About ILEA Austin Chapter
MEET OUR PRESIDENT
JESSICA KIRBY, CSEP
Jessica graduated from The University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em Horns!) with a degree in Advertising. She got her start in the events industry in 2009 and has a diverse background of event-related experiences. Jessica has produced award-winning weddings and Jessica recently won NEAWP’s “Coordinator of the Year” award. Her creativity sparks thoughtful conversations and her attention to detail guarantees that she won’t miss a beat. Her favorite moment of the wedding process is seeing the venue transform into the bride and groom’s vision and watching their faces light up when they first see it.
Jessica also enjoys planning corporate events like galas and holiday parties. She has corporate event planning experience via her positions with National Instruments and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Jessica loves living in Austin, spending time with her Fiancé and their 7lb. Yorkie and is a self-admitted sweets fanatic!
Sara Champagne is a Louisiana girl by birth, but a Texan at heart. Raised in Southeast Texas for most of her life, Sara made the move to Austin in 2012. After graduating from Lamar University, she worked in non-profit and business management roles. Being involved in the planning processes of company events in her previous roles was something that Sara always enjoyed, and she made the decision to transition full time into the world of events in 2014. Sara has been working as the Sr Event Producer for MYEVENTISTHEBOMB since that time.
Always up for an adventure, in her free time, Sara can be found on the trails with her pup, paddle boarding/kayaking, or getting out of town for a quick road trip!
I absolutely love the dynamic of the event industry in Austin as well as the amazing opportunities for building relationships, collaboration and professional development that I have found in my involvement with ILEA!
Immediate Past President
Clearly Classy Events
Originally from Paris, Texas, Johnell Huebner, graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in Marketing and is currently the Owner of Clearly Classy Events based in Austin, Texas. Clearly Classy Events is an award winning company with acclaims such as the Texas Star Awards for Best Wedding $75k-$200k, Best Wedding under $75k, Best Team Effort $75k-$200k, and two International Esprit Awards for Best Social Event $25k-$75k and Best Team Effort $75k-$150k. She began planning events at a very early age for fun and started to make a career out of it shortly after graduating college. Her resume of events is far reaching including corporate events, weddings, golf tournaments, galas, reunions, pageants, street festivals, and many more. She was named one of “San Marcos’ Shining Stars Under 40”,she was a finalist in the Austin Business Journal “Women of Influence- Profiles in Power” and In 2009 was named the Volunteer of the Year by the Kyle Area Chamber of Commerce. She is a graduate of Leadership Texas and Leadership San Marcos and is very involved with many community activities and is the current President Elect for the ILEA Austin Chapter. She has been married for fifteen years to Russ Huebner and is the mother of two children Madeline and Ashton.
After graduating from Texas State University in San Marcos with a degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations, Caitlyn quickly realized that the event industry was where both her heart and talents lie. She began her career in the world of catering and serviced events of all sizes ranging from intimate weddings to large-scale corporate meetings and galas. Upon leaving the catering field, Caitlyn worked as an Event Producer with Brass Tacks Events, where she produced and planned numerous weddings and social events throughout the Austin Area. It was thanks to the connections and friendships she made throughout her time in ILEA and working within the events industry that she landed her current position at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center with the University of Texas at Austin where she serves as the Venue Coordinator.
Caitlyn first became involved with ILEA in 2014 after hearing about what a great organization it was and wanting to get more involved in the industry. Since becoming a member she has served on the Membership Committee and is very excited to be the VP of Membership for the 2018-2019 year!
When Caitlyn isn’t at work or doing something ILEA related, you can usually find her relaxing with her cat Linus or eating some delicious Tex-Mex around Austin. She is also a member of the Junior League of Austin and gets to volunteer at some incredible non-profit organizations
Westwood Country Club
Born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, Melissa settled in Austin, Texas in May of 2015 after living in Atlanta, Georgia for almost 10 years. After graduating with a Business Management degree from Kennesaw State University in 2008 during a terrible economy, she stumbled upon a job opportunity waiting tables at an established and nationally ranked private country club. Although the goal was to network with the rich and successful to find a more permanent job, her goals quickly shifted to wanting to move up the country club ladder. Within a two year timespan, she went from waiting tables to managing private events as a banquet captain, to the catering office where she hasn’t left since.
Over the past ten years, Melissa has planned and executed events for the likes of former US President George W. Bush, Jon Bon Jovi, Arthur Blank, Ryan Seacrest, Tyler Perry, and many more all through the private country club industry – all of which could not have been done so well without the help of her industry friends. She knew when moving to Austin over 3 years ago that her first plan of action was to sign up for a membership with ILEA, especially since she was new to the city as a whole. She has not regretted this decision one bit since and has formed some of her closest friendships and business relationships all from being a part of such a great and supportive organization as ILEA.
Melissa is a proud “dog mom” to her 4-year-old black lab, Noodles, in which you can find them both enjoying the beautiful Texas weather on the weekends at the local dog park or greenbelt. In her spare time, she enjoys wake surfing, cycling, paddle boarding, traveling, and drinking rosé.
Director Student Membership
Amanda was born in Charleston, South Carolina but has called Austin her home for the last 15 years. She graduated from Texas State University with a degree in Public Relations.
During school, Amanda continued her education in the industry by completing a few internships with different wedding venues/event planners and her love for the industry grew from there. She has been at Premiere Events for over two years now and loves the growing industry and meeting new people.
In her spare time she enjoys drinking coffee, playing soccer and hanging out with her two big hairy dogs.
Originally from Colorado, Justin moved to Austin in 2011 to enjoy a warmer climate. Justin started in the photo booth industry where he managed staffing and oversaw Say Cheese’s events. With lots of talents, Justin took his managerial and organizational skills over to Game Plan Entertainment where he oversaw all of their onsite events, parties at the private arcade, and making sure everything runs smoothly. He most recently left Game Plan to start his own venture helping small businesses with website support and managment. Justin has been an active member on the ILEA Austin Communication committee for 3 years. He is excited for the coming year and looks forward to what the future holds for our ILEA chapter.
In Justin’s free time you can find him playing his favorite sport, Field Mojo, or kicking back playing on his pool league. Justin enjoys watching Game of Thrones with his girlfriend and their two cats, Sundae and Sprinkles.
Director of Communications
The Cupcake Bar
Kimberly is from south Texas, attended and graduated from Texas State University with a degree in business management. A student organization called the Student Event Planners Association (SEPA) introduced her to the events industry and she fell in love!
After graduation, Kimberly continued her education by interning, volunteering, and working for numerous Austin event professionals. She currently serves on the board for the International Live Events Association (ILEA) as Director of Programs & Education.
Coffee is her drug of choice and if she could do anything else it would be traveling – EVERYWHERE! Kimberly loves spending time catching up on a good TV show or getting lost in a book with her two trusty pup sidekicks – Dean and Winchester!
Director of Communications
Red Velvet Events
Hailing from Denton, TX, Luis originally moved to Austin to attend the McCombs Business School at The University of Texas. He fell in love with Austin and decided to make the permanent move upon graduation. During his time at UT, he was the lead planner for the largest festival on campus and the largest talent show, and he acted as the coordinator for orientation programs. Due to Luis’s great interest in events, he started a career with top creative events agency, Red Velvet Events.
As someone who was new to the events industry, Luis’s main goal was to explore whether or not event planning was a true passion for him. The insights and stories openly shared with him by ILEA members helped solidify his love for events, so the decision to pursue it as a career was easy.
Fast forward to today, and as a creative event professional, Luis looks to ILEA to create and develop relationships with event partners, and to further his industry education. Receiving the ILEA Rising Star award for 2017-2018 was the affirmation Luis needed that he is in the right industry.
You can catch Luis riding his bike on the trails or checking out the newest dessert spot, but let’s be honest, you’ll more likely find him in bed watching Queer Eye (#TeamAntoni) and Westworld.
VP Programs and Education
Eclipse Event Co.
Lauren was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. The day after her high school graduation, she moved to Austin to attend The University of Texas. Upon graduating with her degree in Public Relations, she then went on to earn her Certification in Meeting and Event Planning, studying everything from Weddings to Trade Shows and Conferences.
Over the years Lauren interned at Elite Weddings and worked at In Style Weddings and Destinations before starting Eclipse Event Co. with Kristi DePew.
In her spare time, Lauren enjoys spending time with her twins Logan and Lacey along with her husband Rob.
Lauren has been a member of Meeting Professionals International and Wedding Network USA. She is also currently a member of the Junior League of Austin. This is her fourth time to serve on the Board for the International Live Events Association and is very excited to serve in her new role!
Director – Education
Texas Executive Education
Austin’s very own Texas-Ex and a former member of the talented Texas Belles Event Planning Organization, Sara, has interned and assisted with many of the best Austin event companies and has worked in many of the most popular wedding venues in town. Each apprenticeship provided her valuable experiences and lead to many friendships with local industry professionals. Sara currently works full time on corporate educational programs with Texas Executive Education.
Outside of the event industry, Sara is a work-out enthusiast, who spends all of her mornings at Dane’s Body Shop doing circuit training & Olympic weight lifting. Sara is a new dog mom to a maltipoo named Pete and you can find her most weekends at the dog park.
Director – Programs
Native Austinite, Alex Ramirez, has been performing mariachi music for close to 30 years.
As a composer and musician, he has many films, television, concert, video, CD, DVD, and radio appearance credits including, “The Journeymen, Texas Justice, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Kill Bill Vol 2. and several others.
As a producer, he propelled the Mariachi movement in Austin from 1994-1998, by producing “Mariachi Espectacular” which sold out the historic Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas during those years.
After being laid off as a mortgage underwriter in November 2013, Alex decided to pursue his love of music and created Mariachi Amor and soon after joined ILEA and served as a committee member in Communications.
Under his leadership, Mariachi Amor has won several awards including, WeddingWire’s Couples Choice Award for three years in a row, Gigmasters Best Of for three years in a row, and several others.
Also, Alex volunteered his time each semester from Fall 2015- Spring 2018 as a trumpet coach and mentor for the University of Texas Mariachi Ensemble “Mariachi Paredes de Tejastitlan.”
Alex spends some of his free time walking at Lady Bird Lake, attending art or music events, or reading a historical fiction book, but more recently, he has taken up several hobbies including iPhone Photography and Videography.
Director – Historian
Jennifer Isenberg Events
Jennifer Isenberg officially cut her teeth in the event industry in 2001, when she moved to Austin. She is a native Texan and once she graduated from Texas Tech University she began to accumulate her years of professional experience in the corporate world by building a diverse background in management, marketing communications, international sales, OEM relationships, customer experience and eventually conference planning.
She planned her first multi-day conference over 15 years ago and was instantly hooked. She is passionate about the event industry and accepts all challenges with a seasoned and positive approach. When she wanted to start her own company, she knew the first step was to get involved in the local Austin event scene and that is when she discovered ILEA. Being a part of ILEA has been a game changer for her and accepting this board position was just one way to give back.
Jennifer is a proud wife, aunt and “dog-mom” to Winnie, Pepper, Ben, and Ike. “Adopt don’t shop!” Her motto is work hard, play hard, then recharge. Her interests include traveling with her husband Marc, playing tennis, listening to good music, dining, and socializing with their friends and family as much as possible!