Member Spotlight


Melinda Alonso, CMP, CSEP
Event Manager
The Ohio State University Alumni Association

How long have you been with your company?

I’ve been with The Ohio State University Alumni Association for 19 years.   I am very thankful to work with amazing colleagues that inspire and challenge me and I am thankful for the amazing clients that we serve at the Longaberger Alumni House. 

What was your proudest professional moment in the last year?

In July 2018 I earned my Certified Special Event Professional designation.    This was a proud moment for me because it was a personal goal I set for myself and it took two years of preparation for me to succeed.  I would encourage any of our industry colleagues to work towards earning a professional designation.    

When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your time?

When I’m not working I’m enjoying time with my family which means I’m yelling at our seven year old son to get off his X-box and do his homework.  


What’s one thing about you that surprises people?

One thing that may surprise people is that I enlisted and served in the United States Navy for nine years following high school.   I am very thankful I had that opportunity and I’m grateful to my fellow veterans for their service as well.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Here is the best work advice I’ve been given: Lock the door.   This was a response to a safety concern and it was a cost effective immediate   solution. This now serves as a reminder that sometimes the simple solution is the best one. 

The best life advice I’ve been given:  Never eat an entire box of prunes all at once.


Peter Bell
Bell Tree Productions

How long have you been with your Company?

 “I started Bell Tree Productions in March of 2014, so we will be celebrating our five year anniversary later this year.”

What do you do?”

“As any small business owner can tell you, especially one working in live events, my job changes depending on the task at hand. Besides handling day-to-day operations, I spend much of my time collaborating with clients and other event professionals providing them with superior and cost effective audio-visual solutions. Throughout the course of an event, my team and I spend our time setting up, operating and striking the audio, lighting and video systems we are provide for the occasion. Along with live audio-visual production, Bell Tree also offers full photography and video services. When I am not working on advancing, designing or running live events, I can often times be found working at our editing bay in the office.”

 What do you like best about your position?  

“The best part about my position, outside of working with my fantastic staff, is that it gives me the flexibility to work in many different venues and event spaces. Each venue is unique, and presents a new set of challenges to navigate through. The ability to maneuver through different obstacles, while still producing an exceptional end product is the most rewarding experience of any project I am working on.”  

Why did you join Ilea?

“I joined ILEA for a number of different reasons, but my main purpose was to help provide better service to my clients. Often times clients approach me with audio-visual needs, but are also looking for other event professionals to help execute their event. Being able to direct a buyer to a person whom I trust will provide him or her with excellent service outside of my area of expertise is important to me. ILEA provides me an opportunity to talk with caterers, florists and venue managers who I may not have yet met, who are a perfect match for a clients needs.”

What do you find most helpful being a member of ILEA?

“I really enjoy that ILEA provides an avenue for other like minded professionals to congregate through their events, share knowledge among ourselves and discuss upcoming projects we are working on.”

When you're not working, how do you like to spend your time?

“I am a big Blue Jackets fan and love going to games down at Nationwide Arena. I’m still waiting for that playoff series win and hoping that this year is the year!”

What’s your hidden talent?

“Building carpentry projects. Growing up as a kid my Dad, when he wasn’t seeing patients in the Emergency room or teaching, loved to do projects. When I say ‘carpentry projects’ I’m not talking about building a bookcase or lopsided spice racks; these were full-scale construction projects. My brothers and I spent many a summer day working with Dad on building sheds, a chicken coop and renovating an old ice house. I learned so many invaluable skills from spending that time with my Dad. I don’t think many kids, with parents outside of the construction industry, can say that they built and shingled an entire roof with just their Dad and seven year old Brother. I was nine at the time.”

What’s the first career you dreamed of having as a kid?

“Rocket Scientist, that lasted until I learned that I was awful at physics, apparently physics are important when it comes to rocket engineering. Who knew?”

What's one thing about you that surprises people?

“That I haven’t been to New York City. I have toured all over the world; in my early twenties was a tour/production manager for a couple different bands. I traveled all over Europe and have been to just about every major city in the United States, yet somehow I have never made it to New York City... Yet”

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“If you are sitting in a room of people and consider yourself to be the smartest person in it, then you need to find a new room.”



Bill Ferguson, CSEP, CERP, CTA
Senior Regional Account Executive
Event Source


How long have you been with your Company?
12 years / 6 months – serving the Event Rental Industry for over 35 years. 

What do you do?”
As the Senior Regional Account Executive, I provide our clients with event rental options, at a high level of customer service and products, in the Greater Columbus area and Indianapolis markets.  I also support our sales teams in Cleveland, Detroit and Pittsburgh, as an advisor and coach, to help expand our brand throughout the Mid-West.     

What do you like best about your position?
Every day is a party!  No 2 days are the same, no matter what I plan for tomorrow, it changes before I wake up the next day.  Putting smiles on client’s faces day after day makes every day worth getting up and going to work!  Last minute events coming in and the opportunity to execute these successfully.   

Why did you join Ilea?
I joined in January of 2000, as an associate with Made From Scratch.  I knew of the organization, and wanted to be part of the “cool kids”.  I wanted to obtain my CSEP (Certified Special Event Professional), and part of this process at the time was to be a member.  In 2003 I achieved my CSEP Designation, and proudly continue to have the designation, 15 years later. 

What do you find most helpful being a member of ILEA? 
My ability over the past 20 years to network with so many people from my local chapters, but other chapters around the US and world.  I have had the privileged to sit on several International Committees, serve as Regional Vice President for two terms, and

When you're not working, how do you like to spend your time?
Spending time at home with my husband Fredrik, going out to dinner, and leisure travel when our schedules permits.  Spending time with friends and family as well. 

What’s your hidden talent?
Played percussion in high school marching band and the Canton Blue Coats Drum and Bugle corps for several years.  Also marched with Pride of Cincinnati winter guard program for 2 years.  No, please do not ask me to pick up a flag, sabre, or riffle at the next meeting – a little bit rusty these days. 

What’s the first career you dreamed of having as a kid?
Music Educator / Symphony Director.

What's one thing about you that surprises people?
I have no hidden surprises, people see me for who I am, a friendly person, who cares about others around me, and want everyone to get along. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 
Listen more, talk less, and pay attention to what clients are saying at all times.  



Emily Messinger
Owner - Exhale Events

How long have you been with your company?  
One year

What do you do?
I own a wedding and event planning company, specializing in mostly weddings and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs

What do you like best about your position?
It is amazing owning your own business and having the freedom to work from home.  I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by such incredible event professionals that offer me advice and support daily.  I attribute much of my success to the relationships I have developed in the Columbus Events Industry community. 

Why did you join ILEA?
I have been a proud member of ILEA for 10 years now in three different cities.  ILEA has given me the opportunity to grow professionally, get out of my comfort zone, and make some amazing connections.

What do you find most helpful being a member of ILEA?
I love having the opportunity to be able to reach out to other ILEA Members in different cities.  It has been hugely beneficial to be able to connect with other wedding planners outside of Columbus and see how others do things in different markets.  There is an instant feeling of trust and willingness to help when you say you're a fellow ILEA member.

When you're not working, how do you like to spend your time?
I just had a baby a few weeks ago so lately it's been spending time with my little guy... and drinking wine and coffee!

What's your hidden talent?
Oh jeez, I honestly don't think I have one!

What's the first career you dreamed of having as a kid?
A teacher when I was young and then a Therapist in college (which is kind of ironic because I pretty much play therapist to many of my couples now!)

What's one thing about you that surprises people?
I think clients and vendors are always pleasantly surprised to see my calm-under-pressure when I work weddings.  I always keep a positive attitude.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Take a deep breath and exhale