WANADA CEO John O’Donnell Speaks at Greg O’Dell Send-Off

On April 14, the city of Washington held a celebration honoring the career of Greg O’Dell, the former CEO of Events DC, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.  John O’Donnell, as producer of The Washington, DC Auto Show, the largest annual event held inside the center, was invited to say a few words.

“Greg will be missed.  When you have a partner with a history of trustworthiness like him, it makes tough decisions easier to make,” O’Donnell said.  “I can honestly say that the Washington, DC Auto Show would not be as strong as it is today without his leadership. Anybody can be a leader when it’s easy, but Greg has the character to be a great leader when it counts.”

O’Dell is stepping down as the head of D.C.’s conventions and sports authority after nearly 13 years overseeing major initiatives, including construction of the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Congress Heights and overseeing the enhanced safety regulations and upfitting at all of the city’s sports venues in response to the COVID pandemic. O’Dell is joining the hospitality company OVG360 as President, Venue Management. He will be responsible for setting strategy to bolster sustainable operations, booking and content development, public safety, and many other competencies at more than 230 properties around the globe, including stadiums, arenas, convention centers and more.

On the same day as O’Dell’s parting celebration, Events DC named Samuel Thomas as interim president and chief executive officer following a unanimous vote by the organization’s board of directors. Thomas, Events DC’s current Chief Operating Officer, has worked at Events DC for over 15 years and previously served as senior vice president and general manager of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center before his promotion to Chief Operating Officer.

O’Donnell made mention of the longtime working relationship with Thomas in his remarks as well.  “Events DC is in the enviable position of having a natural successor to Greg already lined up in Samuel Thomas,” he said.  “I can’t think of an individual who would be a better fit for this role and am confident that the interim tag will be removed as soon as it is practicable.”

WANADA would like to extend its best wishes to both Greg O’Dell in his new venture and to Samuel Thomas in his new role.


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