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AVIXA Names 2020 Award Winners

The AVIXA Awards presentation at InfoComm 2019.
The AVIXA Awards presentation at InfoComm 2019 (Image credit: AVIXA)

AVIXA has announced the 2020 recipients of its annual awards. Honorees will be recognized in a virtual ceremony during InfoComm 2020 Connected on Wed., June 17 at 5p.m. EDT.

The AVIXA Awards recognize outstanding AV professionals for their contributions to the industry. Members of the industry nominate individuals for the Adele De Berri Pioneers of AV, CTS Holder of the Year, Educator of the Year, Fred Dixon Service in Education, Mackey Barron Distinguished Achievement, Women in AV, and Young AV Professionals awards. New for 2020 are the Emerging Talent and Event Design of the Year awards. The Harald Thiel Volunteer of the Year Award is bestowed by AVIXA staff.

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"Day in and day out, AV professionals leave impressions on the people they meet and the spaces they help create," said David Labuskes, CTS, CAE, RCDD, chief executive officer, AVIXA. "Each year, AVIXA is honored to shine a spotlight on individuals who are helping the industry grow, whether it's through teaching, breaking down barriers, or pioneering new technology and ideas. Congratulations to the 2020 AVIXA Awards winners and thank you for all your contributions to the AV industry."

Adele De Berri Pioneers of AV Award

(Image credit: AVIXA)

Bruce Howze

Fellow Engineer, Biamp

President and Founder, Community Professional Loudspeakers

While working as a young audio engineer and doing live sound mixing touring for groups like Jefferson Airplane and other emerging artists in the sixties, Howze saw a need for better equipment in the industry and decided to start his own company Community Professional Loudspeakers in 1968. He pioneered the use of manufacturing horn systems and enclosures with fiberglass to create large, yet lightweight, loudspeaker systems. He is also credited with many industry firsts, including the first coaxial all-horn system and the first large-format midrange compression driver, among others. Howze remains active in the company today and continues to research and develop new loudspeaker technologies.

Read the exclusive interview.

CTS Holder of the Year Award

(Image credit: AVIXA)

Mark Higgason, CTS-D, CTS-I

Executive Vice President and Partner, Encompass Audio Visual LLC

Higgason has been working professionally with audio and electronics for more than 20 years. He has helped Encompass AV grow from an unfunded start-up to a multi-million-dollar operation. Higgason is determined to make human-centric technologies a common thing in the workplace and beyond.

Read the exclusive interview.

Educator of the Year Award

(Image credit: AVIXA)

Jonathan Brawn, CTS

Principal, Brawn Consulting 

Brawn has extensive experience in the design and integration of AV and digital signage systems and the development of educational programs. He is an instructor for AVIXA and a member of the association's various AV standard task forces, including the Project Image System Contrast Ratio standard. Brawn was also the recipient of AVIXA's 2012 Young AV Professional Award.

Read the exclusive interview.

Emerging Talent Award

(Image credit: AVIXA)

Edinys Guzman

Student, Lincoln Tech

Guzman is a student at Lincoln Tech with a 4.0 GPA in the Electrician and Electronics training program. She has a Foundations of Crestron Programming Certification and is currently working on her level 2 certification from Crestron and studying for her CTS.

Read the exclusive interview.

Event Design of the Year Award

(Image credit: AVIXA)

Meredith Francsis

Senior Creative Producer with BlackOak Technical Productions

Francsis is a senior producer in the events space, developing custom lighting, audio, video, and staging designs. She has a bachelor's degree in Technical Theatre/Theatre Design and Technology from Illinois State University.

Read the exclusive interview.

Fred Dixon Service in Education Award

(Image credit: AVIXA)

Steve Thorburn, PE, LEED-AP, CTS-D, CTS-I

Principal, Thorburn Associates

Thorburn is a licensed engineer with more than 30 years of experience in the architectural application of acoustic, audiovisual technology, and lighting systems. His dual degrees from Michigan Technological University in electrical engineering and technical theatre enable him to coordinate technical requirements involved in the construction bid process with practical issues required by the end users. Thorburn is a senior instructor for AVIXA and the recipient of AVIXA's 2011 Educator of the Year Award. In addition, he authored the book Acoustics in Architecture.

Read the exclusive interview.

Harald Thiel Volunteer of the Year Award

(Image credit: AVIXA)

Lisa Perrine, Ed.D.

CEO, Cibola Systems

In addition to being CEO of Cibola Systems, Perrine is an avid writer and frequent presenter, delivering courses and workshops on design thinking and workplace experience design. Her courses have been approved for certification renewal units by AVIXA, The American Institute of Architects, and International Interior Design Association. Perrine serves on AVIXA's Standards Steering Committee and is a member of the Standards Development Task Group creating a standard for human-centered AV design. She has served on several nonprofit boards, including the Orange County United Way, the Girl Scouts of Orange County, St. Joseph Hoag Health, and Mission Hospital. Perrine has a doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University.

Read the exclusive interview.

Mackey Barron Distinguished Achievement Award

(Image credit: AVIXA)

Ben Adams

International Representative, IATSE

Adams began his career as a teaching assistant in film at his alma mater Michigan State University. But before continuing his career in film, he spent two years serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Following his service, Adams, who has a love for traveling, worked on a documentary series in conjunction with Michigan State University and National Iranian Radio Television (NIRT). Adams was a filmmaker for Ford Motor Company from 1975 to 1977 and continued his career as a freelance union cameraman from 1977 until he retired in 2002. Adams then became increasingly involved in labor activism, working for the American Federation of Teachers. In 2005, Adams settled into his second career as an IATSE International Representative—working to protect and serve entertainment industry workers just like him.

Read the exclusive interview.

Women in AV Award

(Image credit: AVIXA)

Sarah Becher, CTS-D, CTS-I

Project Engineer with AV Calibrations, LLC

Becher has more than 30 years of engineering experience in audiovisual display and processing equipment. During her career, she has managed local and regional levels of operations, quality assurance, and employee and customer training. Becher is currently pursuing a master's degree in Management of Technology at The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Read the exclusive interview.

Women in AV Award

(Image credit: AVIXA)

Melissa Ross, CTS

Senior Engineer, Special Projects Group, AVI-SPL

Melissa Ross is considered to be the most-certified woman in AV. She is an HDBT Master Installer and holds certifications in Networked AV Design and Commissioning, Crestron DMCD-4K, AutoCAD 3D, Revit, and many more. She is also a member of the AVIXA standard's subject matter expert group and holds a bachelor's degree in structural engineering from North Carolina State University.

Young AV Professionals Award

(Image credit: AVIXA)

Sean McChesney, CTS

Experience Technology Consultant, Electrosonic

McChesney has a strong academic background—a bachelor's degree in Electronic Media in Art and Technology from the University of Tampa and a Master of Entertainment Technology degree from Carnegie Mellon University. As an Experience Technology Consultant for Electrosonic, he works with clients to understand their requirements and translate them into a technology solution, coordinating the right experts and working closely with all stakeholders. He leads some of Electrosonic's most award-winning projects and pushes the boundaries of experiential technology.

Read the exclusive interview.

Young AV Professionals Award

(Image credit: AVIXA)

Gregory Rushton, CTS-D

Vice President, Muley & Banani Audio Visual Inc.

Rushton graduated with honors from Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology (OIART). He joined Mulvey & Banani International in 2007, and in 2017 he became vice president of its professional audiovisual design subsidiary Muley & Banani Audio Visual Inc. Rushton works on an array of project sectors, ranging from cultural and sport venues, education and healthcare facilities, to private commercial developments.

Read the exclusive interview.

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