultant business was born. She surrounded herself with the best of the best and was able to sell the business in 2010 and move to San Antonio, Texas where she is now the proud owner of Lambermont Events, a mansion built in 1894. Dona and her husband Pat spent three years restoring Lambermont back to its grand state that it once was. Lambermont is now open for bookings for weddings, events and retreats. Dona has been a member of International Live Event Association for the last 14 years, serving on her local board as well as the Southwest RVP, and is currently on the International Board of Governors.  

Micro Weddings: How to Make Them Profitable! 
8:30 a.m. Tuesday, February 13 

Micro weddings, or as Dona prefers to call them—intimate weddings—well, they're not going away anytime soon. Smaller guest counts don't always mean smaller budgets. Join Dona as she shares the experiences an intimate wedding can offer to couples, and how you can still make a profit. In this session: 

  1. We will explore what a micro wedding means to you and your profits. 
  2. Clients are looking for experiences for themselves and their guests. Dona will give examples of these experiences that wedding vendors can implement. 
  3. We will share ideas of how to upgrade, not discount. 

Emily Malaya, CEO, The TapRoot Hospitality Collective 


With over 15 years experience in food service and hospitality, Emily has designed and executed events for thousands of guests at official parties at sporting events, with former presidents, heads of state, Fortune 500 companies, and premiere non-profits. As a GM and VP, she drove Austin market growth, revenue, and P&L growth, utilizing her MBA to lead a 10-person managerial team overseeing 125+ cross-functional professionals for five years prior to joining The TapRoot Hospitality Collective as CEO. Overseeing six brands of the restaurant group in nine locations with over 200 employees, she continues to coach and mentor executive leaders to foster organizational growth, and with her team opened their newest restaurant in February 2023. 

Hospitality & Health 
1:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 13 

Things have changed rapidly in our industry following the end of the pandemic, and every hiring manager in hospitality has dealt with the adjustment in our workforce demanding better pay, better conditions, better hours, and benefits that are expected in most other industries. For many of us this transition is another new and sometimes difficult path to tread. Where do I find these resources? Can I afford them? Can I afford not to offer my employees something? Moreover, our industry has always been rife with addiction, long hours, and high stress situations that exacerbate the issues faced by the 1 in 5 people in the population who already deal with mental illness in some capacity. For an industry where customer experience is king, how are we ensuring our staff is best prepared to offer the best version of themselves to therefore offer the best service possible? This talk addresses shifting cultural norms to support a healthy, balanced workplace for your employees without sacrificing profitability, as well as tips for offering benefits based on what your bottom-line can afford. 

You can see Dona and Emily LIVE at Catersource + The Special Event in Austin from Feb 12-15. 

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