Karen Totaro arrives at TCF Center as the new General Manager
ASM Global, the operations management company for TCF Center, formerly Cobo Center, hired Karen Totaro to replace Claude Molinari as General Manager for the facility. Molinari assumed the position of CEO for the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau in December of 2020.
Totaro will immediately assume leadership of the overall management, promotion and operation of the facilities, leading the team of dedicated professionals at the TCF Center, and building on the key industry partnerships in the community. She will also work to support the overall mission of the TCF Center and the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority (DRCFA), the Michigan state board that governs TCF Center.
“The decision to take the job at TCF Center was an easy one. The spirit of partnership in this industry is going to be that much more successful in Detroit with the former CEO of the CVB leading the DRCFA and the former GM of the TCF Center now leading the CVB.” said Totaro. “I was so impressed by how progressive the center is and the high-caliber and professionalism of the staff.”
Totaro is a Certified Venue Executive (CVE) and leads the center’s team in bringing new and repeat business to the Detroit region by maximizing the customer experience. On behalf of ASM Global for the DRCFA, she will work collaboratively with community stakeholders, clients and the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Karen Totaro is the right person at the right time to take the TCF Center back to hosting visitors and providing world class service to its valued customers as the pandemic eases,” said Bob McClintock, executive vice president of convention centers, ASM Global. “Over the last decade, TCF Center became a gold standard in areas of security, sustainability, technology and corporate social responsibility. I know with Karen’s leadership events will build on that success.”
ASM Global management considers TCF Center to be one of the top convention centers in the country and is proud to have included the Center in their venue portfolio since 2010. Over the decade, the center remained open during a five-year construction period ending in 2015. The ASM team rebuilt the business model, resulting in a $20 million reduction of operating deficit, and quadrupled the number of major events held annually in the center from 2010 to 2019. The operations team completed a transformation of the customer experience to one that is “centered around you,” the current tagline of the brand.
Most recently, Totaro served as the Chief Operating Officer for the San Diego Convention Center Corporation. Prior to San Diego, she served as General Manager of the Atlantic City Convention Center, Assistant General Manager of the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati and the Assistant Executive Director at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.
While with the leadership team at the Oregon Convention Center, Totaro steered them toward innovation to achieve one of the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications for a convention center in the country. She went on to be involved in advanced sustainability initiatives in each center during her tenure. She sees the highly acclaimed sustainability program at TCF Center as a real opportunity to team build and inform clients on environmental impacts and center innovation with training and educational opportunities.
Lisa Canada, vice chairperson of the DRCFA, headed the board’s selection committee which was tasked with interviewing candidates before it recommended Totaro to ASM Global for the position. “I am always thrilled to see the leadership gap for women narrow, and especially in the appointment of this position that is so important to the convention center and the Southeast Michigan region,” said Canada. “Karen’s leadership style and experience in innovation will help this venue get back to business quickly and efficiently.”