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New leadership announced at the NOCVB

This week the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (NOCVB) announced its new 2017 Board of Directors. Sitting at the helm as chairman is Michael Smith, general manager of the Hyatt Regency New Orleans.

The board of the NOCVB plays a significant role in guiding the organization and overall tourism and hospitality in New Orleans. The board members are recruited from the $7 billion New Orleans industry and also represent the more than 1,100 members of the NOCVB.

The executive committee has increased from six to eight members in 2017, but overall board membership remains at 26. The addition of three women to the at-large board brings the overall board membership to 26.9 percent women, an increase from the 15.3 percent female membership in 2016. No women currently serve on the executive committee. Other diversity information is not available.

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The new chairman, Michael Smith, brings more than 40 years of tourism and hospitality expertise to the leadership role. Having worked at more than 10 Hyatt properties throughout the country, he perhaps made his biggest impact in New Orleans. Smith has been recognized by the city as an “Unsung Hero” for his role in safely evacuating 4,000 guests and staff during Hurricane Katrina and for his support in evacuating residents from the Superdome through the hotel to the waiting busses.

After a brief departure, Smith returned to New Orleans in 2007 to lead the $285 million redevelopment of Hyatt Regency New Orleans.

“With this board under Michael Smith’s leadership, we are well poised to continue increasing visitation and visitor spending in New Orleans,” said NOCVB President and CEO Stephen Perry in a press release. “The year 2017 will mark historic air connectivity from Europe to New Orleans via British Airways and Condor. We will also begin promoting travel to New Orleans from China, the world’s fastest-growing international market. These efforts and more will pave the way to an amazing tri-centennial year in 2018.”

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The process for board member selection is overseen by the nominating committee. It receives nominations from the NOCVB membership at large and reviews the nominees based on their “industry knowledge, experience and diversity.” The 2017 board was elected by the general membership Dec. 15, 2016 at the annual business meeting.

The NOCVB is recognized as the largest and most successful private economic development corporation in Louisiana. It works to market and promote New Orleans as a tourism and professional travel destination. It has collaborated with government agencies, economic development organizations and the business community to draw hospitality and tourism dollars to New Orleans for 57 years.


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The 2017 Board of Directors Executive Committee:

Michael O. Smith, Hyatt Regency New Orleans (Chairman of the Board)

Greg Rusovich, Transoceanic Trading & Development (Chair-Elect)

Jim Cook, Sheraton New Orleans Hotel (Past Chair)

Steve Pettus, Dickie Brennan & Company (Treasurer)

Darryl Berger, The Berger Company (Secretary)

Tod Chambers, The Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel (Assistant Secretary)

Ron Forman, Audubon Nature Institute

Doug Thornton, LSED/SMG Superdome


At Large:

Stan Harris, Louisiana Restaurant Association

Melvin Rodrigue, Galatoire's

Mickal Adler, Coleman E. Adler & Sons

Don Allee, Port of New Orleans

Bonnie Boyd, BBC Destination Management

Robert Bray, New Orleans Marriott Hotel

Steve Caputo, Hotel Monteleone

Katy Casbarian, Arnaud's Restaurant

Kathie Jacobs, Highpointe Hotel Corporation

Diane Lyons, Accent on Arrangements*

Octavio Mantilla, John Besh Restaurant Group

Quentin Messer, New Orleans Business Alliance*

Amy Reimer, International House Hotel*

Paul Scott, New Orleans Hilton Riverside

Susan Taylor, New Orleans Museum of Art

David Teich, Windsor Court Hotel

David Villarrubia, Degas House

Camille Whitworth, Media by Design *


*Newly appointed for 2017


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