An Exciting Beginning

We are pleased to share S.T.E.P. (Student Tourism Exploration Program) officially launched on January 14th with Dobson High School.

Mesa Mayor John Giles kicked off the day with his inspiring words, followed by industry leaders: Visit Mesa President and CEO, Marc Garcia, Managing Director of Ensemble Investments, Randy McGrane, and Visit Mesa Director of Sports Sales, Lance Fite.

In addition, SueAnn Brown, the owner of It’s All About Etiquette, hosted an interactive session with the students. Topics included confident introductions, professional work attire, and dining etiquette.

In February, the students will assume the role of “meeting planner” for the day as they visit several Mesa hotels. The goal is for students to understand the planning process, the responsibilities of a meeting planner and sales manager, and the economic impact of group travel.

“On Sunday I went to dinner with my friends, and I taught them the continental way of holding their silverware. None of them knew the proper way to hold their utensils, and I tried my best to eat with etiquette.”

Election of New Leadership

On January 18th, the Board unanimously elected new leaders to oversee the foundation. Please join us in welcoming Deanna Villanueva-Saucedo, Ron Williams, and Alison Brooks to their new roles.

Deanna Villanueva-Saucedo President

Deanna Villanueva-Saucedo is the Director of Community Engagement for Maricopa Community Colleges, working to enhance the profile and visibility of the colleges throughout Maricopa County

Deanna is a native of Mesa, Arizona and graduated with BA in Psychology and a Masters in Public Administration from Arizona State University. Prior to working with Maricopa Community Colleges, Deanna worked for nearly a decade on community and Latino outreach for both Mesa Community College and Mesa Public Schools..

Ron Williams
Vice President

Ron Williams, a U.S. Air Force, Highly-Decorated, Desert Storm-Era Veteran, is a Humanitarian, Community Servant, Business Owner & Restaurateur. After serving (6) years as the President/CEO of the Arizona Chapter of the National Minority Supplier Development Council, in June 2010, Ron became the Owner of Contacts to Contracts, LLC (a “verified” Serviced Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB). In December 2010, he became Equity Managing Partner/Owner of Performance Management Consulting Services, LLC (Owner/Operator of The Refuge Coffee, Food & Wine Restaurant) at Phoenix Sky Harbor Int’l Airport, Terminal 4). He’s an “Executive on Board” with the Non-Profit “Streets of Joy”. As Owner of Board Training, LLC, he also provides confidential Board Governance Training for Key Community Non-Profits. Ron excels in: Marketing, Strategic Partnering, Branding, Equity/Diversity Training, Business Development & Certification, and has an immense background in Human Relations & Social Justice. He effectively ran (3) Statewide Business Development Agencies in Arizona and possesses over (35+) years of military/private sector business experience, assisting firms in winning $100+ Billion Dollars in contracts.

Alison Brooks
Executive Director

Alison Brooks is the Director of Destination Experience and Advocacy for Visit Mesa.  Her priority is advancing Visit Mesa’s position as a critical economic development agency for Mesa and the East Valley, with a strong focus on industry research and advocacy. In addition, Visit Mesa’s commitment to accessibility and inclusion falls under Brooks, who spearheads these initiatives within the hospitality community. Brooks also oversees the partnership program and group services for Visit Mesa.

Brooks is a graduate of Arizona State University with a degree in Tourism. She has a dynamic tourism and hospitality background serving in marketing, sales, training, and account management roles for Two Roads Hospitality, Airbnb, & Brinker International. She also owned and operated her own coffee shop. She lives in the Phoenix, Arizona area with her husband and two sons.

Coming this April

12 West Brewing, Chupacabra Tap Room, and Visit Mesa have collaborated on a Double IPA beer to be released on Saturday, April 2nd. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Mesa Regional Foundation for Accessibility, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Details on where to purchase the beer and merchandise coming soon!

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