2021 Explore Asheville Superstars

Top row, from left: Alexandria Ravenel, Bruce Waller, Fletcher Tove. 2nd row: J Hackett, J Smilanic, Nikki Stewart

Every year, Explore Asheville recognizes tourism and community partners who have made standout contributions to the work we do to promote Asheville and Buncombe County as a destination.

As Asheville continues its recovery, we are grateful for these folks for the contributions to our community.

Congratulations to the following individuals announced at the December 2021 Holiday Party as this year’s Explore Asheville CVB Superstars.

Alexandria Ravenel, Noir Collective

  • Co-Founder, Noir Collective AVL LLC, a boutique shop and art gallery by and for Black entrepreneurs located on The Block
  • Equity Director, YMI Cultural Arts Center
  • Collaborator with Building Bridges of Asheville

Bruce Waller & J Hackett, Grind AVL + Black Wall Street

  • Co-Owners of Grind LLC, a River Arts District coffee shop and organizers of GRINDfest, a celebration of Black business and entrepreneurship during Juneteenth weekend
  • Organizers of Black Wall Street AVL business networking group and founders of the new Black Wall Street AVL location in the River Arts District, which will be home to dozens of Black-owned businesses

Fletcher Tove, Buncombe County

  • Serves in a top leadership role in guiding Buncombe County’s response to the pandemic as Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator and Safety & Security Officer for Buncombe County Health
    & Human Services
  • Has worked closely with Explore Asheville in helping partners understand how to keep their employees and guests safe and in compliance with public health guidelines and mandates

J Smilanic, WNC Photo Tours

  • Founder of an initiative called Protect Pisgah, where members of the public can join him in a monthly trash clean-up followed by a free, three-hour photo tour with lessons for the participants through his business, WNC Photo Tours
  • The initiative is also a means of educating participants about the principles of Leave No Trace – holding each other accountable when enjoying the forest

Nikki Stewart, The Foundry Hotel

  • As Director of Sales at the Foundry Hotel, partnered with Explore Asheville to successfully host a safe meeting with 70 attendees – even before vaccines were available
  • Recognized by the Explore Asheville team for being “quick to respond,” “going the extra mile,” “creative” and “always saying ‘Yes!’”

Our thanks & congratulations to these 2021 Explore Asheville CVB Superstars!

See Past Superstar Award Recipients HERE>>