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Visit San Antonio Staff Updates

Visit San Antonio is excited to announce some new additions to our staff!

Executive Office:


Susan Klco, Executive Administrative Assistant – Susan was most recently the Director of Administration for the Forest Landowners Association, a membership association based in Atlanta, GA. She will provide administrative support to our two Assistant Executive Directors and our VP of Marketing & Communications. She received her degree from West Georgia College.

 

Finance & Administration:


Natalie Balderrama joined Visit San Antonio as our V.P. of Finance & Administration.  You may know Natalie from her most recent role as Assistant Director of the City’s Human Resources Department.  In addition to her HR experience, Natalie has an assortment of financial experience working in various roles from Budget Analyst to Fiscal Planning Manager, Innovation Manager and Assistant Director of City’s Parks and Recreation Department.  Natalie will lead the efforts of Visit San Antonio’s Fiscal Department. She will provide leadership and direction to our efforts in Research & Management as well as our Human Resource functions.

Claudia Williams is our Director of Human Resources where she oversees all of the various HR functions of Visit San Antonio. She also acts as our office manager overseeing the efforts of the front desk and stock room operations.  Claudia worked with Webb County where she was the HR Director for 18 years.  Claudia will report to our new V.P. of Finance & Administration.

 

Justin Bedard will join the Visit San Antonio team as the Director of Information Technology. Justin has more than 10 years’ experience working in various fields of technology – from his role as a Network Engineer with the United States Air Force to most recently his position as a Senior Information Technology Manager with the City of San Antonio. Justin will take a leadership role for Visit San Antonio in formulating and implementing the various short and long term IT strategies for the organization. 

Kari Chapman joined our fiscal team as a Senior Accountant with over five years of professional accounting experience. Kari gained valuable experience in accounts payable and receivables during her previous roles with Quintanilla Management Company and San Antonio Sports. Kari received her degree in Accounting and Sports Management from the University of the Incarnate Word. 

 

Amanda Cipriano joined our fiscal team as an Accounts Payable Specialist with over 10 years of accounting experience. 

 

 

Anthony Miller, Stock Room Supervisor – Anthony joined us from Clear Design, a furniture store in San Antonio. Anthony was born and raised in Houston, Texas and is a graduate of the Boys & Girls Preparatory Academy.

 

 

Christina Ibanez took on a new role with Visit San Antonio as IT Coordinator as of Monday, October 2.  Christina began her career with Visit San Antonio as an Administrative Assistant with our Marketing team.  She is currently studying for a degree in Network Administration and, in her new role, will be assisting with all technology and A/V needs.

 

Communications:


David Gonzalez joined the Visit San Antonio team as the Director of Communications.  He is a former Communications Director for MGM and Aria in Las Vegas, but his family roots tie him to San Antonio and El Paso. He will spearhead the charge to continue to grow our earned media value and outreach efforts nationally and internationally.  He is fluent in Spanish and has a wealth of experience with communications in Mexico.

 

Megan Lagrone started June 12 as Communications Manager. She comes to us from the agency side of communications/PR with nearly 10 years of experience. Most recently, Megan worked with The DeBerry Group representing Hemisfair, the San Antonio River Authority, The DoSeum and the Lone Star Brewery Redevelopment Project. She also has previous marketing communications experience at Whole Foods Market and KGBTexas. Megan received her Bachelor of Science in Recreation, Park & Tourism Sciences from Texas A&M University and a Master of Public Administration degree from UTSA. 

 

Partner & Community Relations:


We are very pleased to announce that we have selected the new Vice President of Community Relations & Development – Michael Woody. Michael relocated from the Dallas area, and his first day at Visit San Antonio was Tuesday, May 30. Michael joins our team with over 29 years of experience in the hospitality and tourism industry. He was most recently responsible for leading the hospitality consulting division of M+E Marketing Partners. Michael also has vast industry experience with companies such as Meeting Professionals International (MPI), the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau and the City of Farmers Branch. In addition, he also served as the Publisher for American Airlines’ In-Flight Portfolio – American Way, Celebrated Living and Nexos. Michael holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of North Texas in Hospitality Management. We know he will be an excellent fit within our Visit San Antonio culture and will uphold our core values. We look forward to welcoming Michael’s entrepreneurial skillset and contacts to lead our Partner Relations Department!

Ashley Harris-Dumulong is our new Director of Industry & Government Relations. Ashley was previously with Generations Federal Credit Union where she served as VP of Community Engagement. She joins Visit San Antonio with more than 17 years of experience in government relations, community engagement, executive communications and public relations.

 

Vanessa Said took on a new role as the Director of Community and Partnership Development, which will encompass the Connect San Antonio program. She will support the sales department in identifying local San Antonians who have influence with organizations and will develop mutually beneficial partnerships to book future convention business to San Antonio. She will also develop partnerships with our local stakeholders and work to service partner requests. Vanessa will also serve as our link to the military.

Richard Oliver became the Director of Partner and Community Relations. Richard has done an excellent job cultivating relationships with our partners and local media and we are excited to see him utilize his strengths in this new role. 

 

 

Faith Green joined the Visit San Antonio team as the Partner & Community Relations Coordinator. Faith has spent the last eight years with Boysville, Inc. working in both their Development / Communications Department, as well as an Education Coordinator. At Visit San Antonio, she will join the recently formed Partner Relations Department and will be responsible for working with the Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) Program, Visit San Antonio U: New Partners Orientation, Experience Dedicated Destination (EDD) Program, and other partner-related programs. Faith received her Bachelors of Science in Communications from Texas A&M University – Texarkana. 

 

Destination Group Sales:


Mario Bass will join the Visit San Antonio team as the new Vice President of Sales and Services. He was is currently with the JW Marriott as their Director of Sales and Marketing. He brings more than 20 years of experience in the hotel industry to Visit San Antonio - including working for a Marriott flagship in New York and the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine. In addition, Mario will bring a motivational, energetic leadership style to Visit San Antonio, which we believe will be an excellent cultural fit with our core values. Mario's first day with Visit San Antonio will be October 11th. 

Sean Massay joined our sales team as a Senior Sales Manager handling the Midwest market and our group sports market. Sean is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio. Previously, he worked as a Group Sales Manager at the Westin Riverwalk and prior to that he worked with the San Antonio Hyatt Hill Country  Resort. 

 

Sharon Vaughn joined Visit San Antonio as one of our Senior Sales Managers.  She comes to us from the Panhandle of Florida, with a myriad of experience in the hospitality industry.  She most recently was a Senior Sales Executive for the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center where she focused on accounts from the east coast.  Sharon also is a past Senior Sales Executive for the Marriott Rivercenter and Riverwalk Hotels, bringing with her a wealth of knowledge on how to sell San Antonio and already knows many of our existing customers.  Sharon is also a veteran, having served in the US Army.  She will be work on a remote basis for Visit San Antonio, with her home-office located in Freeport, FL, and handle our Southeast and Northeast sales markets. 

Kristy Hernandez joined the sales team as a Site Inspection Sales Manager. Kristy most recently was the events and promotions manager for Howl and the Moon, prior to that she held a similar role with the San Antonio Zoo. Kristy is a proud graduate of the University of Texas. In her new role, she will be helping to coordinate our group site inspections, working closely with the convention center, hotels and locals venues.

 

Laura Betancourt moved into a new role within the Destination Group Sales Department.  Laura previously worked as a group sales manager and will now be a Group Site Inspection Manager. She will be working with hotels, the convention center, and local venues to coordinate group site inspections. Laura has been with us for 11 years and is a graduate of the University of the Incarnate Word.    

 

Elissa Nava joined our Destination Group Sales Department as a Sales Manager – Small Market Group Sales. Elissa comes to us with over five years of meeting planning experience. She was most recently employed at the National Council of La Raza in San Antonio. She is excited to share her passion of San Antonio as she works to bring additional groups to our city. On a personal note, she shares a passion for singing!

 

  • Amanda Ciarlone (Pronounced SHAR-LONE), Mid-Market Group Sales - Amanda joined Visit San Antonio with an extensive background in CVB sales, having worked with the Dallas CVB as a Director of National Accounts for over 12 years. There, she consistently excelled in her goals and established important customer relationships. We are excited for her to bring her expertise to our organization!

 

Azari Jones, Small Market Group Sales – Azari joined us from Marriott’s Regional Office, where she has worked as a Reservation Sales Specialist. She has multiple hotel experience on the east coast, with time spent in both the Front Desk and Catering departments. Originally from North Carolina, Azari has a Bachelor degree in Hospitality/Tourism Management from the University of North Carolina – Greensboro and is working on her Masters of Business Administration from Johnson & Wales.

Andrea Harrington joined Visit San Antonio as a Sales Manager, working wiht in-house meetings headquartered in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions. Most recently, Andrea worked as an Account Executive for Rackspace. Prior to that, she was employed by Marriott International for seven years where she held multiple positions including Area Sales Executive. She has a Bachelor's of Business Adminstration from UTSA. 

Janet Ruiz joined the team as an Administrative Assistant to the Sales Department. Janet comes to us with extensive paralegal experience and a degree in Childhood Development and Sociology.

 

Destination Services:


Michelle Moon, Associate Director of Destination Services – Michelle joined us from the Tobin Center for Performing Arts. She has an extensive background in Special Event Management and was previously with the Witte Museum and the Sheraton Gunter Hotel, locally.

 

Stephanie (Acevedo) Espinosa, Destination Services Manager – Stephanie transitioned from her previous role of Senior Customer Service Representative to Destination Services Manager. Destination Services is excited to welcome Stephanie’s skills and talent to the department!

 

Guy Doria joined Visit San Antonio as Destination Services Manager.  He has over 25 years of experience managing all levels of meetings, expositions and the hospitality industry.  He began his career in Hawaii serving at restaurants, hotels and the hospitality community till moving to the mainland to further advance his career in the meeting planning and destination field. During this time he worked with great hotels, amazing companies and associations. Most recently Guy served as the Senior Director of Conferences, Meetings, and Expositions for Club Managers Association of America. 

Karen Bippert will join the Visit San Antonio team as a Destination Services Manager on October 10.  Karen comes to us from The Buckhorn Saloon & Museum and Texas Ranger Museum where she served as the Director of Sales & Marketing.  Prior to the Buckhorn, Karen was the Group Sales & Marketing Coordinator for the Alamo IMAX Theatre.  Karen graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a Bachelor of Business Administration.  Karen has received certifications from the Texas Travel Industry (CTE), National Association of Catering and Events (CPCE) and the San Antonio Certified Tourism Ambassador Program (CTA).

Colleen Buchanan joined Visit San Antonio as a Destination Services Manager. Perla Fagan joined us as a Destination Services Program Manager. Colleen and Perla both joined us from the Convention Center Monica Ojeda also joined the Destinatinon Services Team.

Jadira Ruiz joined the Destination Services team as the Special Events Manager.  In this role, Jadira will assist with and manage Visit San Antonio special projects, events and service groups.  Most recently, Jadira worked as the Brand/Events Manager with CST Brands. She has an Executive Masters of Business Administration degree from UTSA and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Marketing from Portland State University.

Debra Puente joined Visit San Antonio as an Administrative Assistant for the Destination Services Department. She was most recently employed with Avance Inc. as the Human Resource Payroll and Benefits Administrator. Born and raised in San Antonio, she will be a great asset to the Destination Services Team.

 

Joy Ware joined Orchid.Events to work on Convention Housing & Registration. This is great news for Visit San Antonio, as Orchid will utilize Joy’s skills and existing relationships in working with groups that we offer housing to and will recruit additional housing opportunities for Visit San Antonio. Joy will still continue to office at Visit San Antonio.

Liza De Los Santos moved into a new role with the Destination Group Sales Department. Liza previously worked as a Sales Assistant in the department for 8 years. Since then, she has been promoted to Database Administrator and will be responsible for managing the lead distribution program.

 

Tourism:


 

Francisco Gallegos took on a new role as International Tourism Development Manager. Francisco will be responsible for the ongoing development of our European, Asia and the South Pacific. Francisco will be the point person for all existing and new clients from these international markets , and will actively participate and develop sales missions and consumer engagements promotions internationally. Francisco previously worked as the Domestic Tourism Development Manager at Visit San Antonio. In that role, he developed from the frame work for consumer engagement promotions as well as launched the Unforgettable Experiences.

Alex Gonzales, took on a new role as Tourism Development Manager as of Monday, September 11th.  Alex began his career with Visit San Antonio as a Senior Travel Counselor at our Visitor Information Center.  Previous to joining Visit San Antonio, Alex maintained management and supervisory roles within DPT and the fitness industry. In this role, Alex will be working leisure group segments, new business development opportunities and our consumer engagement programs within the United States.  

 

Marketing:


Jason Ytuarte, Graphic Designer – Jason will lead the in-house creative development and production of branding tools for Visit San Antonio, including photography and video. Most recently, Jason was the Sr. Graphic Artist for Spurs Sports & Entertainment where he led conceptualization and execution of creative campaigns, franchise branding, and merchandise promotional materials. Jason received his degree from the International Academy of Design and Technology in San Antonio.

Stacey Carroll is the Marketing Manager - Meetings & Conventions. In this role she will develop strategies and implement plans to meet the goals of Visit San Antonio’s Trade marketing. Previously, Stacey was a Special Projects manager, North America Business Development Team with Baker & McKenzie. She brings with her over 10 years of experience that includes overseeing business development, leading marketing/PR efforts across multiple offices and conceptualizing as well as leading multi-faceted events across the country.  She has a degree in Journalism from Texas A&M.

Katie Krampitz will manage implementation of the leisure media plan in addition to seasonal campaigns through her role as Marketing Manager. Katie comes to us from Cedar Park, Texas, where, as Tourism Services Manager, she planned and managed marketing strategy and outreach, directed creative teams, and worked closely with City Council and the Tourism Advisory Board to implement tourism goals. She has a degree in Tourism Resource Management from Texas A&M University.

Alyssa Bailey took on the new role of Content Manager, focusing on management of VisitSanAntonio.com. Alyssa has a degree in Telecommunication Media Studies from Texas A&M University and most recently was the Marketing and Community Engagement Manager for the Bryan College Station Convention & Visitors Bureau, where she managed the VisitAggieland.com and conducted a full redesign of the site, and created content for all social media channels. Alyssa is no stranger to San Antonio and also has experience as an Events/Operations Coordinator for the Valero Alamo Bowl.

Melissa Olveda accepted the position of Administrative Assistant for the Marketing & Communications department. Melissa has experience in Administrative Assistant capacities with KGB Texas and Unico Communications. She is also working on a degree at night in Communications and PR through Palo Alto/Texas A&M San Antonio and is working towards her Texas Destination Marketer (TDM) certification with the Texas Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus (TACVB).

 

Visitor Information Center (VIC):


Estella Ramirez has been with the Visitor Information Center since June 2016. She was recently promoted to Senior Travel Counselor. Estella has strong customer service and training skills and is a great asset to the VIC.

 

 

Ryan Salazar has been with the VIC since July 2015. He was recently promoted from a part-time customer service representative to a full-time customer services representative. Ryan has a great attitude about serving the visitors at the VIC.

 

 

Miranda Garcia, will be taking on a new role at the Visitor Information Center as a Senior Travel Counselor. Miranda began her career with Visit San Antonio as a part-time Senior Customer Service Representative in November 2014 and then became a full-time Travel Counselor in December 2016 at our Visitor Information Center.  Prior to joining Visit San Antonio, Miranda maintained management and supervisory roles at Ross, including ordering stocking inventory and loss prevention control.  In this new role, Miranda will be working as a customer service lead working to enhance our services, assisting with retail operations and help maintain reports for the Visitor Information Center.

Ben Cox, will be taking on the role of Travel Counselor at the Visitor Information Center. Ben has strong knowledge of San Antonio and the surrounding area from working as a real estate agent, along with extensive customer service and communication skills from other positions he has held. He has worked in several different levels of the public sector for many years and is well-versed with working with the public. Ben is also currently working to complete his Bachelor’s Degree. In this role, Ben will be working to enhance our visitors experience, services, assisting with retail operations for the Visitor Information Center.

 

 

Let’s take a moment to congratulate and welcome these individuals to the Visit San Antonio family!