With over 18 years of experience in tourism and hospitality, Karen is dedicated to promoting Winston-Salem as a premier meetings and conventions destination. Karen serves as a board member for the Association Executives of North Carolina (AENC).
What’s your hometown and college alma mater?
While many people find their way to Winston-Salem through other paths, I am fortunate to call “Winston” my hometown. I earned my Business Administration degree from Forsyth Technical Community College while working in the banking industry. I switched gears several years later to event planning and now enjoy working with our team at Visit Winston-Salem to bring meetings and conventions to our great city.
As an empty-nester, what do you love most about Winston-Salem?
So many things! I love our vibrant downtown and the people and culture that make it unique. We can go for a run checking out all the murals created by local artists and then meet up with friends at one of our favorite breweries while putting our (useless) knowledge to the test with trivia. We can get outdoors at Bailey Park for concerts, events, and movie nights surrounded by the cool atmosphere of the Innovation Quarter. We can stop for coffee and conversation with the baristas at Moji, a coffee shop dedicated to employing and empowering people with different abilities. And of course, the endless variety of locally owned restaurants for date nights from casual to upscale.
What are you most looking forward to in 2021?
Again, so many things so I’ll go with my top two.
Face to face time with friends and colleagues! What I love most about my role are the people and getting to connect them with our hip and historic city. In our industry, you get to know so many wonderful people from association executives to meeting planners to fellow destination colleagues. The connections are genuine, and we are all there to support one another in this recovery. While we may not be ready for that hug yet, I am excited about the face to face conversation and toasting to the bright future of meetings again!
And equally exciting is welcoming our convention groups back to Winston-Salem! I love seeing our planners return and the hotels, restaurants, and retail shops full with convention attendees again. It is a great feeling knowing that we directly contribute to the economic impact of our city and are able to have a positive influence on the recovery of our community and the hospitality industry.
What’s your “go-to” spot for local outdoor adventure?
Salem Lake has always been one of my favorites for running, biking, or kayaking. It is a great place to unwind and soak in nature just a few minutes from downtown. We also love the many miles of greenways for running or biking. And some lead to our favorite breweries…