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Chicago Southland CVB announces 2011 Annual Award Winners and Stars of the Industry
Award winners announced at CVB Annual Meeting at Tinley Park Convention Center
Tinley Park, IL - The Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau - the regional destination marketing organization for Chicago's 61 south and southwest suburbs - recognized exemplary members, municipalities, and organizations yesterday for their work on behalf of the hospitality and tourism industries in the Chicago Southland region during the past fiscal year.

The awards were presented at the CVB's Annual Meeting and Luncheon Wednesday, September 14 at the Tinley Park Convention Center, 18451 Convention Center Drive in Tinley Park, IL. Warren Ribley, Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, delivered the keynote address.

Mr. Ribley outlined DCEOs successes and the Illinois Office of Tourism's efforts to market Illinois to potential visitors, even during these challenging economic times.

The 4th Annual "Stars of the Industry" Awards - an employee recognition program to honor the work of regional hotel employees - were presented to winners by Ribley and Chicago Southland CVB President and CEO Jim Garrett. This year's Chicago Southland Stars of the Industry are:

- 2011 Housekeeping Employee of the Year: Neftaly Ochoa, Houseperson at the DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago-Alsip.

- 2011 Guest Services Employee of the Year: Dorene Caminker, Guest Services Representative at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Chicago-Lansing.

- 2011 Food & Beverage Employee of the Year: Sonia Marquez, Banquet Server at the DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago-Alsip.

- 2011 Maintenance Employee of the Year: Oscar Cardenas, Chief Engineer at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Chicago-Lansing.

- 2011 Manager of the Year: Julie Popovic, Catering Sales Manager at the DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago-Alsip.

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

The awards are a recognition award, an award of merit, a volunteer award, a regional leadership award, a municipal leadership award, and a member of the year award. The 2011 winners are:

- Award of Recognition: Grace Bazylewski, former director of Planning and Development for the Village of Lansing, for her over 20 years of service as a Chicago Southland CVB Board Member and serving as the Local Tourism Marketing Grant Committee Chairperson and long-time member of the committee.

- Award of Merit: The City of Palos Heights for improvements to its tourism amenities, including the new Art Garden of Palos Heights, Lake Katherine, the First Midwest Bank Southwest Half-Marathon, and its leadership role in developing the future Calumet-Sag Trail.

- Senator Aldo DeAngelis Leadership Award: Jacob Washlow, General Manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago-Alsip. Mr. Washlow is a leader in the Southland hotel industry whose hotel has won numerous awards from the Hilton Brand for its guest service. The hotel, under Washlow's leadership, actively gives back to Alsip and the surrounding communities it serves. Washlow has also been instrumental in keeping intercollegiate rowing alive in the Chicago Southland region.

- Linda Morgan Award for Volunteerism: Rick Zarr, Midlothian resident and long-time member of the Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau's Festival and Events Workshop Committee. Additionally, Mr. Zarr has been actively involved with the Illinois Special Events Network Convention Board of Directors, and volunteers many hours in planning and executing their annual convention.

- Patricia Chase Magon Municipal Leadership Award: The Village of Tinley Park, for its vision in the expansion of the Tinley Park Convention Center, enabling the facility to host larger meetings, trade shows, conventions and consumer shows. This project has elevated the profile of Tinley Park and the entire Chicago Southland region as a destination, positively affecting the regional economy.

- 2011 Member of the Year: The Children's Museum in Oak Lawn. In its first two years at its new location near the Oak Lawn Metra Station on 95th Street, the Children's Museum in Oak Lawn has served well over 175,000 visitors. The Children's Museum in Oak Lawn is an active member of the CVB and participates in all CVB programs. It is also a frequent stop for promotional tours of the region, and is considered a major attraction in our region.

"These awards are presented to individuals and organizations that provide the best service in our region and understand the value of tourism in the Chicago Southland as an economic driver," said Chicago Southland CVB President and CEO Jim Garrett. "Each of our winners today have helped - and are continuing to help - build the Chicago Southland as an important and viable visitor destination. We thank them for their service to the region and the CVB."

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