Melissa Cherry continues the exodus of senior personnel from Choose Chicago. She has just taken on the job as chief marketing officer for Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI). She leaves her post as senior vice president, marketing and cultural tourism at the Chicago bureau. Nina Winston is also leaving Choose Chicago to become DMAI’s executive vice president, membership and partner relations. Cherry and Winston will join their old boss, Don Welsh, who was president and CEO of Choose Chicago before becoming the new DMAI president and CEO on March 29. He immediately announced a restructuring on his first day, and nine staff left the organization.
Those who left DMAI included: Nancy Elder, executive vice president; Valencia Bembry, senior vice president, accreditation and strategic initiatives; Vickie Singer, senior vice president, marketing and communications; Linda Andreani, vice president, education and professional development; Mitchell Gehrisch, director of member relations; Alan Lotenberg, member relations manager; Tonia Williams, office coordinator; and chief operating officer Charles Jeffers—he also served as interim CEO following the resignation of Michael Gehrisch last September—who will stay on through May to assist in the transition period.
Stacy Ritter, a Broward County, Fla. County commissioner, has been named the next president and CEO of the county’s tourism bureau, the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB. Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry—as a county commissioner, Ritter is one of Henry’s bosses—made the appointment. Ritter will succeed the long-time president and CEO of the organization, Nikki Grossman. Grossman, who has served in the post for more than 20 years, announced her retirement last October. She officially leaves the bureau next month. Ritter is resigning as a Broward County commissioner.
Patrick Yvars has left his post as senior sales manager, Disney Destination Sales, to join Visit Orlando where he will be director for Latin America. Yvars had been with Disney since March 2004.
Canika John has been appointed as the new director of marketing for the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism. Born and raised on St. Thomas, John interned with the USVI Hotel and Tourism Association before beginning 10-year tenure with the organization advocacy group where she eventually served as office and events manager. She also served as meeting services and catering sales manager at Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort and Spa.
Shanna Smith is the San Antonio CVB’s new chief of staff. Smith was previously the bureau’s partner relations manager for three years. Prior to that, Smith was the director of communications and marketing for the City of Granbury, Texas, where she served as the leader for Visit Granbury and as the city’s Public Information Officer.
Paul Romero has left his position as senior national sales director at the Long Beach CVB to become convention sales director, Mid-Atlantic Region at Visit Anaheim. Romero had worked at the Long Beach bureau for more than a decade. Prior to that, he had served in several positions at several properties in the Long Beach-Anaheim area.
Funway Holidays has announced three new appointments. Jermaine Agyako has been appointed commercial executive and Magdalena Michalik as product executive. And Lizi Wharton has been appointed to the newly-created position of marketing assistant. Wharton was previously a costume technician for Disney Cruise Line aboard the Disney Dream.