In 2022 I returned to my roots of marketing, event strategies and association management when I joined the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) as its Chief Marketing Officer. TRA is the leading business association for Texas’ $52.4 billion foodservice industry, which spans over 52,000 locations throughout the state, employing a workforce of 1.2 million – 12% of the state’s employment.
My 45+ year professional career has always been powered by an entrepreneurial spirit and focused on giving back to the communities in which I served.
In 1983 at age 19 I became the youngest elected official in the State of Illinois and chaired the board of commissioners with a budget of more than $4 million. Simultaneously, I became the youngest member of a bank’s management team at age 20 and began the process of mastering a variety of skills within banking operations, marketing, sales and advertising.
While interacting with my clients during my banking career, I recognized the potential for developing mutually beneficial marketing and promotional opportunities between not-for-profit organizations and corporations. This interest initiated a career path change and in 1994 I joined the Midwest's leader in special event production, marketing, and event sponsorship sales.
In 2011, I acquired the Chicago Flower & Garden Show® and in the decade that followed through my mantra to “Inspire, Educate. Motivate.” I affectionately became known as “Mr. Green Chicago” by my friends and supporters.
Ultimately the Flower & Garden Show closed due to COVID-19 in March of 2020 and like any good entrepreneur, I picked up the pieces and invested my heart and mind into the Get Growing Foundation, the 501c3 nonprofit I created in 2017 to support the efforts of the Flower & Garden Show. These efforts also included the creation of a mobile plant boutique, PLANT TRUCK Chicago, and the Get Growing! EXPO series.