Chelene Potvin-Bird has been named interim president and CEO of Travel Tacoma + Pierce County, the region’s official destination marketing organization announced today. Her appointment is effective immediately, as the organization’s previous president and CEO, Bennish Brown, has stepped down to take a position at the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau in Georgia.
Potvin-Bird previously served as Travel Tacoma + Pierce County’s vice president of sales and servicing and started with the organization in April 2013 as its director of convention center sales.
“Chelene has faithfully served Travel Tacoma + Pierce County as the leader of the sales department for several years and has demonstrated leadership skills that have enriched the organization and our industry at-large. We have full confidence in her ability to be a bridge-builder in the tourism community, and her knowledge of the organization and its mission will ensure that the organization does not skip a beat during the search for its next top executive,” Board Chair Evan Marques said in a statement. “We thank Bennish for his years of service, and the growth that the organization has experienced under his direction.”
Potvin-Bird’s additional experience includes 15 years in the hotel industry with companies like Doubletree and Hilton. During her time at Travel Tacoma + Pierce County, hotel bookings in the county increased 184 percent, which translates to an average future economic impact of $25 million per year. Potvin-Bird also helped define the minimum development requirements for the new $85 million Convention Center Hotel.
Brown, the outgoing president and CEO, spent six years in the position. Under his leadership, tourism spending increased by 29.3 percent, and hotel revenue increased by 52 percent. His many accomplishments include contributing to the success of the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, being named to the Destinations International board of trustees in 2017, and contributing to Tacoma’s selection by MeetingSource.com as the best convention city in the country for events up to 1,000 attendees in 2018. Prior to joining the Travel Tacoma + Pierce County staff, Brown served as the executive director of the Rock Hill/York County Convention & Visitors Bureau for 12 years.
“Bennish is leaving a legacy of success and the organization is in a good place,” Potvin-Bird said of her predecessor. “From day one, he has been a humble yet relentless advocate for the industry, sharing the message with Pierce County residents and officials that Pierce County is a viable tourism destination that millions of people visit each year and tourism is a key economic stimulant.”