President & Marketing and communications executive returns to Explore Asheville to take the helm from long-time veteran Marla Tambellini as she plans to retire following 29 years of dedicated service

Explore Asheville, the official destination marketing and management organization for Asheville and Buncombe County, announced Dodie Stephens as its next head of marketing effective October 2. Stephens, who spent more than 15 years with Explore Asheville, will return to the organization as Vice President of Marketing, after stepping away to be Vice President of Marketing at Allen Tate/Beverly-Hanks REALTORS ® for the last year and a half.

“Dodie is uniquely qualified to take the marketing reins for the next chapter of Asheville’s tourism story,” said Vic Isley, president & CEO of Explore Asheville and the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority. “While we were sad to see Dodie depart Explore Asheville last year, over the last seventeen months she has spread her wings as an empathetic and courageous leader of people, projects, and process while at one of Western North Carolina’s top real estate firms. Her deep love of Asheville’s people and places will be a great asset on day one back on the team.”

Dodie will lead a talented team of 15, including marketing, public relations, and content divisions at Explore Asheville.

“A destination is the sum of its people, places, and experiences. It is an honor to return to Explore Asheville to work on behalf of this special community alongside a team of dedicated locals,” said Stephens. “To know you’re making a meaningful impact on your neighbor’s lives and livelihoods–that is a real gift as a marketing professional. I look forward to continuing to give back.”

During her time at Allen Tate/Beverly-Hanks, Stephens guided a full service, in-house marketing agency of 15 people through a significant period of transition as top Carolinas firm Allen Tate Realtors® acquired homegrown Western North Carolina market leader Beverly-Hanks & Associates.

High points across Stephens’s 15 years with Explore Asheville (eight as the director of communications) include working with the community to launch Asheville as a national hub for culinary craft and a top destination for music-minded travelers. During her tenure, award-winning and business generating initiatives earned national headlines and honors from the U.S. Travel Association, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International, and others. She is known as an industry leader locally and nationally, serving as a founding board member of Chow Chow Food + Culture Festival and as board chair for the Travel & Tourism Section of the Public Relations Society of America.