AVIXA Reveals Top Pioneers, CTS Holders, Educators, Women, Volunteers, Emerging Talents and More

Published: May 19, 2020

AVIXA today announced the 2020 recipients of its annual awards, including honors for AV pioneers, top CTS holder, best educator, service, distinguished achievement, women in AV and young AV professionals. [related]

There are also new awards this year for emerging talent and event design and volunteer of the Year Award is bestowed by AVIXA staff.

This year’s AVIXA award winners will be celebrated in a virtual ceremony during InfoComm 2020 Connected on June 17 at 5 p.m. ET.

“Day in and day out, AV professionals leave impressions on the people they meet and the spaces they help create,” said AVIXA CEO David Labuskes in the association announcement.

“Each year, AVIXA is honored to shine a spotlight on individuals who are helping the industry grow, whether it’s through teaching, breaking down barriers, or pioneering new technology and ideas,” he said.

Here’s a rundown of this year’s AVIXA award winners:

Adele De Berri Pioneers of AV Award: Bruce Howze, Biamp fellow engineer and president and founder of Community Professional Loudspeakers

While working as a young audio engineer and doing live sound mixing touring for groups like Jefferson Airplane and other emerging artists in the 1960s, Howze saw a need for better equipment in the industry and decided to start his own company—Community Professional Loudspeakers—in 1968.


He pioneered the use of manufacturing horn systems and enclosures with fiberglass to create large, yet lightweight, loudspeaker systems. He is also credited with many industry firsts, including the first coaxial all-horn system and the first large-format midrange compression driver, among others.

Howze remains active in the company today and continues to research and develop new loudspeaker technologies.

CTS Holder of the Year Award: Mark Higgason, executive VP and partner, Encompass Audio Visual LLC


Higgason has been working professionally with audio and electronics for more than 20 years. He has helped Encompass AV grow from an unfunded start-up to a multimillion-dollar operation.

Higgason is determined to make human-centric technologies a common thing in the workplace and beyond.

Educator of the Year Award: Jonathan Brawn, principal at Brawn Consulting


Brawn has extensive experience in the design and integration of AV and digital signage systems and the development of educational programs. He is an instructor for AVIXA and a member of the association’s various AV standard task forces, including the Project Image System Contrast Ratio standard.

Brawn was also the recipient of AVIXA’s 2012 Young AV Professional Award.

Emerging Talent Award: Edinys Guzman, student at Lincoln Tech


Guzman is a student at Lincoln Tech with a 4.0 GPA in the electrician and electronics training program. She has a foundations of Crestron programming certification and is currently working on her level 2 certification from Crestron and studying for her CTS.

Event Design of the Year Award: Meredith Francsis, senior creative producer with BlackOak Technical Productions


Francsis is a senior producer in the events space, developing custom lighting, audio, video and staging designs. She has a bachelor’s degree in Technical Theatre/Theatre Design and Technology from Illinois State University.

Fred Dixon Service in Education Award: Steve Thorburn, principal at Thorburn Associates


Thorburn is a licensed engineer with more than 30 years of experience in the architectural application of acoustic, audiovisual technology, and lighting systems.

His dual degrees from Michigan Technological University in electrical engineering and technical theater enable him to coordinate technical requirements involved in the construction bid process with practical issues required by the end users.

Thorburn is a senior instructor for AVIXA and the recipient of AVIXA’s 2011 Educator of the Year Award. In addition, he authored the book Acoustics in Architecture.

Harald Thiel Volunteer of the Year Award: Lisa Perrine, CEO of Cibola Systems


In addition to being CEO of Cibola Systems, Perrine is an avid writer and frequent presenter, delivering courses and workshops on design thinking and workplace experience design.

Her courses have been approved for certification renewal units by AVIXA, The American Institute of Architects, and International Interior Design Association. Perrine serves on AVIXA’s Standards Steering Committee and is a member of the Standards Development Task Group creating a standard for human-centered AV design.

She has served on several nonprofit boards, including the Orange County United Way; the Girl Scouts of Orange County; St. Joseph Hoag Health; and Mission Hospital.

Mackey Barron Distinguished Achievement Award: Ben Adams, international representative at IATSE


Adams began his career as a teaching assistant in film at his alma mater Michigan State University. But before continuing his career in film, he spent two years serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

Following his service, Adams worked on a documentary series in conjunction with Michigan State University and National Iranian Radio Television (NIRT).

Adams was a filmmaker for Ford Motor Company from 1975 to 1977 and continued his career as a freelance union cameraman from 1977 until he retired in 2002. Adams then became increasingly involved in labor activism, working for the American Federation of Teachers.

In 2005, Adams settled into his second career as an IATSE international representative, working to protect and serve entertainment industry workers just like him.

Women in AV Award: Sarah Becher, project engineer at AV Calibrations, LLC, and Melissa Ross, senior engineer of special projects group at AVI-SPL


Becher has more than 30 years of engineering experience in audiovisual display and processing equipment. During her career, she has managed local and regional levels of operations, quality assurance, and employee and customer training.


Ross is considered the most-certified woman in AV. She is an HDBT Master Installer and holds certifications in Networked AV Design and Commissioning, Crestron DMCD-4K, AutoCAD 3D, Revit and many more.

She is also a member of the AVIXA Standards Committee’s subject matter expert group.

Young AV Professionals Award: Sean McChesney, experience technology consultant at Electrosonic, and Gregory Rushton, VP at Muley & Banani Audio Visual Inc.

McChesney works with clients to understand their requirements and translate them into a technology solution, coordinating the right experts and working closely with all stakeholders.

He leads some of Electrosonic’s most iconic projects and pushes the boundaries of experiential technology.


Rushton joined Mulvey & Banani International in 2007, and in 2017 he became VP of its professional audio visual design subsidiary Muley & Banani Audio Visual Inc.

He works on an array of project sectors, ranging from cultural and sport venues, education and healthcare facilities to private commercial developments.

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