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Tell us a little bit about yourself… Who/ what inspired you to go into event planning? The events industry found me like so many others. I spent over decade at AVIXA which is the trade association that represents the pro-audiovisual industry. In my various roles there I planned or oversaw events for the industry. I love the thrill of live and making visions into reality. Tell us one thing we might not learn about you right away? I have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in different capacities for over a decade. I love the organization and have learned so much from building homes to lasting relationships. It has also turned into a passion for ...
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New Referral Tracking Program

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The ILEA Greater Chicago chapter has initiated a Referral Tracking Program to better assist our membership in tracking overall ROI. Through a very simple form, linked here , you can submit referrals and closed business that have come from other ILEA members! This form can be used for referrals from members of ILEA Chicago or other ILEA chapters. How will this help? Each quarter we’ll be able to calculate: How many referrals were passed between members The dollar value of closed business achieved within the membership group Average dollar value of closed business This information can then best inform how powerful our Greater Chicago ...
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Tell us a little bit about yourself... Who/ what inspired you to go into event planning? This will sound like a joke, but I was recently chatting with friends about The Love Boat. It reminded me that at a young age I wanted to be Julie the Cruise Director. While I had many influencers and support through the years, in my first job out of college as a trust banker, one of my managers encouraged me to make a change. He knew I had a knack and personality for other things. I quit the job and started my quest in the event industry. Tell us one thing we might not learn about you right away? I started playing the flute in 5th grade, and I still play today!   ...
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Looking back at my transition on paper, it seemed absolutely crazy. I was in a “cushy” logistics job that paid me a good wage & for the most part, was able to work 8–5p each day. And trust me, there have been (brief) moments (usually when everything seems to go wrong) during my entrepreneurial journey that I have deemed myself a fool for leaving such a sweet setup. But, at the same time, I know there is no other place I’d rather be. The journey is where the gold is. I’ve learned more about myself, about people, about business in these last 5 years, than I have in my entire life combined. This journey is definitely not for the faint at heart, but it provides ...
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Tell us a little bit about yourself… Who/ what inspired you to go into event planning? I grew up in a hospitality household. My father was a general manager for Starwood Hotels for 38 years. He encouraged us to travel and spend time learning about the industry. I started working in the kitchen when I was 16 years old and never looked back. Tell us one thing we might not learn about you right away? I am 6’-8” tall so you cannot miss me when we finally get a chance to meet and collaborate.   What do you love the most about what you do? Building relationships with my team and clients. Turning my customers into friends and meeting and exceeding their expectations. ...
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ILEA – Minneapolis/St. Paul is thrilled to introduce Natalie Morrow, the speaker for our February Master Series. Natalie is the Founder & CEO of Black Fashion Week MN, Natalie Morrow. In this intimate conversation, we’ll explore the impact of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on her experience in the events industry, as well as the planning process for the 2020 Black Fashion Week MN Fall Show. We’ll explore why Natalie promotes embracing BIPOC voices as a necessity in the creative world – and how to make space for everyone at the table. We sat down with Natalie to unpack that phrase – “make space for everyone at the table” – and how it shows up ...
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ReInventing ILEA - Episode 4

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Re-Inventing ILEA with Lisa Ware A new episode of Re-Inventing ILEA has launched! This week we are sitting down with Lisa Ware, Director of Business Development & Special Projects for Catering By Michael's. Learn more about our Greater Chicago Members discussing how they’re re-inventing  themselves and their businesses. In this episode, Lisa not only describes the devastation that was 2020 to the catering industry BUT how CBM really pulled out of the year by focusing on a "people-first" strategy. She also shares more about trends for the future and the forecast of events coming back! Thank you to ILEA Chicago Board Member   Patrick   Crosson, ...
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ReInventing ILEA - Episode 3

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Re-Inventing ILEA with Gwendolyn McNutt, CSEP A new episode of Re-Inventing ILEA has launched! This week we are sitting down with Gwendolyn McNutt, CSEP, Regional External Affairs Manager at Comcast Cable. Learn more about our Greater Chicago Members discussing how they’re re-inventing  themselves and their businesses. In this episode, Gwen discusses how she's taken advantage of this great pause we had in 2020 and expanded on her involvement in ILEA. While planning virtual events she's stayed engaged and I think we can all agree, looking forward to a new year! Thank you to ILEA Chicago Board Member Patrick Crosson, CMP, DES for hosting this engaging ...
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Who/ what inspired you to go into event planning? In the late 90’s I was a senior manager at a Chicago health club and I was charged with planning the staff and member events.   I loved this task and the endorphin rush I got from finishing these events.   The turning point for me was when I planned the staff family picnic and included games for staff children.   I don’t have children and my network of friends were mostly single, so I rarely interacted with little people.   They enthusiasm for what I had planned was infectious.   The parents had the best time watching me meet the challenges of their youthful exuberance.   After 4 hours of play I was exhausted ...
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ReInventing ILEA - Episode 2

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ReInventing ILEA - Episode 2 A new episode of Re-Inventing ILEA has launched! This week we are sitting down with Sean Thorndike, a Board of Directors member for the Greater Chicago Chapter and new Business Development Executive for Aercoustics. Learn more about our Greater Chicago Members discussing how they’re re-inventing themselves and their businesses. In this episode, Sean discusses how he's staying engaged with his ILEA network even though he's found a job outside of the industry. He shares more on the possibilities of new vendor leads and remaining optimistic about coming back into the industry! Thank you to ILEA Chicago Board Member ...
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Meet ILEA Chicago Member - Kara Weber

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Tell us a little bit about yourself… Who/ what inspired you to go into event planning? One of my first roles as a Convention Associate at Smith Bucklin inspired me to continue in the industry. I received my training ground along with the on site experience that I loved, working as a team. Also meeting those special people along the way that inspired me, supported me and helped me in the earlier years of my career, decide my direction. Sean Lynch NHS, and Jim Grillo and others. Tell us one thing we might not learn about you right away? I am actually a shy person at times. I still have a dream of having my own event business one day, even if its a side ...
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ILEA-MSP is excited to announce this year's scholarship recipient, Marla Etheridge. Marla received a one-year scholarship to the International Live Events Association, with complimentary attendance to all monthly programs and the annual Minnesota Star Awards.  Meet Marla Etheridge Job title and responsibilities I’ve worked in roles of community, marketing , project and events management. I am passionate about creating experiences that encourage and promote the development of connection and collaboration. In my most recent role at the University of Minnesota , I oversaw an events department managing a full range of logistical components ...
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ReInventing ILEA - Episode 1

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ReInventing ILEA - Episode 1 We’re excited to launch a new video series titled Re-Inventing ILEA. Learn more about our Greater Chicago Members discussing how they’re re-inventing themselves and their businesses. In this episode, learn how Tracey Fricke, CSEP, MWP, CMP has re-invented her business Occasion Designed during these challenging times. Thank you to ILEA Chicago Board Memeber Patrick Crosson, CMP, for hosting this engaging dialogue!
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Who/ what inspired you to go into event planning? I think I was born an event planner. Growing up I was the party planner for my parents, making their friends buy tickets to my one-woman variety shows (only child life), setting assigned seats at dinner and creating detailed itineraries for every family holiday. I was torn between being a Culinary Arts Major or being a Theater Major in college but once I found the Event Management degree program at Johnson & Wales University, it clicked and I never looked back. What do you love the most about what you do? Creating an experience for someone and making them feel that it was effortless (when we all know ...
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Who/ what inspired you to go into event planning? Unbeknownst to me, my formative years’ activities were essentially the practicum courses preparing me for a career in events. From organizing and putting on skits in garages with other neighborhood kids to planning and decorating the school dances and parades, learning how to advocate and negotiate during my Student Council years, to a lifetime in the performing arts as an actor/singer/director/designer and studying live theater throughout college.   Working odd jobs in the hospitality industry including hotels and restaurants, to finally being introduced to what I consider the perfect mash-up of it all ...
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This summer, we spent more time at home than ever. With the events at a standstill for the most part, our calendars were free of concerts, large weddings, conferences, and all kinds of other events we look forward to each summer. As event insurance providers, we here at Duuo have formed a community of event planning professionals that rely on us to provide their clients with affordable, online coverage. Once we started to realize that this pandemic was not going away anytime soon, we decided to reach out to some of these event planners to find out how they were coping.  These conversations sparked a larger interest in finding out how event planning professionals ...
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Our motto of "ILEA Strong" is now more important than ever as we support our community in a variety of ways.  As an organization focused on connecting people, we will continue to share resources and opportunities with you. View our Community Resources page
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Are you looking for a way to support the local community while also connecting with your ILEA colleagues? ILEA-MSP has offered our volunteer support to the  Sanneh Foundation to help maintain their garden, which is providing food to BiPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) families. Volunteers are needed on Wednesdays and Fridays from 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm June 19 - August 7 Location: Conway Community Center, 2090 Conway Street, St. Paul If you are interested: Sign-up for one or more shifts using this volunteer form . Someone from ILEA-MSP will reach out to confirm your shifts. Complete the Sanneh Fondation Volunteer Interest Form Available ...
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A MESSAGE FROM ILEA INTERNATIONAL We hope this finds you well, healthy and safe. As an association built on a community of people, we are outraged and heartbroken by the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many other Black people before them. Yesterday, we as a global organization stepped back and took a pause - out of solidarity and in the spirit of listening to the voices raised in protest around the United States. ILEA is dedicated to bringing people together in celebration which means we adamantly reject violence but understand the pain and anguish that sometimes sparks it. We are committed to the greater fight for ...
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