Meet our Women Leaders
Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Patricia began her journey in Hospitality working for the Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic in Santo Domingo. It was during this time that she had a taste of the MICE Industry working as a Diplomatic Liaison during the Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Governments in 2002.
Patricia moved to the US right after college to further advance her career and become fully independent in her early twenties. She had limited resources and an unpaid internship to get started, but she was fortunate to come across many people in her life who enabled her to fulfill her dreams of living abroad.
An expert in Destination Marketing and Hospitality Sales, Patricia has been a top performer and influencer in a variety of roles within the travel Industry giving her a very broad perspective with a focus on meetings and incentives. She has been in leadership positions for Destination Marketing Organizations, Hotel Group Sales and Global Destination Management Companies.
An entrepreneur at heart, she created a unique concept for sales & marketing representation and founded Synergy-Connect in 2017 along with Maura Zhang. Most recently, she launched LatinPlus DMC Group, a collection of Destination Management Companies specialized in Latin America’s Top Destinations for Meetings & Incentives.
Ashley was born for the hospitality industry. As a teenager she knew exactly what she wanted for her career, and enrolled in the College of Hospitality & Tourism at Niagara University. 12 years later she would go on to gain invaluable experience in luxury and convention hotel sales and operations, and finally planting her roots in global event planning, masterfully designing and overseeing meetings, incentive trips, and conferences. With the world at her fingertips, Ashley decided to challenge herself further, launching Buffalo NY’s very first and only Destination Management Company.
She spends her time attending webinars, virtual conferences, teaching at Niagara University, event planning as an independent contractor, and running events and data analysis for LatinPlus DMC Group. Having two small children at home, Ashley is the definition and WonderWoman (or at least she tries to be).
Maura Zhang was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to the US in 1989. Amidst economic uncertainty and political turmoil in the DR in the 80’s, her father (a neurologist) and her mother (a doctor in pharmacy who had been a stay at home mom since Maura was little), made the decision to uproot the family (with her 2 sisters) and move to Miami.
Maura has over 20+ years in luxury-tier hospitality sales and marketing, hotel operations and travel industry sales. She has a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management from Florida International University and she maintains active roles in SITE, MPI and FICP. Earned both CIS & CITP, and is past President of SITE FL & Caribbean chapter.
In 2017, Maura helped launch Synergy-Connect along with Patricia Sahin, a boutique representation firm for emerging destinations. She is managing partner at Synergy-Connect which currently represents Naples, Marco Island, Everglades CVB and Curacao Tourist Board, as well as DMCs in Latin America's top destinations through their brand LatinPlus DMC Group
Aileen was born and raised in Puerto Rico where she fell in love with the hospitality and tourism industry while managing a beachfront Bed and Breakfast in the west side of the Island in the town of Rincon. Although she already held a BBA with a major in Marketing from the University of Puerto Rico, a promised she made to her father and her passion for the industry drove her to pursue graduate studies in hospitality in Miami. She holds a Master’s in Hospitality and Food Service Management from Florida International University, is a Certified Incentive Specialist (CIS). She is a passionate and experienced hospitality and destination selling professional with skills in business development and account management.
During her time in Miami she worked for Hyatt, Sonesta Hotels, InterContinental and even a local meeting planning companies in operations. Upon graduating, the opportunity to represent her beloved Island of Puerto Rico took her to Chicago to work for Meet Puerto Rico, the Island’s DMO now known as Discover Puerto Rico. Before joining LatinPlus DMC Group she was Business Development Executive for Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
For over 20 years, she has been an active member of the Meetings and Incentives association community. Her volunteer experience includes leading various committees for the Greater Midwest Chapter of PCMA including Community Services Committee and Education, Golf and Events Committee as well as Board Member for MPICAC and member of Education Committee for SITE Chicago. She has won several awards throughout the years and has being nominated for many others recognizing her contributions to the Chicagoland Meetings Industry.