Changes Announced at Newport Exhibition Group

Newport, R.I. – Newport Exhibition Group, owners and producers of the Newport International Boat Show (NIBS), announced today that after leading the Show for over two decades, Nancy Piffard, show director, is retiring. Desiring a continuity of leadership, Lisa Knowles, who has been the Show’s senior sales manager, has been promoted to replace Piffard. To ensure a streamlined transition Piffard will continue in a consulting role through early spring.

“After celebrating NIBS’ 50th Anniversary, it felt like the right time for me to leave the Show in the team’s capable hands,” said Piffard. “To everyone I have worked with, my co-workers, exhibitors, sponsors, and partners, I want to thank you for your trust and confidence in me over the years. I have met so many amazing people in the marine industry who I will truly miss seeing every September. I know that Lisa will do an excellent job at the helm.”

During her tenure, Piffard has received numerous accolades. Recently, she was recognized as a 2021 Women of Distinction honoree by the Newport Chamber of Commerce, and in 2019 one of Boating Industry’s Women Making Waves. In 2017, Piffard and her team were awarded the Rhode Island Marine Trade Association (RIMTA)’s Anchor Award – as outstanding advocates in the promotion of Rhode Island’s marine industry. Piffard will leave behind a legacy in the form of the creation of the Newport For New Products award program over 15 years ago and she was instrumental in bringing in-water training to the Show.

“I am grateful for all that Nancy has brought to the show over the years,” said Knowles. “She has been a fantastic leader, mentor and friend and we wish her all the best in her much-deserved retirement.”

Knowles has been working with exhibitors for 25 years and during that time has developed a strong, trusting relationship with them. She has an in-depth understanding of the marine industry and that knowledge, combined with her experience in site design and operations made her the perfect person to take over the reins. In her early days, Knowles managed the show offices for the Newport Spring Boat Show and the Newport International Boat Show, and soon advanced to senior sales manager for these events, as well as the Providence Boat Show and the Newport Charter Yacht Show.

In addition to Piffard’s retirement and Knowles’ promotion, Michea Kiely, account executive, will take on an increased sales role, and marketing director Jocelyn Emory will continue to lead NIBS’ marketing and communications strategy. While this is her fifth year with this all-women-led team, Emory’s experience spans over 15 years in the marketing field. Emory will also oversee show programming such as the Newport For New Products awards program, the Edson Star Awards, in-water training courses and seminars. An integral part of the team for many years, Gail Lowney Alofsin will continue her important role of obtaining show sponsors and partners to enhance the boat show experience. In addition, Colleen Hopkins will join the team as an event and sales assistant. Hopkins is a true professional with proven success in the development, management and execution of high-profile events and corporate partnerships, locally, nationally and abroad.

Next year’s Show dates are September 15 through 18, 2022. For more information on the Newport International Boat Show, please visit


Based in Newport, Rhode Island, Newport Exhibition Group has produced the highest quality consumer/trade shows for more than 50 years. A subsidiary of Newport Restaurant Group, the organization owns and produces the Annual Newport International Boat Show.