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Executive Bios


Dennis Edwards, President and CEO


Dennis EdwardsDenny is the President and CEO for the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), whose role is to sell and market Raleigh/Wake County as a tourist and meetings destination. The Greater Raleigh CVB has a staff of 29 people and an annual budget of $8.2 million. Denny has served in this capacity since April 2007.

Prior to joining the Greater Raleigh CVB, Denny served as the Senior Vice President for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau for 10 years. A 38-year CVB veteran, Denny was also the Director of Sales for the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau, and prior to that, served as the Director of Sales for the Palm Springs Desert Resorts Convention & Visitors Bureau.

He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Travel and Tourism Coalition, North Carolina Travel and Tourism, East Carolina Hospitality Management Advisory Board, Wake County Economic Development, Dorothea Dix Park Conservancy and the Regional Transportation Alliance.

Denny recently served on the Board of Directors for the American Society of Association Executives, Professional Convention Management Association and Destinations International, where he also served on the Foundation Board. He was an APEX Commissioner for the Convention Industry Council and also served on the International Association of Exhibitions and Events Exhibitor Advisory Council and is a past President for the Florida Chapter.

Denny received the Business Leader 2009 Triangle Mover and Shaker Award.

An Iowa native, Denny is a graduate from the University of Northern Iowa where he received a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Public Relations and minors in Business and Marketing.

He and his wife Cindy have two boys, Bryce and Drake, and a grandson named Owen, the best grandchild ever.

 

Loren J. Gold, Executive Vice President


Loren J. GoldLoren Gold is the Executive Vice President for the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. As the Executive Vice President, Gold is responsible for leading the development of strategic sales and marketing programs, including brand management, market research, marketing communications, advertising, destination technology, and public relations. Gold also oversees the organizational implementation of the Destination Strategic Plan. The 10-year tourism master plan for Wake County. 

Gold is a member of the Destinations International Sales and Services Committee, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and the MINT+ Advisory Committee. A recipient of the 2014 Economic Development Award from the Downtown Raleigh Alliance and tri-chair of the IMBA Bluegrass Live local organizing committee.  Now in it’s eighth year, the music festival is Raleigh’s largest.

With more than 25 years of senior sales management experience, Loren previously held positions in the Washington, D.C., area as Director of National Sales in Wyndham International's National Sales Office, as well as National Sales Manager for Marriott Hotels and Resorts.

Gold founded City Reps Inc., the country's first company dedicated exclusively to multiple CVB representation. He generated meeting and tradeshow business leads for bureaus in Cincinnati, Houston, Long Beach, Memphis, Minneapolis, Providence and San Jose.

Gold joined the Greater Raleigh CVB in 2005 as the Director of Sales, before being promoted to his current position in 2007.

He resides in Apex, N.C., with his wife and three children. He is a graduate of Arizona State University.

 

D. Scott Dupree, Executive Director, Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance


Scott DupreeScott Dupree is Executive Director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance (GRSA), a division of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. In that capacity, he is responsible for promoting Raleigh, Cary and Wake County as a premier destination for sporting events.

Dupree currently serves as Chair of the newly-formed North Carolina Sports Leadership Council, comprised of sports executives from around the state.

In his time at GRSA, Dupree has chaired on local organizing committees for events such as NCAA Men’s & Women’s Basketball Tournaments, NCAA College Cup, NHL Entry Draft, NHL All-Star Weekend, IRONMAN 70.3, Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Basketball Tournament and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Basketball Tournament among others.

In 2018 Dupree was named the most influential sports person in the Triangle by The News & Observer, and in 2014, he was named CVB and Sports Commission Professional of the Year by Connect Sports. Under his leadership the GRSA was named Sports Tourism Organization of the Year (for population 250,000 and above) in 2015 by the National Association of Sports Commissions. He is currently a member of the North Carolina Baseball Museum Board of Directors.

Prior to joining the Greater Raleigh CVB in 1994, Dupree was the Director of Communications and Marketing for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Bicentennial Observance.

Dupree worked for 11 years in collegiate athletics at Arizona State University, the University of Notre Dame and the University of North Carolina. He has worked at numerous ACC Tournaments, NCAA basketball and baseball regionals, college bowl games, the College World Series and the Final Four.

Dupree is a 1986 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Journalism. He lives in Cary and has two adult children, Davis and Savannah, both recent graduates of UNC-Chapel Hill.

 

Julie Brakenbury, CGSP®, Director of Destination Services


Julie BrakenburyJulie Brakenbury is Director of Destination Services for the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. In her role, she oversees both convention and event services for everything from small groups to citywide events, as well as visitor services provided through the Greater Raleigh CVB’s official Visitor Information Center. She also handles key strategic accounts in a combined sales and services role, including corporate, SMERF, association, religious, sports, international group tour and large non-convention events, like the International Bluegrass Music Association's World of Bluegrass.

She is president of Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) and chair of the 2020 ESPA Annual Conference. Brakenbury also serves as a member of Destinations International’s Professional Development and Convention Sales & Services committees, is an advisory board member to N.C. State University’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department, and serves on the Downtown Raleigh Alliance’s Accessibility Task Force.

Brakenbury completed the Destinations International Sales Academy as well as holds the organization’s Certificate of Convention Marketing, has her IOM (Certification in Nonprofit Management) from the Institute for Organization Management/American Chamber of Commerce Executives, completed American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute's Guest Service Gold® program to become a Certified Guest Service Professional (CGSP®) and has numerous credit hours of continuing education through ESPA, Destinations International, Meeting Professionals International and the Society of Government Meeting Professionals.

Under her leadership, the CVB’s sales, sports and services teams have received multiple Gold Service Awards from Meetings & Conventions magazine.

Her professional hospitality experience spans 20 years and includes hotel sales, destination marketing, group sales and now convention and visitor services. Prior to joining the Bureau in 2007 to develop the services team, Brakenbury was the Association Sales Manager for the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club. Prior to that, she was the Director of Sales at the Durham CVB (now Discover Durham) and, before that, served as the Director of Sales for the Augusta Metropolitan CVB.

Brakenbury resides in Raleigh with her husband, Ken. They have two sons and two daughters-in-law and two grandkids.

 

Tori Collins, Director, Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance


Tori CollinsTori Collins is the Director for GRSA. As GRSA’s Director, she oversees the sales process and overall efforts to promote Raleigh, Cary and Wake County as a premier destination for sporting events. Collins is a past chairman of the North Carolina Sports Association, a former board member of the Women in Sports Events Greater Raleigh chapter, has been active in the National Association of Sports Commissions and is a Certified Sports Event Executive.

Prior to joining the Greater Raleigh CVB in 1999, Collins worked in the marketing, event management and sponsor fulfillment at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. A native of Anchorage, Alaska, she is a graduate of North Carolina State University, where she worked as a sports information student assistant in the Athletics Department. Collins lives in Wake Forest with her husband, Brad, and two children, Colt and Brady.

 

Jonathan Freeze, CDME, Director of Marketing and Communications


Jonathan Freeze, CDME, CHIAJonathan Freeze is Director of Marketing and Communications for the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is responsible for the Bureau's integrated marketing communications strategy, including advertising, destination awareness, marketing research, internet presence, area hospitality business partnership initiatives, paid marketing promotions and programs and CVB photography and video resources.

In 2014 Freeze earned Destinations International's Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) credential, which signals the destination marketing industry's highest educational achievement. Recently he was invited to join the faculty of the CDME Program, becoming an instructor for its elective courses in Destination Positioning & Branding and Destination Information & Research.

Under his leadership, his marketing teams have won numerous Tourism Marketing Achievement Awards from the Destination Marketing Association of North Carolina (DMANC)/N.C. Tourism Industry Association as well as three Adrian Awards from the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International and a Destiny Award from the National Council of Destination Organizations.

Freeze was a member of the Event Impact Calculator Festivals and Cultural Events Task Force for the Destination Marketing Association International (now Destinations International) in 2016. He also sat on the Raleigh Arts Plan Steering Committee (2014-2015). Prior to that, Freeze served as Marketing Committee Co-Chair for DMANC from 2010 to 2013. From 2015 to 2020, he maintained a Certification in Hotel Industry Analytics jointly offered by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute and STR. 

Freeze brings 20 years of destination marketing industry-specific experience to his current work promoting Raleigh, N.C. Prior to joining the Greater Raleigh CVB in 2008, he was Director of Marketing Research and Brand Management for the Durham (N.C.) Convention & Visitors Bureau, now Discover Durham.

Freeze has a B.A. degree in classics from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and reading classical literature is still a favorite pastime for him.

 

Malinda Harrell, CMP, CASE, Director of Sales


Malinda HarrellMalinda Harrell is the Director of Sales for the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. She has been part of the hospitality industry for 25+ years. At the Greater Raleigh CVB, Harrell oversees the sales team tasked with promoting Raleigh/Wake County as a meetings destination, directing strategic selling initiatives and key areas of business development.

Harrell has served on the boards of Association Executives of North Carolina (AENC) and Meeting Professionals International (MPI) – Carolinas Chapter, for which she also served as its first African-American President in 2015. Her current service includes Meeting Professionals International Anti-Human Trafficking task force, Past Presidents Council for the MPI Carolinas Chapter and AENC’s Awards and Scholarships Committee.

Additionally, Harrell has earned Certified Association Sales Executive (CASE) and Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designations and is active in many industry-related organizations including the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International and Professional Convention Management Association.

Throughout her career, she has received three MPI–Carolinas Chapter awards (Hall of Fame, Supplier of the Year and Corey D. Bizzell Award of Excellence) and one AENC award (Patsy B. Smith Award).

Prior to joining the Bureau in 2006, Harrell handled the national association market for the Hilton Raleigh North Hills. Her tenure there also included various roles in operations, reservation sales and convention services.

Harrell resides in Raleigh with her husband, Greg.

 

Paula McChristian, CGFM, Director of Finance and Human Resources


Paula McChristian, CGFMPaula McChristian is Director of Finance and Human Resources for the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. She is responsible for all aspects of the financial process for the Greater Raleigh CVB. These duties include implementing accounting policies and practices to maintain a high level of transparency and oversight for occupancy tax and prepared food and beverage tax funds received to implement the CVB’s mission. Her responsibilities also include human resources management.

McChristian is a Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) from the Association of Government Accountants, member of both the N.C. and National Association of Government Accountants and a member of Government Finance Officers Association.

She received her B.S. in accounting from Florida State University. Before joining the CVB, Paula worked as Director of Administration for the Brain Injury Association of Florida and as Office Manager for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tulsa, Inc.

She currently volunteers and serves as Treasurer for Wonder Women Wish Warriors and works with Make-A-Wish Foundation of Eastern N.C. to raise funds for wishes for deserving children.

McChristian resides in Raleigh with her husband Jon. They have two sons, Ward and Keith.

 

Scott Peacock, Director of Public Relations and International Tourism


Scott PeacockScott is the Director of Public Relations and International Tourism for the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is responsible for the Bureau’s public relations efforts including consumer and trade media relations as well as influencer marketing, crisis response, issues and reputation management, community awareness and internal communications. He also oversees international travel trade programs for the Bureau including consumer-oriented advertising and public relations initiatives with trade partners, tradeshows, sales missions, familiarization tours, agent training and other initiatives for the global travel trade industry aimed at travel trade operators, wholesalers, travel agents, trade and consumer media abroad.

Peacock is currently the past-chair of the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA’s) Travel and Tourism Section, a board he has served on since 2013. He also sits on Wake County Economic Development's Marketing Advisory and Foreign Direct Investment Committees. Peacock was formerly a member of the U.S. Travel Association’s Communications Advisory Committee and also has served on several local chapter boards of the PRSA and American Marketing Association over the years.

Peacock brings more than 10 years of destination marketing industry-specific experience. Before joining the Greater Raleigh CVB in 2016, Scott was the Public Relations Manager for Visit North Carolina. Prior to Visit North Carolina, Scott worked for several CVBs in Ohio, serving as the Director of Public Relations/Communications at Destination Cleveland and as a Public Relations Manager for Experience Columbus. His background also includes more than four years of communications, marketing and advertising work for several central Ohio marketing, advertising and public relations firms.

Peacock has a B.A. degree in communications, with minors in marketing and tourism, from the University of Northern Iowa. He and his wife, Liz, live in Raleigh with their dog, Kirby.

 

Vimal Vyas, Director of Information, Security and Digital Innovation


Vimal VyasVimal Vyas is the Director of Information, Security and Digital Innovation for the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. As marketing technology director, he is responsible for the Bureau's integrated digital efforts, including digital product (web/mobile) development, data integration, cloud-based software solutions, infrastructure, content/internet marketing technologies and business intelligence.

Vyas is currently serving on the Destinations International Performance Reporting Task Force and has been a member of the Customer Relationship Management User Group for Simpleview since 2012.

He has also served as a member of the Destinations International 2017 Finance Operations and Technology Summit Planning Committee, Destinations International Technology Product/Services Task Force (2016), Destinations International Technology Committee (2015) and Destinations International Business Intelligence Task Force (2015). He has also served as Chair of the Steering Committee for New Media Gateway Inc. from 2009 to 2010.

Vyas has 14 years of destination marketing industry-specific experience. Prior to joining the Greater Raleigh CVB in 2004, he was Director of Information Technology for the Cary Chamber of Commerce as well as Technical Analyst for GlaxoSmithKline.

Vyas resides in Raleigh with his wife and child. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University with a degree in computer science.