ACCESS Philadelphia is comprised of an exceptional staff each with robust, diverse professional backgrounds and a shared eye for creativity, innovation and impeccable attention to detail. We hand select members of our team in accordance to the specialized needs of every client event, so you are always guaranteed the precise level of support and expertise.
President & Partner
Maria DiBenedetto is the President and Partner of ACCESS Philadelphia.
For the past two decades, Maria has created one-of-a-kind events with her signature flair. Her diverse resume includes staging and production, marketing and branding, business development and promotions. Such range offers each client the most comprehensive, personalized and strategic support.
Maria began her decorated career in the event services business before accepting an in-house marketing position at 6abc in Philadelphia, where she honed her skills for several years. It was 1999 when Maria's dream of owning her own company came to fruition with the launch of MDB Productions, Inc., a full service marketing and special events firm.
Shortly thereafter, Maria and two of her industry colleagues earned a collaborative bid for the 6abc Thanksgiving Day Parade, an event that remains a time honored tradition in Philadelphia and a treasured annual milestone for Maria. This year marks her 16th year as co-producer and lead for sponsorship, marketing and operations management.
In 1999, Maria was also approached by 6abc with the unique opportunity to design an affiliated retail store in the King of Prussia Mall, the third largest shopping center in the country. This local broadcast retail outlet was the first of its kind. For four years, she oversaw all aspects including conceptual design, construction, staff management, merchandising and in-store program scheduling and promotions. With an emphasis on charitable partnerships, Maria expanded visibility for the station while forging meaningful relationships within the Philadelphia community.
For the next five years, MDB Productions specialized in high-profile community events.
With the purchase of Uniquely Philadelphia in 2006, Maria fused her event staging and production tenure with destination management services. The firm's expanded profile, dynamic team of professionals and unrivaled services propelled the company into the upper echelon of DMC firms.
In early 2014, Maria announced the firm’s biggest news to date: In true testament to Uniquely Philadelphia’s continued success and growth, the firm became the thirteenth partner with ACCESS Destination Services.
Founded in 1970, ACCESS Destination Services sets the standard for excellence in award-winning destination management services. Every ACCESS office operates with the same level of the professionalism and high standards. ACCESS delivers consistent service from destination to destination, providing you a seamless experience nationwide.
Now known as ACCESS Philadelphia, the firm offers the same superior service to those companies operating in Philadelphia and those choosing Philadelphia as a destination of choice, within an expansive global DMC network.
Maria and her ACCESS Philadelphia team produce events for corporations, associations, nonprofit and community organizations across all industries, size and scope. Together, Maria and her team believe that there is indeed a place in business for warmth and care for clients. And no one knows Philadelphia better!
Maria is a long-standing member of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB), Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce (GPCC), Association of Destination Management Professionals (ADME), Meeting Planners International (MPI) and International Special Events Society (ISES). She is a proud supporter of the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, Colon Cancer Coalition, Sloan-Kettering Cancer Hospital and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Director of Sales – Philadelphia
Sarah Norris is the Director of Sales for ACCESS Philadelphia and is responsible for new business development, client relations and creative project development.
Sarah began her career in the healthcare industry at Synthes, a global leader in the medical device industry. As a consultant associate, she supported the company's outside sales force and key hospital personnel across the country. Sarah was also trained to provide technical support in emergency surgical situations and her natural poise in such scenarios earned her accolades.
Sarah leveraged her burgeoning healthcare knowledge as a springboard for her next position as the Chief of Staff at The Advisory Board Company, a healthcare research technology and consulting firm based out of Washington, D.C. She oversaw a team of over thirty sales associates and honed her strategic marketing and analysis skills.
In 2004, Sarah followed a dream to combine her healthcare expertise and passion for volunteerism and accepted a position at The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). For the next few years, Sarah served in both development and patient advocacy roles for the Washington, D.C. and New York City chapters.
Soon after her arrival to MDA's New York City Chapter, she was offered a unique part-time opportunity to oversee the marketing and promotions of a newly opened restaurant in Midtown Manhattan. Managing both roles gained her invaluable exposure to some of the nation's largest corporations and associations and only furthered her natural passion for networking and relationship-building.
In 2007, Sarah accepted a position at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and was given the opportunity to oversee the Manhattan Light The Night Walk, the organization's largest fundraising walk in the country. With her leadership, the event raised record-breaking revenue and gained added exposure within one of the most notoriously competitive fundraising markets.
In 2010, she took on her largest challenge to date in relocating back to her hometown of Philadelphia to serve as the new Campaign Director for LLS' Eastern PA Chapter. She was tasked with rebuilding a staff and rejuvenating its Light The Night campaign. As a result of Sarah's leadership and the new corporate and community partnerships her and her team forged, the campaign grew over 20% across the first two years. The campaign is now recognized as one of the organization's highest growth chapters.
With almost a decade in nonprofit and a professional career rich in client and community service, it would take a very special opportunity to inspire Sarah to make a final move in her career - and an opportunity to represent Uniquely Philadelphia was just that. Under the leadership of president and partner, Maria DiBenedetto, Sarah found her home within a firm that married her professional and personal passions
With Uniquely Philadelphia’s announcement of its new partnership with ACCESS Destination Services in 2014, Sarah is now thrilled to serve as Director of Sales for ACCESS Philadelphia, supporting the firm’s clients and generating local awareness for the ACCESS brand and its global network.
Sarah is a member of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PCVB), Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce (GPCC), Association of Destination Management Professionals (ADME), Meeting Planners International (MPI) and International Special Events Society (ISES). She serves as a key committee member and contributor for MPI’s Philadelphia Chapter magazine and received the Rising Star Award in 2014 for her outstanding volunteerism and creativity.
Sarah graduated from Loyola College (now University) with a B.A. in Communications and a specialization in Public Relations. She was also a 4-year member and captain of the women's Division I soccer team.
Sarah and her husband, Kyle, and daughter, Neve, enjoy the outdoors and seeking out the best food experiences Philadelphia has to offer.