The Darlene Townsend Award

Darlene Townsend

In 2018, Third Door Media created the Darlene Townsend Memorial Award to honor the spirit and memory of our friend and colleague who passed away after a fierce battle against cancer.

This award honors Darlene, comforts those she left behind, and recognizes a current team member for exceptional service to our clients, colleagues, and partners.

Third Door Media employees base their nominations on the following qualities. The recipient:

  • Routinely goes the extra mile in service of our audience, customers, partners and colleagues.
  • Embraces innovation and change.
  • Supports co-workers by being considerate, empathetic, and flexible.
  • Is a reliable team member who is enthusiastic and has a positive attitude even in the face of adversity.

Annually selected award winners earn well-deserved recognition, praise, a cash prize — and $1,500 to donate to a charity of their choice.

Below, you will find the past winners of the Darlene Townsend Memorial Award, the reasons they were nominated, and the charities they chose to donate to in Darlene’s honor.


2021 winner: Kathy Bushman, Director of Events Content

Kathy Bushman

Just five months after joining Third Door Media, Kathy Bushman’s job description was effectively upended as COVID forced the entire organization to pivot from traditional in-person to virtual conferences.

Those who nominated Kathy highlighted the specific qualities that would make Darlene proud:

“Kathy’s leadership, professionalism, and unwavering attention to detail allowed us to make our incredible pivot to virtual events a truly successful one.”

“Kathy spearheaded so much of the virtual event programming and production — taking on tasks she wasn’t even hired to do without complaint or query, and has knocked it out of the park every time. She’s a great mix of professional, down-to-earth, tough, approachable, funny, focused, friendly, and fair.

“She clearly demonstrated resilience in the face of constant change. Charged with content development across multiple virtual events over many months, learned and addressed multiple technologies to work effectively with speakers, pushed for ways to improve interactivity between and among our speakers and attendees, and leading the daily meetings to ensure our success. This took stamina, patience, teamwork, and a willingness to accept when things were not possible or a decision was not one she agreed with.”

“Kathy came to TDM and immediately faced incredible pressure to revamp and rework established processes for programming both SMX and MarTech – each different and challenging in their own unique ways. She jumped in directly and immediately started making a huge impact – immediately improving not only the process, but the overall quality of speakers. She broadened our thinking and is constantly upgrading who is invited to speak.”

For her charitable donation, Kathy selected St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which you can learn more about here.


2020 winner: Katie Gausepohl, VP of Finance

Katie Gausepohl

As VP of Finance, Katie Gausepohl is responsible for helping make the complicated, sophisticated decisions that help keep Third Door Media not just surviving, but thriving.

Those who nominated Katie highlighted the specific qualities that would make Darlene proud:

“Katie consistently goes above and beyond. She takes on projects that definitely don’t fall under the finance umbrella without complaint. She’s always available to answer questions at any time, even when she’s out of the office.”

“Katie is constantly interfacing with our employees and our clients- and in every interaction she is kind, goes out of her way to help, and is always looking for a solution.  She is available to help out day and night.”

“She takes on any responsibility thrown her way and does not stop until all parties are satisfied. She is always someone you can rely on.”

“Katie exemplifies all the qualities of Darlene. She touches all aspects of TDM.  She always has time to help the staff of TDM and when onboarding new employees, she is warm and cheerful, which makes them feel welcomed and part of the team. She always has time for questions and to help resolve issues for all employees, no matter the time she is accessible. She is the cheerleader and head of spirit at TDM… her heart is big, and she is extremely dedicated to her work. She is a great leader and whole heartily supports her team.”

For her charitable donation, Katie selected Operation Hope, which you can learn more about here.


2019 winner: Karen DeWeese, VP of Event & Client Success at Third Door Media

Karen DeWeese

A member of the Third Door Media family since its inception, Karen DeWeese is the person you go to if you have a question about an upcoming (or ongoing) conference. She always seems to have the right answer… and she offers it up with a cheerful smile every time.

Those who nominated Karen highlighted the specific qualities that would make Darlene proud:

“Karen manages to pull off the impossible while always working towards what is best for the company. Her team is dedicated to her because she is dedicated to them and to Third Door. She never has a negative word to say about anyone or any situation and is always available to help out. I think it would be impossible to run our events without Karen’s input and dedication.”

Reliable, positive, supportive, friend and mentor to all… Karen has rolled with change and adversity and always goes the extra mile to provide exceptional service to internal and external customers and partners. She is an enthusiastic and invaluable TDM team member.”

“Karen’s support and dedication to TDM, her team, and our audience, sponsors and colleagues is unwavering. She brings a very welcome calmness and patience, and great organizational skills to the difficult task of shaping our events, often in the face of adversity. She has the unique ability to offer creative solutions, while staying within budget, and at the same time, improving the experience at the conferences. She is unflappable and brings a sense of humor to the entire process. Karen’s greatest attribute, in my opinion, is her composure and grace under fire, and her patience, support and encouragement of the entire TDM team.”

“Karen is an incredibly hard-working individual whose enthusiastic approach to her job has been critical in the continued success of our company. Even in the face of a difficult situation, Karen has proven time and time again that she can provide manageable solutions to any curveball thrown her way.”

For her charitable donation, Karen selected Rail Healthcare, which you can learn more about here.