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Our History

ILEA Minneapolis-St. Paul is the only chapter in the international organization to be recognized as International Chapter of the Year SEVEN times (2022-2023, 2020-2021, 2017-2018, 2016-2017, 2009-2010, 2006-2007, and 2005-2006). Our dynamic chapter is recognized as leaders in the special event industry due to the enriching networking and continuing education offered through our monthly programs, as well as the creativity and innovation demonstrated by our leadership.

Chapter Awards + Milestones

In the early 1990s major events such as the Special Olympics, the US Open, the Final Four and the Super Bowl raised the bar for events in the Twin Cities and gave impetus to a thirst for more knowledge, products, and talent.


Each year event professionals would travel to international conferences like The Special Event searching for connections and new ideas to bring back to the Twin Cities marketplace. Eventually, inspired by our experiences and searching for more, the question was raised, “How do we start an International Special Events Society (ISES) Chapter in Minnesota?”


In the winter of 1998, Diana Brasch, Becky Harris, CSEP, Jolene Ihle, Michelle Kramer, Jayna Larrea, and Cheryl Kranz, CMP,  began the process of establishing a “Chapter in Formation”. These ‘competitors’ committed to working together on this worthy mission and the idea gained momentum. The first membership rally was held on April 2, 1998. Over 100 people attended to learn more about the association from the President of the International Board of Governors, Tim Lundy. That first meeting yielded membership applications from 20 people! Our second membership rally on June 11, 1998, yielded the additional fifteen memberships needed to become a chapter. On Saturday, August 8, 1998, the National Board of Governors officially voted us in as the Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapter of ISES, and on September 10, 1998, we held our first official meeting.

International Immediate Past President Tim Lundy returned to swear in Becky Harris, CSEP, as President of the inaugural Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapter Board of Directors and the twenty-fifth chapter of the International Special Event Society was a reality.

Over the next ten years, the chapter helped grow the sophistication of the event industry in the Twin Cities. By 2004 the chapter had introduced a Scholarship program, assisting members by funding higher learning opportunities. In 2005, we introduced the Minnesota Star Awards to recognize all Minnesota event professionals for their creative efforts. We learned that when we collaborated to harness our creativity, credibility in the community followed. Our membership exploded in 2006-2007 from 77 to 176 members. In 2008-2009 we introduced a Mentorship Program to benefit our growing membership. In 2010-2011 we expanded our educational offerings to include Learning Labs and Event Previews.

In 2016 ILEA Minneapolis-St. Paul member and International Board of Governors President, Jodi Collen, CSEP led the way to change the name from ISES to ILEA, the International Live Events Association. 
In August 2019, ILEA Minneapolis-St. Paul was the host city for ILEA Live - the theme was "Cultivating Creativity".

  • 2012-2013 Leslie Larson

  • 2013-2014 Jean Peine

  • 2014-2015 Elizabeth Partyka

  • 2015-2016 Meghan Gustafson

  • 2016-2017 Christie Altendorf

  • 2017-2018 Maria Cabrera Hutera, CMP

  • 2018-2019 Gretchen Culver

  • 2019-2020 Sarah Johnson

  • 2020-2021 Sarah Cash-Darvell, CSEP

  • 2021-2022 Nick Peter, CSEP

  • 2022-2024 Rachel Geertsema

  • 1998-2000 Becky Harris

  • 2000-2001 Carol Helgeson

  • 2001-2002 Mark Grassini

  • 2002-2003 Karla Winter

  • 2003-2005 Craig Oliver

  • 2005-2006 Jodi Collen, CSEP

  • 2006-2007 Kate Touhey Stahl

  • 2007-2008 Jim Leighton

  • 2008-2009 Lisa MarieBorchert, CSEP

  • 2009-2010 Cara Schulz

  • ​2010-2011 Ryan Hanson, CSEP

  • ​2011-2012 Matthew Trettel

Past Chapter Presidents

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