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Meet Us


Classic Cosmo

 Shannen Stewart is the Founder of Heels and Handshakes. You will see Shannen at various networking events throughout the city. She has served on the board for the International Live Events Association and completed the Nashville Junior Chamber’s Leadership Institute and is an active member of the Tennessee Chapter of Meeting Professionals International where she previously served as the Director of Special Projects. When Shannen isn’t attending educational luncheons or networking events she is running her own. Shannen started Heels and Handshakes as she wanted to have a community for women in the events industry. This private networking group gives women access to business leads, job opportunities and most importantly connections with other successful women in the event industry. Among her passion for events and networking, Shannen loves spending time with her husband, adorable son, and two fur babies. 

The Women Who Make It Happen

Whiskey In A Teacup


 Eliza Nicola is our Director of Venue Procurement. Looking to host us, contact Eliza. 

Eliza is from a small town, Brandenburg, in Kentucky. She Graduated from Western Kentucky University in 2007 with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Marketing Major / Entrepreneurship Minor. 

She moved to Nashville in August 2007 to work in the Hospitality Industry and worked for various hotels as Catering Sales Manager from 2007-2013. In January 2014,  she accepted Sales & Event Manager position at Morton's The Steakhouse and trains for other locations.

She is a newly wed, as she just got married in Barbados to her husband Mike Nicola or aka "Jersey Mike." When she isn't spending time with her husband or walking her adorable Pomksy, Mosby you can find Eliza reading novels, autobiographies, attending concerts or watching  comedy movies and forensic/crime shows.

Straight Whiskey, No Chaser


 Holly Carpenter is our Director of Registration. 

Growing up Holly thought she wanted to be an elementary school teacher until her first semester in college when she realized she didn't like the idea of being in a room full of children every day. After making friends with the Adviser for the Hospitality program she decided to switch her major to Hotel and Restaurant Management.  This is also when she decided she wanted to follow her dream to move to Nashville and work for Gaylord Opryland someday.

After working for a couple of hotels as a front desk manager, Holly started to research how she could get on the sales team because they got to go out for lunch every day.  From there she started networking through the local chamber and eventually planned weddings for the Historic Hotel Northampton. In 2009 she decided to finally bite the bullet and move to Nashville to chase her dream.  

After living in Nashville six months she was hired as a Conference Coordinator at Opryland!  She was also apart of the clean up crew and reopening team after the flood in 2010.

Currently Holly is the Nashville Event Sales Manager for A. Marshall Hospitality and plans events and catering for Puckett's Nashville and Deacon's New South. Holly is  very involved in multiple organizations like MPI, Business Networking International (BNI), Music City Concierge Association(MCCA) & her favorite is Heels and Handshakes! She has never met a stranger and  wouldn't be where she is today if someone didn't take a chance on her. She is currently taking applications for a husband LOL - When she isn't working, she is enjoying time with her 2 fur babies Smudge and Maggie as well as working towards her next goal of loving herself inside and out (Currently lost 22lbs in March 2018).

Red Bull, She Keeps Going and Going


 Colleen Cussick is over Community Service and Director of New Members. 

Colleen has been involved in live events since she started booking bands in high school, booking concerts at the University of Arizona, touring as a PA, providing production for all events - social, musical and corporate, then planning Galas and Special Events while also serving three terms on the Meeting Professionals Int'l Tennessee Board as Director of Strategic Alliances, and hopes to continue planning events with the non-profit world. 

Colleen has been giving back to the Nashville Community since arriving over 20 years ago, volunteering for the Am. Cancer Society, Hands On Nashville, Second Harvest Food Bank, Nashville Reads, the Humane Society, among many others. As a mom to four kittyboys, a former educator, and a woman in the male-dominated production industry, she believes in helping women, children and animals find their voice and power since they unfortunately aren't given it enough in our society. 

Colleen has never met a stranger, and her voice not only helps those who have been muted by circumstances, she is also the "human microphone" for our events when there isn't one available! 

About Us

Director of New Members