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Female leaders and learners: Emory Event Planning

female leaders

March is Women’s History Month! At ECE, we are celebrating all of the amazing women who help our programs thrive. Among the most popular is our Event Planning & Management Certificate, which is taught by a team of female instructors. In the United States, event planning is one of the most female-dominated professions with about 85 percent of roles being held by women, according to the industry publication MeetingsNet.
As part of the team of instructors for the event planning program, Leslie DeRamus knows from personal experience the practical value of continuing education in support of a career in event planning: she earned a certificate in the field early in her professional trajectory. “The certificate was very helpful,” she said. It would seem so, as today she is the owner of LesLo Events in Atlanta -  a luxury event planning and design studio which has been featured in numerous wedding publications for their work with celebrity clientele.

Event Planning is a booming field, with 16,400 new job openings expected each year until 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s due in part to the after-effects of Covid. During the pandemic, businesses couldn’t spend on meetings, conferences, and other gatherings, “and now they have a lot of funds left over,” DeRamus said.
“There’s a lot of money in the industry right now, especially because we spent so long without being able to have events,” she said.
To help aspiring planners get in on the action, the certificate program teaches all the skills needed to create top-quality events, from conception to execution.
Students learn to coordinate the technical aspects of an event, develop timelines and budgets, and design outstanding experiences. They learn how to handle challenges and opportunities related to logistics, catering, audio-visual, design and décor, safety regulations and more.
DeRamus said the Emory program stands out for its hands-on, practical approach. “At the end of the program, all of the students have to complete a capstone project, where they really get in the weeds,” she said.
For the capstone, each student is assigned a hypothetical event to plan — either a wedding or a corporate shindig — “and they actually reach out to real vendors, put a budget together, develop a theme,” she said. “They’re really planning an event, soup to nuts.”
They learn these skills from people who’ve walked the walk. “The program at Emory offers an opportunity to learn from industry professionals. There’s three of us teaching the course, all women,” and they’ve all got strong track records in the field, she said.

With a year of ECE experience under her belt, DeRamus said she’s excited to be part of the female presence in continuing education, and in the academic realm in general. “Women bring unique life experiences and a unique emotional connection,” she said. “Because of that, having women in the workforce and in the education community is really valuable.”
DeRamus has seen firsthand the impact that the training can have on aspiring planners. In one case, a student chose for her capstone project to plan her own wedding.
“I thought that was amazing,” DeRamus said. “She was able to really pull forward the information that she learned in the program, and it made her wedding planning a little bit more seamless. It absolutely worked.”
As DeRamus looks at the growing field of event planning, she’s excited not just about the post-Covid bump, but also about the fast-moving changes in event-related technologies.
“Just think about a photo booth at an event,” she said. People are doing green-screen photo booths now, to add creative backgrounds, they’re playing with ‘glam’ booths, which leverage photo filters to give people flawless skin, along with other high-end visual effects.
“They’re also incorporating things like Virtual Reality (VR) into corporate events,” she said. “There are so many different cool technologies now, with video and graphics. All of that makes it a really exciting time in the industry.”
Learn more about the Emory Event Planning & Management certificate program