People News: Visit Baton Rouge, IAEE, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau and More Tap New Leadership, Expand Teams
While the U.S. economy may be losing momentum, that hasn’t stopped trade show and event-related organizations—particularly convention and visitors bureaus—from hiring fresh talent and placing new and experienced leadership at the helm. Take a look!
Visit Baton Rouge
Jill Kidder, current president and CEO of the Louisiana Travel Association (LTA), the primary voice for Louisiana’s tourism industry, has been tapped to become the new president and CEO of Visit Baton Rouge. Selected by the Visit Baton Rouge Board of Directors June 30, she will replace current President and CEO Paul Arrigo, who is retiring in September.
Kidder also serves as president and CEO of the Louisiana Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus (LACVB) and previously served as executive director of the Alexandria/Pineville CVB.
“The search committee and the board did an outstanding job with the selection process,” Arrigo said. “Jill inherits a staff that is second to none. I look forward to working with her and the staff to make this transition as smooth as possible, and I wish her much success for Baton Rouge.”
The International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) recently made several promotions among its 22-person staff of industry professionals following the departure of Scott Craighead, IAEE vice president of exhibitions and events, who is leaving for an opportunity with a destination marketing organization. They are as follows:
- Lisa Buchanan, from director of membership and chapter engagement to vice president, engagement and digital strategy
- Hannah Deters, from senior events and registration manager to director, event management
- Marsha Flanagan, from vice president, learning experiences to senior vice president, events and learning experiences
- Stacy Powers, from senior education manager to director, learning experiences
Buchanan and Flanagan now report to IAEE Executive Vice President and COO Cathy Breden.
Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau
The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) recently promoted Lindsey Raimondi to public relations manager after nearly three years with the organization. In her new role, Raimondi will focus efforts on implementing strategic communications programs to support ACVB’s business plan and manage the day-to-day activities of the PR team. She will be the lead contact for domestic media, leveraging those relationships and opportunities to increase Atlanta’s visibility as a top U.S. travel destination.
A previous summer intern with ACVB, Raimondi has held positions as public relations coordinator at Georgia Aquarium and public relations trainee with the Atlanta Braves prior to returning to the organization as PR specialist.
Destinations International has appointed 15-year tourism industry veteran Gathan Borden as its senior vice president of marketing and communications, responsible for the strategic development and implementation of all marketing and communications efforts designed to advise and facilitate engagement opportunities for partners and members, as well as position Destinations International as an industry thought leader across the globe. He will start his new role Aug. 15.
Currently, Borden is the vice president of marketing at VisitLEX in Lexington, Ky., where he has overseen the advertising, branding, marketing, public relations, social media, visitor services and web strategies for the city of Lexington as it relates to travel and tourism since July 2015. Prior to that, he spent time at Louisville Tourism in various marketing roles.
Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
Starting in early September, hospitality and meetings industry leader Lisa Messina will join the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as chief sales officer, tasked with leading and helping to grow meeting, convention and trade show sales for Las Vegas and for the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). She joins the LVCVA from Caesars Entertainment, where she was senior vice president of sales, responsible for driving revenue strategy and leading a team of 120 sales directors.
Prior to Caesars Entertainment, Messina served as executive director of intermediary group sales for Hilton Worldwide, in addition to a past leadership role with ConferenceDirect.
INFiLED, a global leader in LED displays, has hired seasoned LED professional Crystal Wu to support its rapidly growing U.S. sales team. Bringing 15 years of experience in the LED display industry to her new role, Wu possesses a combined experience in sales, marketing, customer service and project management in both the rental and fixed install markets.
Based out of the Los Angeles office, she will work closely with customers to understand their needs and develop the appropriate solutions for their rental/staging and system integration projects.
Twenty-year convention sales professional Dustin Arnheim has joined Choose Chicago as its new senior vice president of sales and services, serving as a key executive member of the senior leadership team. In his new role, Arnheim is responsible for leading a team of 20 sales and services professionals and providing overall leadership of these departments, securing new conventions and meetings at venues throughout the city, including McCormick Place, driving visitation and promoting Chicago to global business travelers and partnering with more than 150 hotel partners to generate hotel tax revenue for the city.
Arnheim most recently served as Visit Baltimore’s senior vice president of sales and customer experience, and prior to that, was senior director of sales at Visit Indy. He also spent time with Hyatt Hotels Corporation, starting his career in Chicago as a meeting connections sales manager and association sales manager at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place.
Leading event marketing and management company, RainFocus, has hired Susan Hanson as its new chief people officer, responsible for leading culture and innovation and driving the company’s next phase of growth.
A proven leader with more than 20 years specializing in human resources, compliance and privacy, Hanson will support the company’s growth, drive culture and innovation, oversee the people strategy, refine strategic business initiatives and ensure the right talent is in place to continue delivering successful client experiences.
Hanson previously served as vice president of human resources at Provation, initially part of Wolters-Kluwer, where she led talent and succession planning. Prior to that, she was director of human resources and later, compliance and privacy officer at Experian, where she established a compliance program and was the central liaison for internal departments, external business partners and vendors.
Digital signage platforms leader, YCD Multimedia, has promoted two team members while expanding its global team. The immersive digital experience designers promoted Ido Aviram to general manager and Dina Townsend to vice president of sales and marketing–Americas.
New additions include Roman Koushner as vice president of sales and marketing–EMEA, Randi Tomchin as an inside sales executive for the Americas and Stuart Armstrong and his firm AAG Consulting as an advisory board consultant to help the YCD parent holding company grow through mergers and acquisitions.
ATL Airport District
The ATL Airport District, the destination marketing organization for the cities of College Park, Hapeville and Union City, Ga., has promoted Kristin Schneider from director of sales to vice president of sales. Bringing nearly seven years of experience promoting and selling the district’s convention and meeting space options, her new role will include expanded responsibilities for promoting its meeting and event opportunities.
Schneider joined the ATL Airport District team in 2015 as sales manager, quickly rising to senior sales manager and was promoted shortly after to director of sales. She previously served as sales manager at the Georgia International Convention Center.
Visit Salt Lake
Suzanne Bajek recently joined Visit Salt Lake (VSL) as its new national sales manager for the Northeast region. Bringing more than 30 years of experience in hospitality sales, most recently with Mohegan Sun Resort, Bajek brings a wealth of experience with northeast clientele to her new role.
A native of Connecticut who currently resides between New York and Boston, two major markets for VSL, Bajek will work alongside Karen Staples, managing director of sales–East Coast as she makes her debut in the destination marketing space.
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