Kathy La Plante is a Senior Program Officer and Director of Coordinating Program Services at the National Main Street Center with expertise in building organizational capacity and developing promotional programming. She has worked in the Main Street field for nearly 25 years. She joined the staff of the National Main Street Center in May 2007. She works throughout the U.S. providing training for cities of all sizes using the Main Street Approach® to downtown revitalization. Prior to this position, she was hired as the first Director of the New Hampshire Main Street Center, serving in that role for over ten years. She was responsible for initiating the statewide New Hampshire Main Street Program, and providing technical assistance to 23 designated Main Street programs. Kathy began her Main Street career in 1989 as the Executive Director of the Chippewa Falls Main Street Program. Seven years later, Chippewa Falls was a recipient of the Great American Main Street Award. Prior to working in downtown revitalization, Kathy spent 12 years in retail management including, for ten years, as manager of Spurgeon’s Department Stores in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Stout.
Holly Smith has worked with mapping and GIS since the mid-1990’s. Over her career she has worked for the US Forest Service, Nevada Divisions of Water Resources and State Lands, Washoe County, and NDOT. She has recently joined the Nevada OHV Program as the State Recreational Mapping Coordinator, and is responsible for bringing together a statewide mapping collaborative for OHV trails across the state. She is an avid trails user, and enjoys camping, riding dirt bikes, OHVs, and competing in equestrian endurance events.
Rafael Villanueva - Senior Director of Global Development, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority - joined the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority in the spring of 1998 as a domestic tourism sales executive and over the past decade has increased the profile of Las Vegas in the Latin American market exponentially. His current mission is to develop and manage the LVCVA’s global strategy. He also oversees the contracts and budgets of 14 International representation offices that promote Las Vegas in over 40 countries. Prior to joining the LVCVA, Mr. Villanueva served as Executive Director of Advertising and Public Relations at the Tropicana Resort and Casino. His career also included working for some of the top advertising agencies in Las Vegas. Clients included hotel-casinos, banks and homebuilders. Additionally, he worked for KLAS-TV (Las Vegas’ CBS affiliate) as sales promotion director. Born in Mexico, Villanueva has spent all but one year of his life in Las Vegas. Rafael is a graduate from Las Vegas High School and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Most of his free time is spent with family and with several committee organizations in Las Vegas. He is involved in several travel industry organizations, including International Inbound Travel Association, where he currently holds the position of Secretary on their Board of Directors.
Bruce Jabbour - VP Operations, Tonopah Hospitality Services - North Tonopah Development began his hospitality career in Boston, Massachusetts, subsequently owning and managing a resort property in Rochester, New Hampshire, and serving as general manager of a full service, hotel convention center in Ligonier Pennsylvania. In 1988, Bruce moved his career to Las Vegas and in a very short time period, he became a master of ergonomics, with the ability to design and arrange objects and space to maximize use and interactivity. His talents and skills in designing effective and profitable hotel assets were recognized industry-wide through his involvement in Las Vegas’ premier grand openings, including Red Rock Resort, Thehotel@Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand Resort, Luxor, and Excalibur. Bruce as the general manager oversaw the successful renovation and reopening of the Historic Mizpah Hotel Casino in Tonopah, Nevada, after 12 years of being closed to a successful venture. The grand opening was honored with Governor Brian Sandoval and Former Senator/Governor R. Bryan. Within a year of opening, awards such as, Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence, AAA Ratings, Travelocity, and Nevada Magazine Nevada’s Best Rural Hotel were achieved for two consecutive years. Jabbour was also named as general manager of 777Gaming’s Carson Station Hotel & Casino in Carson City, Nevada, transitioning the property from a Best Western to a Wyndham Garden. Bruce was selected to serve as Vice Chairman of the Nevada Silver Trails territorial organization and also serves as a member on the Esmeralda County Economic Development Committee. Bruce has an extensive understanding of hotel gaming dynamics, crisis management, regulatory compliance, human resources and staff support. He specializes in the training, teaching, and coaching of guest service skills, ensuring remarkable experiences for guests and employees alike.
"This chapter of life starts with…I bought a bar." Robyn Veach, a Nevadan Newbie of only 18 months, is owner and #bossbabe of the Lucky Spur Saloon, named "Best Bar in the Middle of Nowhere" by Men’s Health and nestled in the heart of Kingston Canyon in the Big Smoky Valley. After 25 years in corporate America and a first time brick & mortar owner, Robyn strives to convey the feeling she felt as she discovered the beauty of central Nevada for the first time. "Our goal is to give our visitors a taste of the real rural Nevada. It’s a magical place and we want to share that with everyone."
Andrew Grossmann serves as a Destination Management Specialist for Travel Oregon. In this position Andrew works directly with communities across Oregon to realize their potential for tourism and help protect what makes them unique as a destination. Prior to joining Travel Oregon, Andrew served as the Director of Partnerships for Sustainable Travel International.
Bethany Drysdale is the chief communications officer for the Nevada Division of Tourism, where she oversees all external communications for the Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs and all communications for the Division of Tourism’s integrated marketing efforts. Additionally, Bethany works with the agency’s eight international representative offices to tell the story of Nevada around the globe. She has served with the state tourism office since 2005. Bethany received a bachelor of arts degree in English and dual minors in journalism and psychology from California State University - Chico. She began her career in journalism working as Features Editor for the Auburn Journal, a daily newspaper in Auburn, California. Bethany lives in Carson City with her husband, two daughters, and two golden retrievers, Rusty and Rosie. As a family, they enjoy hiking and camping in the remote mountains of Nevada, soaking in hot springs, and exploring dirt roads.
For more than 20 years, JoVon Sotak has been professionally wrangling content. Wrangling is more than writing and editing—it’s knowledge, program, and project management. As a third-generation Nevadan and Tonopah native, she’s thrilled to be wrangling grants and capacity-building initiatives for the Nevada Grant Office.
Kelly Clark has served as the Special Projects coordinator for U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development in Carson City since 2010. She is responsible for public affairs and Native American outreach coordination in addition to Special Projects. One of her special projects areas is focused on supporting the outdoor recreation economy in Nevada. Kelly has been actively engaged with outdoor recreation in the state for many years. She cut her teeth at the Nevada Department of Wildlife between 1998-2010, first as publications coordinator, then directing the public information and marketing efforts for the state wildlife agency’s Conservation Education Division as its first woman Division Administrator. As a life-long cyclist, Kelly worked with her nonprofit organization Muscle Powered at the 2011 Nevada State Legislature to improve road safety laws for cyclists, drafting and passing the Reckless Driving Amendment. In 2017, during her tenure as president of Muscle Powered, Carson City’s volunteer nonprofit, the organization was recognized by the Governor’s Point of Light Award as one of three outstanding Volunteer Organizations in the state. Kelly served as a member of the Governor’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board from 2014-2018, where she supported infrastructure improvements that improve bicyclists and pedestrian safety, and lobbied for bicycle infrastructure improvements in Washington, D.C. In 2018 Kelly coordinated the development of the “No Zombie Texting” Video Competition in which Carson High School students developed :30 video Public Service Announcements on the dangers of texting while driving. Kelly has presented at economic development, tribal tourism and bicycle-pedestrian conferences. At the Nevada Economic Development Conference she facilitated “Economic Benefits of Mountain Biking” and “Building a Walkable and Bikeable Community”. At the Nevada Indian Commission Tribal Tourism conference, she facilitated “Tribal Tourism Through Arts & Crafts,” and “Tribal Tourism: Access to Capital.” At the Nevada Bicycle Summit, she made a presentation on “Walking and Bicycling Advocacy at the Nevada State Legislature.” Currently Kelly is working on developing the Outdoor Recreation Economy Guide for Nevada, a resource guide for community members looking to develop trails, events, tourism and other activities that support rural economies. She can be reached at Kelly.firstname.lastname@example.org at at (775) 887-1222 Ext. 4768.
Jennifer Ackerson, President of ALON Marketing Group, is a 25+ year veteran of the Tour & Travel industry with direct experience working in a majority of tourism supplier categories. Jennifer has an excellent understanding of tourism and the visitor dynamic. This expertise is an unparalleled assimilation into domestic and international buyer/supplier travel trade/resellers relationship building, resulting in a high level of successful strategic tourism business development for both tourism suppliers and destinations. Jennifer’s merits include a 4.0 GPA travel and tourism degree, certification as a travel industry specialist (CTIS) with the American Bus Association and Purdue University, and certification as a Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise (WMBE) in New York State and New York City. In 2000, Jennifer founded ALON Marketing Group, a tourism consultancy assisting travel businesses and destinations with her expertise in developing travel suppliers, partnerships, and marketing to visitors. Jennifer spearheads the development of the national tourism training program ‘Steps to Success’ in partnership with International Inbound Travel Association (IITA) and the ‘Tourism Ready’ tourism training program for NYC & Company, the official DMO of New York City. Jennifer’s company also produces successful sales, marketing, promotion, and operational initiatives for suppliers in all sectors of the travel industry.
Karyn de Dufour has been serving as a Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer for the State of Nevada since 2013. She oversees the Services section, which includes the Certified Local Government program, National & State Register programs, Nevada Site Stewardship program, and the Nevada Cultural Resource Information System (NVCRIS). Karyn has combined her passion for the past with skills in information systems and technologies for over 25 years. Specializing in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), database management, and project management Ms. de Dufour came to Nevada in 2006 to develop and expand NVCRIS. For over 15 years, she has raised, managed, and supervised over $5 million in fees and grants while working closely with federal, state, and private partners. Prior to her arrival to Nevada, Ms. de Dufour worked for the New Mexico SHPO in Santa Fe and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Raised in the Washington, D.C. area with a performing arts background, she holds undergraduate degrees in Anthropology (Mercyhurst College, Erie PA) and Art History (Univ. of Maryland); as well as a Master’s Degree in Archaeology from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Ms. de Dufour lives in Carson City with her husband and two sons.
Patty Herzog began service with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) in August 2018 as the Director of Rural Economic and Community Development. She’s a Nevada small business owner, a former city councilman in Winnemucca, served as Humboldt County Regional Planning Commissioner, and was Senior Community Relations Representative in the mining industry. Previous board experience includes: United States Forest Service – Santa Rosa District Resource Advisory Commission, Bureau of Land Management Sierra Front-Northwestern Great Basin Resource Advisory Commission, and Nevada Dispute Resolution Coalition. She earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Management in Technology degree from Great Basin College and a Certificate in Mediation and Conflict Resolution from the University of Nevada, Reno Extended Studies.
Anthony (Tony) Manfredi is currently the Executive Director of the Nevada Arts Council, a state arts agency within the Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, established in 1967 to enrich the cultural life of the state by supporting, strengthening, and making excellence in the arts accessible to all Nevadans. Tony is responsible for providing the strategic direction and leadership for the organization, assessing and overseeing current programming, optimizing business development opportunities for artists, arts organizations and the public, representing the agency and state in regional and national forums, and managing the staff and budget housed within state government. His professional background combines 26 years of strategic planning, management, marketing, creative, and fundraising services for both local to Nevada and international businesses and organizations. Tony is a graduate of the University of San Diego with the degrees in Communication Studies (mass media emphasis) and Art (with a dual emphasis in Graphic Communication and Painting).
Valerie J. Serpa, Churchill Arts Council Executive Director, is a Fallon native. She holds degrees in Art History and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Nevada, Reno, and a Masters Degree in Visual Culture from Antioch University. She oversees the day-to-day operations of all Council programs and activities including booking of the Council’s performing and visual arts season, publicity and promotion, artists-in-residence, scholarship and mini-grant programs, and is responsible for the development, coordination and fundraising for the Council’s programs.
Deny Dotson joined the Virginia City Tourism Commission in 2011 as the Executive Director of Storey County’s new Fair and Recreation Board. Prior to joining the VCTC, Dotson worked for Storey County as the Director of Community Services for three years where he managed all of County's special events, Parks and Recreation activities, website, and served as the County’s Public Information Officer and liaison to all of Storey County’s non-profit organizations. Prior to that, Dotson was a Sales/Account Manager for Anheuser Busch, Earthgrains and Sara Lee. Throughout his 20 plus years in the baking industry, he has had the fortune of being involved in several national marketing and advertising campaigns, new product and market introductions and account management for several regional and national customers. He credits this extensive sales and marketing experience for establishing the foundation for his current position with Storey County and the visitor’s bureau. He currently serves as chairman for the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway and is on the Storey County Nevada Department of Wildlife Advisory and Historic Fourth Ward School boards . Previously he served two terms as a Storey County School Board Trustee. Dotson has lived in Nevada since 1999. He also loves traveling and spending time outdoors with his wife Ronele and their six grandchildren
Kat Galli was born in Muenster, Germany, and grew up in a small town of 6,000 people. She discovered her love for Nevada as a foreign exchange student in Tonopah, Nevada. After graduating from Tonopah High School, she returned to Germany to obtain her German high school diploma. Kat studied German, English, Math, Art, Psychology, and Education at the University of Muenster and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education. Kat completed two years of student teaching in her father’s hometown in Germany. She taught grades 1 through 4 in the small town of Altena. Kat reconnected with a high school friend from Tonopah through Facebook and they got married in 2012. Kat moved back to Tonopah in 2014 and has worked for the Town of Tonopah since then. She started as the Deputy Town Clerk and is now the Tourism & Events Coordinator. She believes her knowledge of European traveler habits gives her unique insights for her job. Her experience writing lesson plans as a teacher helped her write many successful grant applications for the Town of Tonopah.
Stephanie Gibson has been the Program Manager for Nevada Humanities for the past two years. She holds an MA in Art History from Concordia University in Montreal. She has worked in varying capacities of exhibition management at institutions including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. She has written reviews and essays for publications including Muse, Ciel Variable, Magenta Magazine and the Churchill Arts Council. She is the curator of Terma, Images from the Ear or Groin or Somewhere at The John and Geraldine Lilley Museum of Art at the University of Nevada, Reno, and is currently working on another curatorial project with the Nevada Arts Council.