Liz Woodward has been a professional event organizer for more than 20 years, working in all facets of the industry, accruing a successful track record that included more than 1,000 events ranging from meetings to movie premiers. But, with years of traveling to locations and fine-tuning elegant galas and high-powered conventions, she’s really excited to be targeting her talents right here at home.
BAPA’s newest staff member, Woodward hit the ground running a few weeks ago, coordinating the Ridge Run and Porch Concert series – events she has long loved as a participant and is excited to manage. “I’m loving it so far,” she said. “My energy is going into [events] that give off a lot of energy.”
Woodward is a lifelong neighborhood resident. She grew up in a house on Longwood Drive, just a block away from her grammar school – St. Barnabas. “Memorial Day was our favorite day growing up on Longwood Drive,” she said. “I ran in the Ridge Run then we watched the parade, and every year, we had a hot dog party.”
With a childhood filled with fun and a natural affinity for details, it’s no wonder Woodward chose event planning for her career. As a trade show assistant with Chicago’s Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority while still in college she got outstanding experience in coordinating conventions, and post- graduation, she worked for several years as a meeting planner.
In 2010, Woodward founded her own company – Woodward Planning Inc. Beverly Arts Center (BAC) was an early client; she planned and executed high level events for the BAC including galas, auctions and weddings. Her success as an entrepreneur led to a roster of impressive clients and programs, and also required a lot of travel. Juggling her professional and personal lives was exciting and rewarding, but as her three children grew older (they’re now in 3rd, 5th and 6th grades at St. John Fisher), it also became more demanding.
And then, Woodward saw an ad in The Villager for a special events position at BAPA.
“The ad was very general,” she recalled. “I thought, ‘Hmmm, what’s this all about?’” She mulled over the idea of working at BAPA – working for the betterment of her community was quite appealing and BAPA’s events are so important for Beverly/Morgan Park – then she reached out to BAPA Executive Director Mary Jo Viero.
“I was looking to travel less, now that the children are older, and also thinking of changing paths,” she said. Still committed to her business, she was also interested in working on different types of events and working close to home. Woodward and Viero collaborated on a plan that allows Woodward to pursue both.
Woodward’s current focus is planning the Ridge Run, BAPA’s biggest and most complex annual event. “I haven’t run it in a few years, but I’ll be ‘running’ it in a different aspect now,” she quipped.
Among Woodward’s first steps with the Ridge Run is expanding the planning committee; people interested in getting involved can attend the next meeting on Tues., Feb. 6, 9 a.m. at the BAPA office, 1744 W. 99th St., or email Woodward at email@example.com.
Planning starts soon for BAPA’s May-September Porch Concert series. Woodward and her family have attended just about all of them.
“I just love the family friendliness of the Porch Concerts,” she said. “I like how they bounce to different areas so people get to experience the community.”
Check bapa.org/events for updates on the Ridge Run (registration for 2024 is open now!), Porch Concerts and all of BAPA’s events.