He replaces Royal Horticultural Halls managing director Rene Dee, who walked out of the post after a row over personnel (Event, Nov/Dec).
Rees said: "Subject to the approval of the King's Hall board I am very pleased to take on the role and help move EVA forward."
Rees was a founding member of EVA and became its first chairman in 1997. After his two-year tenure ended he remained active in the organisation and his appointment to deputy chair was put forward at an EVA board meeting on 26 January. The move was approved at a members' meeting the following day in Belfast.
Two other appointments to the board were Stoneleigh Park non-executive director Trevor Land and Gerry McAuliffe, deputy chief executive sales and marketing at the International Exhibition and Convention Centre in Dublin.
EVA chairman Mike Closier said: "These appointments underline the seriousness with which EVA regards its development as a totally professional organisation with an expanded membership and broader ambitions than ever before."
Other initiatives approved at the meetings include an expansion of membership criteria to embrace event venues with a minimum of 2,000 sq m of dedicated business space, and a drive to boost associate membership of suppliers that benefit from exhibition venues' business such as hotel groups and airlines.
EVA will also step up its activities within the industry research and health and safety arenas. "We remain firmly in the driving seat with regards to these issues," said Closier.
Rees added: "EVA has been doing a lot of things but we haven't waved our own flag enough."