President & CEO Visit Houston, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Houston First Corporation
Mike Waterman became President & CEO of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau (GHCVB) also known as Visit Houston in May 2015. The hospitality veteran, with more than 30 years in the industry, also serves as Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of Houston First Corp.
Waterman joined the GHCVB/HFC from Marriott International, where he served as Vice President of sales for the Western region overseeing 100 properties, including a grouping of Marriott hotels in Los Angeles' convention district known as L.A. Live. Waterman has held a series of executive positions with Marriott International over the last 20 years. Houston is the 13th city Mike has lived in since graduation from the University of New Hampshire.
Mike currently serves on the following boards: US Travel, Destination International(DMAI), Hotel Lodging Association of Greater Houston and is an officer of the Texas Travel Industry Association (TTIA).
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.
Senior Vice President of Sales and Services
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.
Chief Marketing Officer
As Chief Marketing Officer, Holly Clapham-Rosenow leads the strategic direction for marketing and advertising for Houston as well as the Houston First Corporation.
Since assuming the role in 2003, Holly has led the brand position for Houston as a Culinary and Cultural Capital. Under her leadership the marketing team has received more than 60 awards.
Prior to joining Houston First, Holly worked as marketing director for CBS Radio, Houston for five years. She has also worked as the promotions director for the Houston Museum of Natural Science and was the client services director 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 and sits on the Theater District Association board and the Discovery Green Advisory Committee. She served on the 2004 Super Bowl Marketing Committee, the 2016 NCAA Men’s Final Four Executive Team and 2017 Super Bowl Marketing Committee. Holly was inducted into the Houston Business Journal's "40 Under 40" class of 2013.
Senior Vice President of Tourism
Jorge Franz is the Senior Vice President of Tourism for Visit Houston. He has been working for the Houston office since 2001 and in this capacity, is in charge of promoting Houston as a great place to visit. As a part of the realignment with Houston First his responsibilities include working with travel trade to create to new initiatives that show measurable returns to Houston hospitality partners and new economic impact to Houston. He is also spearheading efforts to deploy the “Houston Marketplace” – an initiative where travelers can buy authentic Houston experiences.
He oversees a team of professionals that focus on the international promotion of the City of Houston through Sales, Marketing and Public Relations efforts. This includes directing a staff of 18 in Houston along with representation agencies for Mexico, Canada, Latin America, Europe, and Asia.
Mr. Franz is very active in the Tourism community. He most recently served on the 2017 Super Bowl International Host Committee, is a Past Chair of the Governor of Texas’ Tourism Advisory Committee and a Past Chair of the Texas Medical Center’s International Affairs Advisory Council.
Before his time with the bureau, Mr. Franz worked for six years at Time Warner Communications - Houston and spearheaded their education, internal relations and Hispanic market public relations initiatives. He won many industry awards including the Texas Cable Association's "Judge's Award" for his efforts.
Mr. Franz was born in Santiago, Chile and has lived in Chile, Venezuela, Spain and the United States. He has also represented Houston personally all around the world. He enjoys traveling immensely and thinks he has one of the best jobs in the world. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from the University of Houston and has been a proud Houstonian and Texan for more than 35 years. He is married to Holly and is a proud father to Ethan Santiago.
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; Texas Association of Film Commissions - Vice President; Associations of Film Commissions International - Member; Independent Feature Project - Member; Texas Motion Picture Alliance - Member; and Houston Advertising Federation - Member.
Director of Sales
Nathan Tollett began his hospitality career as an event manager at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center in 2002. He was the primary point of contact for the facility, assisting many major conventions in hosting and executing successful events. Following that, Tollett accepted a job as a national account executive with Visit Houston, where he booked a variety of meetings and conventions in the corporate and association market.
Completing his first tenure at Visit Houston, Tollett then spent nearly two years as a national sales manager for the Las Vegas property, The Golden Nugget. That experience as a hotel salesperson helped him round out the “hospitality trifecta”—giving Tollett the background from the facilities, destination and hotel perspective to better understand all of the aspects of the convention sales process.
Tollett rejoined Visit Houston as Director of Sales in 2009 and now oversees the daily operations of the sales team while creating long term strategies relative to Houston as a premier meeting and convention destination. Most recognized for his creative client experiences, Nathan believes in providing targeted and customized solutions for all potential opportunities.
Meeting News honored Tollett in its 2009 issue of "Ones to Watch: 30 under 30” and he was also recognized in Connect Magazine as “Future Leaders of the Meeting Industry, 40 under 40” in 2011, and also received the 2015 Experient Supplier of the Year award.
Tollett holds a bachelor's degree in speech communications and a minor in business from Texas A&M University.
Vice President of Client 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 Event Services
Paul Casso joined Houston First Corporation in October 2014 as the Vice President of Destination Events. With an extensive, wide-ranging background in the hospitality industry, his career path has afforded him the unique opportunity to work in the some of the cornerstones of this industry in a variety of roles. Food and Beverage Manager, Catering Manager, Convention Services Manager and Sales Manager for Starwood Hotels and Resorts; Sales Manager at the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau; Manager of Worldwide Event Operations at BMC Software and Senior Account Director at 2020 Exhibits.
Paul was born in New Orleans, Louisiana but has lived in Houston almost his entire life. He holds a BA in Business Management from Texas State University and is a member of Meeting Planners International and the Event Services Professionals Association.
Director of Membership
Before entering the tourism industry, Ms. Scott- Savage enjoyed a successful 20-year career as a corporate officer in the banking industry. Ms. Savage served as Vice President of Community and Member Relations for 7 years at the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau and is the former President and CEO of the Mobile Area Convention and Visitor Bureau (MACVB).
Ms. Savage is privileged to serve and support the convention and visitor industry for more than 27 years and has been recognized for her area of experience and expertise. Ms. Savage does an extensive amount of public speaking on a variety of subjects in the business community as well as industry seminars to include keynote presentations to the British Association of Conference Destinations, Manchester, England, Travel Industry of America, International Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus along with state and local associations throughout the United States.
Ms. Savage, semi-retired continues to serve as a consultant to DMOs and the travel industry. She joined the Greater Houston Convention and visitor Bureau as Director of Membership in June of 2013 after serving as a consultant to the organization, redeveloping their membership program.
To download high-res images, visit photo gallery.