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People on the Go

May 2022

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AnaLaura Becerra has been hired as Travel Santa Ana’s first Director of Sales. In this new role, Becerra will be responsible for promoting Santa Ana to meeting and event planners, and working with the organization’s stakeholders to position the destination’s new brand and drive economic vitality. Travel Santa Ana was formed as of January 1, 2021. Becerra most recently served as Director of Corporate Sales for Destination Irvine. Becerra serves on the Meeting Professionals International Board of Directors as Vice President of Membership. She was the recipient of the organization’s “Outstanding Chapter Leader” award in 2020-21. In 2021, she was also honored with the prestigious Joule Catalyst Award by Smart Meetings. She also served on the Hospitality Sales Managers Association International - San Diego Chapter Board of Directors.

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After a nationwide search, Felipe Garcia, who had been serving as interim President & CEO of Visit Tucson, was chosen to lead the DMO. Garcia replaced Brent DeRaad, who had been President & CEO since 2012. DeRaad resigned in October to head the Arlington CVB in Texas. Garcia has led Visit Tucson’s Vamos a Tucson Mexico marketing efforts throughout his tenure, along with partnering with area economic development and community organizations. He was elected Vice President of the Delice Network. The Delice Network includes some of the world’s top cities, including: Lyon, France; Barcelona, Spain; Hong Kong; and Buenos Aires, Argentina; that collaborate on developing programs and strategies to use food and gastronomy as a tourism and economic development platform. His role with Delice fits well with Garcia’s leveraging of Tucson’s designation as the U.S.’s first UNESCO City of Gastronomy. Garcia has worked closely with community leaders for the past six years to maximize the potential of this designation to Tucson. Attracting the Food Network to Tucson for multiple shows, which airs on PBS in the U.S. and Amazon Prime worldwide, are examples of his accomplishments. Prior to his work at Visit Tucson, Garcia worked for the City of Tucson as an economic development specialist focused on trade opportunities between Mexico and Southern Arizona. He is an attorney by trade and started his career working on international trade and investment throughout Latin America.

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Visit Rapid City is thrilled to announce that Stacie Granum is the new Chief Strategy Officer for the organization. She previously served as the Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing. “Stacie has been an integral part of the Visit Rapid City team for more than a decade,” said Brook Kaufman, CDME, President & CEO of Visit Rapid City. Granum joined Visit Rapid City 12 years ago and has held various positions within the organization, where she had a positive impact during its recent transition to new leadership. She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to Visit Rapid City, all of which will help drive new strategic opportunities for the community and the tourism industry. During her tenure at Visit Rapid City, Granum has been instrumental in developing advertising and marketing strategies and campaigns and has worked closely with the sales and services team to deliver high-caliber results.

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Visit Oceanside has promoted Dana Porter Higgins to Vice President of Business Development. In her expanded role, Higgins will continue to lead the sales department while focusing on product development and strategic partnership opportunities for the popular Southern California beach destination. Since joining the Visit Oceanside team in 2011, Higgins has successfully grown the group business department. Among her achievements include creating a client services/concierge program to assist groups in site selection, developing an active sales funnel and marketing tools for stimulating new leads, and bringing new high-profile events to Oceanside in the off-season such as the Pan American Beach Handball Championships, Honor Bowl, Life Time Tri and VISSLA ISA World Junior Surf Championships. Through her involvement with the City of Oceanside’s Special Events Committee, she helped establish the official Oceanside Sports Commission in 2020. An advocate for economic development and smart tourism growth, Higgins served as the tourism liaison for the City of Oceanside’s Downtown Advisory Committee for several years and currently serves as a member of Main Street Oceanside’s Economic Development Committee. Higgins has more than 23 years of sales and marketing experience in hospitality and tourism.

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Jessica Hite was recently promoted to Director of Marketing at the Aspen Chamber Resort Association (ACRA). Hite has been part of the ACRA’s destination marketing team for six years. Born and raised in Aspen, Hite brings the unique perspective of an Aspen native to the marketing and management of the destination. She is particularly passionate about the arts and culture and nonprofits in Aspen that help make the destination so unique. Hite also loves to travel, exploring places new and familiar while especially enjoying the food, art, and culture.

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Brook Kaufman, CDME, is the new President & CEO of Visit Rapid City in South Dakota. Kaufman is the third individual to hold this position in the organization’s 50-year history. Previously, she served as CEO of Visit Casper since 2015. In addition, Kaufman served as a Natrona County Commissioner. While in Casper, she advocated for an aggressive year-round tourism plan, increased overnight leisure visitation and diversified funding sources. Her tenure at Visit Casper also saw the launch of the Certified Tourism Ambassador Program and Visit Casper Business Challenge. Kaufman is currently serving as Board Secretary-Treasurer of DMA West and the DMA West Education & Research Foundation. In addition, she recently completed her term as Chair to the Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition.

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Following a formal executive search process, Michael Martelon was named CEO and Executive Vice President of Visit Santa Cruz County (VSCC).  Martelon began his duties in early 2022.  He has extensive experience in leading a destination marketing organization, includes a tenure of nearly 11 years as President & CEO of the Telluride Tourism Board. In his previous position in Telluride, Martelon was responsible for the leadership, direction, management, and policy oversight of the destination including marketing and human and capital resources. He led all tourism-related and other relevant economic development in the county and the business community and pioneered an analytics campaign that served as a foundation for the Telluride Tourism Board’s marketing efforts. Martelon will work with staff to promote visitation to Santa Cruz County, with a particular focus on the shoulder season ­– the months between Labor Day and Memorial Day – to draw overnight travelers to the region through marketing and promotional programs and public relations efforts. One of his priorities in this position he said, will be to elevate the Santa Cruz County brand to stay competitive with larger beach destinations.

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Visit Pasadena recently welcomed destination marketing veteran Kristin McGrath, CDME, as the organization’s new Executive Director. In this role, McGrath will function as the chief administrative officer for the Pasadena CVB/Visit Pasadena and be responsible for its management, organizational development, planning and direction. McGrath brings more than 20 years in the tourism industry Visit Pasadena, specializing in destination management, sales and marketing. For the past five years, she served as the Vice President of Sales, Services & Sports at Visit Albuquerque. Prior, McGrath served as Vice President of Sales & Services at the Richmond Region Tourism and Vice President of Sales & Services at Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau. She also held positions at Westin Copley Place Boston and the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. McGrath is active in Destinations International and currently serves as a Board Member of the Certified Destination Management Executive Program and the Professional Development Committee.

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Visit Salt Lake, which launched the “West of Conventional” brand, named Donna Rogers the first Director of Convention Sales – West Coast Office. Rogers will represent Salt Lake to California-based meeting and convention clients across all market segments. She has previously worked with Hyatt Hotels, FRHI Hotels & Resorts, Teneo Hospitality Group (which includes Snowbird and The Grand America), The Venetian and Canyon Ranch. Rogers is a Past President of Society For Sustainable Events and is a recipient of the Sustainability Champion Award from PCMA’s Northern California Chapter last year.

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Visit Phoenix’s new Media Relations Manager is Rachel Semik. Most recently, she served as Media Relations Manager at Tempe Tourism, managing influencer marketing, in-bound media visits and our social media channels. Semik has great experience working with media and influencers, as well as planning media visits. She also won CrowdRiff’s 2021 Marketers Helping Marketers award.

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Kim Sidoriak is serving as the new President & CEO at Visit Carlsbad. Prior to joining the Visit Carlsbad team, Sidoriak was Chief Marketing Officer for Santa Monica Travel & Tourism, where she was responsible for strategy, tactics and programs that strengthened interest, demand and recognition of Santa Monica. Sidoriak is working with the Visit Carlsbad team and key stakeholders to elevate Carlsbad as one of the premier tourism destinations in Southern California.

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Travel Portland has welcomed seasoned industry professional, Dione Williams, to the organization as Director of Convention Sales. With more than 20 years of experience leading large-scale convention sales and services programs, Williams joins senior leadership to grow and guide the next era of meetings and convention business for the City of Roses. Williams comes to Portland from Las Vegas, where he was the Executive Director of Sales at Las Vegas Expo, a national exposition contracting firm and full-service production partner. Williams’ deep understanding and appreciation for the hospitality, sales and services industry spans more than two decades. He pursued high-level management and leadership roles overseeing sales operations, consulting on development of client Diversity Advisory Committees to managing incentive accounts at several Las Vegas. Throughout his career, he has also served as a dedicated committee member of several industry organizations including as a PCMA Southwest Chapter Board Member (2013-2015), Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals Supplier Advisory Board (2011 Annual Conference), and MPI Annual Conference Host Committee (2012).