Tonya Gray

Tonya Gray

Events Manager


Arizona State University Alumni Association

Milestones

My road in life has been direct.
I was involved in school - sports to student government - enjoyed building teams and events.
Graduated from Arizona State University with a BA degree in Communication.
Secured an internship and full-time job at Southwest Airlines in the Phoenix Field Marketing office.
9/11 happened 4 months after my hire - threatened the industry and changed the business.
Completed an M.B.A. at Devry University -Keller Graduate School - Arizona.
Threat of layoff encouraged me to take early retirement at 30 - pursued travel/self-reflection.
Secured administrative job in local non-profit where I assisted in event and meeting coordination.
Through networking connection, hired as event coordinator with my alma mater, ASU.
Keep following my journey

Education

High School
Gateway High School
Bachelor
Communication, General
Arizona State University
Graduate
Business Administration and Management, General
DeVry University's Keller Graduate School of Management-Arizona

Career

Events Manager

I create event experiences which generate connections and life-long memories.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Education
Non-Profit Organizations
Communicating / Sharing Stories

Day to Day

A great day as an event coordinator begins with the team. The team is crucial for success and your sanity. All are prepared and empowered. The timeline is launched and materials in place. Verify the list – catering, rentals, entertainment, etc. It seems chaotic but it's expected. Then, guests arrive, lights dim, and it begins. You direct, delegate and initiate. You feel the emotion the event solicits. One sees happy selfies, dancing, eating, and the creation of memories that last a lifetime.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

Event coordinators are effective communicators - capable of listening and formulating the events purpose. They collaborate, produce messages that can last beyond the event. They must motivate others, be team leaders and builders. Finally, the ability to empathize is invaluable. Organizers anticipate and address pitfalls from the stance of the attendee, making the event enjoyable for all. Internships or job shadow opportunities with an experienced project or event manager would be great training.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for high school students

In High School, I was in student government. Student government was charged with Prom and Homecoming dances and other activities to bring the class together. This initial opportunity to plan events taught key tasks I do today like creating timelines, working with vendors and budgets and building committees to accomplish a goal. Get involved in a team or club but also contribute. Start early in working with teams, practice communication, leadership and put yourself outside your comfort zone.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:

undergrad
Bachelor
Communication, General
graduate
Graduate
Business Administration and Management, General

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Family:

"Be a lawyer or engineer - it will be easier to find a job and you can make A LOT more money."

Challenges I Overcame

Financial