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Meet ILEA Chicago Member - Aida Johnson-Rapp


Who/ what inspired you to go into event planning?
In the late 90’s I was a senior manager at a Chicago health club and I was charged with planning the staff and member events.  I loved this task and the endorphin rush I got from finishing these events.  The turning point for me was when I planned the staff family picnic and included games for staff children.  I don’t have children and my network of friends were mostly single, so I rarely interacted with little people.  They enthusiasm for what I had planned was infectious.  The parents had the best time watching me meet the challenges of their youthful exuberance.  After 4 hours of play I was exhausted but the feeling of accomplishment was something that I will never forget and I wanted more, so I began my quest to get formally educated to become a competent planner.

Tell us one thing we might not learn about you right away?
I started teaching fitness in the 70’s and I used 33 LP records to play music for my classes.

What do you love the most about what you do?
I love interacting with people and creating community.  After all of these months of social isolation, I realize how important it is to create connection for people.  This is in our DNA and being able to provide the nourishment of community to people gives me the satisfaction of knowing that what I do contributes to the well-being of my event participants.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in K-Town, Chicago’s North Lawndale community.  I have lived in New York, Miami, Los Angeles and in a few military outposts in Germany and Oklahoma.

What's your event gone wrong horror story?
My event horror story happened when I was the Hospitality Coordinator for the Mayor’s Office of Special Events and I was responsible for travel and accommodations for talent for all of the Music Festivals in Grant Park.  This was my first summer and working on !Viva Latin Music Festival.  There was a Mexican mariachi band with 22 members who did not speak English.  Somehow, they missed getting on the arranged airport transportation and made it to a hotel in downtown Chicago.  The transportation company called me and let me know that they could not find the band.  I began to frantically call the local contact who also went into search mode.  After about two hours I received a call from a hotel concierge who spoke Spanish letting me know that he had a large group of musicians in his lobby who were lost.  They clearly missed their soundcheck, but made it to the venue in time for their performance.  This is a story I will never forget.  

What made you interested in participating in ILEA? 
For me it’s important to network with people who provide resources and need resources for creating successful events.  ILEA is a reservoir of ideas and resources.  

To connect with Aida, please use the links below.
Instagram: CLICK HERE