COLUMBIA, S.C. (Monday, October 24) - The Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports & Tourism, the governing entity over Columbia Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau, Columbia Regional Sports Council and Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, is pleased to announce the promotion of Ashleigh Pair Conner to director of events, Katie Coker to senior event manager, and Ryan Melvin to sales manager for Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. The Midlands Authority has also hired LaShun D. Hickman as accounting manager and Connie Cauthen as human resource manager.

Conner, a graduate from the University of South Carolina, has an established record of leadership within the convention industry. A member of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) for 11 years, Conner received her Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation recognized by the Convention Industry Council (CIC) worldwide in 2010.

Coker holds a B.S. in Marketing from Clemson University, and has worked in the sales department since 2006. In her new role as senior event manager, Coker will ensure all events held at Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center run efficiently, while keeping clients’ overall vision a top priority.

A Columbia native, Melvin began working as a sales assistant for Columbia Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau in 2010. As a sales manager, he will handle the religious, multicultural, trade, and manufacturing markets. A member of the NAACP's Columbia chapter, Melvin is a graduate of Winthrop University and holds a B.S. in Integrated Marketing Communication.

Having worked in the finance department at the Midlands Authority as an assistant for nearly four years, Hickman’s new position of accounting manager will focus solely on the accounting responsibilities and functions for the organization. A graduate of South Carolina State University, Hickman is a former business educator within Richland District II.

Previously serving as human resources specialist for Orangeburg Department of Public Utilities, Cauthen’s new position of human resources manager will focus on the human resources needs of the entire staff. Cauthen holds a B.S. in Business Administration from South Carolina State University, as well as a Masters in Human Resources from Webster University.

“Ashleigh, Katie and Ryan have all proven they have the knowledge and skills to excel in their current positions and I know they will continue to be valuable assets to our team in their new roles,” commented, Ric Luber, president and CEO. “We are also very excited to welcome LaShun and Connie to our ‘famously hot’ team. They both will play a large role in supporting the Midlands Authority."

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About the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports & Tourism:
The Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports & Tourism is a private, not-for-profit corporation funded primarily by revenue generated by visitors through accommodations taxes and is the parent organization of Columbia Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau, Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, and Columbia Regional Sports Council. The mission of the Midlands Authority is to strengthen the area's economy by marketing and selling Columbia, its accommodations, restaurants, facilities and attractions as a destination for meetings, conventions, tradeshows, special events and leisure travel. For more information, please visit