People News: Orange County Convention Center, Hyatt Centric Buckhead Atlanta and More Promote Team Members, Tap Industry Veterans

People News: Orange County Convention Center, Hyatt Centric Buckhead Atlanta and More Promote Team Members, Tap Industry Veterans

As summer turns to fall, the corporate meeting and event industry’s hiring and promoting craze is starting to show some signs of slowing. Nonetheless, many hotels, CVBs and event venues are continuing to expand their teams, appoint new leadership and reward hard-working professionals with elevated roles. Check them out!

The Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) promoted Eric Blanc, Sr. to deputy director, responsible for overseeing the venue’s sales, marketing, event management and exhibitor services divisions. 

Blanc joined the Orlando, Fla.-based convention center in 2019, when he was hired as the assistant director of sales, and in February 2020, he was promoted to senior director of sales. 

Prior to joining the OCCC’s sales division, Blanc served as director of sales, marketing and convention services for the Tampa Convention Center, where he spent 15 years of his career. His professional background spans various top organizations in the meetings and convention industry, including Freeman and GES, where he was a national sales manager for both companies. 

The new 218-room Hyatt Centric Buckhead Atlanta has appointed seasoned chef and industry veteran Josh Hopkins as its executive chef, responsible for leading the boutique hotel’s culinary leadership team and overseeing its two food and beverage outlets, one of which will be launched this fall with a new concept.

Bringing nearly 30 years of experience in hospitality to his new role, Hopkins joins Hyatt Centric Buckhead from Thompson Hotels. His past work experience in the Atlanta area includes Anne Quatrano’s Bacchanalia and Empire State South, and he previously served as executive chef and co-owner of the critically acclaimed Abbatoir.

A native Atlantan, Hopkins began his career under the apprenticeship of French Master Chef Christian Chemin, after which he spent eight years in the kitchens of Slightly North of Broad and High Cotton in Charleston, SC.

Northwest Atlanta’s Cobb-Marietta Coliseum & Exhibit Hall Authority has appointed Shawn Stinson as director of food and beverage at the Cobb Galleria Centre and Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Bringing 25 years of experience in venue and food and beverage management to her new role, she is responsible for providing strategic leadership and execution of the company’s food and beverage concepts. 

A Michigan native, Stinson began her career in country club management and spent 12 years with the Academy of Medicine at Georgia Tech. She most recently served as general manager of the Proof of the Pudding catering company at Savanna Hall at Zoo Atlanta. 

Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront in Jacksonville, Fla. has appointed Nikki Leiba its new sales manager, responsible for negotiating deals with prospective clients, managing the Northeast market segment and overseeing all aspects of the sales process.

With 17 years of experience working in the hospitality industry in a variety of roles, Leiba joins the 951-room downtown property from Hyatt Centric Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where she worked as the front office manager. She previously worked with Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront as a systems administrator and then as meeting connections sales manager, and before her tenure in Jacksonville, served as sales coordinator at the WWSO in New York.

Additionally, Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront recently named 20-year hospitality veteran Melissa Morse-Malone its new group and business travel sales manager. In her new role, Morse-Malone is responsible for negotiating airlines and national volume travel accounts, serving as a reference for transient business by offering competitive rates for transient guests and assisting in providing premier accommodations for business travelers to the hotel. She will serve as a remote seller based out of the Northeast. 

Morse-Malone joins the hotel from Springhill Suites-Marriott International, where she worked as director of sales. Throughout her decades-long hospitality career she has also held roles with Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Hilton and Marriot.  

The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau has promoted Andrea Hardwickto visitor services manager of the Oak Street Visitors Center.

In her new role, Hardwick will assist in maintaining the operations of the visitors center through various duties including serving its patrons and visitors to the chamber, supervising visitor center staff and coordinating with the Airport Visitor Center manager, managing the monthly calendar of events and the Project Lifesaver Program, and serving as a backup to the facilities manager. Additionally, she will support the group sales division and member services with various projects as well as assist investors and community members who arrive at the chamber offices.

Hardwick has been with the chamber for 17 years and has served as the assistant manager of the Oak Street Visitor Center for the last three years. 

Todd Neal has rejoined the ATL Airport District, the destination marketing organization for the cities of College Park, Hapeville and Union City, Ga., as senior sales manager. Before leaving the organization to work as a meeting and events consultant at 1600 Hospitality Group, Neal served on the ATL Airport District team for six years, selling the District’s convention, meeting and hospitality facilities to military, education, religious, social and fraternal groups. 

Before coming to the ATL Airport District, Neal served in various meeting planning and sales roles with convention bureaus and hospitality organizations in Atlanta and Macon, Ga., Kansas City, Missouri and Cleveland, Ohio. 

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