Role: General Manager
Serving Since: 2017
Phone Number: 312.876.3200
Simona Blaugh is the general manager of The Metropolitan, a Chicago business and social club located in the Willis Tower. She joined The Metropolitan in November 2017, overseeing the launch of the reinvention. Simona’s goal was to add purpose behind the project, creating a curated and aspirational experience. She continues to lead the creation of strategic partnerships and philanthropic initiatives to make The Metropolitan unique. Prior to The Metropolitan, Simona worked at the Mid-America Club, where she and her team catapulted the club to a top performer within six months.
Simona began her hospitality career as a manager at popular restaurant chain J. Alexander’s, working at various locations across the country. She later served in hospitality management roles for Lettuce Entertain You, Lifetime Fitness and Fitness Formula Clubs.
Simona originally planned to be a physician, and after her university studies she worked as a forensic scientist. She has had her work published in the Journal of Forensic Science, and the FBI still uses her research and products she helped developed for counter-terrorism and DNA forensics.
Simona currently lives in Naperville with her husband and two sons.
Role: Senior Private Event Director
Serving Since: 2013
Phone Number: 312.993.2506
Lorena was born & raised in the suburbs of Chicago, and graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in Communication Studies. She immediately gained experience in the hospitality industry after college working at Soldier Field. Lorena joined the ClubCorp family in 2013 as a Membership assistant, and loves her role as a Private Event Director. When she's not at work, Lorena enjoys rec league sports with her friends, traveling and listening to music.
Role: Private Event Director
Serving Since: 2015
Phone Number: 312.993.2500
Sally is from Chicago, IL and graduated from Baylor University with a degree in Business Management and a minor in Corporate Communications. Her background in marketing and corporate event planning will be a huge plus for The Metropolitan.
Role: Private Event Director
Serving Since: 2018
Phone Number: 312.993.2522
Originally from Metro Detroit, Brittney earned her Bachelor's Degree from Central Michigan University in Hospitality and Event Management. She moved in 2012 to further pursue her passion for events in Chicago. Brittney has planned over 1,500 Weddings, Mitzvahs, Corporate Events and Black Tie Galas. When Brittney's not at work, she enjoys traveling, sporting events and playing with her Pomeranian Dog, Max.
Role: Senior Membership Director
Serving Since: 2017
Phone Number: 312.993.2501
Tina was born and raised in Ohio and has lived in Chicago since 2000. Before joining The Metropolitan in 2017, she worked in higher education as a communications director, helping to strengthen academic research, student recruitment and donor relations. Tina joins our team with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. For the last four years, as an independent consultant, she has helped develop and guide pr strategy and brand development for local businesses.
Tina graduated cum laude from The Ohio State University with two Bachelor of Arts degrees in journalism and Modern Greek, and a Master of Arts in public affairs reporting from Columbia Chicago.
She is a classically trained pianist who also loves to sing, paint, dance and has a passion for the visual and performing arts. In her free time, Tina enjoys live music, biking, traveling, photography and entertaining with family and friends.
Craig Barnard-El is a Chicago native that began his career in competitive tumbling and gymnastics. As a former Jesse White Tumbler, Craig achieved collegiate success winning 2 national titles with the University of Louisville, earned a spot as a member of the 2000 USA Worlds team all while earning his Bachelor of Arts in Theater.
In 2004, Craig parlayed his competitive success into a successful business. As a successful entrepreneur, he created a successful private tumbling, cheerleading and fitness club. The RFG Group included three gyms in two states, a camp company and an apparel company.
In 2017, Craig sold his companies and pursued a career in consulting and hospitality. He currently lives in Lake County with his husband of 10 years.
Christine Starks graduated from the University of Wisconsin Madison. with a degree in Political Science. She went on to work in event production in New York City and then off to earn a Culinary and Masters of Arts in Hospitality at California Culinary Academy and CIA in San Francisco and Napa Valley respectively. She landed her first position in Chicago and made the River North neighborhood her permanent home. She took a position as the Public Relations and Events Manager at Buddy Guy's Legends where she worked planning events and managing all PR for the 5 time Grammy Award Winning Blues Musician Buddy Guy. She also worked for his management company assisting with business management for the artist Buddy Guy. At the same time, she took an intern position with the House of Blues - Chicago in their talent department to learn more about the live music booking industry.
Upon leaving the music industry, Christine took positions in event production, producing annual Galas and events at many of the historic venues in Chicago. She was planning events for up to 3,000 at venues like The Field Museum, Union Station and Millennium Park. Christine has worked at the senior level in the event sales and planning industry for Iconic Chicago restaurants like Harry Caray's Restaurant Group.
Upon leaving the industry to pursue other interests, Christine found a new booming industry in Co- working space and where she worked for Regus, to get her feet wet in this new industry She recently was hired by Clubcorp as the Membership Director at the new reinvented and revamped Metropolitan Club, a premier private business club in the historic Willis Tower.
In her free time Christine enjoys all that Chicago's cultural scene has to offer, and is an avid dog lover and sports fan. Christine is passionate about living in River North and has contributed to the business community throughout her life and sees civic work in neighborhood organizations like River North Business Association a high priority, with a chance to build many lifetime relationships in the community she calls home, River North.
Christine is also an active member with the Chicago Loop Alliance, serving on the membership committee, and with her Alma Mater, UW Madison Alumni Association. She volunteers with PAWS and Chicago Sinai Congregation. Christine has been an active RNBA member since 2009, and has participated and co-chaired several committees.
Role: Member Relations Director
Serving Since: 2017
Phone Number: 312.993.2514
Born and raised within the Chicagoland area, Colleen earned her bachelor's degree from DePaul University in Art & Digital Media.
Colleen has an extensive background in brand development and sales, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to startups. In addition to her career life, Colleen is also the Junior League of Chicago's Annual Gala Chair - the organizations signature fundraising event.
In her free time, Colleen loves to taking her nieces out on adventures throughout the city, and spending time with friends and family.
Role: Beverage Manager & Sommelier
Serving Since: 2017
Phone Number: 312.993.2517
Our Gary is a native Chicagoan who began his career with Marriott International at 17 where he developed a passion for food and beverage. He moved up through the service and managerial ranks before moving onto Chicago’s iconic Palmer House Hilton. Leaving Chicago to broaden his experience, exposure, and travel he worked with Norwegian Cruise Lines in multiple national and international mega ships. Gary was with Smith & Wollensky before joining us at The Metropolitan! He is currently working and studying his way through the levels within The Court of Master Sommeliers.
Coming back to Near West Suburbs after life at sea, Gary enjoys working out, traveling, cooking, wine and bourbon tasting, sports (Die hard Cubs and Bears fan), dog sledding with his Siberian Husky, and spending time with family and friends.
Role: Service Director
Serving Since: 1999
Phone Number: 312.993.2521
Helen was born and raised in Eritrea, North East Africa. She come in as a refugee with her parents, five brothers, and sister to Indianapolis 1994.
Helen graduate from Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) with a degree in Computer Technology.
Helen began her career with ClubCorp family as a Server/Captain at the Skyline Club in Indianapolis in 1999. In 2004 Helen began working at the Metropolitan Club as Supervisor/Assistant Banquet Manager, where she oversaw many private and member based events. Later she would take on additional duties as major changes swept through the banquet department and become a Service Director.
In her fee time, Helen enjoys spending her time with her husband, Berhane, and her three children, Nathal (11), twins Hermella and Hermon (7). Loves traveling with her family and friends around the world.
Role: Executive Chef
Serving Since: 1984
Greg’s love of food comes from his Italian background and his techniques—he uses his hands to create delicious creations. Greg attended Chicago’s Washburne Trade School and then La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris before working at Levy Restaurants organization, an off-premise catering company, and the Cash House restaurant. In addition to the Metropolitan Club, Chef Carso has worked at several other ClubCorp clubs.
He is well known for his messy kitchens while experimenting and creating new and different cuisines. Greg Carso believes the messier the kitchen the better, “One of the things I love most about being a chef is the ‘high’ I get after a hectic day of trouble-shooting and making things work.” Greg Carso is available for speaking engagements, cooking demonstrations, and hosting.
Chef Carso has participated in various dinners from celebrities, politicians, and famous athletes. He has been involved with James Beard Celebrity Chef dinners, cooking with former White House chefs to celebrity chefs from the Food Channel. He has been honored as an alumnus from Washburne Trade School and is involved with an inner city organization “Break Through” that teaches teenagers how to cook.