Governor Kay Ivey

Growing up in the small town of Camden in Wilcox County and working on her father’s farm taught Kay Ivey to value hard work and living within one’s means. Her parents instilled values of faith, family, and community.

After graduating from Auburn University in 1967, Kay worked as a high school teacher and a bank officer. She served as Reading Clerk of the Alabama House of Representatives under Speaker Joseph C. McCorquodale and Assistant Director of the Alabama Development Office, where she worked to spur job creation and economic development across the State.

In 2002, Kay became the first Republican elected State Treasurer since Reconstruction and was re-elected in 2006. As Treasurer, Kay was committed to making the office more open, transparent, and efficient.

Kay was elected Lieutenant Governor in 2010, becoming the first Republican woman to hold the office in Alabama’s history. She again made history on November 4, 2014, by becoming the first Republican Lieutenant Governor re-elected to the office. The Lieutenant Governor’s primary Constitutional duty is to preside over legislative proceedings of the upper house as President of the Senate.

One of Kay’s first actions in office was to lead the Commission on Improving State Government. The Commission was tasked with exploring ways to reduce government spending and find efficiencies in State government. Many of the Commission’s recommendations were implemented, laying the groundwork for Alabama to successfully complete The Road to Saving $1 Billion in December 2013.

In addition, Kay has taken on several initiatives to grow jobs, address child hunger, and increase STEM education. As Chair of the Military Stability Commission, she is leading the first statewide coordinated effort to secure and strengthen Alabama’s military assets ahead of any potential base or force realignments. She also serves as national chair of the Aerospace States Association.

On April 10, 2017, Kay was sworn in as the 54th Governor of the State of Alabama in the Old Senate Chamber in the Alabama State Capitol by Acting Chief Justice Lyn Stuart.

Kay has been honored to receive numerous awards for her service to the State of Alabama, including the 2015 ALFA Service to Agriculture Award, Newmax’s 50 Most Influential Female Republican in the country and, most recently, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) 2016 Public Service Award.

Kay believes if you campaign as a Conservative for office, then you should govern as a Conservative in office. Kay Ivey will continue to bring conservative leadership with effective results to make this generation more productive and the next generation more prosperous.

She is a member of the First Baptist Church of Montgomery, the Montgomery Rotary Club, and the Board of Directors of the Montgomery YMCA. Kay is also the first Girls State alumnus to be elected to an Alabama Constitutional Office.

Carylann Assante

Carylann Assante

A seasoned tourism and association executive with more than 30 years of experience in the industry, Carylann Assante, CAE serves as the Executive Director of the Student & Youth Travel Association, the international association that promotes student and youth travel worldwide. Carylann is also the Executive Director of the SYTA Youth Foundation, the philanthropic arm that provides scholarships and education experiences for students and youth who are unable to travel due to financial and personal hardship.

Full Bio

Bob Carlton

Bob Carlton
Bob Carlton is a senior feature writer for The Birmingham News and AL.com, where he has written about the people and the culture of Alabama since 1980. He currently covers the food and restaurant beat, but he has also written about everything from movies and music to college football and stock-car racing. He is a native of Linden in Marengo County, a graduate of the University of Alabama, and he lives in Birmingham.

JG HS 2015

Jennifer E. Gowers, CMP

Jennifer serves as owner and principal planner for GoPro Event Solutions, a full service event and conference planning, production, and management firm. She has more than two decades experience in the industry and strives to exceed client expectations by focusing on unique organizational needs and providing high-quality and cost efficient services. She is a strong believer in professional growth and development, acquiring her CMP designation and is now working on receiving the coveted Certified Special Event Professional (CSEP) designation. Jennifer makes her home in Birmingham, Alabama with husband Tim and their beloved rescue dogs.


John Oros, Jr

John Oros is President and CEO of the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau.    He came to Birmingham in August 2015 from the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau where he was Executive Vice President & COO.

John served on the Foundation Board of Directors of Destination Marketing Association International, the global trade association for official destination marketing organizations from 2014 – 2016.  He served as a member of DMAI’s Board of Directors from 2004 – 2007.  John currently serves on the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Board of Directors and the Alabama Tourism Department Advisory Board.

John has an extensive background in strategic planning and creative marketing, as well as in the hotel industry.   He developed and implemented the Memphis Convention Center’s marketing plan to promote the building’s $105 million expansion and renovation.  His background includes management of the Washington, DC national sales office for the world’s largest hotel brand, Holiday Inn & Crowne Plaza Hotels.

Joseph Mitchell Border

Joseph Mitchell

Joseph Mitchell serves as Program Director at the Culinary and Hospitality Institute at Jefferson State Community College. Joseph holds several certifications from the American Culinary Federation to include: Certified Executive Chef, Certified Executed Pastry Chef and Certificated Culinary Educator. Joseph is also a Certified Hospitality Educator through the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute. Joseph was selected ACF Birmingham “Chef of the Year” in 2004, and selected as “Chef of the Year “in 2009 awarded by the Alabama Restaurant Association. He holds a Bachelor of Science, Industrial Education from Middle Tennessee State University and a Ph.D. Nutrition & Food Science with emphasis in Hotel & Restaurant Management from Auburn University. Joseph credits his appreciation for hospitality service from his industry experiences from working at various hospitality properties to include Mario’s of Nashville, Opryland Hotel and the Belle Meade Country Club

willam a bell

William A. Bell, Sr

Since his election, Birmingham has experienced an unprecedented comeback and has received numerous accolades including All-American City and was named “Best City in America” in 2014 by Movoto, a real estate website. Tremendous economic development has taken place across the city, including a transformational return of the Southern League’s Birmingham Barons to the new Regions Field baseball and event facility. This project has served as a catalyst for hundreds of multi-family units, restaurants and other businesses in the area, including the Negro League Baseball Museum, and a new inter-modal transportation facility, which are both now under construction. In addition, the Birmingham Crossplex, an international multi-use sports complex, opened and has played host to thousands, including the NCAA Division II track and field event attendees.

Under his leadership, the first northern business expansion in decades occurred with the construction of a new United States Treasury building and the development of the Uptown Entertainment District, which includes a four-star Westin Hotel with various shops and restaurants.  Other notable projects include the expansion of the Summit Shopping Center and construction of the state-of-the-art Grandview Hospital on Highway 280, which will open in late 2015.


Steve Miller

Steve Miller comes to us with an extensive and successful career history with numerous well known brands. Steve’s career includes 10 years at Hyatt Hotels, General Manager of Kimpton Hotels (5 years), Hilton Hotels (7 years), and Marriott Hotels, Franchise Division (11 Years), including 10 years at the Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa in Birmingham.  Steve is currently serving as General Manager of the Sheraton and Westin Birmingham Hotels.

Tad Snider

Tad Snider

Tad Snider is the Executive Director and Chief Executive Office of the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Authority. Over 20 years of progressive growth within the Authority has led me to the senior position of Chief Executive Officer, serving in that capacity since 2010.Responsibilities include management, sales, marketing and operation of the facilities, overseeing a full-time and part-time staff of nearly 600 and an annual budget in excess of $70 million. The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex has been successful as one of the most unique and diverse convention, meeting, performing arts, entertainment, office and retail center operations in the country. the overall


Chris and Idie Hastings

Chris and Idie Hastings are chef and co-owners of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama. Housed in an historic building on Birmingham’s south side, the award-winning restaurant has earned a reputation for serving some of the most fresh and refined dishes in the region.

Chris honed his skills at the Johnson & Wales Culinary School in Providence, Rhode Island. After graduation, he moved to Birmingham – where he and Idie met – and worked for Frank Stitt as Chef de Cuisine of Highlands Bar and Grill. Later, He also helped to open Stitt’s second restaurant in Birmingham, Bottega. In 1989, the couple moved to the Bay Area where Chris work under Bradley Ogden to open the Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur, California. While on the west coast, Idie enrolled in the California Culinary Academy and could be found in the esteemed Kitchens of Jeremiah Tower’s Stars Café, Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio and at Patisserie Francaise. In 1995, the Hastings opened the Hot and Hot Fish Club, which was one of the first farm to table restaurants east of the Mississippi.

In 1998, they were recognized with the Robert Mondovi Culinary Award of Excellence and since then have been extensively featured in the media, most notably in The New York Times, USA Today, Garden & Gun, Southern Living, Food Arts and Food and Wine. Chris was honored with the James Beard Best Chef: South award in 2012. Idie has also garnered wide acclaim, notably when Birmingham Business Journal named her to their list of the Top 10 Birmingham Women in 2003. In her free time, she dedicated her energy to the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Comprehensive Cancer Center and is committed to animal welfare causes, including Hand in Paw, an animal assisted therapy group.

Chris and Idie have also expanded their geographical, if not culinary, boundaries adding the title Restaurants Consultants to their growing list of roles and have helped many operation find success.

The Hasting actively participate in charity events with the James Beard Foundation and have been guest chefs and speakers at Music to Your Mouth Event at Palmetto Bluff, the Charleston Wine+Food Festival, and the Southern Foodways Alliance. Chris also serves as an advocate for the Alabama Seafood Commission and Director the Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation Culinary Council. Idie and Chris continue to call Birmingham home with their two sons, Zeb and Vincent.

David Flemming

David Fleming

David Fleming is President and CEO of REV Birmingham, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to create vibrant commercial districts in Birmingham by growing sustainable business and filling vacant spaces.  David is a native of Birmingham, earning a Bachelor’s in History at Samford University and a Masters in Public and Private Management from Birmingham-Southern College. He worked previously with Operation New Birmingham, Main Street Birmingham, Sloss Real Estate Group and Congressman Spencer Bachus. 

He was recognized by the Birmingham Business Journal as a Top 40 under 40 and the Birmingham Business Alliance as Small Business Advocate of the Year. He has served as a chairman of the Birmingham Planning Commission.


April Boone

April cut her teeth in the hospitality industry as she worked through high school and college. Her upbringing as a military brat meant she traveled the world and understood the travel industry from a unique perspective. Her later entry to the marketing world meant she combined her life experiences, education and passion into a compelling package that benefits her clients and scares her competition. With 25 years of hard work in the marketing industry under her belt, she’s a creative, analytical, practical marketer who can “turn on the juice” at will.


Don Dukemineer, CSEE, CHSP

Don Dukemineer, CSEE, CHSP, joined the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau in 2006 as a Convention Sales Manager responsible for the sports and education markets.  In 2008, Don was elected Chairman of the Alabama Sports Initiative, Sports Alabama, by the members of the Alabama Association of Destination Marketing Organizations (AADMO) and continues to serve in this position today.  Under his leadership, Don represents the State of Alabama as well as approximately 11 member destinations in creating awareness of Alabama’s rich history and tradition in hosting sporting events.  In 2017, Don was elected to serve on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC), the first Alabamian to have been selected.

In 2009, he was awarded the “Green Apple Award” for Young Professional of the Year by the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association (AMLA); in 2010, the Huntsville/Madison County Hospitality Sales & Marketing Executives (HSME) recognized him as the CVB’s “employee of the year;” selected in the Southeast Tourism Society’s inaugural class of the “Forty for the Future,” recognizing travel’s leading talent in 2012; and recognized as the “Tourism Professional of the Year” by the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association (AMLA) in 2016.  SportsEvents Magazine recognized the CVB’s sports marketing efforts with a “Readers Choice Award in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2017; and Sports Destination Management recognized the CVB’s efforts in hosting the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup with the prestigious “Champion of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism” award.

He has served on the board of the Huntsville/Madison County Hospitality Sales & Marketing Executives (HSME) since 2008, and currently in his second stint as President.  He serves on the board of directors for the non-profit, Friends, Inc., as Vice President; Louis Crews Classic steering committee, and chairman of the Huntsville Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) advisory committee.


Ashley Condon

Ashley has been an advocate for the hospitality community since joining the Mountain Brook Inn in 1993 as the Dining Room Manager.  She quickly realized her passion for serving others and joined the sales team later that year.  Ashley served on the pre-opening sales team for the Birmingham Marriott and later joined HelmsBriscoe in 2000 after having her first child.  She now mentors and leads 9 other HelmsBriscoe associates in Alabama and is on the corporate recruiting team.  Ashley graduated from Auburn University in 1992 with a Marketing Degree from the College of Business.

HelmsBriscoe, the global leader in meetings procurement, streamlines the meeting planning process by managing the time-consuming task of researching, contacting, and evaluating venues for your organization’s events. Since 1992, HelmsBriscoe clients have benefited from their global reach, unsurpassed experience, and industry relationships.

In 2016, HelmsBriscoe booked more than 48,000 programs and six million room nights resulting in over $1.2 billion dollars in room revenue.  HelmsBriscoe’s global team is comprised of 1300 associates operating in more than 55 countries.

john wild

John Wild 

John Wild has worked in the hospitality & tourism industry for 37 years, serving as President of the Tourism Bureau since May of 2003 while previously managing the Auburn University Hotel & Dixon Conference Center. John is actively involved in the community and serves on the boards of many local and industry organizations including the Auburn Rotary Club, United Way of Lee County and the AU Kreher Preserve & Nature Center.

John is an avid photographer and enjoys attending many of the local events and taking sports photos for the Auburn Villager. While a true Auburn fan, he has lived in several university towns and still responds to Go Green or Go Buffs! Hiking in the mountains or on trails in the West with his camera is a favorite hobby.


BJCC Portraits 02172017

 Cindy Fisher

Cindy Fisher is the Director of Communications and Brand Strategy at the BJCC, where she oversees Public Relations, Marketing and Social Media for the BJCC and Uptown Entertainment District. Fisher has nearly 20 years of media and marketing experience, including leading the award-winning Birmingham Business Journal for nine years as Editor. During her time at the BBJ, Fisher grew its exposure from a sleepy business tabloid to a newsgathering force in the Birmingham community. She credits creation of a terrific product and the use of media partnerships, including the local Fox affiliate, which featured her on daily live TV business segments during evening newscasts, and the local NPR station, which featured her and the BBJ in a weekly marketplace segment during Morning Edition. She also started the BBJ’s Twitter and Facebook accounts that now have tens of thousands of followers.



William  P. Dinan

William P. Dinan is an Account Director with Intermark Group responsible for the Alabama Tourism Department. He has served in this capacity since Fall of 2010 overseeing all strategic planning, production and execution of comprehensive, multi-channel marketing communications programs and corresponding account management and client service.

Prior to joining Intermark Group, Bill held a similar position at Luckie & Company, ATD’s agency of record from 2004-2015. Earlier, Bill was Regional Advertising Manager for Southern Progress Corporation, a division of Time, Inc., representing Southern Living in numerous Southern markets.  Additional managerial responsibilities included national direct advertising sales for Southern Living, its special interest publications, and other SPC titles while also developing fully integrated marketing and advertising programs for his clients across all SPC brands and channels.

Bill holds a B. S. in Marketing from Auburn University and a M. A. in Advertising from The University of Alabama. Alabama’s Capstone Communications Society honored Bill as its Outstanding Alumnus in Advertising in 1997. He has served more than 20 years on the Alabama Travel Council Board of Directors and received ATC’s Award of Excellence in 1999.


Jay Lamar 

Jay Lamar is the executive director of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission. Appointed in early 2014, she previously worked at Auburn University, most recently as the director of Special Programs for the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies and managing editor of Auburn Speaks, an annual publication of the Vice President for Research. Before moving to Special Programs, she was director of the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities, the outreach office of the AU College of Liberal Arts. A native of Alabama, Lamar is also co-editor (with Jeanie Thompson) of The Remembered Gate: Memoirs by Alabama Writers.

Dishing. Brian Somershield  of Chez Fonfon. Photo by Lynn Fullman.

Brian Somershield 

Brian is the co-owner of El Barrio Restaurante Y Bar and Paramount Bar. He is the former owner and co-founder of Trattoria Centrale. He is a Culinary Institute of America alumnus. Brian is from Cleveland, OH, and has been living in Birmingham since 2004.


Johnny Adams

Johnny Adams is a graduate of Auburn University with a BS degree in political science and a minor in business.  His experience includes all aspects of association management including administration, public relations, membership recruitment, meeting and convention planning, lobbying and PAC fundraising.

Johnny has served on several boards  and commissions including Auburn University College of Agriculture Deans Advisory Committee, Alabama Consumer Credit Counseling Board, Colonial Bank Central Alabama Advisory Board,  Alabama Agribusiness Council, served as Co Chairman of the Alabama Employers for Immigration Reform and currently serving as the President of the Alabama Council of Association Executives.

Mr. Adams is the President of Adams & Associates LLC and has served as Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Alabama Poultry & Egg Association since 1995.


Kim Adams

Kim Adams grew up in Hurtsboro, Alabama. She earned a BA from Auburn University and also received the degree of Juris Doctor from Cumberland School of Law.
Before starting Kimberly H. Adams, P.C. in 2001, Kim served as Special Council to Chief Justice Perry Hooper during his tenure as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Kim also acted as Legislative Liaison for the Alabama Unified Judicial System, as well as the liaison to the Executive Branch and other state agencies.
During her tenure in state government, Kim gained a thorough understanding of government and judicial operations. Her in-depth knowledge includes state budgets and the complexities of Alabama’s tax structure. Prior to working with Alabama’s Judicial System, Kim practiced law in Montgomery and Elmore Counties. She is also permitted to practice in the United States Federal Court in the Middle District of Alabama.
Kim started Kimberly H. Adams, P.C. and Adams & Associates, LLC in 2000 and has represented an array of contract clients before the Alabama Legislature, State agencies, regulatory boards and commissions, and city governments.

Jo Jo photo

Jo Jo Terry

Jo Jo Terry is the Digital Marketing Strategist for the Alabama Tourism Department.  She creates, schedules and monitors content for all the Department’s Leisure Tourism social media channels-Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Pinterest, You Tube and Instagram.

Prior to accepting her position with Alabama Tourism she worked at Global Marketing Solutions as a Community Manager.  She monitored the social media channels for Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism, Gulf Shores Golf Association, Orange Beach Fishing Association, Brett-Robinson  Vacations, Mandoki Hospitality, Visit Foley, LuLu’s Restaurant, Baldwin County EMC,  and other Gulf Coast businesses.  She began work with GMS during the 2010 BP Oil spill which has given her first-hand experience in crisis management.

She also holds the title of Gulf Coast Regional Director at the Alabama Tourism Department due to her previous positions with the Alabama Gulf Coast Chamber as Special Projects Director and the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism as Director of Sales.

She resides in the South Hull Historical District in Montgomery and is the Coordinator for the Operation Christmas Child program at Frazer United Methodist Church.


Hans van der Reijden 

With more than 25 years of dedicated service as an international hotelier, Hans van der Reijden is recognized as an operational expert and a respected leader.

Hans is a Partner in Capella Hotel Group (CHG), and his current responsibilities as Managing Director Hotel Operations & Educational Initiatives at The Hotel at Auburn University include overseeing hotel operations, the academic partnership between CHG and Auburn University in its Hospitality Management Program and the company’s Leadership Development Program.

Prior to coming to Auburn in 2003, when CHG was founded, he served as Executive Assistant Manager at The Ritz-Carlton, Bali and held executive positions in The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, San Francisco, Tysons Corner, New York and St. Louis.

Hans graduated from Hanze College in The Netherlands with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management and worked on board the ships of the Holland America Line for three years before joining The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, where he was part of the opening teams of six world-renowned hotels across the globe.

In 2007, Hans was named “Hotelier of the Year” by the Alabama Hospitality Association, Tourism Executive of the year by the State of Alabama in 2014 and was awarded the Award of Excellence by the Alabama Travel Council in 2014.  Hans serves on the Board of Directors for the Alabama Restaurant & Hospitality Alliance, the Alabama Travel Council and the Editorial Advisory Board for the Research in Hospitality Management Journal at Stenden University, The Netherlands.

Hans is a founding member of the Board of Directors for Storybook Farm, an equine therapy facility and ministry. Hans spearheads many other community service projects including “Fragments” a Food Rescue Program and Chefs to the Rescue, a tornado relief effort.

Hans has spoken on the topic of service excellence for dozens of organizations in hospitality, retail, government, and other industries.


John Dersham

John Dersham is President/CEO of  DeKalb Tourism. John and his wife Kyle selected DeKalb County as their place to call home after John completed a 30 year career in management at Eastman Kodak Company. John and family (two children Jennifer and Jad) lived in the Northeast, Midwest and Southeast during John’s Kodak tenure. John and Kyle have two granddaughters, Tristan 16 and Aris 8. They live in Fort Payne.

John has enjoyed a lifelong passion for photography. John majored in photography and marketing at the University of Missouri and was the school yearbook photographer from junior high school through college. Kodak became a natural fit for John’s education and personal passion. Through the years John has become an exhibiting fine art photographer with solo and group shows throughout the country. In the 1990’s John’s work was part of the interior design in Kodak facilities nationwide. John has had an ongoing darkroom everywhere he has lived for more than 50 years. John has taught fine art photography classes for the University of Alabama in Birmingham, he has hosted dozens of photography workshops and is currently holding weekend workshops for Jacksonville State University and for Camera Clubs throughout the southeast.

John has a passion for beautiful scenery and a love for the outdoors. DeKalb Tourism became a perfect place for John to share his enthusiasm for such a beautiful place to live and to visit.

John is also a writer, of which he writes a weekly column for the Fort Payne Times Journal. He writes articles and provides photography to a host of magazines and tourism publications throughout the Southeast. John has book called Fort Payne Postcard History which is published by Arcadia Publishing. John is currently working on a coffee table photography book called “My Alabama”. It is scheduled for release by New South books sometime in 2018. John is past President of the Alabama Association of Destination Marketing Organization and past Chair of Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association.  He serves on multiple committees and boards throughout Alabama, mostly related to tourism or economic development. He was appointed by Governor Bentley of Alabama to serve on the Alabama Byways advisory board.


Chloe Cook

Chloe Cook is the executive director of Sidewalk Film, having served in this role since 2009. Under her leadership ticket sales for the annual Sidewalk Film Festival have tripled and the Fest has been recognized multiple times by international film industry press, most recently being named one of the “50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” (MovieMaker magazine 2017) and twice named one of the “Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” (MovieMaker magazine, 2015, 2014). Chloe is a member of the Junior League of Birmingham and the 2017-18 Class of Leadership Birmingham. She lives in Glen Iris with her 10 year old daughter, and a very loud beagle mix.


Brenda Cantrell

Brenda Cantrell was born and raised in Scottsboro, Alabama. She attended the University of Alabama in Huntsville where she received a bachelor’s degree in Marketing. After graduating, she joined Unclaimed Baggage Center in 1998 where she has served in a number of roles and is now the Brand Ambassador and Company Spokesperson.

Cantrell has coordinated all national and international media that comes to the store including CNN, Travel Channel, Fox News and NBC’s The Today Show. In addition to her spokesperson responsibilities, she oversees the company’s not-for-profit division, Reclaimed For Good.

Cantrell is very involved in the community as a former graduate of Leadership Jackson County and also sits on the board of the Alabama Travel Council Tourism Board.


Stacy Hamilton

A native of Baton Rouge, Stacy is seasoned, passionate and idea-generating marketing and communications professional with almost thirty years of hands-on experience in the tourism, luxury resort and destination industries, first working at Louisiana Travel Promotion Association and editing their annual visitors guide as well as overseeing other cooperative marketing and advertising programs for their 1000+ membership. She then became Director of Marketing at Oak Alley Plantation, outside of New Orleans, for nearly eight years and helped the historic museum estate reach a peak visitation of over 215,000 visitors a year.  She moved to the beautiful beaches of the Florida panhandle in late 1999, restored a classic sailboat with her husband and opened a sailing charter business out of Destin Harbor.  She then joined WaterColor Inn and Resort to oversee the 500-acre beach resort’s marketing and sales. She eventually became regional director of marketing for WaterColor’s parent company, The St. Joe Company, and oversaw the marketing and communication for seven luxury resort and second home communities in coastal northwest Florida.  She moved to Mobile, Alabama in the spring of 2010 to become the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Visit Mobile, overseeing a team of talented young professionals and is heavily involved in many arts, downtown, historic and cultural organizations.

Tara Walton

Tara Walton

Tara Walton, CTIS, is the director of tourism for the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau.  Her responsibilities include group tour bookings, incentive travel, the frequent individual travelers market, and films and reunions.  Currently in her 26th year with the CVB, Tara coordinates the highly successful Annual Reunion Planner Expo.  Her industry awards include “Associate of the Year” from the Virginia Motorcoach Association and from the Tennessee Motorcoach Association.  Locally, Tara serves on the Taste of Fourth Avenue planning committee and is advisory board chair for the Wenonah High School Academy of Hospitality & Tourism & Culinary.


Lee Sentell

Lee has served as director of the Alabama Tourism Department since 2003. His agency, which markets the state under the brand of Sweet Home Alabama, has won national marketing awards for campaigns such as the Year of Alabama Arts, the Year of Alabama Food, the Year of Alabama History, the Year of Alabama Barbecue and numerous other programs. Sentell recently completed 10 years of service on the board of the Alabama State Council on the Arts. He is vice chair of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, treasurer of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and serves on the board of directors of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. He has previously served on boards of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Alabama Main Street and the Alabama Humanities Foundation.

Prior to his appointment, he held marketing positions at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and the Huntsville Convention & Visitors Bureau.

He is a native of Ashland and a graduate of Auburn University.