Rich Finstein
CEO, CommPartners


Rich founded CommPartners as a provider of online learning services and events in 1994. His vision was to create a culture where people could learn, advance their careers, and have fun. He has a passion for helping clients connect with their communities through education. Rich graduated from the University of Maryland and did his graduate work at Marymount University in instructional design. He now lives in Columbia, Md., with his wife of over 35 years. He has two grown children. Rich enjoys marathon running, biking, tennis, and rooting for Baltimore sports teams.

Eric Joy
Event Producer Virtual Conferences, CommPartners


Eric was born and raised in southern Maryland and graduated from the University of Maryland. In his last position as a Department of Defense contractor, Eric planned and managed logistics for specialized training courses and programming for the Navy. His prior experience includes planning live events and managing operations with the University of Maryland Athletics Department and the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs baseball team. Eric enjoys going to sport events (Maryland Terrapins, Washington Capitals, and DC United, especially), cooking (especially grilling), and being outside when the weather is nice.

What game show would you be awesome at? I’m a trivia geek and I always feel like I do fairly well watching Jeopardy at home, but I’m sure I would crack under the pressure live. Sports, history, and geography are go-to categories and literature would absolutely kill me.

Jill Norris
Project Manager Virtual Conferences, CommPartners


Jill has been producing virtual events of all shapes and sizes for associations, trade companies, and corporations since joining CommPartners in 2010. Jill grew up in Southern Maryland in a little town called Hollywood. A Towson University graduate, Jill majored in mass communications with a concentration in public relations and minored in electronic media and film with a concentration in radio production. Before coming to CommPartners, Jill held positions in radio, marketing, graphic design, and onsite conference planning. In her free time, she enjoys playing sports and traveling.

What is your favorite vacation spot? The Caribbean, somewhere on an island. Oh and Disney World, you can’t go wrong with either place.

Jen Livingston
Product Manager, CommPartners


Jen recently celebrated her 10th year working at CommPartners, having started as an Event Producer and filling various roles across the organization since. Most recently, Jen has served as Product Manager working to continually improve the Elevate Product to fulfill client needs and changes to support the immense growth of online learning and conference since COVID-19. Jen is a Maryland native and University of Maryland Alumni. She enjoys exercising, attending local sporting events, shopping, cooking, and traveling. Jen has 2 adorable kids, Charlotte, 5, and Cole, 3 who keep her on her toes.

What is your most used emoji? DEFINITELY THE FACE PALM EMOJI

Eve Finstein
Elevate Implementation Manager, CommPartners


Eve is in her sixth year working as an Elevate Implementation Manager with CommPartners, and leads the Elevate Implementation Team. In her role, she oversees Elevate client on-boarding and the building of their custom LMS platforms. Recently, she has also been involved in working to adapt Elevate’s tools to serve as home for Virtual Conferences. Eve is a Maryland native and University of Maryland Alumni. She now calls D.C. her home. In her free time (in a pre-COVID world), Eve enjoys attending sports events, traveling, and exploring D.C.’s diverse restaurant scene.

What has been your quarantine activity? My college friend started teaching a group fitness class online – it’s been a lot of fun to watch her do her thing! My wife and I have also started expanding our home bar and cocktail repertoire.

John Imperio
Lead Designer, CommPartners


John started his career in Print Design in the Philippines back in 2002, where he honed skills in Layout, Typography, Illustration, Photo Editing, and 3D Modeling and Rendering. After moving to the United States in 2010, he immersed himself in Web Design and Development while working on various freelance Web projects. John joined CommPartners in 2017, carrying with him his knowledge on both Print and Web Design, where he now leads the Design Team and supports the Marketing Team. He enjoys listening to a wide range of music and playing the guitar, which he believes to be relaxing and therapeutic. In his free time, you’ll often find John scouring the web for something new to learn or finding great deals.

You have to sing karaoke, what song do you pick? Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Tears for Fears.

Arianne Urena
Elevate Implementation and Project Manager, CommPartners


A Cum Laude graduate at Virginia Tech, Arianne began her career with CommPartners in 2011 in Marketing and Business Development. Shortly after, Arianne joined the Client Development Team, where she was fully immersed in the intricacies of Elevate LMS while establishing clients and setting them up for success. Now on the Elevate LMS Team, Arianne specializes in site installations, ensuring professionalism, continued strategy, and growing the organizations she works with. The things she loves most about her job include the relationships she has with each client, the partnership's trust, and the ability to provide site designs and user experiences that impress.

What book/movie have you read/seen recently recommend and why? Normal People, great love story

Meghan Gowen
Vice President Client Development, CommPartners


Meghan is an Upstate New York native who graduated from James Madison University. Starting with the company in 2007, Meghan has evolved to be a leader at CommPartners, directing our client development efforts. She enjoys strategizing with clients and exploring new avenues of delivering their online education. Her background working as an Event Producer and Client Development Representative has prepared her well for this position. Meghan feels fortunate to work for a company that provides outstanding service. Outside of the office, Meghan can be found chasing her two kids, catching up with friends and family, and on the hunt for home décor finds.

What game show would you be awesome at? Supermarket sweep. I would kill it.

Dan Zielinski
Assistant Director for Operations and Marketing, GFOA


Dan is currently the Assistant Director for Operations and Marketing at the Government Finance Officers Association., During his 20+ years at the association Dan has been integral in planning, executing, and marketing the annual conference,  national training offerings (both in person and virtual) and the recently launched Learning Managing System (LMS) for the association’s 21,000+ members.  Highlight of his career has been the successful pivot from a live to virtual conference accomplished within nine weeks from idea to opening session. Dan and his wife have two daughters (21 and 15) and in normal times can be found sitting in their seats at Wrigley Field enjoying the Chicago Cubs.

Maricela Arias-Cantu
Director, Professional Development, SOPHE


Maricela Arias-Cantu has experience working in professional development since 2005 at various National associations, including the American Diabetes Association, American Organization of Nurse Executives (a subsidiary of the American Hospital Association), American Society of Nuclear Cardiology and currently at the American Society of Public Health Education. The different modes of content delivery that she has been responsible for include live conferences, distance learning, virtual conferences, and webinars for attendees ranging 800 - 20,000. The first virtual conference she produced was at AONE in 2010 - it was a 2-day event with eight sessions and a virtual exhibit hall. Our organization was trying to find ways to engage members virtually after the 2008 recession. Since then, she has produced mostly hybrid events until March 2020 when SOPHE launched its first-ever virtual conference in just one week! COVID-19 has certainly made its impact at SOPHE. They have adapted by producing a virtual digital health summit in the Summer and are planning a virtual advocacy summit this Fall. Next year, they are looking ahead to making their annual conference a virtual or hybrid event.

Valerie S. Sheppard
Director of Professional Development and Credentialing, AAWA


Valerie has spent more than 18 years developing professional training programs for animal sheltering staff, including two years with The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement.

She has a Bachelors degree in Theatre from Smith College and a Masters in Career Counseling from Johns Hopkins University. After-hours, Valerie relaxes with her teen-aged son, a crazy dog, a turtle, and a gaggle of fish. She kayaks and is learning, very slowly, how to ski.