2021 Connect Association 15 Over 50: Laura Metcalf Jelinek, CAE

Laura Metcalf Jelinek, 56, is the President of Jelinek Collaborative LLC. She's based in Chicago.

Laura Metcalf Jelinek 15 over 50 connect

Laura Metcalf Jelinek, CAE, 56
President, Jelinek Collaborative LLC, Chicago

What I do: 
Over the last 30 years, I have worked with multiple organizations, leading many departments, with a focus on convention management. I have strengthened cross-functional teams to improve operational efficiencies and increase revenues for each organization in which I worked. I recently created my own company, Jelinek Collaborative LLC, to fulfill my passion for helping organizations. 

How I got here: 
After graduating from Penn State, I moved to Chicago and fell in love with the industry, the city and my husband. I have worked for the premier association management company and associations in Chicago. I started with the American College of Healthcare Executives in 1987. Each position I have held was due to a referral by a former manager, colleague or industry partner.  

A specific improvement I’ve made: 
At each organization, I did an operational analysis and found many of the meeting operations were spread across various departments. I secured leadership support and centralized meeting contracting and operations management, which increased the professionalism, attendee experience and revenue.

Impressive stats: 
While at the American Osteopathic Association, I developed and executed strategy for the association’s 100 in-person and virtual meetings. I led the organization’s multidisciplinary teams to achieve strategic goals with operational and financial success through strong negotiation and management. I redesigned in-person and virtual conferences from budget losses to positive net revenues of over $1 million. Over the last year, I led the meeting liability assessment and negotiations of the cancellations with industry partners. I was a leader on the core team successfully transitioning the large OMED conference and exposition from in-person to virtual, with net revenue ten times higher than budgeted. 

A specific improvement I’ve made: 
When taking positions at each organization, I did an operational analysis and found that many of the meeting operations were spread across various departments. I secured leadership support and centralized meeting contracting and operations management, which increased the professionalism, attendee experience and revenue. 

What I am working on right now: 
As President of Jelinek Collaborative, LLC, I have been working with several organizations on conference-related projects. I am partnering with them on new, innovative projects and developing metrics to assess value to members and organizational return on investment. It’s inspiring to see staff get excited and fully vested in the success of new projects. 

Favorite vacation destination:
Chicago is a great city and the winter cold makes me yearn for the warm sun. Our family loves to go to the Vidanta Resort in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, for spring break each year. We also enjoy our time in Florida—from the five-star pampering at the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa to the perfect sunsets on the beach at Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club. 

Your favorite inspirational quote:
“Character is how you treat people who can’t do anything for you in return. Integrity is how you act when you think nobody is looking.” —Thea Nishimori

Instagram: @ljelinek40