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Our Chapter History

The Antonian Awards are the result of a brainstorming session spearheaded by local event professionals Todd Kabes, of San Antonio Weddings Magazine, Chris Koval, of Future Sounds DJ, Julie McGarraugh, of McNay Art Musem, Lisa Morales, formerly of Haute Weddings and Pinks Popcorn, and Maria Mwangi, formerly of Studios at Fischer, in an effort to produce a city-wide event that would prepare industry professionals for higher-level event competition and recognition. It was also founded in order to raise operating funds for the San Antonio chapter, to sponsor scholarship recipients to attend the annual ILEA convention, and help assist local charities the chapter elected to support. Founded in 2015, the Antonian Awards have been held annually with the exception of 2020 and 2021, and have continued to grow every year, both in terms of attendance and funds raised.

The International Live Events Association (ILEA) was founded to foster enlightened performance through education while promoting ethical conduct. ILEA works to join professionals to focus on the "event as a whole" rather than its individual parts. ILEA has grown to involve nearly 5,000 members active in 30 chapters throughout the world. Membership brings together professionals from a variety of special events disciplines including caterers, meeting planners, decorators, event planners, audio-visual technicians, party and convention coordinators, educators, journalists, hotel sales managers and many more professional disciplines. The solid peer network ILEA provides helps special events professionals produce outstanding results for clients while establishing positive working relationships with other event colleagues.

The San Antonio Chapter began its formation in 1999. Although there were efforts to start a local chapter before 1999, according to Jay Hall, “it was time to get serious and take the steps necessary to start a chapter here.” The time was right! Several industry professionals felt that a chapter would bring together those in the local event industry. “There was a need to know each other, help each other and learn from each other.” As the process began to start a chapter, several of the founding members attended ILEA meetings in Houston and Dallas. Austin was also in the process of starting a chapter and the International consensus was that we should be one chapter. Without the efforts and determination of past members and leaders like Jay Hall and Caryn Hasslocher with Fresh Horizons, the San Antonio Chapter would not be what and where it is today.

It was the culmination of many like Hall, Hasslocher and 18 founding members to know, support and learn from each other. There was a need for an association like ILEA to provide the framework to build a network of like mindsets, businesses and services to support the growth of the events industry and city. It was very beneficial to connect, share stories,

experiences and methods to better the processes we all encountered. The time was right for the ILEA San Antonio Chapter to form. Many people helped propel the interest and enthusiasm for ILEA San Antonio even though they were not locals. Debbie Meyers-Shock with Bravo Entertainment out of Dallas as well as Damon Holditch with Marquee Event Group out of Austin were both inspirations to the founding members of the San Antonio Chapter.

Of course, there was skepticism about becoming a member too. There were those and are those who feel that, “they knew it all!” Hall made note of a comment made by a visiting international president, Lena MaLoof from Australia. MaLoof stated, “…it’s what you learn after you know it all.” Looking back, Hall studied The Special Event Magazine she received each month. It motivated her to attend a Special Event Conference in Dallas with another industry friend. It opened her eyes to an amazing industry of opportunity to learn and focus attention to event details. Hall made local, regional and national connections after attending the conference and it led to greater opportunities. The years that followed introduced her to others involved in the tourism and hospitality industry. Hall stated, “Meeting good people and being part of their events makes you want to be better!” Seeing people learn, seeing them increase their knowledge and value is still a personal reward and measure of enlightenment for Hall.

Hall is retired, but remains active with several organizations in the city. She is still amazed at the growth of the hospitality and tourism industry as well as the advances in the innovation and technology for every aspect of the event industry. Hall loves seeing the people getting involved. She ends with mentioning that she has always known how to change a light bulb, however, the light bulb is different…it has changed…things change. Being a part of a group of likeminded people like ILEA helps you see, prepare and be part of change…live and learn. Look for Jay Hall at various meetings. She has many great stories and experiences to share.

  • 2000 - 2002 Jay Hall

  • 2002 - 2003 Scott Simmons

  • 2003 - 2005 Gary Jones, CSEP

  • 2005 - 2007 Melissa White

  • 2007 - 2009Janelle Plummer

  • 2009 - 2011 Coy Galloway

  • 2011 - 2012 Matthew Gonzales, CSEP

  • 2012 - 2014 Stacey DeWine, CSEP

  • 2014 - 2015 Billinda Wilkinson

  • 2015 - 2016 Dona Liston

  • 2016 - 2017 Daniel Holman

  • 2017 - 2018 Lisa Hartman

  • 2018 - 2019 Julie McGarraugh

  • 2019 - 2020 Lisa Morales, CSEP

  • 2020 - 2021 Armando Seledon, CSEP

  • 2021 - 2022 Chris Koval

  • 2022 - 2023 Gretchen Olivares

  • 2023 - 2024 Robert Vega

Past Chapter Presidents

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