Meet ILEA Chicago Member - Lauren Smith

We caught up with member Lauren Smith recently and she shared her experience with ILEA Chicago and what her membership means to her.

“I want to be a guide and a resource for my clients and other professionals in my industry,” said Lauren Smith, the Sales and Marketing Director of Chez event space located in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago. This is something that can easily be done with ILEA’s networking opportunities that connect people from catering, event planning, meeting planning, experts in décor, and so much more. ILEA provides a way to gain more information about different fields in events and this can be shared with clients looking for the space to have their dream event.

Networking: As an ILEA member you can constantly have access to information and a vast amount of contacts that would put you ahead of the competition. “Clients have found this to be a valuable part of their interactions with me in the past and I want to grow that area, always meeting new vendors and nurturing the relationships with established contacts,” said Lauren.

Potential Growth:  Since ILEA is an International association, members can find new job prospects or connect with members from all over the world. “While I am very happy at my current job and don’t see myself going anywhere soon, it is always a good idea to look far out into the future. I am confident that the network in ILEA will lead to an interesting prospect down the road, whether that is a job offer or another type of opportunity. I have heard testimony from other members that it has worked for them!” Said Lauren.

Education:  No matter what field you are in, you can always learn more! ILEA offers different events that spark interesting conversations between the speaker and the members, and promotes for members to become a CSEP (Certified Special Events Professional). “The CSEP is an achievement I hope to have under my belt after the January testing happens.” Lauren does sell an events space but wants be well-rounded in knowledge of the events world.

Lauren is a great example of a member who participates in the association’s activities, takes advantage of the networking opportunities that ILEA provides, and a seasoned, creative professional who wants to continuously get better in the events field.

For more information on Chez event space or to talk to Lauren more about her membership experienece with ILEA, you can contact her at 312.255.0288 x227 or


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ILEA Chicago Classifieds Section Available Now

New to ILEA Chicago Members:
Have a job opening to post? Looking for a new job opportunity? Looking to connect with member businesses to work with? Or perhaps you’re simply looking for a referral to give to another member?

ILEA Chicago is excited to launch our new Classified Listings on the chapter website!

It's EASY, it’s FREE, and it’s for MEMBERS ONLY!

  • Classifieds will be posted to the ILEA as a complimentary value add to members only. To advertise, send your job posting and resume or request for referral to 
  • Include a concise description of what you are looking for and any logos or appropriate documents.
  • All Classifieds will be available to logged in members only. 
  • Your post will be live for 30 days, or until you confirm it's been filled, at no charge. 
  • ILEA Chicago will promote via social media when we have new listings to be seen to all members and non-members, but will require members to log in to the chapter site to see the listings


Connect today!


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2016 ILEA Holiday Party – Event Recap

ILEA Chicago celebrated our annual Holiday Party on Tuesday, December 6 at the brand new Hive on Hubbard venue.  The event welcomed over 75 members and guests to toast to a wonderful 2016 and cheers to an even better 2017! 

The Hive

The Hive on Hubbard is a historic and impeccably renovated warehouse space in the West Loop Chicago neighborhood.   The exposed brick and original wood floors help set the tone for a warm and inviting Apres Ski theme complete with a fondue station, cozy cocktails, and lounges straight from a ski lodge provided by Cort Event Furnishings and tables/rentals provided by Tablescapes. The north, east and south facing windows gave guests incredible views of our world famous skyline and the lit up United Center.  Guests dined on stations and passed hors d’oeuvres including fondue station, smoked meats, classic and veggie reubens and anti-griddle desserts all provided by Jewell Events and Catering.  With warm lighting and drape provided by Elegant Event Lighting, Fig Media ensured the mood was set with a mix of holiday and classic music while AMJ Spectacular Events created memories to last a life time in our photo booth.

The Chef

ILEA Chicago kicked off our annual membership drive, where you can get a 6-month membership for $249 and the $50 application fee is waived.  Click here to learn more about the benefits of an ILEA Membership and sign up before December 15 to take advantage of this once a year opportunity!

Thank you again to all of our event sponsors and to our members: Happy Holiday and Cheers to the New Year!  We’ll see you in 2017 when we team up with MPI Chicago for the NEXT Conference on March 2 and NACE Chicago for our annual NICE Awards on April 27!

 A HUGE Thank You to our generous Event Sponsors:

The Hive on Hubbard
Jewell Events and Catering
Urban Icing
Cort Event Furnishings
Elegant Event Lighting
Fig Media
AMJ Spectacular Events

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Meet Ryan Campbell, Board Member at Large ILEA Greater Chicago

Ryan Campbell first joined ILEA Chicago in November 2013 as a way to network and get to know fellow industry professionals, but he attests that the true meaningful relationships developed after he got involved first through committee work and eventually as a board member.   Ryan says his time on the board has not only granted him lifelong relationships and business partnerships but on a personal development note an opportunity to gain real-life experience through managing a committee of volunteers, learning how to delegate, and practicing ways to engage volunteers.  He encourages anyone that is not only looking to get more access to the Chicago Industry Leaders but also those who are hoping to develop marketable skills to get involved at the committee and board level to get the most out of your membership! 

Getting to Know You Q & A ...

What made you interested in participating in ILEA Leadership?  My regional sales manager, Dave Buckley, CSEP told me when I first opened the AFR Chicago market that it was imperative that I not only joined the industry associations but that I got involved.  I don’t do anything half heartedly, so I jumped in head first and joined the board, practically before I was a member!

What would you say are the benefits for participating in our ILEA committees? There are two major benefits for me:

One is that volunteering in an association that is career related/focused, gives you the opportunity to practice skills you might not otherwise have obtained through your job/career thus far.  I’m terrible at public speaking and I’ve never had the opportunity to manage a team, both of which I’ve gotten better at and had the opportunity to practice through my involvement at the board level.

The other greatest benefits of being involved at the committee or board level is having a built in group of friends when you attend the monthly meetings, holiday party or day of ed, etc.  The people that I’ve served with over the years have become more than industry colleagues or clients, they are true friends.

What's your advise for those unsure where to start in becoming active in ILEA?  The first thing I would ask is what do you hope to achieve from your membership and involvement and work backwards.  Are you looking to work on managerial skills, public speaking, brand exposure for your company, larger network, new job, etc?  Once you have an idea of why you’re hear and offering your time, then call up any member of the board with your objective and ask “what next”?

What's the biggest benefit to attending the ILEA Greater Chicago Chapter programs?  The networking.  The opportunity to see old friends but also new faces, learning about new companies, new services new products in our market makes me better at my job.

How has ILEA made a difference in your career?  ILEA Chicago has such immense buying power, some of the people I’ve met through ILEA are also my biggest clients/partners – but further than that I also feel like it’s made me a more valuable member of our industry to understand how we all work together in our different capacities.

What's one thing most people don't know about you? I ran the 2012 Chicago Marathon and I’ll NEVER run a marathon again!

To reach Ryan or find out more about AFR Event Furnishings contact Ryan at or (630) 796-7942.


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