Alison Barry

Getting to Know: Alison Barry

Chautauqua Institution’s Director of Guest Experience and Sales and INTIX board member Alison Barry is a proud mom, music fan and craft beer enthusiast who wishes selflessly for a better world. Here, she reflects on the qualities she admires in people, women in ticketing who she looks up to, a place she’d love to retire and how INTIX has given her a second family.

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Who do you admire most and why?

My daughter. She just went off to college. When I look at her, she’s just so poised, confident, focused and knows what she wants to do. I often wonder if I could have done what she’s doing at that age. It’s funny to even think that, but I really admire how together she is, and I’m so happy for her.

Alison and her daughter, Kate.

What is the quality you like most in a person?

A sense of humor. I think it’s so important. We all have differences and ways that we can’t relate, but when you find someone with a sense of humor, there’s something you can relate to.

What is the quality you most like in a colleague?

Honesty. It’s hard to develop relationships when you can’t be honest with each other, so I definitely appreciate when a person can be honest with me and with themselves.

What qualities are important to you in a leader?

Somebody who empowers the people around them to take the reins and make decisions. Even if they’re not the right decisions, it’s okay because that’s something that can be remedied later. I also admire someone who leads by example.

What do you value most in your friends?

All of my friends have an amazing sense of humor. I also surround myself with people who take risks, perhaps more than I’m typically willing to take. A lot of my friends have strong personalities and aren’t afraid to try things. I think developing relationships like this pushes me outside of my comfort zone, too.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My kids and my husband.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I really wish I could play the piano. I don’t know why. It’s one of those things I never tried. I just love the piano and piano music, and I would love to know how to play.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My children. I brought these amazing kids into the world, and think I made two nice people. While they’re still finding their way, they’re both kind and are good members of their community.

Kate and Alison at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.

Where would you most like to live?

I’d like to retire some day to Key West. I used to live in south Florida, so we vacationed there a lot and I just fell in love. I’d probably be a snowbird, here in western New York for some of the year and there in the cold months.

Who are your favorite writers?

David Sedaris. I like comedy, and he’s just so smart, so funny and has a real biting wit. Most of his work is an easy read, too; it’s not hard to get through. It’s really great stuff.

What’s the best live event you’ve ever seen and why?

That’s a hard question for people in our business to answer because we’ve all seen so many. I recently saw U2’s Joshua Tree tour and everything about it was fantastic. It was amazing visually, they sounded incredible and I don’t know how they put that tour together, but it was the best live experience I’ve ever had.

Alison with her husband and friends at a U2 concert.

What is your favorite venue and why?

There is a really cool little venue called the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland. I’ve seen a lot of good bands there. It’s intimate, and there’s a kitschy bar to the side with great beer and food.

Alison with her husband and friends at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland.

What is your favorite place to visit or place you’d love to visit and why?

Chicago. It’s a big city, but it feels like a little city. My mom is from Chicago, so I have lots of friends and family there. There’s never a lack of people to visit or things to do, especially in live entertainment. It’s got theatre, music, sports and the museums are unbelievable.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself? 

Be more confident. Don’t be so afraid. I spent a lot of time letting others dictate the way I would live my life or the choices I would make.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

I like to visit craft breweries, play steel-tip darts and go to concerts.

If you were granted three wishes today, what would they be?

There are huge problems in this world. My wishes would be gigantic: to end world hunger, to figure out a solution to recycling and for peace on earth. I want people to get along.

What brings you the most joy or greatest meaning in life?

My family. For me, having children is the meaning of life. Not that my life wasn’t fulfilling before having them, but that’s where it came full circle and I understood.

Alison and her family.

Why are you a member of INTIX?

INTIX is where I get my professional batteries recharged. It’s a whole other community that has become part of my family. I have so many friends, colleagues and people I’ve met. It also lends legitimacy to what we do as a career and in the live events industry; we talk about this on the board all the time. You find your tribe; we found our people.

What do you get from INTIX?

A sense of community and a sense of belonging to something bigger than myself. You learn so much, you can feel validated, your eyes can be opened, it can be cathartic, it can be so many things. The conference in particular can do that, but being a member in general and being able to help people and impart knowledge, it just feels good.

How do you use INTIX?

The biggest thing for me is the networking. I’ve developed so many relationships that somewhere down the line they end up coming back and we reconnect. I know this person who knows that person, then we start talking. Professionally, it has been an amazing tool for me.

What does INTIX give you that is different from everything else you are doing?

I can step away from my personal life, step into INTIX mode and it’s like a whole other side of who I am. I can have professional conversations, I can make industry references, I can do all those things. It’s enriching in that sense.

Do you look to INTIX to learn about trends or develop relationships?

Both. I value the information that comes via INTIX social media and Access content. I’m constantly reading the articles, passing them on and sharing them to help mold the decisions I’m making in my everyday work life.

Who is your mentor?

I don’t have a specific mentor, but there are people I really look up to. Maureen Andersen is an icon in our industry, and she’s a strong woman. I also look up to Kay Burnham, who has been our Chairperson of the board. Jane Kleinberger is another woman I look up to; she was involved a lot with the board. And Mardi Dilger, too. I look at them and feel like they are doing it all and for me; that’s where I want to be.

Alison and her INTIX colleagues at INTIX Baltimore.

Who or what inspires you?

People who have challenges in their lives. People who take whatever that challenge may be, whether it’s economic, physical or what have you, and continually overcome it. People who just push themselves constantly to make it when all the odds are stacked against them.

What do you love most about your job?

I like that there’s a sense of community here. I’m surrounded by people who are professional and very giving and sharing in what they do. I also have a great boss here who trusts me, empowers me to make the right decisions and gives me that leeway, which I appreciate.

What do you love most about our industry?

It feels like a family. There are all these connections, but when people know you work in ticketing or live events, they’re automatically taking you under their wing; there’s this sense of family we can all relate to.

Alison and her INTIX colleagues at INTIX Grapevine.

What is your most memorable INTIX moment? 

First being elected to the INTIX Board was a great moment for me. I was notified by Mardi Dilger, which was nice because we had developed a friendship a few years before.