Carol McGury

Carol McGury

Executive Vice President – Event and Education Services

"My goal? To serve our clients by executing their organization’s strategic direction and by building creative and enriching partnerships and alliances."

With more than 30 years of experience serving associations and coming from a family where service to others is paramount (her father served the Chicago Fire Department for over 30 years), Carol McGury leads SmithBucklin’s Event and Education Services team, one of the most respected and engaged teams in the meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions industry.

By focusing on achieving the missions of our client organizations, Carol has driven success on behalf of clients, team members, and SmithBucklin as a company. In 2018, Carol’s team of 100+ event design, management, and adult education specialists delivered 300+ association events and tradeshows worldwide, serving 180,000+ attendees and 10,000 exhibitors and contributing critical operating revenue for the organizations they serve.

These meetings bring together communities of like-minded people – nurses, medical professionals, engineers, distributors and manufacturers, C-suite executives, small-business owners, and more – to expand economic opportunities, educate workforces, improve and save lives, create and protect jobs, and promote the exchange of information. The events have contributed over $1 billion in overall economic impact worldwide.

Before millennials coined the term “mission impact,” Carol was living and advocating for mission-based organizations. Carol’s passion for working and delivering growth strategies for nonprofit organizations, and her strong business acumen and relationship management skills have helped develop SmithBucklin’s expertise in developing and launching client organizations and their events.

In 2016, Carol led the acquisition of SDI, a SmithBucklin-owned company that specializes in incentive travel, strategic meetings, and special events. SDI has been consistently named one of the top 25 incentive travel companies in the U.S. (according to MeetingsNet Magazine’s CMI 25 list). She oversees the continued growth of the company, including its rebranding last year.

Carol also supported and advocated for SmithBucklin to become 100 percent employee-owned through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) in 2006, and the company culture has since completely transformed into one of shared pride in ownership.


Carol joined SmithBucklin in 1988, starting as an entry-level associate. She quickly rose in the ranks eventually serving as chief staff executive of SHARE (an IBM Users Group), IOUG (Oracle User group), and several other technology associations focused on HP, Microsoft, and CA user communities. She also served as the strategic account director for PTC (Parametric Technology Corporation), supporting its global event strategy and expanded North American Community Event.

In 2013, she was promoted to Executive Vice President, Event and Education Services, and became a member of the company’s senior executive team reporting to the CEO.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications with a minor in business from St. Xavier University in Chicago and a master’s degree in public service administration from DePaul University in Chicago.


SmithBucklin client organizations’ events have regularly been named to Trade Show News Network’s Top 50 Fastest-Growing Trade Shows List and Top 250 U.S. Trade Shows List and Trade Show Executive’s Gold 100 List and Fastest 50 Lists. SmithBucklin also was named by Trade Show Executive as one of the “Companies to Watch in 2016.” Carol was inducted into the BizBash Hall of Fame in 2016. She was honored in 2019 by MeetingsNet Magazine as a “Woman of Influence” for making the meetings industry case to millennials. Also, in 2019, she was named to Crain’s Chicago Business list of Notable Women Executives Over 50.

As a career mentor and coach, she has dedicated herself to developing talent within SmithBucklin and the industry as a whole. She challenges colleagues to think and act beyond their current capabilities. As a result, she has mentored more than a dozen of award-winning young professionals honored by Association Forum and the International Association of Exhibitions and Events.

Volunteer Service

Carol is the immediate past chair of the PCMA Foundation, overseeing scholarship awards and industry research for business event strategists. She serves as a member of several industry boards, including the Marriott Hotel Advisory Board and Destinations International Partner Advisory Council, and she is the co-chair of INCON (a global partnership of event management companies). She also serves as board secretary of the Helping Hand Center, a nonprofit serving children and adults with developmental disabilities in the greater Chicago area.