Visit Indy Management Team

James Wallis – Executive Vice President

James began his Visit Indy career as accounting manager in 1990 with previous experience on the audit staff at Arthur Young (now Ernst & Young). During his time at Visit Indy James has increased visitor quantity by 50%, designed and implemented an ROI-based flexible pricing model for the Indiana Convention Center, implemented systems to measure economic impact of conventions and meetings, secured new sources of revenue resulting in a 40% overall increase, restructured the team to align with new goals and changing environment, and designed and implemented productivity solutions including customer relationship management (CRM) and content management systems. James serves on the boards of the Indiana Tourism Association (past president), President Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site (current chair), and the FBI Indianapolis Citizens Academy. He is a CPA and a graduate of Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. James and his wife Missy have three children, Lincoln, Landon, and Katelyn.


Chris Gahl – Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications

Chris has been at Visit Indy since 2005. Prior to Visit Indy, he was part owner of a marketing firm in Honolulu, helping Hawaii tourism. In 2012, Chris helped lead public relations for the Super Bowl Host Committee. He was named a "Forty under 40" business leader by the Indianapolis Business Journal in 2013 and was a member of the 2014 Stanley K. Lacy Leadership Class. Chris co-chaired the city's Plan 2020 Love Indy Committee in 2015 and in 2016 helped launch the city's Film Indy initiative, which helps attract television and film-related production to Indy. Chris holds a degree in communications from Butler University and serves on the board of directors for Heartland Film and the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. He and his wife Catherine have two boys, Kanoa and Kai.


Daren Kingi – Senior Vice President of Sales

Daren joined Visit Indy in 2014 after a distinguished 29-year career in the hospitality industry with Hilton Hotels and Marriott International, most recently serving as vice president of sales, Western Mountain Pacific Area, for Marriott International. In that role, he was responsible for overall sales and market share growth of 65 of Marriott's Managed hotels in five major markets including San Francisco, Denver, Salt Lake City, Portland, and Seattle. Prior to that Daren served as vice president of sales & marketing for Renaissance Hotels North America and market sales leader for Marriott's New York City hotels. In Daren's short time with Visit Indy he has led the team to record-breaking results. Daren and his wife Paula have three children, Caitlin, David, and Noah.


Susie Townsend – Senior Vice President of Visitor Experience

Susie has been part of the hospitality and meeting professional industry for over 30 years. She is a graduate of Indiana University Kelley School of Business with a degree in Marketing. Susie started her career working for Hyatt Hotels and for the past 28 years has been with Visit Indy having roles in both sales and services. In her current role Susie oversees convention services, convention housing, and visitor experience. Susie was a loaned executive for the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee for Super Bowl XLVI in 2012. She has served as the chair or on the board for local organizing committees for the United States Conference of Mayors, the NCAA Men's Final Four, the NCAA Women's Final Four, and is serving as the chair of the organizing committee when Meeting Professionals International convenes in Indianapolis for the World Education Congress in June of 2018. In addition Susie is a lecturer for the TCEM (Tourism, Convention, and Event Management) Department at IUPUI. Susie is married to Bill and is the proud mom of two children, Matt and Rebecca.


Janet Arnold – Vice President of Partner Relations

Janet has served as Vice President for Partner Relations since 2010. She develops and retains key relationships and partnerships for the organization, working with local corporate and civic leaders to identify their links to new convention/meeting business, and promotes leisure travel in Central Indiana. Prior to Visit Indy, Janet was vice president for institutional advancement at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School and also served as director of development at Conner Prairie. Earlier in her career, Janet lived in New York City, raising funds for United Nations peacekeeping operations. She is a graduate of Hillsdale College and additionally holds an MBA in business/arts management from the University of Durham, UK. Janet currently serves on the board of directors for the Immigrant Welcome Center, Indianapolis. She is married and lives in Marion County.


Matt Carter – Vice President of Destination Development/Executive Director of Music Crossroads

Matt began his career at Visit Indy in 1985 after serving as a lending analyst for INB National Bank (now Regions Bank). He currently leads destination development efforts for Visit Indy and also has served as CFO and COO during his tenure. Matt focuses his efforts on business intelligence, product development, and tourism master planning. Matt led efforts to create the first destination tourism master plan in the U.S. and was the creator of Music Crossroads—a strategy that has led to the relocation of multiple cultural organizations (Music for All, Percussive Arts Society, Drum Corps International, and USA Football) and their convention and related events which have created or committed to nearly $1 billion worth of business for the city. Matt currently serves on the boards of Leadership Indianapolis (treasurer), Goodwill Industries of Central & Southern Indiana Foundation (treasurer), Shepherd Community Center, and is the former chairman of the board for Music for All. He is a graduate of the College of Business at Ball State University. Matt is married to Leslie, and they are parents of four quadruplet daughters, Abigail, Elizabeth, Katelin, and Katherine.


Mary Huggard – Vice President of Tourism Development

Mary began her career at Visit Indy in 1985 as the organization's first ever convention services manager. She moved into membership and directed stakeholder engagement/investment and also the Indianapolis Project, a media relations affiliate that eventually merged into Visit Indy. Mary previously worked at the Commission for Downtown & Downtown Promotion Council (now known as Downtown Indy) and the William H. Block Company. She is a graduate of DePauw University and serves on the Board of Advisors, Governance & Marketing Councils, of the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians & Western Art; the Marketing Council of the Indiana Historical Society; the National FFA Local Organizing Committee; and the Conference Planning and Membership Committees of the Indiana Tourism Council.



 

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