Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau Announces 2019 Stars of the Industry & Annual Tourism Award Winners

10/4/2019, noon | Updated on 10/4/2019, noon

Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau Announces 2019 Stars of the Industry & Annual Tourism Award Winners

The Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau (CSCVB), the regional destination management organization for Chicago’s 63 south and southwest suburbs, recognized its members, municipalities and organizations for their outstanding service in the hospitality and tourism industry during Fiscal Year 2019.

The awards were presented at the Chicago Southland CVB’s Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, October 2, 2019, at the Hilton Chicago/Oak Lawn & Conference Center. CVB President/CEO Jim Garrett focused on the year’s highlights that the region has achieved both individually and together as One Chicago Southland. “This year, the extraordinary 63 municipalities that make up the Chicago Southland have accomplished so much. We are incredibly honored to recognize the achievements of several individuals, whose work has been essential to this year’s success as One Chicago Southland,” said Jim Garrett.

Keynote speaker U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly spoke about the importance of cooperation and working together to overcome barriers and utilizing innovative solutions throughout the Chicago Southland. Guest speaker Illinois Governor JB Pritzker spoke about his continued support for the tourism industry, as well as his commitment to supporting economic development throughout the Chicago Southland, which involves necessary infrastructure work. He also spoke on the impact a casino will have on the region, highlighting the potential for job growth.

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

2019 Food & Beverage Employee of the Year: Gabe Perez, DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago-Alsip

2019 Guest Services Employee of the Year: Jedika Diaz, Sleep Inn Hotel-Lansing

2019 Housekeeping Employee of the Year: Dolly DeGracia, Holiday Inn Hotel-Tinley Park

2019 Maintenance Employee of the Year: Ed Rzepka, Holiday Inn Express-Crestwood

2019 Manager of the Year: Karen Krzak, Gateway Inn of Oak Lawn

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

Award of Merit: Sara & Kevin Brown have invested countless hours and work into the development of Blue Island. In the event’s second year, Sara & Kevin took over the Chicago Southland Dragon Boat Festival and have since grown the event from eight to 22 teams in just two years. Sara & Kevin are organizers of the annual Vintage Base Ball Festival and are fundraisers for the Blue Island Fire Museum. In 2016, the pair created a web series, titled My B.I. which showed off Blue Island to an international audience of filmmakers and fans, securing them the BEST New Media Web Series at the Big River Film Festival in Savannah, Georgia.

Award of Merit: Vernard Alsberry, Jr. (Mayor, Hazel Crest) brought the American Academy of Physical Therapy’s annual conference to the Hilton Chicago/Oak Lawn & Conference Center, which allowed the AAPT to celebrate their 30th anniversary in their birthplace. Vernard started the conversation with our sales team and is also recognized as a Host It Here Hero, acknowledging his efforts to boost the Chicago Southland’s economy.