Serving My Professional Community: A Week at IAVM’s Academy for Venue Safety and Security

By Andy Jabbour

At Gate 15, we have a goal of fostering an open, healthy work environment for our team members and contributing to the communities in which we live. To support that, we encourage all team members to commit to a spirit of giving and volunteerism and, when possible, Gate 15 supports a paid week of charitable service, be it in a military Reserve or National Guard unit, mission work, community service, or some other charitable cause that individuals select. Over the years, I’ve taken my week in support of my favorite local food pantry and over the last five years, I’ve volunteered with the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) as part of their Venue Safety and Security Committee and as faculty for the annual Academy for Venue Safety and Security (AVSS).

In support of AVSS, I spend time over the year on a variety of activities that I take part in over the week-long program, which was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this year.

‘AVSS is a dynamic, two-year school built to train venue and event managers, security professionals, and other key personnel involved in every aspect of venue safety and security. The curriculum, developed and taught by a diverse team of experts, is designed to equip each and every attendee with the best practices, resources, and tools needed to face the evolving challenge of providing a safe venue for everyone.’

(from the IAVM website)

I love attending live events – sports, concerts, shows, and more. Over the last year that’s included professional lacrosse and football games (including my annual Detroit Lions family road trip), local concerts in my hometown and major concerts like the Stadium Tour at Nationals Park in Washington, DC, comedy shows and some awesome theater in London last summer where my family and I enjoyed Hamilton and Get Up Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical. I love these types of events and when I go, while I try to remain vigilant and aware of my environment and potential threats and response options, I try to unwind and cheer loudly, sing loudly and enjoy a good show.

Over the last fifteen plus years I’ve worked closely with members and organizations within the Commercial Facilities Sector to bolster preparedness, security and resilience and I like to relax knowing that there are fantastic security professionals managing the event. Day-to-day during my professional Gate 15 work and in support of the Real Estate Information Sharing and Analysis Center (RE-ISAC), and more directly during AVSS, I get to help prepare those leaders and, in Pittsburgh, I had the opportunity to share my experience, knowledge and skills to help develop venue managers.

This year, some of the activities I was involved with included:

  • Leading a joint session with both year one and year two students as I had a conversation with Dr. G. Keith Still, a world-renowned expert and teach on crowd safety/risk analysis who has been part of major events across the globe. ( and @GKStill on Twitter)
  • Taught a class on planning and conducting exercises;
  • Led the development and conduct of a training and exercise event at Acrisure Stadium; and,
  • Providing an overview of the increasing cyber threats that  can impact venues and facilities and the importance of proper preparedness involving cyber and physical security.

AVSS provides a unique learning and developmental experience for venue professionals, and it was great to be part of it again in 2023. AVSS is a school and not a conference. Throughout the preparation and conduct of the program, I learn so much from the excellent faculty and the students who bring a host of experience, in the venue community and through previous professional experiences. Now that the school is over, we’ll start planning and preparing for next year’s iteration as we will welcome back this year’s year one students for the second year of the program and also greet new students starting the program. Along the way, it is really great to stay in touch with this year’s classes, in our Slack workspace and on social media platforms.

Through AVSS and the people, organizations and community that are a part of it – past and present – venues and the patrons of those venues, are safer and more secure as the venue leadership is properly trained, developed and tied into a broader community of security-minded peers. It is truly a privilege to be a part of it! My thanks to IAVM and Mark Herrera for letting me be a part of it and my thanks to my fellow faculty members and the students who let me learn and grow as I interact with them each year!

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