Meet Jason Ware, Vice President, Convention Housing Operations & Contracting
When interacting with Jason Ware, one can’t miss his upbeat personality, his passions for many things in life and his overall enthusiasm. He is energized positivity personified.
Ware has shared this exuberance with others during his over 20 years in the meeting industry and is continuing to spread that spirit as a new member of the PCMA Gulf States Chapter board of directors.
“I love the people. I love through my career my relationships. I love learning news about what others do in the hospitality industry,” said Ware, stressing what he values most about the meetings business. “Definitely the people. I’ve made some amazing connections, certainly some life-long friends. That’s pretty high on my list.”
Aside from the meeting planning industry and the people involved, some of Ware’s other interests include Broadway plays, themed Christmas trees and most recently promoting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
A Jacksonville, Florida native, Ware was in college studying to be a graphics designer, when he was approached by a client who had a job opening.
“She had this position called, ‘a meeting planner,’” recalled Ware. “I said, I don’t know what that is, but it sounds fun.”
True to his nature, he became very involved in the meeting world especially with Meeting Professionals International, so much so he took a job there and moved to Dallas. After almost five years at MPI, he went to work at the American Heart Association where he was the Director of Meetings and Exhibits.
After his 10-year stay with AHA, Ware went to work for the Cardiovascular Research Foundation in New York City where he was able to combine his passion for work with his joy of Broadway Theater.
“I actually lived in West New York, NJ and commuted in on the ferry and my office was on Broadway. So, I can officially say that I have worked on Broadway,” laughed Ware who has several framed Playbills on the walls in his home office. “I was a big huge Broadway fan way before I moved to New York. It (moving there) only enhanced my love for Broadway. I actually got to move there, live there and experience everything Broadway had to offer.”
For the last three years, Ware has been at MCI as Vice President, Convention Housing Operations & Contracting. He really enjoys the variety of his current position.
“There has never been a dull moment,” he explains. “I think that’s the one thing that I like working for MCI. The diversity of the portfolio of our clients is pretty vast. We have a lot of different clients we are able to work on a lot of different types of shows.”
Toward the latter half of 2019 months before in-person events were dealt a big blow by the pandemic, Ware experienced his own earth-shattering episode that profoundly changed his life in ways he never could have imagined.
Ware had severe pains and drove himself to the emergency room fearing he was having a heart attack. Instead, when the doctor came to him with the results of his tests, Ware heard the three words no one wants to hear, ‘You have cancer.’
He was diagnosed with stage 4, non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. After the initial shock and the coming to terms with what was ahead of him, Ware set out to attack his fate the way he does everything else with a positive approach.
Despite the news, Ware still kept up his holiday traditions which included him decorating several Christmas trees in his apartment, each with a different theme (think Texas-theme, Broadway Theme, Elf theme, etc.). He wouldn’t let his new plight keep him down.
“For most people, hearing the words ‘you have cancer’ can be one of the most devastating, deflating moments of your life,” Ware said. “And yes, it was all that for me. But, I decided I wasn’t going to let cancer get the best of me. I was going to fight, whatever that meant. I didn’t know what that meant at the time.
“I think the more people get to know me, if they don’t know me already, they know I have a pretty positive attitude generally in life,” he continued. “I do think from everything I have experienced firsthand and seen, attitude is half the battle.”
Part of Ware’s battle was shifting his priorities and his focus. He would have to worry about himself for a change.
“My cancer journey did teach me a lot about myself,” said Ware as he reflected. “I learned I needed to take a step back and take care of me. I’m always putting others first. I’m always connected to work. And I think that was one of the biggest lessons.
“Also, too, another thing it also taught me was that other people may not want to tell their (cancer) story. That’s okay. But at the same time other people can benefit from my story.”
While he was going through his chemotherapy treatments, Ware organized walks to raise money and awareness and kept moving the narrative forward with his upbeat outlook.
The hospital staff and the people associated with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society couldn’t help but be affected by Ware’s positive attitude toward his newly-changed life. His approach and perspective on how to tackle this diagnosis proved to be encouraging and one the society wanted him to share.
“Even while I was still getting chemo, I was connected to my chemo bag, I was on a webinar with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society,” explained Ware who said the LLS reached out to him to hear his experiences. “I talked to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society staff and I thought this is kind of cool. All these people are completely inspired by my story.”
Ware, who said he had “the most progressive, technologically advanced chemo out there” said he was fortunate that he did not have a lot of side effects. Yes, he was tired at times. But because he didn’t have to stop working through his cancer journey, he could keep his overall world in order.
“I am so grateful to MCI for that. I am the type of person that if you took work away from me, I’m not going to know what to do.”
While going through his battle, he was approached by the LLS to take his story more public. So, Ware accepted the opportunity.
“Last year, at the beginning of 2020, I put out into the universe that I hoped someday I would tell my story to a national stage and I didn’t know what that meant,” said Ware who not long ago celebrated the one-year, cancer-free mark. “And a couple of months later I was talking to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society staff at their annual training meeting in St. Louis when we could still travel in front of about 1,000 people. It was so cool to see how many people were inspired by my story and how staff members could take what I said and hopefully take some of the ideas and thoughts back to their chapters so they could inspires others as well.
“I told people. I’ve worked with a lot of people that are speakers – professional speakers. Never did I think that I would end up being a speaker. Let alone did I think I would end up being a speaker and telling my story of my cancer journey.”
His involvement with the LLS took an even higher step this past January as Ware was named a National Ambassador for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society which means you might see him in a national commercial someday promoting the group.
Ware has been cancer-free now for over a year and he will take time to celebrate every six months he is cancer free. He isn’t going to let his guard down. His approach and attitude in everything he does continues to drive him through life.
“I appreciate what I have gone through, but I do look forward,” he said positively. “You have to.”
Hobbies: seeing movies, Broadway plays … and Christmas. His elaborate-themed Christmas trees totaled 12 in 2020. He also has a very large nutcracker collection to add to the Christmas décor.
Favorite Movie: Elf, of course!