People on the Go

July 2018

Several months ago Mark Crabb joined the Greater Palm Springs CVB as vice president of convention sales and services. Crabb previously served as chief sales officer for Sonoma County Tourism, where he led and managed a nine-person sales team. Prior to his work with Sonoma County Tourism, he served as deputy director of the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau in Fort Myers, Florida.

Robert (Rob) Haswell is the new chief executive officer of the Placer County Visitors Bureau. Haswell previously served as business manager and executive director of the Auburn Symphony since 2009. In those roles he significantly strengthened the symphony’s finances, visibility and brand. Haswell also has experience as a nonprofit and political consultant and is a former commissioner on the Placer County Fish and Game Commission. The bureau is located in Auburn, California.


The City of Seaside has appointed Joshua Heineman as the new director of tourism marketing for the city’s Visitors Bureau department. In addition to handling the duties of leisure marketing and advertising for Seaside, Heineman will oversee the Visitors Bureau’s Information Center along with staff and volunteers. The Visitors Bureau shares office space with the Seaside Chamber of Commerce. Heineman’s background includes time as a journalist, graphic designer, recruiting coordinator, communications administrator and community marketing manager. Jon Rahl, the city’s director of tourism marketing for the past eight years, moved to city hall July 1 to become Seaside’s assistant city manager.


Wendy Haase, CDME, has been promoted to senior director for Destination Irvine. In this new role, Haase becomes the de facto executive director of this high-performing destination sales and marketing division of the Greater Irvine Chamber. She will oversee and manage the corporate sports and association sales team and initiatives, as well as all meeting and leisure marketing strategies. She previously served as director of tourism marketing for the organization. Haase has more than 19 years of travel and tourism industry focused public relations and marketing experience. She began her career with Visit Milwaukee and then her career path led her to California where she has represented Sonoma County and Huntington Beach, in addition to the luxurious Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes. 


Visit Vancouver USA, the primary destination marketing organization for Vancouver and Clark County, has hired Jami Johnson as its new director of business development. Prior to joining the team, Johnson worked in the Bay Area as a regional director of sales for OTO Development. Her 20 years of industry experience include regional sales leadership roles with Concord Hotels, Haiyi Hotels, Sage Hospitality and Marriott International, among others. In her new role, Johnson will lead the business development and convention services team in its efforts to drive overnight bookings.


Visit Tri-Cities selected Michael Novakovich as its new president & CEO, succeeding Kris Watkins who retired after 24 years of leading the regional destination marketing organization. Novakovich has an extensive background in corporate strategy, marketing and executive leadership. He most recently served as the director of strategy and business development at the Tri-Cities Cancer Center. During his tenure, Novakovich earned national recognition for his efforts in leading the development and implementation of strategic initiatives, fostering strategic partnerships and the execution of effective marketing, public relations and communications strategies. He is also an adjunct Professor of Marketing at Heritage University.

Tiffany Ottem has joined the Travel Lane County team as new Brand Ambassador in Visitor Services. Already familiar with the area since Ottem is a local, she will work at the Adventure Center in Springfield and visit fairs and festivals throughout the region. While working these events, Brand Ambassadors provide visitor information and highlight the community through social media posts. Additionally they gather photo assets and write content focusing on the unique communities that comprise the region.


Travel Lane County welcomed Denise Ray into her role as director of finance and operations in May. Ray comes to Travel Lane County from Amax Nutrasource, Inc., where she was the controller for nearly two years.

Travel Lane County has welcomed a new Brand Ambassador to its Visitor Services team. Cassandra Sturos has an extensive background as a staff writer for several publications. While working at local events, Sturos will provide visitor information and highlight the community through social media posts. Additionally she will gather photo assets and write content focusing on the unique communities that comprise the region.  


Visit Sacramento has named Verna Sulpizio its new director of strategic partnerships. Sulpizio will be leading the effort to reimagine Visit Sacramento’s partnership programs, with the goal of creating more meaningful ways for stakeholders to share their stories with the visitor community and be an integral part of the tourism economy. She brings strong management, leadership and marketing skills to Visit Sacramento, having served both as the president & CEO of the West Sacramento Chamber of Commerce and as the executive director of the Florin Road Partnership.