People News: Radisson Blu Mall of America, Miami Beach Convention Center and More Continue Hiring and Promoting Momentum
The corporate meetings industry is moving full steam ahead into 2023, with organizations far and wide continuing to welcome new leaders and fill newly created positions with experienced professionals. Here’s the latest people news you need to know!
Radisson Blu Mall of America
Radisson Blu Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., has tapped 36-year hospitality industry veteran Alberto Abreu as its new general manager, charged with providing leadership and strategic direction to all areas of the hotel. He most recently served as general manager of the Ennismore–21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City.
Throughout his career, Abreu has held a range of leadership positions, including front office manager, managing director and vice president of hospitality, and has worked for a number of international Caribbean hotels, including Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort in Jamaica, and Casa de Campo Beach Resort and Tortuga Bay Hotel at Puntacana Resort & Club in the Dominican Republic.
Miami Beach Convention Center
Sodexo Live! has chosen 12-year fine dining and sports entertainment hospitality professional Samantha Cruz as the new executive chef of two new restaurant and event spaces about to debut at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
At Rum Room, an upscale, 1920s Florida-themed restaurant, Cruz will create upscale, Miami-style dishes with a Caribbean twist, while at Venu, an intimate, 3,300-square-foot private event space and bar, she will develop custom menus for special events and upscale meetings.
Cruz has worked as executive sous chef at hospitality powerhouses including 50 Eggs (Swine, Yardbird, and Kong River House) and Grove Bay Group (Big Easy and Glass and Vine), and served as chef de cuisine at PLANTA in Miami Beach. Since joining Sodexo Live! in 2019, she has created menus and cooked for tens of thousands of guests at major events, including the Super Bowl LIV, Miami Open, Art Basel Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale Orange Bowl Food & Wine Festival and Seattle Mariners’ opening day at T-Mobile Park.
Visit Greater Palm Springs
Visit Greater Palm Springs welcomed Todd Burke as its first vice president of communications, tasked with supporting the CVB’s public relations and communications efforts as well as leading communications for its corporate initiatives that include workforce development, education, sustainability and DEI.
An accomplished corporate communications executive with more than 25 years of experience directing public relations for some of the world’s largest companies and brands, Burke most recently served as the California communications director for Tenet Healthcare, where he led the media relations and communications efforts across 13 California hospitals. He has served in leadership positions at airlines including at TWA and American, as vice president of corporate communications for JetBlue and currently serves as a commissioner of the Palm Springs International Airport.
Visit Greater Palm Springs also recently tapped 30-year travel and tourism industry veteran Don Prince as director of Indian Wells Tourism. In his new role, Prince will not only work closely with the City of Indian Wells and the local tourism partners to drive awareness and increase visitation to the city but also promote Indian Wells through strategic marketing, sales and public relations programs.
Along with positions such as deputy director of the Arizona Office of Tourism and director of tourism for the City of Prescott, Ariz., Prince has also held senior business and tourism development strategy roles with marketing agencies specializing in hospitality and tourism brands in the U.S., Europe and Latin America. He has held sales and marketing positions with numerous cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines, and also owned and managed two travel agencies focusing on luxury travel and cruises.
Georgia International Convention Center
The Georgia International Convention Center (GICC) has appointed Ricki VanDuvall as its new director of sales and marketing, tasked with overseeing the team responsible for selling the facility’s convention space, as well as Gateway Center Arena and the Historic College Park Golf Course. VanDuvall will also be responsible for driving growth to the destination by raising awareness for all hotels and venues situated on the GICC campus and collaborating with the ATL District Airport CVB to deliver meaningful, revenue-generating events to the market.
A Certified Hospitality Sales Professional, she brings more than 20 years of hotel industry experience to the GICC team and has served in various sales capacities at hotel brands, including the Crowne Plaza Atlanta Airport, Radisson Hotel Group and Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta Airport.
SAVOR, the culinary division of ASM Global, has appointed experienced culinary professional Roxanne Galang as the new and first-ever female director of culinary for Moscone Center. After holding the position of chef de cuisine for the venue in 2017, Galang returns to the convention center with more than a decade of culinary expertise in the San Francisco area, including her most recent role as executive chef, premium catering for Bon Appetit at The Chase Center.
In her role at the convention center, Galang will manage all culinary activities, including supervising and coordinating all large-scale food preparation operations and daily food production; assisting with staffing schedules; and directing the training of chefs, cooks and other kitchen staff. She will oversee menu planning for all functions, leveraging her knowledge of food trends, sustainability and market conditions to create a premium F&B experience at events.
In the course of her career, Galang held roles as chef and head of catering for The Sarap Shop, and kitchen operations chef and food safety program director at Foxtail Catering & Events.
Visit Spokane has named a new interim leader and recently added two new members to its marketing department. Following CEO Meg Winchester’s retirement on Jan. 1, Maureen Dodroe has assumed the helm as interim president and CEO after serving as the director of finance since Aug. 2012. Well-versed in the inner workings of the destination marketing organization, she will work to seamlessly lead the Visit Spokane staff through this transition until a replacement is found.
Following her previous role as advancement and marketing specialist with Chi Alpha Campus Ministries USA, Hannah Deubel has joined as marketing coordinator, and Katie Mathews has been appointed digital content specialist after previously working as a freelance brand designer for small businesses.
New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center has named leadership roles for its new Innovation Team and recently appointed a chief diversity officer.
A division of the convention center’s People Services Department focused on developing creative approaches to optimize, streamline and transform convention center operations and culture, the Innovation Team will be led by Tim Tumminello as senior director of people services and innovation, and Kelli Zohar-Davis, assistant director of talent development and innovation.
A more than 20-year employee of the convention center, Tumminello was promoted from his most recent role as director of people services. He is an established HR professional and results-focused leader with an extensive track record of delivering talent acquisition, retention and talent development solutions to the facility.
Promoted from her 12-year role as talent development manager, Zohar-Davis has developed employee training programs and managed culture initiatives at the convention center, including its Innovation Lab. After serving as a high-school teacher and university lecturer, she gained an extensive background in the hospitality industry training food service industry professionals.
In her new role as chief diversity officer, Rocsean Spencer will be tasked with supporting the convention center’s policies and directives that mitigate bias, increase equitable outcomes and foster respect and inclusion while ensuring that the communications and People Services programs reflect the organization’s DEI goals.
Spencer most recently served as the facility’s Small and Emerging Business program director, a position created in 2019 to help promote the importance of diverse and small business inclusion at the venue. She previously served as compliance officer and prior to that, as certification officer for the City of New Orleans, Office of Supplier Diversity.
Visit Salt Lake
Visit Salt Lake has named seasoned hospitality industry veteran Faye Pastor its new Washington, D.C.-based sales manager, a newly created position in the area for mid-sized business. Her sales experience includes hotel sales, exhibit and sponsorship sales and marketing.
Pastor comes to the CVB from the Association for Molecular Pathology, where she worked as its exhibits and sponsorships manager, and she has held roles at The San Francisco Peninsula CVB, Ecological Society of America, Visit Norfolk, the Atlanta CVB and Visit Sacramento.
Working closely with and reporting directly to Karen Staples, managing director of sales-East Coast, Faye will pursue meetings with from 201 to 1,700 attendees from the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia area.
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