Indian River County Chamber announces staff changes

VERO BEACH — Penny Chandler, President of the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce announced today that Lori Burns, Director of Tourism Development has announced her retirement. Burns joined the Chamber staff on October 1, 1991.

“Lori has been an institution in her role with the Chamber for the last 18 years” stated Chandler. Her last day is September 30. Chandler announced that Susan Hunt will replace Burns. Hunt has been General Manager for Vero Fashion Outlets in Vero Beach since March of 2003. She will begin her new position with the Chamber on October 1st. “I have known Lori for a long time. Our relationship goes back to when I first came to Vero Beach in 1985” said Chamber Chairman of the Board Bill Curtis. He added “I worked with Lori years ago at the museum and later with the bank when she had her own public relations firm.”

When learning of Burns’ retirement Mary Jayne Kelly, Executive Director of the Cultural Council stated “This community owes a debt of gratitude to Lori Burns for her dedication to promoting Indian River County as a destination for travelers from all regions of the United States and many foreign countries. ” Burns and Kelly attended tourism conferences and worked closely on marketing plans and advertising campaigns. “Lori was treated as a dignitary at every Governor’s Conference on Tourism” said Kelly. “When attending that event with Lori it was obvious to me that she is well respected and liked, leading to many advantages when it came to placing advertising and obtaining free editorial for our county. I will miss working with Lori but I know that she will continue to support many causes, especially arts and culture, in our community” stated Kelly.

“The Chamber is a team – members, volunteers and staff,” said Chamber Chairman of the Board Bill Curtis. “Lori has made significant contributions in marketing Indian River County as a visitor destination and we are proud of her. Over the years, Lori has provided new and exciting opportunities and services to our county’s tourism industry and she is well loved by industry representatives.” Chandler added that “Lori has been a great member of our staff and a true member of the Chamber team in every respect. Through her ability to build relationships, Indian River County is on the radar screen of major publications across the United States bringing attention to Indian River County.”

“We appreciate everything Lori has done and congratulate her for her achievements” stated Monica Smiley, Chair of the Chamber’s Tourism Division. “We congratulate Lori on her retirement.” Smiley and Burns have worked closely on the implementation of county tourism marketing plans.

“It has been a privilege to work in this capacity. I am so proud of the work we have accomplished over the years and the success of the Chamber organization” stated Burns. “While leaving is bittersweet, I must say that after working for so many years, being able to watch my granddaughter grow into adulthood, spending quality time with my family, and doing things for myself sounds enticing!”

Beginning in the late 70’s, Hunt’s interest in Tourism began as a flight attendant, traveling to destinations in America and abroad. She has spent nearly 30-years working with a number of developers of factory outlet centers, traditional and non-traditional shopping centers. Prior to her position of General Manager at Vero Fashion Outlets, she was Corporate Director of Marketing for New Plan Excel Realty Trust, the nation’ s largest Real Estate Investment Trust where she oversaw the marketing, public relations and tourism programs for over 400 shopping centers. Many of these Centers were in tourist destinations such as Orlando and St. Augustine, Florida; Barstow, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; and more.

“I have been a member of the County’s Tourism Development Council (TDC) for the past three years,” said Hunt. “As a TDC member, I made it a personal responsibility to ensure that the local bed tax is used prudently to promote Indian River County as a destination and Put Heads on Beds.” She added that “I am very excited about the possibilities that await me in this new position. I have always been dedicated to the tourism industry and look forward to beginning my new position with the Chamber.”

In her role with Vero Fashion Outlets, Hunt has been an active partner with the Chamber’s Tourism Division and has worked directly with Burns. Hunt was the Northeast District Marketing Manager for Tanger Outlet Centers, Greensboro, North Carolina; Northeast Group Marketing Manager for Compass Retail, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia and Principal of Premier Marketing, a public relations, marketing and advertising firm in Red Bank, New Jersey. Hunt is a graduate of Rutgers University and is an active member of the International Council of Shopping Centers’ faculty, conducting seminars and classes throughout the United States and Mexico.

Sheryl Koenes, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort stated “Sue Hunt has been an active Leader in our community and on the Chamber Tourism Committee for many years. Her extensive marketing background will be of great value to tourism partners in Indian River County.” Koenes also serves on the County’s Tourism Development Council with Hunt.

According to Chandler there were a number of very qualified candidates. “Sue’s industry experience combined with her TDC experience will be a great benefit to the local visitor industry. She will be a tremendous asset to the Chamber staff.”

The Chamber is the designated tourism development agency and serves as the county agency for Film Florida. The Chamber works in close cooperation with the County’s Tourism Development Council, Board of County Commissioners, and local visitor industry partners.

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