Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Team
President & CEO
A 35-year travel and convention industry veteran, Greg Ortale assumed the helm of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau in December 2007. He returned to Houston after a 20 year absence, when he served as president and chief executive officer of Meet Minneapolis, Official Convention + Visitors Association™ from 1987 to 2007. He served as executive vice president and general manager of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Council from 1979 to 1987.
Mr. Ortale is committed to ensuring that GHCVB delivers a quality experience to all Houston visitors—convention delegates, tourists and business travelers. He is also passionate about introducing younger generations to the hospitality industry. He helped found the Minneapolis Academy of Tour and Travel, a magnet high school that has led numerous students into the hospitality profession. He believes that the travel industry is an industry of opportunity where experience can still produce advancement.
As a board member of the Destination Marketing Association International (formerly International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus), Mr. Ortale supported and co-chaired the creation of the DMAI Foundation, which enhances and complements the association and the destination management profession through research, education, visioning and developing resources and partnerships for those efforts. He also helped inaugurate the Foundation’s Spirit of Hospitality Award and nominated the first recipient, Congressman Mickey Leland, from Texas’ 18th District.
Mr. Ortale was the 1999 Corporate Award recipient of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners. He is the chair of the industry council for the Center for Exhibition Research (CEIR) and the treasurer of the international Data on Meetings & Expositions (DOME) organization. He served as chair of DMAI in 1999-2000 and is a member of various industry organizations as well as serving on numerous committees and Boards.
Mr. Ortale graduated from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science.
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Chief Operating Officer
As Chief Operating Officer, John Rolfe leads the day-to-day operations of the GHCVB, including overseeing programs to develop alternative revenue sources.
Mr. Rolfe comes to Houston from his position as president and CEO of Go Wichita Convention & Visitors Bureau, a post he's held since 2001. Before joining Go Wichita, Rolfe was vice president of economic development for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce and served as deputy secretary of the Kansas Department of Commerce for five years. His experience also includes more than fifteen years in the hospitality industry, serving as director of finance and administration at both the Wichita and San Jose (CA) Convention and Visitors Bureaus.
Mr. Rolfe is a graduate of Wichita State University, holding a bachelor's degree in business administration and is involved with various civic organizations. He has previously served on the Board of Directors for the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission, the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, Travel Industry Association of Kansas, Destination Marketing Association International and Wichita Collegiate School.
Vice President of Finance
Karen Williams has worked for the GHCVB since 1989. In the last three years in her role as vice president of finance and general manager, she has worked closely with the president in managing the operations of the Bureau. She is also directly responsible for the administrative and financial operations of the Bureau as well as its Human Resource management.
She had been the Bureau’s controller since 2000, overseeing the Bureau’s financial management, the planning and budgetary process and the effectiveness of the reporting, accounting, control and administrative systems procedures.
Ms. Williams received her degree in accounting form the University of Houston. She is married and has a son, Brandon.
Vice President of Sales
John Solis joined the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau as vice president of sales in December 2010, after spending a year and a half consulting on sales strategy.
Solis retired from the San Antonio CVB as assistant executive director in 2008. During his tenure, he was involved in coordinating bids for citywide conventions and major events, including the 1996 NBA All-Star Weekend and the NCAA Men's and Women's Final Four Basketball Championships. His main responsibilities included managing the tactics and strategies related to marketing, public relations and the convention and tourism group sales and services efforts.
Solis, a San Antonio native, earned a BBA in Finance from St. Mary's University.
Vice President of Marketing
Holly Clapham-Rosenow has worked for the GHCVB since August 2003. In her role as vice president of marketing, she leads the strategic direction for marketing and advertising of the GHCVB to promote a single Houston message.
Prior to joining the GHCVB, Ms. Clapham-Rosenow worked as marketing director for CBS Radio, Houston for five years. She has also worked as the promotions manager for the Houston Museum of Natural Science and was the client services manager for two Houston advertising agencies.
Ms. Clapham-Rosenow graduated with a degree in Radio, Television, Film from the Dan Rather School of Communications at Sam Houston State University. She is a member of the American Marketing Association.
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Vice President of Convention Services
Judi Quesonova has worked in various positions with the GHCVB for more than 24 years. In her role as Vice President of Convention Services, she oversees a staff that works hand-in-hand with meeting planners and GHCVB members to ensure successful events in Houston.
Prior to taking on her current role in 2013, Ms. Quesonova served in other positions at the CVB including special projects manager, corporate sales manager and most recently director of Convention Services. Prior to her tenure with this organization, she was a human resources specialist at Dowell Schlumberger.
Ms. Quesonova is a business education graduate of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC. She is an active member of Meeting Professionals International and the Event Service Professionals Association.
Vice President of Tourism
Jorge Franz is the Vice President of Tourism and International Group Sales for the Greater Houston and Convention and Visitors Bureau. He has been working for the Houston office for more than eight years and in this capacity, oversees the international promotion of the City of Houston through Sales, Marketing and Public Relations efforts. This includes directing a staff of seven individuals along with five representation offices in Mexico, Venezuela, Germany, Japan and Taiwan that together, make up the face of Houston as a leisure, convention and business destination to travelers from around the world.
Mr. Franz is very active in the Tourism community and was most recently Chair of the Governor of Texas’ Tourism Advisory Committee.
Vice President/Executive Director of the Film Commission
Rick Ferguson has worked for the Houston Film Commission since 1988. In the last six years, direct film production expenditures in the Houston/Galveston area exceeded $100 million. This figure equates to an economic impact of over $300 million dollars. With some 320 film commissions throughout the world working to bring filmmakers to their areas, the rivalry for production dollars is becoming increasingly more competitive.
Mr. Ferguson is a member of a variety of civic and professional organizations: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston - Film Program Advisory Committee; Southwest Alternate Media Project - Advisory Board; Texas Association of Film Commissions - Vice President; Associations of Film Commissions International - Member; Independent Feature Project - Member; Texas Association of Film and Tape Professionals - Member; Texas Motion Picture Alliance - Member; and Houston Advertising Federation - Member.
Executive Director of Visitors Center
Cherry Eno accepted the position of director of Houston Visitors center with the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau in April 1999. Ms. Eno brought to the GHCVB an extensive background of 25+ years in the retail industry.
Ms. Eno has worked for many leading retain companies, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (Bentonville, Ark. and Allentown, PA. 1994-1997); Dillards Department Stores (San Antonio, TX 1985-1994) and Stage Stores Inc. - Palais Royale (Houston, TX 1998-1999).
Ms. Eno has worked in all aspects of the retail industry, including buying, planning and distribution, store operations, marketing, product and systems development. She has bought merchandise for areas as diverse as ladies apparel (sportswear, contemporary, designer, swim & active) dry grocery, beverage, bakery, lamps and lifestyle furniture. Ms. Eno spent 5 years as member of a corporate import committee, specializing in product development and traveling to Asia.
Director of Sales
Nathan Tollett joined the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau as director of sales in 2009.
Tollett most recently spent a year and a half as a national sales manager for the Las Vegas property, The Golden Nugget. This experience as a hotel salesperson completed his trifecta of jobs: facility, convention bureau and hotel, allowing him to understand fully all aspects of the convention sales process. Because of his experience, Tollett says he has learned how to sell and deliver a successful convention—from sales prospect to move-out.
Tollett began his hospitality career as an event manager at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. He was the main point of contact for the meeting planner inside the building. He then accepted a job as a national sales manager for the GHCVB, where he closed a variety of major accounts.
Meeting News honored Tollett in its 2009 issue of "Ones to Watch: 30 Under 30."
Tollett has a bachelor's degree in speech communications and a minor in business from Texas A&M University.
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Lindsey Brown has worked for the GHCVB since December 2003 and manages media relations. In her role as director of marketing, Ms. Brown integrates her knowledge of media relations into the other aspects of marketing—promotions, advertising, graphic design and the Web site.
Prior to joining the GHCVB, Ms. Brown worked as the special projects coordinator at Houston Ballet's Ben Stevenson Academy.
Ms. Brown began her career at Vollmer Public Relations and worked in both their Dallas and Houston offices. Her clients included Travelocity and Marie Callendar's.
Ms. Brown graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in public relations. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America and an associate member of the Society of American Travel Writers.