Meet Kathy Miller, ILEA Member and Owner of Total Event Resources


Every association has a member who has been a leader in not just your organization, but in your industry. Go to any events industry award ceremony and you'll be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't know Kathy Miller.  As a frequent speaker at events and long time ILEA Chicago member, we've asked Kathy to share a little about herself below and what she humbly doesn't share is that aside from a leader and business owner, Kathy was ILEA International President from 2012-2013.

Meet Kathy Miller....

I’ve been in the industry for what feels like a really long time…I literally started my career at 17 working for Hyatt Hotels.  It was a great introduction to the industry and an amazing company to be associated with, 10 years with Hyatt was my training ground for building my event agency over the past 23 years!  Total Event Resources has been producing innovative meetings and events all over the world with Fortune 100 Corporations, Major Trade Associations and Non-for Profit organizations and ILEA has provided the global supplier partnerships to do so.  When I started my business, I knew that I needed to market my business and remember joining ILEA to “win awards”, I was sure that would provide credibility to our company.  Little did I know that not only would we build credibility through the organization, but I would serve our industry on a global basis through the 8 years that I served on the International Board and we would create hundreds of supplier partnerships and long lasting friendships all across the globe!

Personally, I’m a wife, mother of two grown young men and a grandmother to one 3 year old boy, Hudson, who lives in Australia!  Who knew that my sons would watch me travel the world and decide to live in places like Africa and Australia, thank goodness I love to travel! 

For more information on Kathy Miller or Total Event Resources, you can reach her at



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A Message from Lisa Ware, President ILEA Chicago


Hello ILEA Chicago! 

I cannot believe how quickly two years has passed as your Chapter President.  It seems like the time has passed so quickly but when I think about everything that has happened to me – then it seems like so long ago.  I got engaged and married in the past two years, I have traveled to the Dominican Republic, Israel, Argentina and so many states in the United States. I have attended The Special Event in California, ILEA Live in Austin, Catersource both in New Orleans and Las Vegas and personally spoken at the Day of Education in Indianapolis.  I have switched jobs and am three months into a new position as Director of Sales at Entertaining Company.  I remember how nervous I was to take over as the ILEA Chicago Chapter President.  How do I live up to past leaders?  How do I move our Chapter forward while paying tribute to where we have been?  When I think about what ILEA Chicago has accomplished in the last two years – I am PROUD.  As a leader, there is no better feeling than being proud of what your team has accomplished. 

Let’s talk about a few things that ILEA Chicago has accomplished that make me proud.  Any group of individuals who make up a Board have different opinions and ways of doing things but for the last two years, the people on your ILEA Chicago Board have worked together with kindness and respect and always held the best interests of the Chapter as our priority.  This group of people have worked together to create a dynamic calendar of events full of education, networking, unique opportunities, fun and friendship.  Our MarCom team has created a content calendar of communication that is beyond my wildest dreams to ensure our members have the information needed to get the most out of your ILEA Chicago membership. We had an extremely ambitious goal of getting 50 NEW members this year and we are less than 10 away.  That alone is unbelievable. The work of our Membership Committee and the way they work together has been inspiring to watch.  The NICE Awards have had record setting attendance and surpassed all fundraising goals the last three years.  I was terrified of maintaining a budget during my tenure as President and I am so happy (and relieved) with the progress we have made to build our resources for future years.  And a huge goal that I have always had for ILEA Chicago is to win a Spirit of Excellence (SOE) Award and go for Chapter of the Year.  That means we are not just submitting one SOE – but four.  And we are going for Chapter of the Year this year!! A huge accomplishment just to go for it!  Wish us luck!

All of the above cannot be done without a lot of amazing people.  To the ILEA Chicago Board Members and Committee Members over the last two years – THANK YOU!  You have no idea how proud I am of all that we have accomplished.  Thank you for your time and dedication to this amazing event city and to our ILEA Chapter.  To Barb Harris, CSEP, DMCP and Nicole Zenner, CSEP for your amazing guidance and leadership as I navigated my way through being President.  I could not have done this without you.  My biggest goal during my tenure was to leave the Chapter in good hands and Chicago – we have some of the best event people in the business leading the charge.  Lastly– thank you to our members for trusting me to be your Chapter President! Thank you for your time, your generosity, your participation and your friendship.  Being the Chapter President for this amazing organization has been my sincere pleasure! As a former Kindergarten Teacher – our ILEA Chicago future is so bright, we have to wear shades!  No better time than now to become a member! Thanks for making me proud!!

Lisa Ware
ILEA President, 2016 - 2017 & 2017 - 2018

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ILEA Member Spotlight: Aaron Kaufman

Aaron Kaufman, CSEP Joined ILEA orginially in 2007 and works hard – with extreme passion! As the President of Fifth Element Group, a live experience firm with offices in Chicago & Toronto, it is safe to say that Aaron is an international influencer in a very competitive industry. With his finger on the pulse of business & creativity whether it’s new trends or developing strategic partnerships, Aaron always stays ahead of the game as a leader and trendsetter. 

With a long list of international award wins and nominations, including multiple Special Event Gala Awards, Fifth Element Group has been recognized for their creativity, originality and ability to push the envelope each and every time.  In addition to company accolades, Aaron is in demand as an international speaker and lecturer, has garnered attention in many industry "best of" lists and hold the prestigious industry position as the current Chairman of The SEARCH Foundation.

Getting to Know You Q & A ...

Who/ what inspired you to go into event planning? 

           I honestly believe that there have been multiple influencers and my road has been paved with experiences that have helped to shape me in to the event professional I am today.  At each juncture of my career I feel that I have met the right people to help me learn about myself, new strategies & industry benchmarks that can be attained through hard work and dedication.  Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that networking and my current network have been integral in my success and ILEA has, and continues to, give me access to some of the best seasoned industry professionals and new industry innovators.   

Tell us one thing we might not learn about you right away?

           My natural tendency is to prefer to spend time alone and quiet.  I credit ILEA with a lot of my confidence and have learned I want to ascend to become someone that leads the industry but when I can, I still find myself searching for quote space to catch up on sports news, watch documentaries or just spend time strategizing on future plans for myself. 

What do you love the most about what you do?

          Our industry is one of the only, worldwide, that impacts people on a daily basis.  Events, experiences, gatherings and parties all serve a purpose to create emotional reactions from guests and delegates.  What I love most about what I do is that through the experiences Fifth Element Group produces, we can make people feel things through live elements that no other job can.  When we design, we make a conscious effort to consider not only the production but the reactions to it and that moment when we watch live, the emotional impact we predicted around a board room table, is the greatest feeling of accomplishment for me.  Knowing that reaction helps foundations raise millions, associations raise awareness and corporations boost morale is the ultimate gauge of our success. 

Where did you grow up?

           I grew up in Toronto and am Canadian.  I have such a great appreciation of travel and have been lucky enough to visit most of North America and have grown fond of many cities....especially Chicago! I'm excited for my family and myself to spend more time in Chicago and enjoy the warmth of the people and the city!

What's your event gone wrong horror story?

           I always shudder when asked this because, to this date, I've been lucky to not have experienced anything out of the ordinary as far as unexpected incidents or horror stories.  I do take every opportunity to listen to others though and am always making note of things I should be prepared for! :-) 

What made you interested in participating in ILEA? 

           I believe that you get out of anything what you put in to it and if you aren't in something to be the best, find something else to do. I was a member long before I became involved and received a call one day which convinced me I should start using my growing stature towards bettering the industry and a board role was the way to do that.  Initially, and reluctantly, I became the MARCOM chair to two terms and moved from there to become a president and followed that with time on International committees...all which have helped me meet my mentors and many who I consider to be some of my most amazing friends across the world.  No one knows a great party until a group of ILEA friends meet up!

Thanks Aaron and Thank You For Sharing!

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