2021 Connect Association 15 Over 50: Leslie A. Dreiske, CMP

Leslie A. Dreiske, 59, is Meetings Manager for the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS). She's based in Rosemont, Ill.

Leslie A. Dreiske Connect 15 over 50

Leslie A. Dreiske, CMP, 59 
Meetings Manager, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), Rosemont, Ill.

What I do: 
As the AAOMS meetings manager, I conduct future annual meeting searches and contract the association’s meeting hotel and convention center contracts to include two large annual shows with exhibits as well as regional meetings and board meetings. 

How I got here: 
I grew up working in Michigan for our family-owned hotel and restaurant business, and over the years I have gained experience in many hospitality operations and sales positions. I was recruited by America West Airlines for customer service, which led to city opening sales team positions in San Diego and Chicago. A decade or more later, I moved back into hotel sales and a client hired me into my first association meetings position. 

My greatest career accomplishment:
Pivoting to virtual meetings in 2020 has been my most exciting and rewarding accomplishment recently. The virtual annual meeting was 10 days long and we had over 320 speakers, over 100 hours of CME, 66 exhibits, social events and more. At the same time, I was rebooking all the hotel and venue contracts for a future year and we negotiated out of all cancellation fees. 

What I do outside of work: 
I am a member of PCMA, Association Forum of Chicagoland and IAEE, and am currently working on my CEM designation and attending as many virtual shows as possible.

Public figure I admire most: 
Condoleezza Rice after seeing her at the PCMA Convening Leaders meeting in 2020.

Impressive stats:
I removed the housing company and trained my staff to manage housing. The association was spending $65-$80K a year on housing commissions and we eliminated this expense. Then, I added consistent rebates to the hotel contracts. The said changes not only paid my salary, but also allowed me to hire my current intern full time. When we opened our simulation lab and new meeting space in our building, I asked for a housing company and hired the company that offered a fee-based reservation payment structure which costs approximately $35K per year and is paid directly to the housing company—which allowed AAOMS to keep full control of the contracts. 

What I am working on right now:
Since the spring of 2020, I have enjoyed the new experience of working on the contracting and planning of our virtual and hybrid events. In February 2021, we used a new platform for a virtual resident event that my Senior Meeting Planner led the charge on, and I am searching for the 2021 hybrid platform for the AAOMS September Annual Meeting. I currently lead the division to review the platforms and provide platform feedback. Recently, my team and I have embraced learning as much as possible about virtual technologies. 

Favorite vacation destination:
My favorite destination to date is the South Coast of France. We stayed in a small upscale hotel about a block from the beach in St. Maxime, France. We had planned to visit other nearby towns, but we loved the feel of St. Maxime so we stayed and enjoyed local food, swimming and relaxation as well as taking a few water excursions to other ports. 

Your favorite inspirational quote: 
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” —C.S Lewis