Executive Bios

Dennis Edwards, President and CEO

Dennis Edwards headshotDenny 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 32 people and an annual budget of $9.2 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 39-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, U.S. Travel Association, Downtown Raleigh Alliance, Triangle Trails Initiative, East Carolina Hospitality Management Advisory Board, Wake County Economic Development, Dorothea Dix Park Conservancy and the Regional Transportation Alliance; he is a liaison on The Centennial Authority.

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 and was named to the 2021 Business North Carolina List as one of the state's most influential leaders in Hospitality and Tourism.

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 married boys, Bryce and Drake, and a grandson named Owen, the best grandchild ever.


Loren J. Gold, Executive Vice President

Loren Gold headshotLoren 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 data and 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 Dupree headshotScott 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 with his wife, Monica, and has two adult children, Davis and Savannah, both recent graduates of UNC-Chapel Hill.


Jonathan Freeze, CDME, EDP, Vice President of Marketing and Communications

Jonathan Freeze headshotJonathan Freeze is Vice President 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, photography/video resources, paid marketing promotions/programs and tourism entrepreneurship initiatives.

In 2014 Freeze earned Destinations International's Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) credential, which signals the destination marketing industry's highest educational achievement. In 2019 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. In 2021 Freeze contributed a chapter recounting recent destination stewardship work in Raleigh/Wake County to the book Tourism Microentrepreneurship, volume 12 of Emerald Publishing's Bridging Tourism Theory and Practice series; he won a 2022 Emerald Literati Award for Outstanding Author Contribution for that book chapter.

In 2023 Freeze sat for the International Economic Development Council's Entrepreneurship Development Professional (EDP) exam, receiving the EDP credential as an indicator of his new skills/expertise in nurturing entrepreneurial ecosystems with Raleigh area tourism economic development.

Under Freeze's 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.

In 2022-2023 Freeze served on Raleigh Little Theatre's Cantey Awards Committee, short-listing the winners of these performing arts awards presented each year since the 1949-1950 theatre season. Freeze has sat on Destinations International's Professional Development Committee since 2022 and was a member of the Event Impact Calculator Festivals and Cultural Events Task Force for the then-Destination Marketing Association International in 2016. He also sat on the Raleigh Arts Plan Steering Committee in 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 23 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.


Paula McChristian, CGFM, Vice President of Finance and Administration

Paula McChristian headshotPaula McChristian is Vice President of Finance and Administration 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.


Vimal Vyas, CDME, Vice President of Data, Security and Digital Innovation

Vimal Vyas headshotVimal Vyas is Vice President of Data, Security and Digital Innovation for the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. As digital innovation VP, 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.

In 2023 Vyas earned Destinations International's Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) credential, which signals the destination marketing industry's highest educational achievement. Vyas is currently serving on the Simpleview MINT+ Steering Committee and has been a member of the Simpleview User Groups since 2012.

He has also served as a member of Destinations International's MINT Super User Group (2019), Performance Reporting Task Force (2018), Finance Operations and Technology Summit Planning Committee (2017–2019), Technology Product/Services Task Force (2016), Technology Committee (2015) and Business Intelligence Task Force (2015). He was Chair of the Steering Committee for New Media Gateway Inc. from 2009 to 2010.

Vyas has 15 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 children. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University with a degree in computer science.


Tori Collins, Director, Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance

Tori Collins headshotTori 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.


Malinda Harrell, CMP Fellow, CASE, Director of Sales

Malinda Harrell HeadshotMalinda 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.


Jessica Holt, Director of Public Relations and International Tourism

Jessica Holt headshotJessica Holt is the Director of Public Relations and International Tourism for the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. She is responsible for the Bureau’s public relations efforts, including consumer and trade media relations as well as influencer marketing, crisis response, reputation management, community awareness and internal communications. She 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.

Jessica is a North Carolina native and brings nearly 10 years of destination marketing and public relations experience to the organization. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Raleigh Sister Cities and is the Chair of the Bureau's Team-Building Committee. She is also a member of Destinations International’s Public Relations and Communications Task Force, Wake County Economic Development’s International Business Committee, Public Relations Society of America and the Raleigh Chamber’s Young Professionals Network.

Jessica earned a B.A. degree in Public and Interpersonal Communications with a minor in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management from North Carolina State University.


Tammy Jeffries, CGSP®, Director of Destination Services

Tammy Jeffries headshotTammy Jeffries, CGSP®, is a 26-year, seasoned veteran of the hospitality and tourism industry. She joined the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau as a Visitor Information Specialist, sharing her love for the city of Raleigh as a premier travel destination. During Tammy's tenure with the Bureau, she has excelled within a variety of roles and responsibilities which have led her to her most notable accomplishment, promotion to Director of Destination Services.

In this role, she oversees services activities for the group, convention and meetings markets; special events and sporting events; and small group events to citywide events; as well as visitor services provided through the Bureau’s official Visitor Information Center—all in order to increase the economic impact of events on Raleigh/Wake County while ensuring visitors, conference and sporting group attendees have unforgettable experiences. She is responsible for managing relationships within the corporate, S.M.E.R.F. association and international group tour markets, plus with festival organizers.

In her role at the Bureau, Jeffries also works to bring forth more opportunities to educate the hospitality community on the role of services and available resources within the Bureau and how they might complement their goals. She works on enhancing visitor experiences and bringing forth more collaboration between peers in the industry, meeting, event and sports planners and Bureau partners and community stakeholders, all with the end goal of encouraging repeat business and stimulating economic growth.

Jeffries serves on the DEI Task Force and as an active member of the leadership committee for the Event Service Professionals Association. She is an education committee member of MPI Carolinas Chapter and serves on the City of Raleigh Special Events Task Force along with a host of other local organizing committees (LOCs), including the LOC for the International Bluegrass Music Association's World of Bluegrass.

Jeffries attended N.C. A&T State University where she studied business management. She also studied career fields of nursing and dentistry at both Wake Technical Community College and Durham Technical Community College.

Jeffries and her partner Tremayne have a beautiful blended family, including her son Calill, two bonus daughters, Tasha and Taylor, and a grandson, Tyler.