Q&A with ILEA Houston Chapter President Lauren MacQueen
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
In the midst of the immense destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, ILEA had the opportunity to connect with ILEA Houston Chapter President Lauren MacQueen about the current situation and how local ILEA members are coming together to reconstruct their community.
ILEA: Can you describe what you are seeing and experiencing in Houston at the present moment?
MacQueen: We've all seen an extraordinary range of things in the past few days during this storm, varying from light flooding to emergency evacuations. Houston is the fourth largest city, and the outlying areas that encompass Houston are vast. Our city is very much in crisis right now, but what we've seen the most of is unity. The way that the city has reached out to its own, and the thoughts and love we have felt from all over Texas, the country and the world has been amazing and inspiring.
ILEA: How is ILEA Houston communicating with its members about Hurricane Harvey?
MacQueen: Social media has been nothing short of miraculous during this storm. I think that's the biggest difference between our last major hurricane (Ike) in 2008—the advances of social media platforms. Phone lines were down, power was out, even texts were slow to get through at times, but Houstonians were still able to connect to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter via their phones and let everyone know that they were okay, or that they needed immediate help. The way that people have sprung into action to help has been astounding.
ILEA: How do you think the local live events community will be impacted?
MacQueen: This may be a little soon to answer. There has already been a weekend full of events during the storm that were canceled—and even more surprising—events that went off without a hitch during the storm. But the impact on businesses will no doubt be severe in some cases. Personally, I have already had a number of events move dates, but everyone has been very calm and level-headed about the realities of the situation. There are a number of event professionals who have already stepped up for each other. We know from past experience and the sheer character of Houston's event professionals that we will do everything we can to support one another and get back to business as usual.
ILEA: Moving forward, how do you think ILEA Houston and the local live events community will respond? What will this community do to help rebuild Houston?
MacQueen: Houston is a resilient city full of awesome people, and we're not ones to sit on the sidelines. The efforts that have already been made have been incredible. We had members who were literally seeking out people for high-water rescues, who were some of the first to volunteer at local shelters, and who contributed to funding the relief efforts. Houston Strong isn't just a slogan that was adopted for this disaster; it's who we are.
ILEA: What can others in the events community learn from the unprecedented catastrophe?
MacQueen: I think that there will be a great deal to learn in the upcoming days, weeks and months. There are a number of things during a disaster that you know you should personally and professionally be prepared for, but I think we'll truly start to sort out an order of importance to these things as we normalize. Don't worry; we're taking notes, and we want there to be lessons that come from this tragic time. I think so far the most important lesson is "be excellent to each other," and that no gesture during a tragedy like this is too small.
ILEA: What can we do to help those affected by the power and destruction of Hurricane Harvey?
MacQueen: ILEA Houston asks that anyone looking to help out fellow event professionals donate to SEARCH Foundation. There are also a number of organizations that will continue to update the need of hard goods and wares, such as the Red Cross and SPCA. In the midst of this, there has been an outpouring of support, and we are truly grateful for the thoughts and assistance we have received during this time.
Lauren MacQueen serves as the 20172018 ILEA Houston Chapter President. She is also the director of events at White Oak Music Hall. A Certified Special Event Professional, Lauren is well-versed in event management and production, specializing in weddings, social events, non-profit galas and corporate events. Prior to working at White Oak Music Hall, Lauren held positions as sales manager at Magnolia Hotels and lead planner & event stylist at Pomp & Circumstance, a boutique wedding & event planning firm.