HERSHEY, PA — Tracy Sarris assumed the post of executive director of the International Association for the Leisure and Entertainment Industry on Nov. 1, and will work with outgoing executive director Carole Sjolander through the end of December. IALEI headquarters will relocate to Sarris’s area of Hershey, PA (date to be announced).
Sarris’s prior post was serving as an association executive at the Pennsylvania Medical Society. In this position, she acted as the executive director for multiple non-profit medical specialty societies, including the Pennsylvania Academy of Ophthalmology. Her responsibilities included handling the financials, overseeing regulatory and legislative efforts, developing communications and membership retention/recruitment programs, among other things.
She received the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Special Recognition Award for her work with the association and won honors for her publication of that association’s monthly news bulletin. She also was awarded the Diamond Pin Award for membership recruitment by the American Water Works Association in her prior roles as executive director of the PA Section of AWWA. She is already somewhat familiar with family entertainment centers, food and party marketing through a family connection and is a partner in a family restaurant. Sarris received her associate’s degree in business administration and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society.
“We went through a very comprehensive search,” said Ken Vondriska, chairman of IALEI’s Executive Director Search Task Force. “We reviewed nearly 100 resumes and interviewed 13 candidates during Fun Expo. There were several qualified candidates from within our industry, but ultimately the Task Force decided that IALEI would be best served by a professional association manager.”
IALEI president Frank Seninsky, who also served on the Task Force, said, “Tracy has a perfect combination of experience and skill and is one who would most easily understand and enjoy the fun business. I think she’s just the person to take IALEI to a new level in the next decade.”
On a personal note, Sarris wrote in her application letter, “Although my path has always been in the business field, my husband has taken the path of public service and entertainment. For 10 years we were partners in a pizza shop, ice cream parlor and entertainment facility. After selling the business, my husband took on the role of manager/operator for four local entertainment facilities. I was often pulled into the business and helped out when needed. We recently went back into the pizza business, but still carry with us the knowledge that to be successful in this industry, you need the right tools, you need to put the customers first and, most of all, you need to have fun. I believe my husband’s knowledge and our ties with the entertainment industry would provide me with some very valuable resources going into a position such as this. And, having known the industry personally, I can only imagine how enjoyable it would be to work for the IALEI.”
“I think our members and friends in the industry are really going to enjoy working with Tracy,” said Sjolander. “She’ll bring lots of new ideas and experience. An added plus is that she’s a really nice person.”