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People on the Go

December 2021

Sue Barton.jpg 

At the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, Sue Barton has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer. Barton was hired in 2001 as the Programs Manager and has held the positions of Senior Vice President - Administration & Operations; Deputy Director; Director of Sales; and Director of Visitor Information Services. Previously, Barton was the Vice President of Travel Systems Ltd., and General Manager of the M.S. Dixie at Zephyr Cove. She will oversee all aspects of LTVA operations, including financial oversight.

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The Tempe Tourism Office recently announced that Matt Connelly has been promoted to Director of Sales. Connelly has more than 25 years of experience in a variety of sales and marketing roles across multiple industries, serving the last eight years as National Sales Manager for Tempe Tourism. In his new role, Connelly is responsible for overseeing sales programs designed to attract meetings, conventions, and sports groups to Tempe, leading sales missions in target markets, overseeing customer site visits, and managing the sales team.

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After a nationwide search, the Arlington (TX) CVB selected Brent DeRaad, former CEO at Visit Tucson, to lead the city’s destination marketing organization. He started his new position December 6, 2021. DeRaad is replacing Ron Price, who had been President & CEO at the Arlington CVB since 2013. Price resigned in May to head Visit Phoenix. DeRaad has more than 20 years of hospitality leadership, sales and marketing experience. With Visit Tucson, he was responsible for a $10MM annual budget and 16,000 hotel rooms. Prior to Visit Tucson, DeRaad was Executive Vice President of the Scottsdale CVB, where he previously was Vice President of Marketing. He has also been Director of Communications with the Greater Phoenix CVB. DeRaad is currently Board President of DMA West and Immediate Past Board President of the DMA West Foundation, Immediate Past Board Chair of the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association, and a Board member of both the Arizona Bowl college football bowl game, and of the Tucson Conquistadores, which stages the city’s annual PGA TOUR Champions event. He is also a member of the Arizona Governor’s Tourism Advisory Council.

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Visit Huntington Beach (VHB) is proud to announce that Kimberly Dunnegan has joined the group sales team as Sales Executive. Dunnegan is an experienced sales leader in the hospitality and tourism industries. She joins the VHB team from her previous position as National Account Director at Visit Newport Beach and Company. Prior to this, she held the Senior Sales Manager role at Island Hotel Newport Beach, and then Senior Sales Executive at Marriott International. This background makes for an easy transition as Dunnegan teams up with VHB’s hotels and partners to increase business through strategic selling and promotion of Huntington Beach and the "Surf City USA®" brand in markets across the country. 

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The Tempe Tourism Office is pleased to announce that Benjamin Fletcher has joined their team as Finance and Operations Manager. Fletcher is responsible for the administrative operations of the Tempe Tourism Office, including all financial matters, policies and procedures administration, management of relationships and contract administration with suppliers. He is also the liaison to the Board of Directors and is responsible for overseeing the front desk, visitor services and human resources. Prior to relocating to Tempe, Fletcher was with the Lucas County Land Bank in Toledo for the last four years, where he most recently served as the Deputy Chief Financial Officer. Fletcher is excited to take on the challenge of a new industry and brings a wealth of financial and managerial experience to Tempe Tourism Office.

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Dawn Hall has joined Rancho Cordova Travel & Tourism as its Operations Director. Hall joins the team after 14 years with the Rancho Cordova Chamber of Commerce.

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Tony Lyle has been promoted to Chief Marketing Officer at the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. Lyle was hired in 2012 as the Director of Tourism and promoted to Vice President - Tourism Development in 2016. Previously, he was the Director of Marketing & Sales for Aramark Lake Tahoe; Vice President - North America for Skiset; and Corporate Head of International Marketing & Sales for Vail Resorts. Lyle will oversee the management of the Authority’s agencies including brand development and strategy, plus media planning and buying.

 Stuart Maas.jpg

At the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority (LVTA), Stuart Maas has been promoted to Director of Marketing & Conference Sales. Maas joined LTVA in 2016 as Sales & Marketing Manager. Previously, he served as Director of Sales, Marketing & IT for Tahoe Sports and Powder House Ski & Board. Maas will lead the promotion of the destination to small and medium groups, and conference groups of all sizes.

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Rancho Cordova Travel & Tourism has hired Ciara Parreñas Ursos as Marketing Coordinator. Parreñas Ursos completed a degree in Critical Race & Ethnic Studies in 2021 from University of California, Santa Cruz, and has volunteered for numerous organizations, including Visit Oakland and PCMA.

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The Washington County Visitors Association (WCVA) welcomed Wendy Popkin as the organization’s  new Vice President of Destination Sales in early November to lead organization’s direct group sales efforts to meeting professionals, sports organizers and travel professionals. Popkin, a well-respected Oregon tourism professional, brings more than 30 years of tourism expertise to the organization. Most recently, she served as Executive Director of the Oregon Hospitality Foundation, a role she has held since 2012. From 2003-2012, Popkin was principle of Popkin Solutions, which delivered strategic counsel and project management expertise to create measurable sales marketing, and event programs for hospitality and tourism organizations such as Travel Oregon and Clackamas County Tourism and Cultural Affairs. In addition, she has held sales leadership positions with Travel Portland, The Hotel Group, Salish Lodge and Spa, The Inn at Semi-ah-moo and Timberline Lodge.

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Travel Lane County has announced that Mary Ann Reilly, CMP, has joined its team as Partner Development Coordinator. Her role focuses on introducing Lane County businesses to Travel Lane County's mission, developing meaningful partnerships and generating revenue through partnership sales, sponsorships and advertising sales. Travel Lane County has nearly 600 member/partners.

Reilly comes to Travel Lane County following her service as Executive Director of Eugene's Carte Blanche Caterers. She has extensive experience in the hospitality industry, including serving as an event planner, a hospitality instructor, a sales and account executive and even a stint as a private mortgage broker. 

A New Yorker, Reilly migrated west to Los Angeles where she was the first instructor to teach event planning in UCLA’s culinary arts program. She also spent time working in event planning in Las Vegas.

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In August, Rancho Cordova Travel & Tourism promoted Leena Riggs to Director of Marketing & Partnerships. Riggs has been with the DMO since March 2017.

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The Rancho Cordova Travel & Tourism recently promoted Marc Sapoznik, CDME, to President & CEO. After serving as Executive Director since September 2014, Sapoznik is now leading a growing team through the pandemic recovery.

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Juraj Sojka has joined the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority as Director of Leisure Sales. Previously Sojka held the position of International Market Manager and Destination Development Specialist at Nevada Division of Tourism (Travel Nevada). His prior experience also includes serving as Senior Sales and Marketing Manager for Zephyr Cove Resort and Lake Tahoe Cruises. Sojka will lead the Authority’s domestic and international travel trade outreach and liaison.

Rancho Cordova Travel & Tourism has hired Maggie Thyken Huss as Director of Sales. Having worked with Hyatt and Marriott properties in the Rancho Cordova and Sacramento area, Thyken Huss has more than a decade of experience in the local market. She is also a former member of the Rancho Cordova Travel & Tourism Board of Directors.

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The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority (LVTA) has hired Trent Unruh as a Marketing Communications Coordinator. Previously Unruh was an Account Specialist at Plain Sight Marketing, the Communications Coordinator for Partnership Douglas County; and Marketing, Administration, & Customer Service Assistant at the Carson Valley Visitors Authority. He will oversee all LTVA social media and support website content development and management.