About ILEA Austin Chapter
MEET OUR PRESIDENT
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!
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!
Immediate Past President
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!
Vice President of Membership
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.
Vice President 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.
When Luis was new to the events industry, his 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 lounging on the couch watching Netflix and Disney movies.
Vice President of Programs & 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.
I am Jordan Flowers. I like to say that I did not choose the flower life, it chose me. Our Flowers family has been passionate about flowers and gardening for generations. From farms to gardens we LOVE what we do and we hope to bring the same flowers love and passion to everyone.
I am a Texas native and grew up in the beautiful Texas Hill Country area. In 2005 I got my first job at the local flower shop. It was love at first smell. My passion and love of the industry continued throughout high school and college where I continued working in floral design and special events jobs while working on my BA in Education. After moving to Austin and working under one of the top flower shops in the nation I decided teaching was not my passion. Instead I decided to open my own flower shop specializing in events only to allow me to concentrate on the two most important things in my life; family and flowers.
If I am not designing an event, I am running/peddling around town with our son or volunteering with Meals On Wheels or Senior Access. I have been a proud member of the Texas Floral Association and a contributing writer for Texas In Bloom Magazine since 2013. TAYLER HARRINGTON
Director of Membership County Line
Director of CommunicationsRoot Cellar Catering Co.Vanessa Vass has been in the event industry for over 8 years and loves making event dreams come true. She has been the Catering Sales Director at Root Cellar Catering Co. since April 2016 and has enjoyed every minute of it. As a Texas State University Alumni, Root Cellar Cafe was always on the calendar for every Sunday Morning Brunch and when they asked her to join the team it was the easiest decision she ever made. She is a part of event organizations such as ILEA, NACE, and The Rising Tide Society. Lastly, she is a huge nerd and routinely plays dungeons and dragons as well as video games in her spare time.JONATHAN JOW
Director of CommunicationsBoothEasy Photo Booth CompanyDANI CURIEL
Director of Programs & EducationWhim Hospitality
Dani is originally from San Antonio, TX. She migrated north to San Marcos when she attended Texas State University majoring Hospitality. She's been working in this industry for nine years, first at a country club in Boerne coordinating private events before migrating north again to Austin to work for a leading event design firm, Caplan Miller Events. Dani now calls Whim Hospitality her work home, where she has earned the Whimmer of the Year award for her outstanding sales efforts in 2018.
Dani is a newlywed with two dogs named Joanie and Cooper. She loves pizza and beer and hates exercising. She loves traveling, television, true crime podcast, and scouting out new Austin restaurants. You can always ask her for an Austin bar recommendation where you might just find her hanging out with friends and her husband, Gabe.
Director of Programs & Education
Lover of Jesus, the mountains and cats, Crissalane Discher is the owner and principal designer of Disch Events, based out of Dripping Springs, Texas specializing in event floral and lighting design. When she’s not designing events, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Johnny, son, Holz (4), and daughter Kennedy (2).
A native Texas, Crissalane earned her BA in Marketing, her BA in Advertising and a minor in philosophy from SMU in Dallas, TX. Upon graduation, she moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas where she earned her MA in Advertising. Closing the door on corporate America by leaving IBM in 2009, Crissalane and her husband started their own company in 2010. Disch Events recently took home a Texas Star Award and an ASE for their contribution to an ILEA Team effort event and is nominated for the ESPIRIT award for best wedding from $75,000-$150,000 category. Winners will be announced in August at the ILEA LIVE Conference in Minneapolis. Crissalane’s life hint that she practices both personally and professionally is to invest in others, and they too will invest in you.
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.
Thank you to Rachael Hall Photography for the Board headshots!