Johnson stepping down from CVB

Courtesy photo: Jennifer Johnson

BROOKINGS – After seven years at the helm of the Brookings Convention & Visitors Bureau, Executive Director Jennifer Johnson is stepping down.

The CVB is a small, non-profit agency contracted by the City of Brookings for the primary purpose of marketing the city and recruiting events that stimulate the local economy.

“It was not an easy or quick decision,” Johnson said. “I love this job, our team, the passionate people on our board, our partners and the Brookings community. There’s no way we could have accomplished everything we did these past years without our partners and the community support. The Brookings tagline is ‘Bring Your Dreams,’ and we really mean that here.”

In 2012, with city and partner support, the CVB Board reorganized to its current structure and Volga-native Johnson was hired to lead the charge. 

“My husband and I were moving from St. Paul, Minnesota, and I was looking for opportunities that aligned with my experience as a senior account manager for a marketing and print agency. Somewhat surprising to me, the CVB was a natural fit. I was used to working with companies to develop and implement comprehensive marketing plans, and in this role, I did the same thing with the city as my client,” Johnson said.

As for future plans, Johnson will try out a new title. 

“Well, at least for now, I’m planning to become the chief operating officer of our household, a totally new role for me. I’ve never done a strategic plan for a household before, but that’s exactly what I plan on doing. Oh, and I’m going to create job descriptions for everyone,” Johnson said, laughing.

Since 2012, the CVB programming efforts and outcomes have increased significantly. The CVB went from recruiting eight new events per year to working with partners to annually recruit 23-24 new events, a 62 percent increase. 

And while event recruitment remained a primary focus, marketing initiatives aided in that effort.

“When we reorganized, we focused on metrics and marketing. We knew the economic importance of the visitor industry and we needed to better track that impact, as well as track the efforts of the CVB in achieving those outcomes. Jennifer was a critical part of that strategy,” long-time board member Victoria Blatchford said.

April 10 is the submission deadline for applicants for the CVB’s executive director position. Candidate finalists will be interviewed the week of April 22 and the organization hopes to make a new hire announcement by May 1. 

“The board knows we have a lot of work ahead of us, but the CVB is in a strong position – we have amazing staff, an engaged board and a solid foundation from which we will continue building,” current CVB Board Chair Seth Koch said. 

Interested candidates can submit a resume and cover letter to either: [email protected] or 415 Eighth St. S., Brookings SD 57006, attn: CVB Search Committee.

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