Leadership Profile: Colleen Simmons

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By Rebekah Icenesse

Colleen Simmons is a dynamic professional whose journey in the hospitality industry began in the fall of 2001 at St. Louis Community College (STLCC) Forest Park. Initially aspiring to be a Pastry Chef, Simmons’ path took an unexpected turn when she discovered her true passion halfway through her studies while working at a catering company. She didn’t want to just work behind the kitchen counter making pastries, she wanted to manage and lead the kitchen to success. This new revelation prompted her to not only complete her Culinary Arts degree but also pursue an associate degree in Hotel/Restaurant Management.

In May 2004, Simmons successfully graduated from STLCC Forest Park with both associate degrees. She then continued her pursuit of academic excellence by enrolling at Lindenwood University in the fall semester to complete her bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management. Simmons had efficiently transferred a significant number of credit hours from STLCC Forest Park to Lindenwood, and within two years, she proudly earned her bachelor’s degree.

Simmons attributes much of her success in the industry to her time and education at STLCC Forest Park, considering it a pivotal springboard that helped shape her professional approach and mindset. “The faculty and staff provided me with one of the most powerful life lessons – self-discovery. The [hospitality management] program made me believe in myself. It was powerful and impactful, and something that still resides in me today,” says Simmons.

Post-graduation from Lindenwood, the faculty at STLCC Forest Park did not waver in support, as they actively assisted Simmons with job placement. In January 2007, Colleen secured a position at Maritz, a well-known company in St. Louis. Her education and experiences at STLCC Forest Park were instrumental during the interview process, ultimately leading to her successful hiring. 17 years later, Simmons still remains content and thriving within the same company.

Over the years at Maritz, Colleen’s career trajectory has been diverse, encompassing roles in Event Management, Purchasing, Procurement, People Management, and her current position as Director, Supplier Relations. In this role, she focuses on managing and maintaining relationships with hotels in Maritz’s preferred supplier partner network. Simmons also holds the designation of Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), as well as being a 2020 STLCC Hospitality Studies Wall of Fame Inductee.

Expressing gratitude and a commitment to paying it forward, Simmons currently serves on the STLCC Hospitality Studies Advisory Board Committee. This role allows her to contribute her insights and experiences to the development of future professionals in the hospitality industry.

Simmons resides in her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and four children. She continues to stand as a remarkable professional in the hospitality industry, embodying dedication, continuous learning, and a passion for excellence.

MEET

Rebekah Icenesse is a contributing writer from St. Louis.

For 20+ years, the MEET family of products have provided regional and national resources that have kept corporate, association, medical, education, independent, and religious meeting and event planners informed about relevant vendors, industry news, tech innovations, and resources that impact and influence how and where they plan their group business.

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