June 04, 2007
DAC's Dynamic Duo: Marie & Pat Pistilli
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Peggy Aycinena - Contributing Editor

by Peggy Aycinena - Contributing Editor
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When Pat and Marie retired, they groomed Kevin Lepine and Lee Wood to take over these roles of conference and trade show. By keeping these two roles somewhat separated in two separate people, they have maintained a healthy tension between the needs of each.

Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli – I met Marie and Pat Pistilli for the first time at my first DAC in 1982. Pat and Marie are of Italian origin, and you can imagine how we immediately hooked up and shared experiences and traditions. I was impressed by the sheer energy that Pat emitted in every direction. He was never worried about anything. He would always have a solution for everything. Marie was the organizational strength behind Pat's operation. She was a perfect Chief Operating Officer for such a complex organization.

DAC is a unique blend of technical excellence and industrial relevance. I have no doubts that this dual nature is the result of Pat's and Marie's vision. They managed the fabulous growth of the conference, and were able to navigate the IEEE (computer and circuit and systems societies) and ACM complexities when DAC was providing an excellent profit to these organizations.

Their influence went way beyond the facade of the Conference. They provided moral support and friendship to many young researchers who then became icons. Richard Newton comes to mind as Pat's protege'. Pat saw the great values that Richard was carrying with himself and supported him to the fullest extent when he was the DAC General Chair.

Pat came from the technical ranks of the conference, being a CAD researcher when he founded DAC together with others who are still active in the organization of the conference. I simply cannot imagine a DAC without Marie and Pat. They are the soul and body of DAC. The smiling face of Pat at the entrance of the conference sets the stage for great meetings. His taste for fun events is legendary.


I do hope Pat and Marie will remain involved with DAC forever and ever.

Giovanni De Micheli – Marie and Pat Pistilli were very good at dividing the job – Pat running DAC's operations (as an ex-marine), and Marie running the exhibits (with the decibel meter to catch those who made too much noise, and the tape measure for the exhibit girls in Las Vegas with too-short mini skirts). The Pistilli’s claimed that their strength was the separation of the tasks, as they did not have to give orders to each other. I think that Marie was the only one who could stand up to the ex-marine.

Ian Getreu – Pat and Marie Pistilli are, of course, the driving force behind DAC. They will forever be associated with DAC, and vice versa. Marie and Pat are warm, generous and had a great vision. I once heard a vendor say that they were more afraid of Marie than of Pat – referring to transgressions on the floor (like too high a volume, etc.). The other thing the Pistilli’s did was to maintain a very high level of professionalism at DAC – no recruiting, no high volume, no ridiculous costumes, etc.

Georgia Marszalek – Marie and Pat Pistilli are EDA icons. Without them, there wouldn't be a 44th Design Automation Conference. They are owed a big THANK YOU for helping to grow our industry to the billions it is today.

Sonia Harrison – I had an opportunity to work with Marie and Pat Pistilli for about 15 years when I was responsible for DAC's PR. I remember when I first started working with them, I was a bit nervous, particularly about Pat as I'd heard he could be gruff. I was relieved to find that most of my interactions would be with Marie, who was very pleasant to work with.

Finally, I came to meet and interact with Pat, and found him to be equally pleasant, even though it took a few years to convince him of much needed improvements to the press room. Perhaps all those years of managing DAC finally wore him down to niceness, or maybe he never really was all that gruff. Either way, I truly enjoyed working with both Marie and Pat (and the rest of the DAC team), and am happy to see that the DAC press room remains as good as ever.

Bryan Preas – It has been a real pleasure to know Pat and Marie Pistilli, and to work with them in producing the conference and the exhibits. I consider myself fortunate to have worked so closely with them for so long. The EDA community, as well as the whole electronics industry, owes a debt of gratitude to Pat and Marie for establishing and driving DAC. Without their tireless efforts, DAC would be very different, and less effective that it is now.

Chuck Shaw – One year during Ronald Reagan's presidency, DAC was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Two days before DAC was to open, the Convention Center director came to Pat: "We've just received word that President Reagan is coming to Vegas for a big evening reception this weekend. I know DAC has leased the space, but could you possibly let us have it for this reception?"

Pat, ex-Marine, patriot, replied, "We'll do whatever it takes for the President of the United States." Boxes, equipment, exhibitor material, and Marie's Exhibitor Registration Office were hastily moved to clear the space.

The afternoon of the reception, the Secret Service arrived – "We have to sweep the area for explosives!" – and bomb-sniffing dogs ran through the rows of boxes and equipment. Suddenly, one dog froze in a corner of Marie's office. Her staff was herded into a corner, agents with hands on holsters demanded, "What explosive material is back there that our highly-trained dogs have found?"

Nervous denials, "Nothing that we know of!"

An agent appeared, carrying a woman's purse. One of Marie's staff gasped, "That's my purse," opened it, and pulled out – a wrapped hamburger.

Highly-trained dogs get hungry, too.

– – – – – – – – – – -

To thank the staff of MPA, the Director arranged to have Pat join the reception line of the powerful and rich to meet Reagan. An aide behind Reagan whispered in his ear a sound bite as each person stepped forward to meet the president.

Reagan thanked Pat and MPA for making the reception possible. As another aide was pushing Pat along to make room for the next person, Pat held back, "My elderly mother is one of your greatest supporters, she prays for you every night."

The Great Communicator replied, in his rich, politician voice, "Yes, I am always concerned about the needs of the elderly."

Without a pause, Pat replied, "You should, Mr. President. You're one of them."

Pat was never at a loss for words.

Nanette Collins – I knew of Marie Pistilli well before I actually met her. I worked for a Public Relations agency in Boston in the mid-1980s that had as a client a hot little startup in the industry then known as computer aided engineering (CAE). The company was Viewlogic, and it was my account and the envy of all the other account executives. It was founded by five former Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) executives, two of whom came from DEC’s VAX marketing organization.

These two were seasoned and creative marketers, but because they came from a large corporation, their expertise in events management was limited. When it came to organizing Viewlogic for DAC for the first time, they were lost. They called MP Associates, DAC’s management company, and talked with Marie. She quickly had them straightened out with a spot on the DAC show floor. While no one has ever admitted this, I know she helped them fill out the endless amount of show paperwork. As far as they were concerned, Marie was a goddess!

After a fashion, I was enticed to join Viewlogic and took over as the manager of marketing communications. I, too, was a neophyte in this area. Instead of relying on Marie, my salvation was Christine Drake (Wilson at the time) who taught me the ins and outs of trade shows – though I don’t considered myself to be an expert at all. Christine, who’s still a good friend, was a top account manager for Giltspur, a highly regarded worldwide trade show vendor. Christine and her team attended loads of shows each year, but Christine told me on many occasions that DAC was the best managed. I credit Marie Pistilli.

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-- Peggy Aycinena, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.


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