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Meet ILEA Chicago Member – April Starkloff with PRA


Tell us a little bit about yourself…

What inspired you to go into event planning?

Most of my professional career I have worked in high-end restaurants and hotels. I have done everything from serving, bartending, training, and opening new restaurants. The process of opening a new restaurant or planning unique events has always been where my interest and expertise lies. Event planning allows me to be able utilize my artistic side as well as organizational skills. Every job in the hospitality industry has led me to this career.

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

I have a bachelor’s degree in photography from Columbia College Chicago. My dream once upon a time was to be the next Berenice Abbott, which obviously did not go as planned. I do still take photographs and hope to have my own darkroom one day, printing black and white photos is my true love.

What do you love the most about what you do?

I love the hustle and bustle of operations, you never know what is going to happen. It is gratifying to see all the hard work you and your team put into program and watch it come alive. It can be anything from a blank space springing to life or a well-executed transportation plan, it is all fun to me.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Columbus, OH and I am proud to be a Buckeye fan through and through!

What's your event gone wrong horror story?

A few years ago, I was operating the biggest program I had ever executed. It was the first night of the program and I also had a small transportation program going on at another location. I am at the restaurant about to greet over 800 attendees when I get a call…. April, a shuttle coach from another program has just hit one of our minicoachs, everything has been handled but I just wanted you to know. 45 minutes later I get another call… April, the same shuttle coach driver has just hit another one of our minicoachs!!! In the end nobody has hurt, and everything worked out. The moral of this story is there is no such thing a small program!

What made you interested in participating in ILEA?

I have had the opportunity to be part of many industry associations over the years. While many of these organizations provided me with excellent opportunities to network amongst my industry peers, ILEA has the educational component that I am looking for.

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