Jackie was that girl in high school who planned both junior and senior proms and all of the class fundraisers. Jackie was also the lifelong organizer of activities for her and her twin sister (totally not identical in any sense of the word). It was only after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rutgers University in 2004 (she thought she wanted to be a therapist!) that she realized that she could no longer deny her true calling – event planning.See what's on Jackie's desk.
As Nashville’s most experienced local team, Destination Nashville boasts 28 full time local staff, and over 200 part time “boots on the ground” who live and play here! With so many people moving to Nashville daily, it’s rare to find a native Nashvillian. However, Destination Nashville has 5 of these “unicorns” on the team, and almost half of the team have lived in Nashville for 10 years or more!
What does this mean for you? Our staff lives and breathes the Nashville experience every day, and our authenticity will ensure your guests have the best experience Nashville has to offer! Our all local sales, operations and creative team members will work hand in hand connecting you to everything you will need for a successful program. As your direct connection to the city’s hotels, venues and experiences, Destination Nashville’s expertise will ensure the best service and execution!
Recognizing the need for a destination management company in Nashville, Rhonda founded Destination Nashville in 1994. In 2007, Women’s Business Enterprise Council named Rhonda as Nashville’s Woman Entrepreneur of the Year. Rhonda led Destination Nashville to be ranked on the Nashville Business Journal’s list of “25 Largest Women Owned Businesses in Nashville” since 2008 and list of “Best Places to Work in Nashville” since 2010. From 2002 to 2010 Rhonda served on the Board of Directors of the Association for Destination Management Executives International (ADMEI) and was President of the organization in 2009. From 2005 to 2010 Rhonda served as Commissioner of Destination Management and Transportation on the Convention Industry Council (CIC) APEX Commission. She co-authored three chapters in the published textbook, “Best Practices in Destination Management.” In 2009 the ADMEI named Rhonda as “Destination Management Professional of the Year” and presented her with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2015. The Nashville Business Journal named Rhonda “2012 Woman of Influence.” In 2012, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean appointed Rhonda as Commissioner on the Transportation Licensing Commission where she presently serves.See what's on Rhonda's desk.
With more letters than a bowl of alphabet soup, Carol has both her CMP and DMCP certifications and currently teaches prep classes for both. Meeting Professionals International (MPI) recently recognized Carol with the 2016 Member of the Year RISE Award. Carol currently sits on the APEX Board co-chairing the APEX Standards Task Force, is the Immediate Past Chair of the Certification & Accreditation Board (CAB) of ADMEI, is a Past President of the Tennessee Chapter of MPI and was recently appointed co-chair of the APEX Standards Committee from the Events Industry Council (EIC) for 2018 & 2019. Can you guess Scrabble is one of her favorite games?
A self-described serial learner, Carol is always looking to glean something new or to share her knowledge with others. Teaching the CMP prep course around the globe has only expanded her love of travel. In fact, she recently completed her goal of visiting all fifty states with her son! Carol’s motto: “This life is NOT a dress rehearsal. Go, do, see, be, explore, jump because you will not get another chance.”
Carol says, “If hunger strikes when you’re in Nashville head on over to Monell’s in Germantown where the food parade never ends and you never know who you will sit next to. The BEST fried chicken in town is only surpassed by their to die for corn puddin’ (notice no “g” because that would be the wrong dish).”See what's on Carol's desk.
Rita Davidson, a Nashville native, graduated from Belmont University in 2005 where she earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing. Rita was first introduced to Destination Nashville and the world of destination management through her event management class at Belmont and was instantly drawn to the company and its philosophy. Rita joined the Destination Nashville operations team in 2006 and was promoted to Associate Director of Operations in 2009, Director of Operations in 2011, and Vice President of Operations in 2016. Her knowledge and passion for her hometown keeps Rita energized when working with clients from around the globe. Rita loves to show off her city, striving to merge creativity and cutting edge design with logistics to create a memorable and well executed event.
Outside of the office Rita enjoys traveling and has recently spent time in India, Australia, Spain, Italy, and Bali. While in Bali she attended a ten day raw food chef training and detox certification program, pursuing her interests in healthy living and yoga practice.
Passionate about interior design and real estate, Rita and her husband live in East Nashville where they own three homes together. Their family is made up of three cats, a Golden Retriever, and the newest addition, Daisy Kate, born August 2017.
When industry folks talk about being a pro, they are certainly talking about Debbie. A veteran of the hospitality industry, Debbie began her career in convention services and catering for Hyatt Hotels in Chicago. She relocated to Nashville to continue her career with Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center later moving into sales as Director of Midwest & Incentive Sales for the corporate market. Debbie came to Destination Nashville as Director of Sales in 2005.
Active in the local hospitality community, Debbie represents Destination Nashville with the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp and on a national level with Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA). A graduate of Eastern Illinois University with a Master of Arts in Related Arts, Debbie was awarded the PCMA sponsored Learning Environmental Specialist (LES) and the Convention and Industry Council’s Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation.
A life long lover of music, a “per chance” meeting in a coffee shop introduced Debbie to her to husband, professional songwriter and producer, Jim. Together with their “pet family”, Chelsea and Elliott (the cats) and Chet (the dog), you can find them camping across the US in their vintage 1969 Airstream trailer.See what's on Debbie's desk.
What can’t you do with a set of pearls and a schedule of services? Nothing. This is Margot’s motto. Originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee, Margot moved to Nashville in 2008 to begin her professional career as the General Manager of one of the most beloved venues in the city, The Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum.
When preparation for Nashville’s new convention center relocated the Hall in 2011, Margot made the transition to Destination Nashville. Her knowledge of live event production and logistics proved that she was truly a rock star in all aspects of operations.
A die hard Predators fan, Margot is married to Justin, a fellow hockey fan and coach. Whether cheering on Nashville’s ice champions or “Clarky’s” high school team, you will find her rockin’ her signature pearls and a nice Malbec.
Margot’s Nashville favorites include wine tasting at both Natchez Hills Winery at Fontanel Mansion and Arrington Vineyards.See what's on Margot's desk.
Tanya joined the Destination Nashville team in 2004. Her knowledge, creativity and fun loving personality are what make her role as Director of Sales a perfect match.See what's on Tanya's desk.
Jill of all trades? Shannon has the corner on this market. Shannon fancies herself a foodie, but she is an expert in every aspect of events from creative design to painstaking logistics. Originally from Alabama (no Roll Tidin’ here), Shannon received a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management from Auburn (War Eagle!) University. She began her career as a catering manager at a resort in Destin, Florida and went on to work in convention services at the Birmingham Convention Center. A move to the Nashville Convention Center in 2003 led Shannon to her adopted hometown.See what's on Shannon's desk.
Dana joined the Destination Nashville Team in 2014. Her kind and friendly personality quickly puts clients at ease and guarantees a peaceful atmosphere wherever she goes. Since joining the team, Dana’s food and beverage knowledge, eye for detail and southern hospitality has been invaluable to each program she plans.See what's on Dana's desk.
Originally from Florida, Katie came to Destination Nashville with a vast background in hospitality. A Bachelor of Science in Business and Hospitality Management from Florida State University led to her first position in conference services at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center. Katie transitioned to destination management, working in Florida and Texas prior to moving to Nashville.
Her love of event planning not only lead to an amazing career, but also introduced her to her husband Ryan. Their bustling home includes their adorable four year old daughter, Abbi, and two small dogs. A true Seminole, Katie still loves the beach, but the music of Nashville has become her favorite Third Coast.See what's on Katie's desk.
A trip to visit friends during her third year of college, confirmed to Kiersten what she had known all along, Nashville would one day be her home. She began her trek to Music City with a dual degree from Florida State University. With a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management (focus in event management) and Marketing, Kiersten found her passion in creating memorable experiences for clients.
She started her destination management adventure as a Sales Coordinator for a top National DMC in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Quickly promoted to National Sales Manager, Kiersten’s road eventually lead her to a position as an Account Director with another DMC group, working on property in a major convention hotel to fulfill the company’s preferred partner agreement. In this role, she gained valuable experience with preferred hotel partnerships, broadening her perspective on the role hotel partners play in the success of a DMC.
After many long weekends and vacations to Nashville since that first visit in 2013, Kiersten decided she was going to follow her heart. With a love of country music, hiking, the four seasons and a city filled with unique places, spaces and experiences around every corner, she made the move to Nashville. On weekends, you can find her outdoors with her golden retriever/border collie rescue pup, Harley or enjoying one of the many live music performances that make Nashville great!
A visit to Nashville during her freshman year in high school confirmed to Priscilla that one day she would come to Music City to live. Originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Priscilla grew up in a large family that loved food and travel. These great loves led her to a degree in tourism and hospitality management from Temple University in Philadelphia and upon graduation she promptly made her way to Nashville. Now the city speaks even more to her great loves: fine restaurants, great music and an eclectic social scene. She still loves her Philly sports teams and cheesesteaks, but Nashville has made this girl a true believer in southern hospitality.See what's on Priscilla's desk.
It is a very long way from New Mexico to Tennessee but Rae has certainly enjoyed the journey. Born and raised in Albuquerque, Rae made her way to Oregon State University to study for her B.S. in Business Administration. Growing up in a self-proclaimed sports obsessed family made starting her career in the sports industry a no-brainer! So, after a year on the west coast with the San Jose Earthquakes sales department, an opportunity with the Atlanta Falcons brought her to the South. And, she loved it. A short trip to Nashville to enjoy some of her beloved country music was all she needed to know that Nashville was her next move.
Then came a job offer from Destination Nashville and Rae took to the road again to move to Music City. Working with DN, Rae gets to indulge herself with one of her favorite things to do. “Talking to people is honestly my favorite thing to do. The Hospitality and Events Industry allows me to meet all kinds of people on a daily basis and really connect with them. I love being part of a team that helps make our client’s event dreams a reality.”
On most weekends, you can find Rae hiking any one of Tennessee’s beautiful trails, out on the lake or taking in some good country music on a rooftop on Broadway. During the fall, the only place she want to be on the weekend is cheering on the Buckeyes on Saturday and the Patriots on Sunday. Traveling is another passion, 15 countries and 5 continents, but Music City will always call her home.
If you ask Kristi about her position at Destination Nashville, she will quickly tell you she believes she has the “Devil Wears Prada” gig. You know – the one job a million girls would kill for and she got. “I get to come to work every day and be completely passionate about my company, my city and its history and I very seldom do the same thing twice. I am a lucky chick,” Kristi beams.See what's on Kristi's desk.
What is the true definition of a unicorn? In the events world it is a creative person that is intensely organized. Gretchen is just that.
A native of the Atlanta area, Gretchen earned her B.B.A. in Marketing from Kennesaw State University in 2003. After graduation, Gretchen worked at a software company before entering the hospitality world as an events coordinator at a country club in 2004 where she gained experience in planning and executing events.
Realizing she wanted to get out of her comfort zone, Gretchen moved to Nashville on New Year’s Eve 2007 and began to work for Destination Nashville in April 2008. Her role as Senior Creative Research & Development Manager has her meeting with new vendors, discovering new restaurants, and developing new products for Destination Nashville. If you want to know when, where and who, she knows the answer. Gretchen is also a member of the Nashville chapter of the International Live Events Association (ILEA).
Gretchen loves her neighborhood, East Nashville, and when not working, she enjoys traveling (thirty-two countries and counting), trying out new restaurants, going to concerts, cooking, baking, watching sports, playing soccer, reading, hiking, spending time outdoors, and hanging out with her husband, Lee, Moxie (the cat), and their lab-ish rescue dog, Hank.See what's on Gretchen's desk.
Colorful is the perfect word to describe Amy, colorful and brilliant to be exact.
An artist from a young age, Amy received a bachelor’s degree in art history and cultural anthropology from Middle Tennessee State University in 2011. Upon graduation, Amy realized her talent for event design and production and worked as the design coordinator and stylist for a wedding and special events florist.
Flowers led to linens and in 2013, Amy joined a specialty linen company as their account executive for the state of Tennessee, Kentucky, and northern Alabama. Working with linens allowed Amy to discover the exciting and fast-paced world of corporate events where the possibilities are endless and no idea is off limits. Amy joined Destination Nashville in 2014 as Creative Services Manager and brought with her a passion for impeccable customer service and unforgettable, unique event design. She is a member of the Nashville chapter of the International Live Events Association (ILEA) and enjoys networking and learning from her peers in the hospitality and events industries. As the unofficial court jester of the sales office, Amy is always up for making her coworkers laugh.
When she is not working, Amy is most at home in her kitchen cooking, baking, and testing out new recipes. She also enjoys exploring Nashville’s newest restaurants, although it’s hard to keep up these days. Amy considers herself a “professional kidult” who never takes herself too seriously, loves the weird and wacky and leaves a trail of glitter wherever she goes. Amy also loves creating mixed-media art and attending concerts, festivals and sporting events in Nashville.See what's on Amy's desk.
Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Kayla graduated from Austin Peay State University in 2013. As part of her education at Austin Peay Kayla sought ways to gain experience in live event production through internships with Decadent Details Events and Nashville’s Perfect Wedding Guide.
After graduation, Kayla moved to Orlando, Florida to spend the summer working with the entertainment department at Walt Disney World. There she discovered how to create the “magic” Disney is known for. Kayla strives to bring the same enthusiasm into all of her work!
Following her passion for event production and love of her hometown, Kayla returned to Nashville to join the Destination Nashville team as Senior Sales Coordinator.
In her spare time, you can find her listening to music, traveling, or spending time with her family. One of her favorite spots in Nashville is Sevier Park. You can easily find her there or across the street at Las Palatas!See what's on Kayla's desk.
Kayla has known since high school that the events industry would be her profession. Arming herself with a degree in hospitality management and tourism from the University of Kentucky, this South Carolina native set out to learn every aspect of event production. From hotel logistics to wedding coordination, Kayla placed herself in a variety of jobs to make sure she knew it all.
All of this experience and knowledge came together in the form of the perfect position in operations at Destination Nashville. Kayla rose through the ranks, first as an operations coordinator, then manager, and most recently Senior Operations Manager, helping lead a team of dynamic logistical experts!
On the occasional Saturday when she is not with one of her convention groups, you will find Kayla seeking out the next best brunch location or exploring Nashville with her friends. She also enjoys finding a good new rooftop bar or restaurant with a view and a fabulous cocktail!See what's on Kayla's desk.
Mary may have been born in Delaware, but she is a southern girl at heart. After moving a number of times with her family to all parts of the United States, Mary chose to attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham to obtain her psychology degree. It’s easy to fall in love with Nashville, so after several trips to see family in the area, Mary and her husband made the move to Music City in 2013 and never looked back. She immersed herself in the music and history of the city, but quickly found her niche’ while working with one of Nashville’s tour companies that customized in showcasing the city’s food scene. Working with Destination Nashville as an on-site producer and a member of the professional on call staff, Mary officially became part of the team in 2016. When away from the office, you might find Mary and her husband cheering on the Nashville Predators hockey team or enjoying dinner and drinks at one of Nashville’s finest new restaurants.See what's on Mary's desk.
A few business trips to Nashville was all it took for Sam to know that Nashville was going to be her next home town. When the opportunity to join Destination Nashville in 2017 occurred, Sam left her beloved Chicagoland and made her way to Music City. Her love of event planning and production began with an internship at an event company in Chicago while also pursuing a degree in Recreation, Sport and Tourism from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Upon graduation, Sam was promptly hired by a national mortgage company as an Event Coordinator and quickly climbed the ranks to Senior Events Manager. An important move presented itself and Sam joined a major Chicago association management company as an Event Coordinator. During her tenure there she excelled in leading successful programs while honing her skills in meeting management, business travel and event production. Sam will tell you she loves the rush of being onsite and watching all the hard work put into pre-planning come to life. She enjoys the outdoors, live music and loves her two hairless cats, Claude and Oliver. A dedicated Blackhawks fan, Sam is excited about being a part of the vibrant Nashville hockey atmosphere – even though she’s not swapping her Blackhawks jersey for a Nashville Predators jersey anytime soon. We’re all betting Sam will look great in Preds blue someday…it just may take a while!See what's on Samantha's desk.
Very few people can boast that the Nashville music community raised them. Hannah Holladay is one of them.
Originally, from the small town of Camden, Tennessee, Hannah grew up in a bluegrass family. She spent the first twelve years of her life traveling the country with her family as they performed at fairs and festivals. Her fondest memories, however, are from the time they spent at Nashville’s famous Station Inn. Hannah remembers, “We spent a lot of time going to shows or jamming out at Station Inn. I was serving popcorn at the bar and would jump on stage to sing before I was even in school!”
While studying for her degree in Organizational Communication at Middle Tennessee State University, Hannah interned with the nonprofit Very Special Arts Tennessee. She found her love of event planning as she spearheaded national and international art projects for individuals with disabilities.
A true Tennessean, Hannah enjoys attending shows at Tennessee Performing Arts Center, perusing all sorts of treasures (junk) at Nashville’s many yard sales and eating hot chicken.
Most of all, Hannah loves the Nashville community that raised her and loves sharing it with her clients.
Megan was born and raised in Hendersonville, Tennessee, just a short 25 minute drive from the heart of Nashville. Being so close, Megan always dreamed of a career that would involve the city. Megan studied Marketing and Management at the University of Tennessee at Martin that led to internships with Walt Disney World and Gaylord Hotel Resort & Convention Center.
Megan found her love of event operations during her time at one of Tennessee’s many venues, where she was able to fine-tune her skills of event coordination and production while providing detailed service to her clients. Megan knows the big payoff of an event is seeing your hard work and planning come to fruition with a successful event and happy client!
Some Nashville natives may try to stay away from the “touristy” spots in Nashville, but those are some of the places Megan loves the most! She just can’t say no to a fun day/night on Broadway with her girlfriends! She loves to meet the visitors from all over the country and the world, hear their stories, and share with them just how much she loves her hometown, Nashville! In her free time you can find Megan at Bridgestone Arena, cheering on her beloved Nashville Predators or showing everyone pictures of her beloved dog, Boomer.
Ansley is our go-to logistics Queen Bee! With over fourteen years of corporate event experience, Ansley has worn all hats on the operations side. Ansley handles the on call staff for all of our events – not an easy fete considering our on call staff numbers two hundred plus!
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Ansley received her bachelor’s degree in marketing from The University of Mississippi. When not in the office you can find Ansley wearing her “Super Mom” cape with her two boys ages six and eight – probably at a football or soccer field!
A fan of Nashville’s amazing food and wine scene, Ansley’s favorite Nashville hangout is 12South. She and husband Justin like to start at 12South Taproom and move over to any of the fabulous neighborhood restaurants!See what's on Ansley's desk.
Growing up in the small town of Cleveland, Tennessee, Jessica always knew she wanted to move to the “big city”. Nashville had so much to offer and there was always something exciting going on.
The city would have to wait for a few years as Jessica studied for her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at University of Tennessee Chattanooga. An internship with an area event company helped Jessica realize her love event planning. When the opportunity to work with Destination Nashville arose, Jessica knew this was the perfect match. She would not only live in the city she had dreamed of but she would be a part of planning and executing events for her clients visiting Nashville.
Indeed, Nashville is the perfect fit for Jessica. You will find her in her free time enjoying the many green spaces and parks with her German Shepard puppy, Roscoe.
It’s a long way from a chicken farm in Maryland to Music City, but Harry made his way to the only other place he could call home, Nashville. Attending college in a town filled with music and live events, along with a couple national sports teams allows an Entertainment Industry Studies major, to be immersed in the events industry. So after graduating from Belmont University, Harry knew he had found his path.
Harry’s varied background, from selling homes across the Nashville community to working with A-List Entertainment firms, allows him to bring a wide range of knowledge to his clients. But, ask him and he will be quick to tell you that the excitement and the experiences of live events is what he finds the most rewarding.
Free time for Harry is filled with a couple of Tennesseans’ favorite pastimes: catching a Predators game or finding a new fishing spot. To someone who sees food as a hobby, entertainment as a passion, the outdoors as a lifestyle, and Southern culture as an essential, Nashville is truly home for Harry and the opportunity to showcase Tennessee to his clients is a true privilege.
Karen, a bookkeeper by trade and a storyteller by heart, believes in the power of stories to heal and draw our hurried, scattered communities closer together. She joined Destination Nashville in 1999 and was named Finance & IT Manager in January 2008. A twenty year Nashville Symphony season ticket holder, Karen’s favorite Nashville place-to-be is the beautiful Schermerhorn Symphony Center. However, her heart is in her hometown of Red Boiling Springs in Macon County. Karen is a charter member of both the Macon County Arts Council and Vision 2020 Inc., a community-supported, historic preservation and tourism development organization, serving both as Treasurer. At the invitation of a friend, Karen attended her first Toastmasters meeting in 1996. Since then she has completed the educational and leadership training requirements to reach the highest level of Distinguished Toastmaster in 2002 and the level of leadership District Governor for the Tennessee/Kentucky/Virginia District in 2003. Karen was awarded “District 63 Toastmaster of the Year,” the highest honor bestowed upon individual members.See what's on Karen's desk.
Southern charm and grace are just a phrase for most folks, but when you meet Monica you experience it firsthand. Monica was born in the small town of Athens, Ohio, and when her family moved to Nashville, she felt right at home. Although she received a degree in Healthcare Administration and Planning, Monica’s heart was always in the events industry. Her combination of administration and planning background, her knowledge of events, and a genuinely sweet personality allows her to be a calming force for our busy Operations Team. When she is not at work, Monica is being a wife to husband, Scott, and mom to 4-year-old daughter, Lily Kate. One of their favorite activities to do as a family is go to one of Nashville’s local parks and enjoy ice cream from their favorite ice cream shops. Most weekends, you can usually find Monica crafting or shopping at one of Nashville’s many antique or boutique shops!See what's on Monica's desk.