Kelvin Moore named new general manager of McCormick Place
The company that manages McCormick Place has appointed Kelvin Moore to the post, succeeding industry veteran David Causton, who is retiring. Moore will be the first African American to hold the position.
The company that runs McCormick Place said Tuesday that it has named the first African American to serve as the convention center’s general manager.
ASM Global named Kelvin Moore to the key post at North America’s largest exhibition complex. Moore formerly ran Festival Hall at Navy Pier and most recently was in charge of Philadelphia’s convention center. He will succeed McCormick Place veteran David Causton, who is retiring.
As regional vice president and general manager at McCormick Place, Moore will report to both ASM and to the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the public agency that owns Navy Pier and the convention facility. The agency calls itself MPEA but is commonly known as McPier.
Moore said in an interview that he would encourage involvement in the convention business from minority workers and minority-owned firms but will not impose quotas in hiring or contracting. He also said he hopes to usher in technological changes, such as more hybrid meetings, that will help McCormick Place in its continued recovery from the pandemic.
He said he realized only recently that he would be the first African American general manager there. “Personally, I think that’s significant. I don’t take that lightly. Representation matters,” he said, adding that he believes the population working the exhibition halls should mirror the diversity of the Chicago area.
Cynthia McCafferty, spokeswoman for McCormick Place, said that in the agency’s most recent fiscal year ending in June, more than 35% of its spending was with minority- or women-owned firms, exceeding internal goals. She also said about 75% of workers on the convention center campus are people of color.
Since 2018, Moore has been regional vice president and general manager for ASM at Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Convention Center. ASM has contracts to manage more than 350 event venues, including Soldier Field in Chicago.
McCormick Place has been run by outside managers since 2011, fulfilling a legislative mandate that included other reforms to lower labor costs and improve the experience for attendees at conventions and trade shows.
Causton, 65, has worked at McCormick Place since 1999, and he has been its general manager since 2004, becoming an employee of the outside management firm in 2011. Causton oversaw expansion of the convention center campus, which includes two hotels and Wintrust Arena and bills itself as McCormick Square.
He oversaw construction of McCormick Place West, which opened in 2007 and greatly expanded Chicago’s capacity to host revenue-rich trade shows and conventions.
Causton will retire Dec. 2 and Moore, 53, will officially start the week of Dec. 5.
By most measures, the convention business is almost back to its pre-pandemic pace. McCafferty said that for this year through October, the campus hosted 256 events with 2 million attendees.
That compares well against the full-year result for 2019, before the pandemic’s onset, when the campus counted 274 events with 2.83 million attendees.
McPier CEO Larita Clark issued a statement welcoming Moore. “Our calendar ahead is robust and it will be great to have Kelvin at the helm,” she said.