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People on the Go


September 2021

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Laura Carlson has joined the Park City Chamber/Bureau as Vice President of Marketing. Carlson is well acquainted with the organization’s marketing program, having served as the lead account director at RIESTER, which has managed the Park City Chamber/Bureau’s account for the past six years. “Having been in the Park City community for over 20 years and directing our advertising account for half a decade, Laura is uniquely qualified to transition from the agency side to a leadership role on our marketing team,” noted Chamber/Bureau President & CEO Jennifer Wesselhoff.

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In late July, Visit Yuma named Marcus Carney as its new Executive Director. Most recently, Carney was the Tourism Manager for Visit Seattle. He has also held positions at Visit Walla Walla and Travel Tacoma. Carney was selected after a nationwide search. His predecessor, Linda Morgan, retired at the end of July.

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The Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority (RTA) has named Mark Everton as its new President & CEO, replacing Katherine Kertzman, who has retired. With more than 35 years of experience in travel, tourism and hospitality management, he joins the Seattle Southside RTA after most recently serving as President & CEO of Visit Oakland. During Everton’s leadership, Oakland was selected as one of the 24 best places in the world to visit by National Geographic Traveler in 2019 and received a coveted spot on the New York Times’ “Top Travel Destinations of 2019” list. He also established an international presence for Oakland in key markets such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Mexico and Canada. Prior to his position at Visit Oakland, Everton served as the Area Managing Director at Commune Hotels & Resorts for its Silicon Valley and San Francisco hotels. During his tenure in the industry, he has additionally served as the General Manager of the Waterfront Hotel in Jack London Square and managed three of Oakland’s full-service hotels.

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In late August, Peter Gamez joined Visit Oakland as President & CEO. Gamez brings 32 years of travel industry experience to the position, including executive and senior sales positions with Two Roads Hospitality, Commune Hotels + Resorts, Joie de Vivre Hospitality, Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts and Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. In 2019, he launched Hunter Hospitality Consultants, working with developers, owners and hotel management companies. Gamez has served on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Travel Association (SF Travel) and was Board Chair in 2018-2019.

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Industry veteran Wendy Haase, CDME, recently accepted the position of President for the newly formed Travel Santa Ana. In her new role, Haase will be responsible for leading and directing the administrative, operational, sales, marketing, and communications for the organization. Haase is the first employee to be hired since the DMO was established as of January 1, 2021. Prior to joining Travel Santa Ana, Haase represented Destination Irvine for 11 years as Vice President. Her travel and tourism career spans 22 years representing four different destinations and a luxury resort. Haase currently serves on the Board of Directors for the California Travel Association. Haase started her new role August 2, 2021.

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Charlene Hoffman will become the CEO at the Boulder CVB October 16, 2021, the day after Mary Ann Mahoney retires at CEO. Since joining the CVB in 2014, Hoffman has played an integral role in advancing strategic priorities, overall impact, and the daily operations of organization. She spearheaded the CVB’s accreditation as the City of Boulder’s official DMO by achieving the globally recognized Destination Marketing Accreditation Program (DMAP) distinction that defines quality and performance standards in destination marketing and management. Hoffman brings more than 25 years of diverse experience in senior level management and ownership roles in the areas of sales, marketing, management, business development, finance, and business operations. Hoffman said, “Having lived in Boulder for the past 23 years, I am truly honored to continue to work with the great team at the CVB and have this opportunity to become even more involved in Boulder’s community.

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In Oregon, The Chamber of Medford & Jackson County has hired T.J. Holmes as the new Senior Vice President of Travel Medford. Holmes joins The Chamber after spending the past four years in the travel and tourism industry as a member of Visit Redding, the destination marketing organization for Redding, California. As part of Travel Medford’s senior leadership team, he will be leading the tourism marketing efforts to increase visibility for Travel Medford as a premier destination for conventions, sports, and leisure visitors.

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Dan Howard will be taking on a new role as Vice President of Communications for the Park City Chamber/ Bureau. Howard joined the Chamber/Bureau staff in 2016 as Director of Communications and, before that, was part of the opening team at Montage Deer Valley, serving as Director of Public Relations from 2010-2015. “The Communications function of the Chamber/Bureau has never been more important, as the community evolves, coming through COVID-19 and facing local development issues impacting Park City from all directions,” observed Chamber/Bureau President & CEO Jennifer Wesselhoff.

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Darla Jones has been named as Vice President of Partner Services for the Park City Chamber/Bureau. Jones comes to the organization having most recently served as Director of Member Services at the Davis County Chamber of Commerce. As Vice President, she will oversee programming that benefits nearly 1,000 partner businesses in the Park City community. From educational seminars and networking programs to economic forums and communications newsletters, Partner Services plans to present more activations than it has ever been, as local businesses look to come together and build a strong community both economically and socially.

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The Explore Fairbanks Board of Directors has selected Scott McCrea, Director of Tourism & Convention Sales for the organization, as the DMO’s next President & CEO, beginning June 1, 2021. McCrea succeeds Deb Hickok who served as CEO since 1999. McCrea was selected from a nationwide search. A 34-year resident of Fairbanks, McCrea joined Explore Fairbanks in June 2014. He had previously worked for what was then called the Fairbanks CVB in the late 1990s. As Director of Tourism, and recently as Director of Tourism & Convention Sales, McCrea oversaw the organization’s marketing efforts with domestic and international travel trade. One of McCrea’s first priorities was to develop and implement the organization’s first direct marketing efforts in the emerging Mainland China market, leading up several statewide sales missions to the country. Last year McCrea successfully developed a new strategic travel trade marketing plan to help the local visitor industry begin the road to recovery due to the devastating impact of COVID-19. In addition to his time in the visitor industry, McCrea has spent 15 years working in leadership roles in marketing and public relations in Fairbanks, including six years as the Executive Director of Marketing & Communications at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

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Marisa Obando has been named Visit Plano’s new SMERF and Government Sales Manager. Most recently, Obando worked for more than a decade at the Grand Hyatt DFW at DFW Airport, where she ended her tenure as Senior Event Planning Manager. In 2019, she was named Hyatt Corporation’s Event Manager of the Year.

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Flavia Oliviera has joined the Visit Santa Cruz County (VSCC) team as the new Director of Sales and Marketing. Oliviera brings more than a decade of hotel experience with her to the position, in addition to having experience working with a destination marketing organization. Previously, she served as Sales Director with Hotel Paradox in Santa Cruz. Oliviera began her career as an intern in the hotel industry in Brazil. After she earned her college degree, she studies abroad in Switzerland, where she joined Marriott International. By 2011 she had landed a job in sales and moved to the U.S., working for Visit Oakland in a sales manager position. Oliviera then resumed her career in the hotel sector when she joined Hotel Paradox heading up its sales team. She also assumed the role of Regional Director, overseeing two Marriott brands and an independent property in three different Bay Area markets. Oliviera earned the ‘40 Under 40 Award’ from Connect Meetings in 2019. In 2015, she was nominated for the President’s Circle Award with Marriott International.

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In early August, the Board of Directors of the Fresno/Clovis Convention & Visitors Bureau (FCCVB) appointed Lisa Oliveira, CDME, as President & CEO. She has served as interim CEO since January 2021, when longtime leader Layla Forstedt retired from the leadership position. Oliveira started her career with the FCCVB as an intern in 2016 and quickly rose through the ranks in Operations, Administration, Management, and then serving under Forstedt as Vice President. “We have a great staff and work with wonderful hoteliers and restauranteurs. I’m truly honored to serve this community,” said Oliveira.

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Experience Olympia & Beyond’s Board of Directors selected Annette Pitts as the organization’s next CEO. Pitts began her new role June 7, 2021. She has extensive tourism experience and most recently served as Executive Director of the Cascade Loop Association for 10 years. Along with managing the execution of the Association’s destination development plan and overseeing a comprehensive rebrand, she also spearheaded successful effort to earn the Cascade Loops federal designation as a National Scenic Byway. Pitts also worked with organizational stakeholders, economic development organizations, and community leaders from throughout the state to promote domestic and international independent and group travel to the region.

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Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority (RTA), has named Jeff Powell as its new Communications Manager. Powell’s focus will be media relations, website and marketing content development, social media and internal and external communications on behalf of the destination marketing organization. He brings more than 15 years of marketing and communications experience to the Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority. Most recently, he helped strategically elevate and successfully promote three distinct lifestyle brands as the Communications Manager at Ricardo Beverly Hills, a luggage and accessories brand based in Kent. Prior to that, Powell explored Asia and Australia as a travel editor with Expedia, and served as senior editor on the brand strategy team at Nordstrom, producing content for the retailer’s highly trafficked online magazine.

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Ron Price has been named as the new President & CEO at Visit Phoenix, replacing Steve Moore who retired in March. Price joins Visit Phoenix with 25 years of tourism experience. Most recently, he served as President & CEO of the Arlington Texas CVB. Price also worked as the Assistant Executive Director of Visit San Antonio and spent 12 years as an executive at Marriott International. Price currently serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee for the U.S. Travel Association, as well as on the Board of Directors for Destinations International. He is a past executive committee member of the Texas Travel Alliance.

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Brian Saunders, Programs Support Coordinator, has joined the Visitor Center team for Travel Lane County in Oregon. Saunders graduated from the University of Connecticut with a B.A. in Geography and came to Oregon to participate in the Resource Assistance for Rural Economies (RARE) AmeriCorps program through the University of Oregon. Previously, he served as the outreach coordinator for the Oregon Dunes Restoration Collaborative.

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A new member of Travel Lane County’s Visitor Center team is Jenae Steele, Office and Outreach Specialist. Steele is attending the University of Oregon and has previously worked in both retail and office environments. She is a photographer and owns Wicked Visions.

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Travel Lane County in Oregon has named Megan Temple as Visitor Center Manager. Temple is a native Oregonian; she graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northwest Christian University and recently achieved her Master of Arts in Non-profit Leadership from Bushnell University.  She most recently worked as an undergraduate admissions counselor at Bushnell University.

RETIREMENTS

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Maggie Ivy, CEO & Executive Vice President of Visit Santa Cruz County (VSCC) has announced her intention to retire, effective November 12, 2021. Ivy made the announcement to the VSCC Board of Directors in July 2021 stating, “After 26 years of service at Visit Santa Cruz County, it is time for me to begin the next chapter of my life and to make way for new leadership to guide and support our local tourism industry moving forward.” VSCC’s funding - through a countywide Tourism Marketing District (TMD) - was recently renewed for an additional seven years and supported by the lodging industry, leaving the organization in a strong financial position. In 2010 the first TMD was approved, which resulted in significant increases in budget resources for expanding marketing and promotional programs and helped to advance the agency’s long-term planning and marketing programs. The resulting TMD allowed VSCC to launch a comprehensive, strategic plan including a new branding process, yielding the “Let’s Cruz” tagline. During Ivy’s tenure the organization developed wide-ranging and effective shoulder season campaigns to increase regional drive market visitation during non-summer months, as well as fostering a stronger collaboration with Visit California, and developing long-term initiatives to promote Santa Cruz County to overseas markets. She also embraced the expansion of online, digital, and social media programs, and when combined with more traditional marketing and promotional channels these steady and strategic advances made a significant, positive impact on the economic vitality of the region.

“It has been my great fortune to work with hundreds of dedicated business leaders, elected officials and a plethora of talented staff. I owe them all a debt of gratitude for their time, their commitment, and their loyalty to our tourism industry. I could not have sustained my position, nor enjoyed the accomplishments we have achieved together, without the many advocates and champions that supported VSCC throughout these many years.”

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In late August, Boulder CVB CEO Mary Ann Mahoney announced she will retire October 15, 2021, after 20 years with the organization. During her time, Mahoney transformed the organization into one of the city’s most effective economic vitality contributors. She was the recipient of The Governor’s Award for Outstanding Individual Contribution to Colorado Tourism in 2019. Under Mahoney’s leadership, both residents and visitors have benefitted: over $1 million in funding awarded to more than 70 local arts and cultural organizations; the hiker shuttle “Park to Park” moves thousands of people each year; Valmont Bike Park and the Boulder County Farm Trail came to fruition; and the Davidson Mesa pull-off on US 36 is a welcoming gateway for cyclists and motorists. In her 40-year career dedicated to hospitality in Boulder’s tourism industry, a generation of tourism professionals has been supported and mentored by Mary Ann Mahoney. She served on the Boards of the Colorado Association of Destination Marketing Organizations, the Downtown Boulder Business Improvement District, and the Tourism Association of Colorado. Mahoney summarized with, “It’s been a blast!”

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The Tempe Tourism Office recently announced that Brian McCartin, President & CEO, will retire after nearly four years at the organization. McCartin joined the Tempe Tourism Office in 2017. Prior to his time at the Tempe Tourism Office, McCartin was Executive Vice President at Travel Portland in Oregon. During his tenure at Travel Portland, his experience included responsibility for convention and tourism sales, marketing, communications, and cultural tourism. McCartin also has a background in the hotel industry where he served in numerous sales and operations positions including director of sales and marketing, general manager, and area director. He graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in Hotel and Food Service Management from the W.A. Franke College of Business. During his time with the Tempe Tourism Office, Tempe’s hospitality industry grew including the addition of new hotel properties throughout the city offering expanded opportunities for meeting and sports planners to bring their business to Tempe. McCartin was selected as the third CEO to lead the organization, following Stephanie Nowack and its founder, Sandy Hecomovich, who began the organization in 1988.

The Board of Directors has appointed Executive Vice President Michael Martin as the interim President & CEO of Tempe Tourism.