Each year the ISES New York Metro Chapter honors individuals and organizations whose exceptional accomplishments have made a significant positive impact on our industry and the larger events community.

HALL OF LEGENDS recognizes select event industry colleagues for their leadership, exemplary achievements, and tenure in the special events industry.

SERVICE EXCELLENCE AWARD honors the unsung heroes in the event industry.  The staffer who delivers exemplary service, consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty, dedicates him or herself to their work, their company, their clients, and always makes things better when it counts the most.

This year ISES New York Metro is delighted to honor these exceptional members of our industry.


Maureen Ryan-Fable, First Protocol US, President and COO

With a career in events stretching nearly 20 years, Maureen sits at the helm of First Protocol in the U.S. and brings creative leadership, strong communication skills, an advanced project management background and expertise in operations.  Prior to launching First Protocol in the US, Maureen held several senior event management positions, including Director of Events at Billboard Magazine and The New York Stock Exchange where she had oversight for over 500 meetings and events per year.  Taking that experience, Maureen started her own event agency, Ryan Fable Productions in 2000, which was later acquired by First Protocol in 2004, which at that time only had an office in London.

Under Maureen’s leadership, First Protocol’s New York office has grown from 3 employees in 2004 to over 60 employees currently.  As a shareholder and member of First Protocol’s Board of Directors, Maureen is responsible for key growth initiatives and decisions for the company.  Besides her event expertise, Maureen’s true strength is her mentoring and leadership abilities and the relationship management of complex international accounts including FP’s Managed Services offering.

She has been invited to speak at various forums including the Women’s Leadership Exchange Conference and Event Marketer Magazine’s Top Agency Roundtable.   First Protocol was recently recognized as one of Crain’s Top 75 Best Places to Work in NYC due in part to her deep commitment and dedication to the staff she leads.  She also helped to develop the agency’s CSR program to include a committee that represents a cross section of staff and focuses on office wellness, community outreach and sustainability initiatives.

Maureen resides in Manhattan with her husband, two children and golden doodle.

Van Allen Rice, Founder and CEO, Bestek Lighting & Staging and ISES New York Metro Chapter Past President

Van Allen Rice founded Bestek Lighting & Staging in 1974 on a dream and $900 in cash. After building sets and designing lighting for local theater groups, Van quit his night job as a musician to devote full attention to growing the company. In the past forty years, he has taken it from a two-person operation to staffing as many as 60 people, from one of the initial prime subcontractors for Studio 54’s 1977 opening to helping Toshiba Corp. flip the switch on the 2013 “Centennial Holiday Light Show” in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, from a small storefront to a more than 15,000-square-foot facility with multiple shop spaces, from a battered station wagon to a fleet of 24-ft trucks, and from a couple of dozen six-inch Fresnels and Lekos and antiquated dimming systems to well over $1.5 million of equipment. Bestek now provides lighting, staging, rigging and structures, welding, large-scale graphics, drapery, sets, displays, and custom-built equipment rentals. Its growth and prestige within the special events industry is the realization of Van’s vision as owner and president.

A key contributor to a variety of cultural, historic, and political highpoints for nearly four decades,Van’s strength is applying his problem-solving ability and design sense in lighting and scenery to engineer and create settings that capture the designer’s concepts and the client’s dreams.Bestek’s innovative lighting and staging have contributed to the gala celebrating Ellis Island’s restoration, the Brooklyn Bridge centennial, Republican and Democrat White House administrations over 16 years, as well as the New York fashion show scene for designers such as Oscar de la Renta and Ralph Lauren. Corporate clients have drawn on this expertise as well, including Black Rock, Allianz, Cisco and the National Football League in addition to hundreds of social fundraisers, product launches, award presentations, and private events.

Under Van’s guidance, Bestek is consistently called on for its expertise in tailoring processes and procedures to accommodate venue idiosyncrasies in non-traditional event spaces. These have included Liberty Island;the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum; Prospect Park; the International United Nations headquarters; New York City Hall; the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, and JFK Airport, as well as universities, showrooms,outdoor settings, and various historic sites.

When faced with technical or equipment challenges, Van enjoys designing and drafting solutions. If a piece of required hardware doesn’t exist, he and his staff will originate and fabricate it or modify gear to do the job. He has even invented and developed a line of specialty hardware especially suited for installing lighting equipment in tents. “Our expertise extends to thinking three dimensionally about installations within structural limitations, building and then piecing together on-site the requisite equipment, and sequencing our set-up for time-sensitive situations,” comments Van. “The shop culture that’s been cultivated through the years is one of caring and attention to detail so there are no surprises, and each event comes off as envisioned, on time.”

Since Bestek’s founding, Van Allen Rice has worked at nearly every job in the company, including welder, electrician, rigger, staging and lighting tech, and lighting designer. Currently he plays the role of Senior Project Manager. A founding member of the ISES New York Metro Chapter, he has served as both treasurer and president. He is also a member of ESTA, the theatrical dealers association. He served for several years on the National ISES Ethics Committeeand has taught courses in technical event production at NYU.

After his 40 year journey from dreamer to CEO, now and then Van still likes to step back into the shop and do a little carpentry or welding work.


Declan Cox, Fresco by Scotto

Declan, a native of Limerick, Ireland, arrived in New York in 1983. He attended University College Limerick, where he studied Computer Operations.

Declan joined the Real Estate Industry shortly after his arrival in New York, where he managed a Real Estate Office in Manhattan. In 1987, Declan started his own Real Estate Title Insurance Business, which he still currently operates.

Wanting to expand his creative and artistic side, Declan found himself immersed in the catering business, working events throughout the New York Metropolitan area. He was introduced a few years ago to Elaina Scotto and her family of the famed restaurant, Fresco by Scotto, located in midtown Manhattan.Declan represents Fresco by Scotto at special events comprised of 10 guests to several hundred guests though out the New York Metropolitan area. Declan has had the pleasure of working at entertainment, museums and corporate venues, as well as for several renowned private clients.


Caryn Oberstein, Production Manager at Wizard Studios

Caryn Oberstein has been an employee at Wizard Studios since July of 2007.  Starting as Event Coordinator, her title changed to Event Manager in 2009, and was later promoted to Production Manager in 2014.  She has planned and coordinated a broad range of events in the New York tri-­state area and throughout the United States. Various events have comprised of conferences, corporate parties, award ceremonies, social events, half time shows, & trade shows.

Prior to working at Wizard Studios, she developed her passion for events as a community art & music programmer at Southern Tier Celebrates!, a non-­?profit arts organization located in Binghamton, NY.  While there, she procured grants that generated the funding for over two hundred performances, festivals  and educational outreach programs per year.  The largest of which, involved the planning and execution of a one-­night New Year’s Eve festival with over one hundred performances in forty venues.

When she is not occupied multi-­tasking a large book of loyal clientele, she can be found cooking gourmet style meals in her home kitchen, and biking throughout her neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Vinnie Salvetti, Drape Kings

As one of the original “Dukes of Drape” Vinnie Salvetti, now Drape Kings Senior Field Technician, has been an integral part of the extraordinary growth and success of the company. For nearly 15 years he’s worked alongside the industry’s best and brightest in most every room in town. A tireless team player, Vinnie has proven himself over and over again by sharing his expertise and dedication around the clock, giving new meaning to the terms 24/7 and service!

Whether draping a stadium for thousands or an intimate presidential affair, Vinnie has been there leading by example. As the company has grown, so has Vinnie’s expertise to include complex Kabuki Reveals, massive Traveler Tracks and Broadway Step & Repeats. All in all, it’s safe to say he’s installed more miles of drape than anyone in the business, nationwide!

Vinnie is the proud father of three beautiful children, Alexis, Olivia & Tade and husband to the lovely Deya.

Drape Kings couldn’t be prouder to call him one of their own, and are delighted by his continued success and recognition in the events industry.