What are your job title and responsibilities?
I am the Vice President of Sales for Richmond Region Tourism. My focus is on leading the destination sales team and sports development team in their effort to recruit meetings, conventions, and sports tournaments. I oversee the strategic planning and budgeting for the sales department and serve as the liaison to our convention center and hotel partners.
What was your first job in the industry?
My first job in the industry was as a Sales Coordinator for the Greater Richmond Convention Center.
What aspect of your job do you like most?
I love building relationships with clients and helping them reach their goals. I love coaching my team, helping them win business, and watching them grow professionally and personally.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a teacher or a lawyer.
How did you get into this line of work?
I decided to go to graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University to pursue a master’s degree in Recreation, Parks, and Sports Leadership, and needed a full-time job. I saw the Greater Richmond Convention Center was hiring, and I applied. The hiring manager for that position was also an alumnus of James Madison University (JMU), and I often joke that I got the job because of JMU. While I’m sure it carried some weight, I think my personality, tenacity, and drive sealed the deal.
Please tell us about your role as Board Liaison of the Sports ETA Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Community.
Before getting on the Board of Directors for Sports ETA, I was a part of the original task force formed back in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd. The task force was organized to assist the staff at Sports ETA in reviewing industry standards, emerging programs, and Sports ETA policies, education, and programs to further enhance their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sports events and tourism industry. From there, the task force transformed into the Sports ETA DEI Community, where I first served as Co-Chair along with Christine Simmons. The community allows members to share best practices around DEI with virtual calls. It recommends educational content and helps with member engagement at Sports ETA’s in-person events.
What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far in your career?
My biggest accomplishment has been my growth at Richmond Region Tourism. I started in 2016 as a Convention and Sports Services Manager. In 2021, I received my fourth promotion to Vice President of Sales. From what I know about working in this industry, growth at this speed is unprecedented at Convention & Visitors Bureaus. I’m grateful that I have leadership that saw potential in me and allowed me to excel as a leader in the industry.
How do you manage your daily tasks?
Schedule blocking and task lists are the main ways I manage and organize my daily tasks.
How do you stay on top of sports tourism industry trends?
I stay on top of sports tourism trends through industry publications from PUSH Magazine, Sports ETA, SportsEvents Media Group, and Northstar/TEAMS. I attend education sessions at industry shows. Sports ETA Community calls are also a great resource.
How are you developing key partnerships in the marketplace?
Building authentic relationships with people rooted in trust and mutual respect. Attending industry trade shows and conferences and networking.
Who was your greatest mentor?
Fortunately, I have a village of leaders that have mentored me through my career, and I’m still adding to my village. One of the things I appreciate most in this industry is the people willing to take the time to listen, advise, and share their experiences with you.
What are the top 3 things you’d want to pass on as advice to a young, up-and-coming industry professional?
Advocate for yourself and never waiver on your values. Get involved in the industry by serving on committees. It’s an excellent way to network with peers and create a name for yourself. Keep a growth mindset and never stop learning.
What are you most passionate about, and how did you get started?
I’m passionate about helping others learn and grow by sharing my knowledge from known experiences. Early childhood is where it started – I took the responsibility of being an older sister very seriously. I’ve always found my place in a leadership capacity where I’ve had the opportunity to mentor and teach others. My time as an adjunct professor for the Center for Sport Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University solidified this beyond a passion. Part of my purpose in life is to serve and teach others. This simple act fills my heart with joy.
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