Team San Jose Names Karolyn Kirchgesler of Visit Saint Paul as New CEO
Team San Jose has named Karolyn Kirchgesler – an industry executive with 25 years of experience, including running a similar merged CVB-convention center model -- as its new CEO following a yearlong search process.
“The Team San Jose Board of Directors is thrilled to welcome Karolyn Kirchgesler to San Jose,’’ said Michael Mulcahy, chairman of the board for Team San Jose and managing partner of SDS NexGen Partners. “Karolyn has the right mix of industry experience having worked with convention and visitors bureaus and convention centers similar to Team San Jose’s innovative model. Karolyn brings a deep passion for the work and a leadership style that complements our already strong management team. We are confident that Karolyn will deliver strong economic results for San Jose and build upon Team San Jose’s mission to put more heads in beds, butts in seats and feet on the streets.’’
Mulcahy said the Team San Jose Board of Directors unanimously approved Kirchgesler, who is currently President & CEO of Visit Saint Paul, in large part because she successfully engineered a merger between the former Saint Paul Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) and RiverCentre Convention & Visitors Authority in Minnesota, and has run that combined entity successfully for nine years. Her unique experience there, which is similar to Team San Jose’s structure, made her the stand out in a very competitive search process, Mulcahy said. Additionally, her extensive experience as a CVB executive director and leading sales and marketing teams at convention centers capitalized on key components of the search criteria as set out by the board and key stakeholders.
“I am absolutely thrilled to join Team San Jose, an innovative industry pioneer and a community with rich history and tremendous assets as a tourism destination,” said Kirchgesler. “I was intrigued by San Jose’s unique “one-stop” approach to meetings, as well as their revamped convention center and exciting destination. I look forward to working with the Team San Jose Board of Directors, City leaders, and the Team San Jose staff to further San Jose’s strong position within the meetings and convention industry and encourage more business and leisure travelers to San Jose.”
Kirchgesler comes t o San Jose with more than 25 years of industry experience and just completed a three-year term as board member for the leading convention and tourism industry association, Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI). Prior to serving as leader of Visit Saint Paul, she held executive level roles with Greater New Haven Convention and Visitors Bureau (executive director), Sioux Falls Convention Center (director of Sales & Marketing) and Aberdeen Convention and Visitors Bureau (executive director).
Team San Jose retained Mike Gamble of SearchWide last year to lead a nationwide search for an industry leader to replace CEO Bill Sherry, who is retiring in September.
“I’m pleased that a nationwide search yielded an impressive pool of industry veterans to consider for this critically important position,” said Debra Figone, San Jose city manager. “Karolyn’s strong sales and marketing experience can build on San Jose’s reputation as an attractive destination for meetings and conventions, and I’m confident she’ll bring the right tools to enhance our success as the Capital of Silicon Valley.”
As CEO, Kirchgesler, who will start in late September, will lead sales, marketing, communications, and operations for Team San Jose, helping drive economic growth by attracting conventions, meetings, cultural events and tourism to the city. She will work closely with Team San Jose Chief Operating Officer Dave Costain, a 30-year hospitality industry veteran, Team San Jose’s Board of Directors and Executive Team, and City of San Jose Administration including the City Manager to continue the organization’s recent strong progress in business and economic development.
About Karolyn Kirchgesler
Karolyn Kirchgesler is a 25-year veteran of the meetings and convention industry known for her innovative management style, and leadership in focusing staff teams in concert with board members to support operations, marketing, sales and public relations initiatives. Kirchgesler’s career highlights include leading convention and visitors bureaus and convention sales programs, boosting business through implementing new sales, marketing and PR strategies and streamlining operations and marketing by merging a Convention Center and CVB and their respective boards. She also led the creation of the Aberdeen Convention & Visitors Bureau which once was a part of the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce, expanding its budget and marketing efforts to increase bookings.
Throughout her career Kirchgesler has held many board leadership positions, including just completing a three-year board term with DMAI as board of director and member of the Finance and Membership Committees. Kirchgesler currently serves as Treasurer of the Minneapolis Saint Paul Airport Foundation and Executive Committee and is Chair of the Development Committee and a member of the Executive Committee of the Saint Paul Police Foundation.