Steve Arrison, 60
Hot Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, Hot Springs
Arrison runs the Hot Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, which is also known as “Visit Hot Springs” and is the state’s largest. Nearly 7 million people visited Hot Springs in 2015. Arrison is also CEO of the city’s Advertising & Promotion Commission, which promotes Hot Springs and manages the Convention Center, Downtown Visitors Center and the Mountain Tower. Arrison is past chairman of the Arkansas Parks, Recreation & Travel Commission and was president of the Arkansas Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus in 2014.
Gretchen Hall, 38
President and CEO
Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, Little Rock
Hall started as an events manager at the Statehouse Convention Center in 2001 and then served as director of merchandising and communications for five years for the LRCVB. She was named president and CEO of the organization in May 2011. She manages the Statehouse Convention Center, Ottenheimer Hall, the Robinson Center and three downtown parking facilities. The Robinson Center is undergoing a 28-month, $70 million renovation and is scheduled to reopen in November. Hall is a member of the executive committee of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership.
Eric Jackson, 65
General Manager and Board Member
Oaklawn Jockey Club, Hot Springs
Jackson started as director of operations at Oaklawn in 1978 and has been general manager since 1987. He was named to the board of directors in 1994. Under his leadership, Oaklawn has seen its purses rise 33 percent since 2007, and it is scheduled to pay out a record $27 million in 2016. Oaklawn completed a $20 million gaming area expansion in 2015 and has added 300 employees in the past year. Jackson is a past Arkansas Tourism Person of the Year honoree.
Troy Keeping, 52
President and General Manager
Southland Park Gaming & Racing, West Memphis
Keeping took over as president and general manager at what is now known as Southland Park Gaming & Racing in 2007. Under his leadership, revenue has increased from $41 million to $210 million, and the facility underwent a $38 million expansion in 2015. The park had 3.4 million visitors in 2015 and employs approximately 800. Keeping is a former vice chairman of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce.
David Lang, 51
Embassy Suites Northwest Arkansas, Rogers
Lang became general manager of the 400-room Embassy Suites Northwest Arkansas Hotel, Spa & Convention Center in May 2004. He oversees 300 employees and also manages the 125,000-SF Hammons Center, which is attached to the hotel. Lang was awarded the Golden Key from the Arkansas Hospitality Association in 2015. He is a member of the Rogers Advertising & Promotions Commission. Lang is a board member of the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce and head of its Convention & Visitors Bureau Division.
Montine McNulty, 69
Arkansas Hospitality Association, Little Rock
McNulty has led the Arkansas Hospitality Association since 1997. She is a 2016 inductee into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame. She served two terms as chairman of the Arkansas Parks, Recreation & Travel Commission and is a past president of the Arkansas Society of Professional Lobbyists and the International Society of Hotel Association Executives. McNulty was a 2013 recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and has won numerous hospitality awards from state and national associations.
Joe David Rice, 64
Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism, Little Rock
Rice has been the state’s tourism director since May 1987 and manages a staff of 65. In 2003, he was named the State Tourism Director of the Year by the Travel Industry Association of America. He was elected to the Arkansas Hospitality Association Hall of Fame in 2008 and to the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame in 2015.
Bill Spencer, 63
Little Rock Marriott, Little Rock
In 2015, Davidson Hotels & Resorts of Atlanta named Spencer the general manager of the 418-room Little Rock Marriott, which is attached to the Statehouse Convention Center. He is on the board of directors of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership. Spencer spent four years as general manager of the Hilton Memphis before coming to Little Rock. He has spent more than 30 years in the hospitality industry, including 23 with Davidson. Spencer was named General Manager of the Year for his work at the Hilton Raleigh-Durham, which was also named Hotel of the Year during his tenure.
Kane Webb, 51
Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism, Little Rock
Webb was named executive director of the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism in October 2015, replacing Richard Davies, who retired. Webb was a senior adviser for Gov. Asa Hutchinson after spending about 30 years in journalism, where he worked for the Arkansas Democrat, the Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He taught at Catholic High School for Boys in Little Rock for one year and also served as editor of Arkansas Business for one year.
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