Meet Barb Harris, Regional VP ILEA Midwest Region

Barb Harris (CSEP, DMCP) currently serves as our Regional VP, Midwest Region and cites getting involved with ILEA as one of the most beneficial and enriching professional decisions she's ever made.  New to the Chicago event market in 2008, she found herself working at a Destination Management Company, and had to learn the city and its influential professionals quickly in order to succeed.  ILEA gave her a perfect platform to achieve her goals of networking, relationship building, discovering the "latest and greatest" in Chicago's event community, and a never-ending quest for education.  Her time spent with the chapter leadership since 2010 has provided personal growth, leadership development, business opportunities, wonderful freiendships, and even a new job!

Known for her playful energy, dedication to greatness, and industry knowledge, Barb brings over 10 years experience to her employer, On The Scene - The Event Company, specializing in National event management.  Her diverse background in resort, decor and event management provides the unqiue prosepective of always knowing what the "other side" needs to succeed, and the communication skills to bridge them together.  In her spare time, you are most likely to find her at a concert, a restaurant, a yoga studio, or with her nose in a book.  

Getting to Know You Q & A ...

What made you interested in participating in ILEA Leadership? I volunteered on a committee (the 2009 NICE Awards) and I loved it.  As a planner, it was a great way to work with a lot of vendor partners that I had been interested in, or had never met before and thoroughly enjoyed.  It broadened my visibility within the community, and from there, joining the board felt like a natural step.

What would you say are the benefits for participating in our ILEA committees? I always compare it to a gym membership.  You can join the gym and pay the membership fee, but if you don’t go and make an effort, you’re not going to get in shape.  But if you make a commitment, you start to see serious results.  Some of my best friends in Chicago are people I’ve met working on committees/the board.

What's your advice for those unsure where to start in becoming active in ILEA?It can be so intimidating to go to an event where you don’t know anyone, and even more intimidating to see people who already know each other well.  ILEA is an INCREDIBLY welcoming place, and everyone is invested in finding business opportunities for one another.  Getting education in our field and exposure to great vendors are also hugely beneficial reasons to show up.  If you’re a supplier, what better way to scope out your competition then to see what they are providing at an event?

What's the biggest benefit to attending the ILEA Greater Chicago Chapter programs?  ILEA is about quality, focused networking.  There may not be 600 people at an event, but you are guaranteed to walk away with at least one solid contact. 

How has ILEA made a difference in your career?  Not just joining ILEA, but getting involved has been the single most defining decision I’ve made in my career.  It opened doors for career changes, provided countless business opportunities, and some of my most cherished friendships.  As a planner, I always place emphasis on giving business to my ILEA partners first.

What's one thing most people don't know about you?  I have been to over 400 concerts – music is my passion! 

To reach Barb or find out more about On The Scene contact Barb at or 248-219-6859 .


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Meet Vicki Bowman, VP Marketing & Communication ILEA Greater Chicago

Vicki Bowman is Marketing & Event Manager for Motor Coach Industries (MCI), headquartered in Des Plaines, Illinois, is the leading intercity coach manufacturer in the United States and Canada.  Vicki serves as manager for the company’s marketing/advertising, web & social media presence, tradeshow participation, internal meetings & training as well as all VIP special events

Although active in other event and motorcoach industry associations over the last 11+ years at MCI, Kathy Miller was responsible for introducing Vicki to the then ISES organization and ultimately it’s where she feels most at home.  Always looking for opportunities to bring more ROI to events, she sees ILEA as a driver for deepening business relationships and bringing people together whether to educate, celebrate or build a foundation for future success.  A relative newcomer to ILEA, she has enthusiastically taken on the VP of Communications position for 2016-2017 leveraging her experience with MPI where she served a term as Co-Editor of the Conversations & Connections newsletter with the MarComm committee.  While she currently holds a CMP and CED certifications, she is working to earn her CSEP in January of 2017. 

Getting to Know You Q & A ...

What made you interested in participating in ILEA Leadership? I'd been involved in other MarCom teams (MPI, ABA & UMA) over the years and I knew that this particular committee was the place to be to meet the more active members and get an immediate understanding of the chapter's culture.  It was Jim Grillo who really encouraged me to jump right into leadership and I'm so glad he did!

What would you say are the benefits for participating in our ILEA committees? I'd say if you are serious about networking in the industry and you want to grow as a planner and get the most of your ILEA membership, why wouldn't you. 

What's your advice for those unsure where to start in becoming active in ILEA? When I originally joined, I new NO ONE.  To initially find my way within the chapter, I used my first holiday networking event to try to meet as many people as possible.  I found all the VP's and Directors of our local board and emailed them the day of the event introducing myself, telling them I would be at that night's event and that I was hoping to find a good place to get started and contribute to the chapter.  It turns out the Board was meeting just before the event and my name came up - then they found out they all had receieved the same email from me. I went to the party with "plus one" to help fight my jitters, I connected with Jim Grillo at the party and the rest is history.  The moral of the story - be bold, be creative and don't be afraid to put yourself out there.

What's the biggest benefit to attending the ILEA Greater Chicago Chapter programs?  One benefit is certainly the first hand introductions to some of Chicago's best venues, our chapters movers & shakers and all the support and business that can be found with those connections.  Not to be forgotten is the great educational opportunities that come with the speakers and exeperiences that are shared.  

How has ILEA made a difference in your career?  ILEA has given me a broader view of the events industry, and the opportunities out there.  I'm a corporate planner myself, but it certainly has impacted the way I execute my events and the renewed creativity and enthusiasm that comes with being involved with such a great organization.

What's one thing most people don't know about you? Many years ago, in another lifetime, I used to sing professionally.  Yes, high heals, leather pants and big 80's hair.  My children tease me about it all the time.  It just wasn't my calling, but it does make me great at picking entertainment and finding fabulous bands!  

To reach Vicki or find out more about ILEA Chicago's Marketing & Communications Committee or the contact Vicki at or 847-507-6364.


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