People News: Seattle Convention Center, OVG, SmithBucklin and More Announce Leadership Changes, Promotions and New Hires

February 7, 2024

As 2024 kicks off, event-related organizations, particularly destination marketing organizations (DMOs), are busy adding and promoting staff, welcoming new executives and bidding farewell to veteran leadership. 

Seattle Convention Center 

After serving as Seattle Convention Center (SCC) president and CEO for more than 12 years, 45-year venue management industry veteran Jeff Blosser is retiring in May 2024. During his time at the helm of the SCC, Blosser opened a new building, guided operations through a pandemic, served in leadership on numerous industry boards and was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Association of Venue Managers. 

Before coming to Seattle, Blosser served as the executive director of the Oregon Convention Center in Portland for 22 years, providing strategic direction for the organization and expansion of Oregon’s largest convention facility. Blosser began his career in Louisville, Ky., and for more than 10 years held several positions at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center and the Kentucky International Convention Center.

Oak View Group 

Global sports and entertainment company Oak View Group (OVG) recently named veteran finance executive Julieta Gutierrez Macias senior vice president and CFO of OVG360, responsible for overseeing the financial and accounting activities for the division.  

A seasoned executive with multinational experience in the hospitality and energy sectors, Macias was most recently COO for Sodexo Live! airport lounges in North America after previously serving as the division’s global CFO and the North America CFO for Sodexo’s sports and entertainment division. Prior to Sodexo, she served in executive roles at Areva, Alstom and Procter & Gamble.

Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau 

The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) has appointed 30-year sales industry veteran Jason Jordan as vice president of sales, charged with the continued building and development of the PHLCVB’s sales team to achieve the organization’s meeting and convention booking goals. Besides being responsible for the recruitment of large citywide events and representing Philadelphia at key industry events and trade shows, he will also collaborate closely with the Pennsylvania Convention Center and Philadelphia hotels and venues to ensure alignment of strategy and processes.  

Jordan previously served as the national accounts manager for the Midwest market after joining the PHLCVB in June 2022, and has served in sales roles with hotels, CVBs and supporting hospitality-related organizations with their technology needs. Prior to joining the PHLCVB, Jordan served as account manager for Applied Technologies, director of business venue development for Ungerboeck Software International, and was director of sales for Explore St. Louis for more than five years.  


Association management company Smithbucklin recently named Karen Saverino its new chief marketing officer (CMO), tasked with overseeing corporate marketing, business development and internal communication teams, and driving the formulation and execution of brand and marketing strategies to foster growth. Based in Washington, D.C., she joins Smithbucklin’s corporate management team. 

Bringing more than 25 years of expertise in marketing and communications to her new role, Saverino most recently served as global head of marketing and communications for Accenture’s Talent & Organization practice, where she was responsible for marketing and communications. 

Prior to her role at Accenture, Saverino served as vice president, then executive vice president, at Metropolitan Group, a full-service strategic and creative services agency for social purpose organizations. She also founded Eightfold Strategy, a marketing communications agency focused on non-profit, association and government clients. Additionally, she served as senior public relations director at Carton Donofrio Partners, a Baltimore-based advertising and creative services agency. 

Destination DC 

Destination DC (DDC) recently made two executive team promotions: Claire Carlin to senior vice president, partnerships and alliances, and Tara Miller to director of global sales. 

Carlin joined DDC in 2015 as vice president, partnerships and alliances. Besides leading a team that manages nearly 1,000 members as well as 30 sponsors and strategic partners, she created and leads a DEI Business Fellowship program. She also serves as executive director of Destination DC’s affiliated charity, the American Experience Foundation (AEF), which works to cultivate the next generation of hospitality industry professionals. 

In her new role, Miller leads global event sales, marketing, business development and strategic programs, including Washington DC’s Ambassador Circle and International Business Events Council. She started her career at a global association management company supporting the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI).  

VISIT Milwaukee 

VISIT Milwaukee recently announced two new hires: Associate Director of Sales Laura Nelson and National Account Executive Manuel Rocha.

An experienced tourism and hotel sales professional, Nelson manages the convention sales department, including directing, training and monitoring convention sales efforts and related activities. She most recently served as executive director of Engage Franklin, an initiative supporting tourism for the municipal government in Franklin, Wis., and her prior experience includes stints as the tourism and business relations manager for the City of Oak Creek and as executive director of the Wisconsin Rapids Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Rocha is responsible for lead generation and selling Greater Milwaukee as a premier destination for conventions, meetings, trade shows to Midwest markets, including directing business leads to the convention campus, partner hotels and other partner firms. Before coming to VISIT Milwaukee, Rocha worked in manufacturing sales and has extensive sales experience in Milwaukee’s radio industry. He also has travel and tourism experience with Midwest Express Airlines and several hotels.


Live event registration and lead management services provider CompuSystems recently promoted 15-year event industry professional Dean Russo from director of sales to director of business development, focused on registration sales and account management. 

Before coming to CompuSystems, Russo served as the group show director at Clarion Events Inc., where he was responsible for managing the business strategy of the U.S. Gift event portfolio. Prior to that, he served as director of business development at the Security Industry Association. Russo’s extensive experience also includes a long tenure at RX (formerly Reed Exhibitions), where he held various positions, including portfolio vice president.

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

Thirty-year hospitality industry veteran Jason Lusk has joined the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) as vice president, sales, responsible for leading ACVB’s sales initiatives through events, lead generation and customer engagement. He was most recently associate vice president of convention sales and director of sales for Visit Denver, and prior to that, held the positions of sales manager and D.C. regional sales manager with Visit Baltimore.


Technology solutions company SmartSource welcomed Tom Boccard as its new executive vice president of sales. With more than 15 years of sales leadership experience, he brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to his new role, particularly in trade shows and conferences, where he has a strong history of collaboration with current clients of SmartSource.

Most recently, Boccard served as senior vice president of sales at GlobalData, a global digital media company, where he led a team delivering data, expert analysis and innovative solutions across diverse sectors.


IAAPA, the global association for the attractions industry and producers of the annual IAAPA Expos, has selected Storm Tussey-Haverly to serve in the newly created role of executive vice president and chief membership officer. 

A marketing and sales pioneer with expertise in loyalty programs, digital transformation and product development, Tussey-Haverly comes to IAAPA via her most recent role as the senior vice president of global commercial marketing at Hurtigruten, where she led consumer insights, consumer relationship management (CRM), e-commerce, business-to-business-and-consumer loyalty programs, global media, public relations and analytic teams. Prior to Hurtigruten, she pioneered loyalty programs for Lego Systems as senior director of brand marketing. 

Louisville Tourism

Louisville Tourism recently welcomed a new sales staff member and filled a new management role. 

Jade Mosgrove has joined Louisville Tourism’s convention development department as convention sales manager, responsible for handling the corporate, fraternal, agriculture and direct selling market segments. She most recently served as director of sales and marketing at Holiday Inn Bowling Green & Sloan Convention Center, Atrium Hospitality. 

While work is underway to build Louisville Tourism’s new welcome center at the Muhammad Ali International Airport, the CVB has hired Sam Newton in the inaugural role of airport welcome center manager. He most recently served as senior manager of operations at the Frazier History Museum, responsible for managing the museum’s Welcome Center.

Hawai‘i Visitors and Convention Bureau

The Hawai‘i Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) appointed 30-year hospitality sales veteran Lynn Whitehead as its new vice president, global MCI (meeting, conventions and incentives) sales and marketing, responsible for overseeing and directing HVCB’s global sales and marketing efforts for both citywide and single-property MCI business. She assumed the role on Jan. 1 following the retirement of John Reyes, who held the position since February 2020.  

Prior to joining HVCB, Whitehead was with the San Diego Tourism Authority (SDTA) as national sales director, Eastern region, focused on citywide conventions. Prior to SDTA, she served as director of national accounts for the San Diego Convention Center Corporation.

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