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April Member Spotlight

Updated: Apr 12

Jim Riley

Ohio Designer Craftsmen/ Ohio Craft Museum

Gallery Administrator/Membership Manager

Who/What inspired you to go into the event industry? 

Soon after I started my first job at a local restaurant, I started picking up shifts in the banquet department helping setup for events. The Banquet Coordinator showed me the ins and outs of private events and it sparked my event creativity and drive.  When she left, I took over for her and the spark stayed with me.

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

I have a degree in Psychology.

What is your favorite thing about your job? 

I would say I really enjoy getting back to basics and helping grow and create new programs and functionality across the different areas for our organization and museum and connecting directly with the arts community.  I came to the organization as the former executive director was retiring so there is a lot of opportunity for development and new perspectives both for the museum and our shows Winterfair Columbus Winterfair Cincinnati, and Art Studio Clearance Sale.     

Where did you grow up? 

Reynoldsburg, Ohio

What made you interested in joining ILEA?

One of my vendors, Pat Holstein of POSH events, invited me to an ILEA (then ISES) program.  She talked about all the professional development and connections I could make since I was relatively new at my new position at the Ohio Historical Society.  After the first meeting I knew I found my family of event professionals.

What is your favorite professional moment to date? 

Something I am most proud of was the at the Ohio History Connection coordinating the Country Living Magazine’s Fair of 40,000 people while simultaneously coordinating a multifunction Gala for Art for Life the same weekend.  Seeing my team and I come together planning and executing two massive events simultaneously which resulted in an Ohio Wow award and nomination for ILEA Esprit award really reminded me of why I love the event industry so much.

What are you most excited for professionally in 2022? 

The Columbus Winterfair was named best fine art and design show of 2022 by Sunshine Artist Magazine so we are excited for this year’s shows to celebrate the honor. 

So far, what have you found most helpful being a member of ILEA? 

ILEA has been invaluable to me professionally and personally for over 20 years of membership.  I have built strong connections and friendships locally and internationally.  If I ever had an industry question, supply issue, or just needed a different perspective I knew I could pick up the phone and all would be taken care of.  Also, I can’t say enough about the leadership skills and experience I have received due to my involvement in ILEA.  Starting off at the local board for over 13 years and moving to RVP, international committees and then the International Board of Governors, I really experienced so much which has helped me grow both within the industry and personally.  ILEA allows you to become a better leader if you get involved.

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

Usually spending time with my husband and our 2 dogs Maxwell and puppy Cassie. 

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

Early on one of my managers told me that “events aren’t  about you, they are about them (the clients)”.  That stuck with me through all my years of event planning and execution. I knew that I could do all the planning and develop a solid team going into the event but when the event started, I had to be in the moment.  You can’t be so tied to the “plan” that if something goes wrong or changes it throws you off and that becomes what you focus on.  You need to be able to keep focus on the client and ensure that the event and the participants think it was the most fantastic event no matter what is going on “behind the curtain”.  Afterwards you can celebrate, figure out ways to improve, or figure out what went wrong.  However, in the event the client is the focus. 


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