Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau Announces 2015 Hospitality Award Winners

Raleigh, N.C. (Aug. 31, 2015) - The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, the official destination marketing organization of Raleigh and Wake County, recognized five individuals for significant contributions and outstanding service in the hospitality and tourism industries during the GRCVB's Annual Meeting and Luncheon on Aug. 27, 2015 at the Raleigh Convention Center.

The award winners are:

Lifetime Achievement Award
This recognition is given to an individual who has demonstrated lifelong support and leadership in Wake County tourism, promoted a standard of excellence and has made lasting contributions to the industry's growth as a whole. This is only the third time in the Bureau's 28-year history that this award has been given.

Harvey Schmitt, recently retired president and CEO of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, was the recipient of this distinguished award for his commitment and dedication to tourism as a local economic development engine. During his tenure, the chamber notched a number of achievements, including its roles in creating the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, building PNC Arena and the Raleigh Convention Center, recruiting Red Hat and what-is-now PNC to Raleigh's downtown, and encouraging construction of the Triangle Expressway - all of which have a major impact on Wake County tourism.

Thad Eure, Jr. Memorial Award
The Thad Eure, Jr. Memorial Award is the Bureau's longest running and most prestigious award recognizing an individual or organization that has made a major impact on the Wake County hospitality industry. The award is named for the late restaurateur and community leader Thad Eure Jr.

Dr. Emlyn Koster, director of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, was awarded the Thad Eure Jr. Memorial Award for his efforts in hosting the Association of Science-Technology Centers at the Raleigh Convention Center which drew more than 1,700 delegates representing 42 countries, with two-and-a-quarter million dollars of direct visitor spending generated.  This marked the third, large-scale gathering hosted by our nationally acclaimed museum that year.

John B. Ross, Jr. Leadership Award
The John B. Ross Leadership Award was established in 1996 to recognize an outstanding executive management-level individual who displays exceptional leadership skills to positively impact the Wake County hospitality industry and community. The award exemplifies the courage, leadership, dedication and inspiration.

Chef Ashley Christensen, proprietor of AC Restaurants, accepted the John B. Ross, Jr. Leadership Award, for not only the positive impacted she has had on the culinary reputation of Raleigh, but also because of her deep commitment to philanthropy and making the community a better place to live.

Horizon Award
The Horizon Award recognizes exemplary attitude and professionalism of a mid-management level employee who demonstrates the skills to be a future leader in the hospitality industry.

Mara Craft, national sales manager for the Raleigh Convention Center, was recognized for her collaborative work with the GRCVB staff not only in selling the Raleigh Convention Center as a great facility to host a meeting but also in selling Raleigh as an energizing convention destination. She was also recognized for her deep commitment to the value of building and maintaining strong relationships with clients, exuding a passion for her work and being a role model to those around her.

Isaac Hunter Excellence in Service Awards
The Isaac Hunter Excellence in Service Awards honor front-line employees in the local hospitality industry who go above and beyond normal expectations to provide outstanding service to visitors and residents.

Gilda Clark, housekeeper at The Umstead Hotel and Spa, was honored with this award for always going the extra mile for guests with a positive attitude and willingness to help. Gilda is consistently praised for going above and beyond the call of duty.

The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, as the official destination marketing organization of Raleigh and Wake County, accelerates sustainable growth and development by increasing visitor and convention business. Through its website, and other tools, the GRCVB assists local visitors in a variety of ways.