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IAEE Women’s Leadership Regional Meeting Sets the Bar for Safety


ROSEMONT—One of the first convention industry meetings to take place since COVID-19, the International Association of Exhibitions & Events (IAEE) Women’s Leadership Regional Meeting went off without a hitch on Tuesday, July 14, at the OLC Education and Conference Center. The half-day hybrid event with was a model for its policies and protocols in this new era of meetings.

Unlike in the past, attendees were not allowed to arrive the day of the event. Everyone was required to fill out IAEE’s prework survey and sign a waiver, both of which needed to be submitted 4 days before the meeting. There were no exceptions. On Monday, July 13, the day before the meeting, attendees were emailed another 4-question Pre-Event Health & Safety Pre-Screening Survey that had to be completed by 5:00 p.m. CST.

Upon entering the venue, each attendee had their temperature checked. Numerous safety precautions included required masks in all common areas, in addition to social distancing; spaced-out seating as marked (every 6 feet) in the meeting space and one required entrance and exit to monitor traffic. Breakfast was not provided in the morning, only beverages, and attendees received a packaged lunch, a probable new F&B best practice moving forward.

The OLC Center also reached out to attendees with a letter from its cleaning service provider, B and B Maintenance, that carefully outlined its protocols to keep the facility’s high-touch surfaces (such as door handles, handrails and chairs) disinfected using EPA-registered hospital-grade cleaning products and electrostatic spraying. The OLC’s HVAC system uses 100% outside air and MERV 14 filtration.

“It felt wonderful to be around others at an educational conference and luncheon,” said Gabrielle Weiss TSE Vice President and Editor-in-Chief. “The content was particularly on point with a strong focus on leadership and team building during the pandemic. The OLC and the IAEE team did a fantastic job keeping us safe and everyone attending was respectful of the new rules.”

The half-day program’s keynotes were Claudia St. John, SPHR, SHRM-SCP whose talk focused on trust building techniques that help leaders build well-oiled productive teams. Her talk was dubbed: Transforming Teams – Tips for Improving Collaboration and Building Trust. Jeska Brodbeck led the group with her keynote on Mastering Your Flow State for Optimal Performance. Brodbeck’s clients include HSBC, Telemundo and Wells Fargo.

There were some concerns among registrants that the Mayor of Chicago had put an Emergency Travel Order into effect on July 6 requiring a 14-day quarantine for visitors. The CEO of the OLC Education and Conference Center, Lise Puckorius, circulated a letter explaining that her facility had checked with the First Stop Business Information Center at the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, a governing body in that state for COVID-19 restrictions, as well with as the Village of Rosemont Health Department and Public Safety, and was given the green light since Rosemont is a suburb and not under the Chicago Mayor’s jurisdiction.

There were 46 total registrants for the event, with 7 attending in person, not including IAEE program facilitators and speakers. Many of the post-event comments focused on how comfortable and safe the organizers made them feel. As one put it: “I appreciate that in an uncertain time there was a commitment to hosting in person. …The confidence in meetings and in-person events will only grow from the seeds of programs like today’s.”

The next regional Women’s Leadership Forum will take place in September in Leesburg, Va. For more information, visit:

Reach Stacy Riddler at (972) 687-9214 or

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