Photo by Stefan Radtke. All other photos courtesy of Chereese Jervis-Hill unless otherwise noted
Local business owner Chereese Jervis-Hill has met every challenge in building a thriving events and PR business — making history in the process.
It was April of 2004, in the spare bedroom of her Westchester County home, when Chereese Jervis-Hill launched her very first business: Events to Remember. Like pretty much everyone else in the United States at that time, she was still feeling the effects of living in the post-9/11 world — learning to adjust to reduced travel, increased security, and generally heightened anxiety.
These things, which had an effect on us all, played a particularly big role in Jervis-Hill’s professional life. She had been working as a corporate event manager when the 9/11 tragedy struck and was laid off in the wake of it. A swift downtrend in travel and event planning left both industries suffering, but she did not give up on the work she loved. Now, as the founder and president of Events to Remember and PR to Remember, Jervis-Hill’s client roster includes such companies as Phillip Morris, J.P. Morgan, and the Strategic Research Institute.
Luckily, she was able to build a viable network in her years as a corporate event manager, and before long, former contacts began to seek her out for her skillset. Stepping into business for herself seemed like a natural next step, but the journey wouldn’t be easy, and it wouldn’t be without careful planning. Jervis-Hill says that she “moved conservatively and took very intentional steps” along the way, simply because she didn’t want to fail. She took her time and started slowly. In the beginning, she worked part time for herself while holding down a full-time job and caring for her family as a wife and a mother of two girls. She allowed herself and her business to build momentum over four years following her official start.
Today, Events to Remember is a successful full-service event-management and consulting agency based in Hastings-on-Hudson and supporting clients in whatever way they need to meet their goals. Jervis-Hill and her “small but mighty” team of seven offer everything from production timelines and run-of-show creation to sponsor follow-ups, vendor management, and on-site event management. If a client has staffing needs, the company can handle them. The staff roster includes registration personnel, servers, entertainers, and other professionals. In a typical year, Events to Remember handles about 70 events, including grand openings, festivals, team-building events, fundraisers, and more. The agency has taken on galas of roughly 500 people and festivals that welcomed thousands of attendees. Simply put, it is equipped for anything.
In recent years, Jervis-Hill’s business has expanded to include public relations services, branded as PR to Remember. At the time, the agency was handling several festivals and community events, and she noticed that organizers weren’t always doing everything they could to spread the word about their events. After an inquiry from a client who had noticed how well Jervis-Hill and her team executed their own social media and promotions, she began offering PR services to her clients. This expansion was another natural transition for Jervis-Hill. She says that for her, the work has never been just about events; it’s about curating experiences, creating memories, and helping organizations tell their stories in the best, most-effective ways.
Under the PR umbrella, her team provides press-release writing and distribution, social media marketing, email marketing, media pitching, and talent booking, among other services. Through the company’s digital marketing space, it has been able to serve several small businesses as well.
For her, the work has never been just about events; it’s about curating experiences, creating memories, and helping organizations tell their stories in the best, most-effective ways.
Though her experience, know-how, and careful planning served her well, there were still a few bumps in the road to Jervis-Hill’s success. Events to Remember was a young and growing business during the Great Recession of 2008, and there isn’t a small business around that didn’t feel the impact of the COVID pandemic. However, she believed the challenges were nothing she couldn’t navigate, and for that, she says she’s thankful to God. “It hasn’t been an easy journey, but it’s been a good one. I’m lucky to be able to do what I love,” she adds.
When early COVID restrictions led to events big and small being rescheduled or cancelled altogether, clients were calling her office in a state of panic. It wasn’t clear how her agency could survive. “It was a horrible time, but as a business owner, I feel like I learned so many lessons during COVID,” Jervis-Hill says. Fortunately, she was a quick study when it came to one of the most valuable lessons she could’ve learned: how to pivot. She shifted from venues bustling with people to online conferences and webinars filled with talking heads. Virtual events became her saving grace.
“I hated virtual events at first, but I knew it would be a while before we were back to normal, so we pivoted every which way to keep the business alive,” Jervis-Hill says. “We mastered virtual events.” In fact, at the height of the pandemic in 2020, she and her team were able to execute virtual events that helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for organizations such as Girls Inc. of Westchester County and Latino U College Access.
Jervis-Hill and her team also took on the Peekskill Farmer’s Market during this time — a client who represented more uncharted territory for the business. They had done festivals before and were the first agency to partner with the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce to get the annual Yorktown Festival running, which they had managed for 13 years. Transitioning to the farmer’s market, however, was not without effort. It even required Jervis-Hill to take a course and get a special certification, but it was all worth it in the end. She enjoys the work of serving her community, so giving others an opportunity to get outside during quarantine and supplying them with produce and other fresh food from local farms was a plus for her.
As a female entrepreneur of color, she also finds inspiration in the opportunities to give back. Her long list of clients includes nonprofits such as Latino U College Access, an organization that helps low-income, first-generation Latino students realize their college dreams. She also worked with Greyston Bakery on their 40th Anniversary Gala. The popular Yonkers bakery is a certified B Corp company, which means they’re focused on using the power of business as a force for social, environmental, and economic good. The bakery has been lauded for their inclusive hiring practices and intentional work to create opportunities for job seekers who often face barriers to employment. Jervis-Hill and her team have even done work for Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures, whose mission is to connect underserved communities to oral-health education, free dental screenings, and treatment referrals.
“We’re helping organizations that are changing the world, and I feel really lucky to be doing that,” she says. “It’s a privilege and an honor to be able to work with these types of organizations and help them meet their goals.”
Jervis-Hill is also becoming a part of Westchester history. She names the 120th Anniversary Gala for the Visiting Nurse Services in Westchester as one of her most memorable recent events. A time capsule was sealed during the celebration, and when it’s opened, on June 2, 2075, alongside notes from gala honorees, a New York Times newspaper, empty COVID-19 vaccine bottles and face-masks, the community will also find an invitation and menu from the gala, which was managed by Events to Remember, along with Jervis-Hill’s business card. “It was exciting that my company worked on an amazing gala,” she says. “And when the capsule opens, I’ll be a part of their history.”
In 2021, Events to Remember received the Chairman’s Recognition Award from the Business Council of Westchester. A plaque commemorating the achievement now hangs in Westchester County Airport, where the agency will serve as a representation of the very best of Westchester businesses for a long time to come.
Outside of her events business, Jervis-Hill also likes to pour into her community on a more personal level. She welcomes opportunities to give talks and tips to organizations that may not be able to hire an agency like Events to Remember. Additionally, she takes on interns and mentees whenever she can. “I make time for things like that because it’s important; we never get to where we’re going alone,” she says.
Representation is a matter of importance too. “I want young women of color to see someone who looks like me, doing what I do,” she says. “There aren’t a lot of us in the industry. I’m starting to see more now, but when I started, there weren’t many at all.”
“I want young women of color to see someone who looks like me, doing what I do. There aren’t a lot of us in the industry.”
Throughout and above everything else, Chereese Jervis-Hill says she is happy and filled with gratitude for her supportive family. She also appreciates her hardworking team, which, she asserts, gives “excellence in everything [they] do.”