George

You take the lead role in planning the Chamber’s annual Legislative Dinner. Describe the event.
It’s a gathering of approximately 500 business, government, political and community leaders smack in the middle of the legislative session. We always have a speaker. Last year, we had the two heads of the state parties. This year, it’s former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar.

 

The event has grown significantly. It used to be a reception for about 200 people; in the last few years, we’ve turned it into a dinner that keeps increasing in popularity. We make it a point to feature local vendors. The last few years, we’ve highlighted local breweries and wineries.

(Don’t miss the 2014 Legislative Dinner on February 12 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in downtown Indianapolis!)

What is your involvement in the annual Safety and Health Conference & Expo?
My day-to-day role for any of our conferences is the speakers and agenda development – but for that one, it’s on a much larger scale. Once the agenda is set by the conference committee, they turn the whole thing over to me and I communicate with the speakers and make sure everyone’s up to date on deadlines and logistical things like location, audiovisual needs and pulling together bios and session descriptions. For a single-day conference – one we have on-site in the Chamber’s conference center – I’m dealing with one or two people; for this one, it’s closer to 80.

It’s a three-day event and is our largest conference. In 2013, we had about 800 attendees.

In addition to special events, the Chamber plans approximately 50 training seminars throughout the year. Why are those programs so valuable?
Regulatory issues such as health care reform are constantly changing and companies need to be up to date on these issues. If they’re not doing things correctly, they could face harsh fines from the government and no one wants that. The safety and well-being of their employees is important. We want to make sure they’re squared away on safety, human resources and other issues – whether those issues are constantly changing or are complicated like FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), for instance.

Talk about a few of your passions outside of the office.
There are a couple of things that are really important to me. I’m one of those people who has a tendency to like animals more than I like people! I’m constantly asking my husband if we can get a certain dog from a shelter or pick up a dog from the side of road. Anything animal related – that’s a big deal.

Also, Fairbanks (alcohol and drug treatment center in Indianapolis) has a school called Hope Academy for kids in high school who have become sober and want to continue on with their education. It’s hard to overcome something like that (addiction) and go back to your old school and old friends. Fairbanks and what it does is important, and Hope Academy is something that’s important to my husband and I.

Tell us about the day you met musician Jon Bon Jovi.
I was able to learn what hotel he was staying in (here in Indianapolis). My boss and I waited outside that hotel for them to leave for several hours in the heat. I couldn’t talk because I was so flabbergasted, so Kerri Begley (Chamber vice president of conferences and special events) asked him to take a picture with me.

Favorite movie: Say Anything
Favorite possession: My husband and dogs, but not in a “possessive” way
Favorite book: Friday Night Lights
Favorite vacation spot: Maui
Favorite food: Pretty much anything seafood

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