PRESS RELEASE: Explore Asheville President & CEO to Depart for Private Sector Position
[April 2, 2020] – Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority Board Chair Gary Froeba announced today that Explore Asheville President and CEO Stephanie Pace Brown will leave her position this summer. After fulfilling her employment agreement at the end of June, Brown will step out of her long public service career for a new opportunity in the private sector.
The BCTDA will appoint an interim executive to ensure continuity in Explore Asheville operations and guide the search process for Brown’s replacement.
“I’ve worked closely with Stephanie over the past many years. She is one of those rare people who brings compassion, strategy and a keen sense for the bigger picture to everything she does,” said Froeba. “Asheville is a special place and Stephanie has been a champion for the businesses and people who make Asheville the vibrant mountain community that we all love.”
Brown’s record with Explore Asheville includes establishing the convention and visitors bureau as an independent organization in July 2017. Brown also led the launch of a plan to align community needs with global best practices in tourism management as a long-range resource for community priorities and major projects within the legislative mandate of the Tourism Product Development Fund.
She and her team have increased opportunities for connection, professional development and cross pollination of ideas. They have launched numerous new programs for the more than 1,300 tourism industry partners to fully leverage the deep marketing resources provided by Explore Asheville.
Under Brown’s guidance, BCTDA also pioneered a new festival and cultural events fund supported by ExploreAsheville.com website advertising revenue that has to date provided $580,000 to multiple community events including Blue Ridge Pride Festival, Asheville Fringe Festival, Shindig on the Green, Asheville Holiday Parade, Hola Asheville, Goombay, Sourwood Festival and Chow Chow.
“I am exceptionally proud of the Explore Asheville and the work we do together for this community,” said Brown. “It has been a privilege to represent this special place, inviting visitors to support our local businesses and seeing so many tourism entrepreneurs succeed. I am fortunate to have been offered a new opportunity last September that enabled me to fulfill my responsibility to the BCTDA through the end of this fiscal year.”
Brown’s community and industry service extends to positions on the U.S. Travel Association Board, Destinations International Foundation Board, North Carolina Travel & Tourism Board, North Carolina Travel & Tourism Coalition, Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority Board, Asheville Independent Restaurant Association Board and Asheville Area Riverfront Redevelopment Commission.
The 3.9 million overnight guests that the Asheville area welcomes each year provide a customer base that assists in the sustainability of businesses in the community and contributes to local and state tax revenues, as well as the Tourism Product Development Fund (TPDF) administered by Explore Asheville. Through the TPDF grant program, $44 million of occupancy tax revenue has been awarded to 39 projects—many of them that would not be completed without it.
CONTACT: Kathi M. Petersen
Director of Public Information & Community Engagement
Explore Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau