Mo. Tourism Commission picks new leadership team

AP News
Posted: Nov 11, 2009 10:36 AM

Missouri tourism officials selected a new leadership team, including a new director for the Division of Tourism and a new chairman for the state Tourism Commission.

Katie Steel Danner, who had been the deputy director for the Department of Economic Development, was named the new Tourism Division director. Danner, a former lawmaker and former president of a public relations firm, begins her new job immediately. Former director Bob Smith is to remain with the agency as an adviser during the transition.

Tourism commissioners on Tuesday also selected Marci Bennett as the panel's new chairwoman. Bennett works as the executive director of the St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau.

She replaces Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who announced this fall that she was leaving the post. Kinder will remain on the commission.

Commissioners who supported Bennett's selection said her budget experience was important, given the state's financial hardships.

Financial difficulties facing tourism also were evident during the meeting. Commissioners voted to approve $1.6 million in budget cuts, aimed at advertising, in response to a directive from Gov. Jay Nixon. Those cuts are in addition to $7 million that Nixon ordered trimmed earlier this fiscal year from the tourism division's nearly $24 million budget. The state fiscal year began July 1.

For next year, the commission is preparing for a budget between $11 million and $16 million.