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Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau Announces 2017 Annual Award Winners & Southland Stars of the Industry

By published October 19, 2017


Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau Announces 2017 Annual Award Winners

& Southland Stars of the Industry

Award Winners


The Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau, the regional destination management organization for Chicago’s 60 south and southwest suburbs, recognized its members, municipalities and organizations for their outstanding service in the hospitality and tourism industries during Fiscal Year 2017.

The awards were presented at the CVB’s Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon Wednesday, October 11, 2017, at Hilton Chicago / Oak Lawn & Conference Center. CVB President / CEO Jim Garrett focused on the power of tourism for the Chicago Southland. “Each of us possesses the power to be a hero by making a difference in peoples’ lives every day. From the staff at the front desk greeting guests, to the hospitality heroes behind the scenes that bring it all together helped in achieving 1.27 million room nights sold in Fiscal year 2017,” said Jim Garrett.

Guest speaker, President and CEO of Choose Chicago David Whitaker said, “The partnership and collaboration we enjoy with the Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Illinois Office of Tourism amplify the importance of a coordinated effort as we all look to grow awareness of and visitation to our amazing city, region and state.”


The annual Stars of the Industry Awards honor the work of exceptional regional employees.


2017 Administrative Employee of the Year: Kimberly Miller, Hilton Chicago / Oak Lawn & Conference Center

2017 Food & Beverage Employee of the Year: Maricela Gonzalez, Hilton Chicago / Oak Lawn & Conference Center

2017 Guest Service Employee of the Year: William Poe, Tinley Park Convention Center

2017 Guest Service Front Desk Employee of the Year: Erica Elizalde, Comfort Suites – Lansing

2017 Housekeeping Employee of the Year: Margarita Solorio, DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago – Alsip

2017 Manager of the Year: Norma Oliveros, Wingate by Wyndham – Tinley Park

2017 Restaurant Frontline Employee of the Year: Luis Del Rio, Allgauer’s Restaurant, DoubleTree by Hilton              Chicago – Alsip

2017 Attraction Frontline Employee of the Year: Ashlyn Longoria, Hollywood Park Family Fun Center – Crestwood

2017 Restaurant Manager of the Year: Brandon Gravelle, Andy’s Frozen Custard – Burbank & Oak Lawn


The Chicago Southland CVB also presented their annual awards highlighting the contributions of its members and partners to the tourism and hospitality industries in the Chicago Southland.


Award of Merit: Homewood Bat Co. is heroic in their efforts by hosting tours, participating in sports promotions as well as constantly helping to promote the Chicago Southland when called upon. They are also featured in the Illinois Made program which is part of the EnjoyIllinois.com website.

Linda Morgan Award for Volunteerism: Jeff Johnston is a constant staple to the Chicago Southland CVB and the State of IL as he ran the very first Tourist Information Center. He began with the IL Tourist Info Centers in 1986 and is now celebrating 31 years. He has worked in several Tourist Information Centers and his current locations, Prairie View North and South. As Tourist Information Center Specialist, he plays an active role in promoting National Tourism Week to visitors and he’s an awesome tourism ambassador. He has gone beyond the call of duty to support tourism promotion and numerous tourism organizations. The Chicago Southland has benefitted greatly from his tourism passion and we appreciate his assistance when needed manning the Chicago Southland Visitor Information Center at the Chicago Southland Lincoln Oasis in South Holland.

Patricia Chase Magon Municipal Leadership Award: The Village of Mokena has been integral in tourism product development supporting a new hotel and continuously works on improving their current inventory of recreational amenities. The park district and village partnered with our CVB and Turn Two for Youth to collect over 1,700 pieces of new and used baseball & softball equipment for kids in need across the United States & abroad. They will be celebrating the opening of a new attraction, Accelerate Indoor Speedway & Events this November. This will be a great addition to the tourism inventory of the Chicago Southland.

Senator Aldo DeAngelis Leadership Award: Tom Struzzeri, President/CEO of HITS Balmoral Park, came to Illinois to purchase used
equipment and within 24 hours had purchased the entire Balmoral Park property. Struzzeri has been an invaluable asset in changing the hope for a community that had a large-niche complex on their hands in great need of a buyer. This organization’s vision has helped bring amazing changes to the Chicago Southland, by transforming a complex into a facility that enthusiasts flock to from around the world. HITS has revitalized the beloved Balmoral Park Race Track of nine-decades into a State-of-the-Art Equestrian Show Jumping Venue. HITS increases international exposure for the Chicago Southland elevating our brand awareness and providing a positive image for the region and for the name Chicago Southland.

Member of the Year: Buca Di Beppo, has never skipped a beat while opening their doors to multiple tour operators for familiarization tours, meeting planners for site inspections and other various groups by providing complimentary meals, which our clients rave about. They continued their support through sponsoring sports events such as The 2017 US Log Rolling Open as well as the United States Hockey League in Orland Park. This member participates in various CVB events including National Tourism Day.

“Our winners today are heroes for the tourism industry,” said Sally Schlesinger, CPA, Executive Vice President for the Chicago Southland CVB. “Their tireless efforts inspire everyone to be ambassadors for our region, congratulations to them all.”

The Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau is the official destination management and marketing organization for Chicago’s 60 south and southwest suburbs. The Chicago Southland CVB markets the Chicago Southland region as a destination for leisure, meetings and conventions, group tour and sports events. For more information, go to VisitChicagoSouthland.com

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Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau
Loren Petrakis-Mueller - Communications Manager
2304 173rd Street   Lansing, IL 60438
Phone: 708-895-8200 Fax: 708-895-8288 Toll-free: 888-895-8233

[email protected]     VisitChicagoSouthland.com



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