Director of Distinguished Events
American Cancer Society, Illinois Division, Inc., Chicago, IL
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration by paying attention to the world around me. I know that this seems pretty basic, but I think many people in our business find themselves just trying to get through their work day without taking the time to decompress or search for new event ideas.
What excites you most about the year ahead in the events industry or your personal business?
With the rapid changes in technology, I am looking forward to see the full impact that it will continue to have on how we produce and market our events.
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
Trust your instincts and clear through the clutter to get to the good idea.
What do you hope attendees will take away from your session?
I hope that attendees will learn that they can create amazing non profit events in large, medium and small markets using the same best practice principles to guide them.
Lee Kite has more than 20 years of executive level non-profit and corporate experience. As Founder and President of two companies, Lee has extensive knowledge in the areas of business development/operations, sales, marketing, communications and event production.
In her current position, as Director of Distinguished Events at the American Cancer Society (ACS), Lee oversees the gala and golf program in Illinois and has direct responsibility for the nations’ second highest revenue producing gala, the Discovery Ball. Discovery Ball is led by more than 60 community and business leaders from both national and international corporations, foundations and non-profit organizations. In its inaugural year, the event raised more than $1.8 million, making it the largest first-year gala in the Society’s history. Since its inception in 2007, Discovery Ball has raised more than $10 million and is one of the most prestigious non-profit events held annually in Chicago. Events that Kite has been associated with have featured high-profile celebrity guests including: Katie Couric, Caroline Kennedy, former first lady Barbara Bush, Julie Andrews Edwards, Herbie Hancock, Natalie Cole, Martin Short and Randy Newman.
Kite is a recognized leader in the field of special events and been invited to serve as a guest presenter at conferences throughout the nation. In August 2008, she was selected as "event planner of the year" by BizBash Magazine, the leading national trade publication for the event industry. In recognition of her contributions to further the event industry’s goals, Lee was inducted into the BizBash Hall of Fame in 2010. In May 2011, Lee was once again tapped by BizBash as one of the nation’s leading event innovators.
Kite graduated from the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign and holds both undergraduate degree and masters degrees in education. Lee is married, has two children, and resides in Northbrook, Illinois.