Anaheim, Los Angeles and Orlando CVBs All Need to Fill Top Post

May 13, 2012

It’s an extraordinary time in the world of DMOs, with three large city’s bureaus - the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, the Anaheim/Orange County Convention & Visitor Bureau and Visit Orlando - currently looking to find someone to fill their top posts.

After nine years running the bureau in Los Angeles, Mark Liberman recently announced he is going to retire to spend more time with his wife, Karen, as well as increase his work with the Alzheimer’s Association.

“The friendships, experiences and rewards have been many,” Liberman said.

He added, “They will always be treasured, and a very special thanks to all our employees, without whom all our successes at Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board wouldn't have been possible ... I know going forward, with their hard work and dedication, we will continue to see the tourism industry grow in Los Angeles.”

Liberman said the board hopes to find his replacement by the fourth quarter of 2012.

Tom Mullen, the Chairman of the Board and Vice President of American Express, will lead the search committee along with other members of our Board of Directors and Liberman will remain a member of the board.  

Another Southern California city, Anaheim, is losing the long-time leader of its CVB – Charles Ahlers.

“I have been fortunate to be able to realize many accomplishments during my four decade career in this industry,” Ahlers said.

He added, “I have worked for five distinct destination marketing organizations, and it seems fitting at this time to finish my visitor industry career on a high note. This Anaheim Resort community and all of Orange County have evolved into a leading leisure and business destination, and I’m very pleased to have played an active role in shaping what it is today.”

Ahlers served as president of the AOCVCB since 1992, and early in his career, he was a convention sales manager at the AOCVCB from 1972-1979.

In total, he had 28 years of service with the organization.

Ahlers said he had “no plans for what he was doing next” and was going to take some time to decide once he steps down.

The AOCVCB will conduct an executive search for Ahlers’ replacement, according to CVB officials.

Ahlers will stay involved in the organization as an advisor and also continue to be instrumental in the current development of the Anaheim Convention Center and the Grand Plaza.

Orlando suffered a tragic loss recently when the president and CEO of its bureau, Gary Sain, passed away suddenly.

“As the leader of Visit Orlando, Gary served as our community's brand ambassador working tirelessly on behalf of Orlando and the entire travel and tourism industry,” Paul Tang, chairman of the Visit Orlando board of directors said in a statement.

He added, “He spent his entire career working in hospitality and was honored numerous times for his contributions. The Visit Orlando team, our destination partners and our community have lost a wonderful leader and friend. He will truly be missed by all that knew him.”

Sain is survived by his wife, Pam, mother, Elizabeth Sain, and two daughters - Vanessa Sain-Dieguez (Luis) and Olivia.

With a long career in the trade show industry, Sain started at Visit Orlando in February 2007, replacing industry veteran Bill Peeper, and is credited with Orlando reaching a record of 51.5 million visitors in 2010, the first U.S. destination to surpass the 50 million visitor milestone.


Visit Orlando’s COO and CFO Larry Henrichs will continue to oversee the day-to-day operations of the organization.

 Henrichs, who has been with Visit Orlando for 18 years, previously served in this role following the retirement of Bill Peeper and while Gary was out on personal leave in early January 2011.

The senior leadership team made of up Danielle Courtenay, chief marketing officer; Laurence Barron, chief technology officer; Tammi Runzler, senior vice president, Convention Sales & Services; and Misty Johantgen, senior vice president, Partner Relations and Development, will continue to lead their respective areas within Visit Orlando.

Implementation of the organization’s board-approved, three-year strategic business plan also will continue.

Following Sain’s memorial service last weekend, the Board said it would re-convene in the near future to address next steps in the succession process.

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