People on the Go

September 2017


Tracy Brandt has joined Travel Lane County as the agency’s sports & convention marketing manager. Brandt is responsible for marketing the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region to planners nationally and internationally who are looking for the right location to host a sports event, meeting or convention. She came to Travel Lane County following 10 years in the motor coach industry at both Monaco and Marathon. Brandt spent the last decade at the robotics firm Concept Systems in Albany, Oregon.


The Reno-Sparks CVA has announced that Hillary Burton has joined the Reno Tahoe team as the executive director of convention sales, western region. Burton has been a part of the hospitality and convention community for more than 25 years.


Visit Santa Cruz County has named Laura Manriquez as the new director of sales & marketing. With more than eight years of experience in the tourism and hospitality industry, Manriquez brings her knowledge and expertise in the field to her new role. Manriquez will target two primary markets: corporate group meetings and international tourism travel trade. Additionally, she will be promoting the brand message for the destination in the Bay Area and on the Central Coast positioning Santa Cruz County as an appealing location for both corporate group meetings and providing service and sales support to tour operators in the UK, Germany, Australia and Canada.

In June Visit Albuquerque welcomed Kristin McGrath, CDME, as the organization's new vice president of sales, services & sports. McGrath comes to Albuquerque most recently from Richmond Region Tourism in Virginia, where she served as the vice president of sales & services for the past three years. Before joining Richmond Region Tourism, McGrath held several positions at the Providence Warwick CVB, including vice president of sales & services. She has also served as the director of association sales at the Westin Copley Place, Boston, worked with the Greater Boston CVB as a national sales manager, and Hard Rock Café International in a variety of sales positions. Additionally, McGrath served on the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program (DMAP) Board of Directors from 2012 to 2017, acted as co-chair of the DMAI (now Destinations International) Education Committee from 2011 to 2013.


Jeffrey Morris, a 25-year creative advertising and marketing strategist, has been named the chief marketing officer for Visit West Hollywood. Morris will direct Visit West Hollywood’s marketing effort supporting local hotels, as well as the Sunset Strip and the West Hollywood Design District Business Improvement Districts. He has built brands for leaders in the sectors of tourism and travel, retail, sports, restaurants and entertainment. He created marketing programs for Universal Studios Hollywood, DreamWorks Animation, The Los Angeles Times, Cirque du Soleil, Los Angeles Clippers Professional Basketball team, and many other companies – for which he won numerous awards. In 2015, Morris managed the strategic and creative implementation of Los Angeles’ popular and successful “What’s Your LA Story” campaign. The campaign, developed for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, was the most successful to date for the tourism organization, and was recognized by Expedia as a “Top Digital Campaign,” along with other accolades. Most recently, Morris had positions with Strategy + Craft and HEILBrice Marketing Communications.


Stephanie Nowack, president & CEO of the Tempe (Arizona) Tourism Office, will retire after more than 18 years at the organization. Nowack is expected to remain in her current position through the end of 2017. Nowack joined the Tempe Tourism Office, then known as the Tempe CVB, in 1999. Her prior experience in both the for-profit and nonprofit worlds had given her the perfect skill set needed to lead the tourism office. Nowack’s previous job experience included strategic planning, marketing, advertising, public relations and event management at The Arizona Bank, Valley of the Sun United Way and Motorola. She was selected as the second CEO to lead the DMO, following its founder, Sandy Hecomovich, who began the organization in 1988. Nowack is a Past President of both DMA West and the DMA West Education & Research Foundation and a current Foundation Trustee. She is a current board member of the Tempe Chamber of Commerce and the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association.


John Reyes recently joined Visit Sacramento as the organization’s chief operating officer. Most recently, Reyes served as executive vice president and chief sales officer at San Francisco Travel. Together with new CEO Mike Testa and the leadership team, he will work to enhance Visit Sacramento’s sales and marketing capabilities as the market continues to grow and the convention center expansion gets underway. Reyes has been in the hospitality industry since 1982. In September 2011, Reyes joined the San Francisco Travel Association (formerly the San Francisco CVB) overseeing the convention sales and services teams. Prior to San Francisco, he was president & CEO of the Monterey County CVB. His previous work experience also includes serving as CEO of Visit Jacksonville (Florida). Reyes also served for 18 years at the San Diego CVB.


After three and a half years in his position as the president & CEO for VISIT Lake Geneva in Wisconsin, Darien Schaefer has joined the Big Bear Visitors Bureau as executive director. Schaefer oversees the expenditure of dollars being collected under Big Bear Lake’s Tourist Business Improvement District. Schaefer merged the Lake Geneva Chamber and the Lake Geneva Area CVB into VISIT Lake Geneva, which included merging the two board of directors, relocating the office, renaming the organization, building a professional staff, upgrading the technology, implementing partnerships tiers, adding new events while making the existing events financially viable, and raising the bar for marketing Lake Geneva with a new website, visitor magazine, videos, social media, and Lake Geneva App.


In early July Visit Sacramento appointed Mike Testa as its new president & CEO. He will oversee the organization’s role in booking conventions, meetings, and trade shows for the Sacramento Convention Center and local hotels, promoting Sacramento’s farm-to-fork identity nationally to consumers, and charting the course for the Sacramento Sports Commission. He succeeds Steve Hammond, who retired after serving as the organization’s president & CEO since 1999. Having worked for Visit Sacramento since 2001, Testa most recently served as its chief operating officer. He was first hired as director of public relations and was promoted through the ranks to assume leadership roles in consumer marketing, convention sales and business development. He worked for the Downtown Sacramento Partnership from 1998 to 2001, directing its public relations and marketing activities. Visit Sacramento’s Board of Directors offered Testa the top staff position after conducting a national search.


Diana Wells joined Travel Lane County as the agency’s visitor services coordinator. Wells staffs the downtown visitor center and welcomes visitors to the area by providing them the resources they need to fully experience the wonderful things the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region has to offer. She is originally from New York City, where she worked in the travel book industry and owned the nationally recognized Traveler’s Bookstore, a specialty store in Rockefeller Center. After moving to Eugene in 2000, she was the sales and marketing manager for the University of Oregon Press, and worked as a manuscript editor and bookstore marketing consultant throughout the Northwest.