Tom Kehoe Returns to RJO as 2018 Design Chair

What began as teenager buying flowers for his mom transformed into an industry leading career for Tom Kehoe, President of Kehoe Designs and recently named 2018 RJO Design Chair. After finishing college, Kehoe bought the flower shop he once worked for as a delivery driver and found his way into the event industry. He established his own event design firm in 1995 and 20 years later opened The Geraghty, a state-of-the-art events venue Kehoe named after his beloved mother, and home to RJO for the third year this fall.


Tom Kehoe (Photo: Dennis Kwan Photography)


“Custom activations are our forte. We love nothing more than meeting with clients to hear what vision they might have for their event, and then seeing the look on their faces when they walk into the space to see their dream realized,” Kehoe remarked while leading a tour of his design studio, an eclectic labyrinth of covetable furniture, florals, art and sculptures, styled into vignettes which give clients a small taste of what’s possible at Kehoe Designs. And with an in-house staff comprising artists, carpenters, scenic designers, audio-visual professionals and more, the possibilities are virtually limitless.

“We handle a range of events, from an intimate dinner party at a private home to a three-day event on the beach for 3,000 guests where we actually changed the color of Lake Michigan,” Kehoe said. That wide span of capabilities made RJO a perfect fit for Kehoe, who recalls his first encounter with Chicago Children’s Choir around 2014: “The first performance I saw was of three soloists, and I cried at each one. To hear their personal stories, sense their passion, and witness their talent firsthand brought me to tears. Such a moving experience.”

The opening cocktail reception area at RJO 2017. (Photo: Marcin Cymmer)

Tablescapes at RJO 2017 contained features reminiscent of music notes. (Photo: Marcin Cymmer)

Kehoe and his team of designers and specialists first took on RJO during Chicago Children’s Choir’s 60th anniversary season, designing a gala experience that resulted in a record-breaking $1.25 million raised for CCC. His boundless creativity and passion for CCC’s mission continue to make RJO a standout event for our guests each fall. “The ripple effect that happens is profound. CCC impacts not only the nearly 5,000 kids participating, but their families and the communities they live in as well,” Kehoe marveled.

As for what’s in store this year, details are still under wraps, but guests are sure to be thrilled. Kehoe looks forward to yet again playing an integral part in RJO: “When you hear about the amazing success achieved by RJO...and you know you were able to contribute to it, it’s such a rewarding feeling and you’re just thrilled to continue to be a part of it.” 

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