Vail Economic Development Manager Kelli McDonald is leaving her position
VAIL — Vail Economic Development Manager Kelli McDonald will be step down in September after 10 years on the job. Her last day with the town is Sept. 5.
McDonald was hired in 2007 and has been responsible for leading the town’s economic development, marketing and special events initiatives, which has resulted in record visitation and significant sales tax revenue increases during eight of the past 10 years, with summer growth exceeding winter growth percentages during five of those years. She has also been instrumental in helping recruit major events to Vail including the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships. In addition, McDonald served as a member of the local organizing committee that helped plan the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. In recognition of her work, she was named Tourism Professional of the Year by the Vail Valley Partnership in 2015.
Formerly with Barnhart Advertising, Evans Group and Tracey Locke Advertising in Denver, McDonald relocated to Vail in 2002 after being hired by the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau (now Vail Valley Partnership) to be the vice president of marketing. Five years later, she was recruited to become the town’s first economic development manager.
In her role with the town and working with the Vail Town Council, staff, Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council, Commission on Special Events, Vail Economic Advisory Council and the town’s strategic partners including Vail Resorts, Vail Recreation District and Vail Valley Foundation, McDonald’s efforts have enjoyed success in raising the bar for Vail as an international brand.
Beth Slifer, who chairs the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council, said McDonald has been a terrific influence for Vail. “Kelli has been a positive and delightful influence on the growth of tourism and consequently sales tax generated in Vail,” Slifer said. “Her deep knowledge of marketing, executive management skills, vision for the future of Vail and disciplined focus on goals has been a tremendous motivator for staff, volunteer advisors and outside vendors. She has established high standards and quality organizations which will be her legacy.”
Chris Jarnot, executive vice president – mountain division of Vail Resorts, also praised McDonald’s work.
“Kelli has been a tremendous partner going back to 2002. She was instrumental in creating one, unified approach to marketing the Vail brand year-round, and always brought a practical approach to collaborating with us and all stakeholders to create the best outcome for Vail. Our team will truly miss working with Kelli, and we wish her only the best in her retirement and hope to see her and (husband Michael Kurz) enjoying the mountain even more in her free time.”
Vail Mayor Dave Chapin has witnessed McDonald’s influence in strengthening strategic alliances between the council, marketing district advisory committee and the Commission on Special Events first-hand.
“Kelli’s knowledge and enthusiasm concerning all town processes and events is unprecedented,” Chapin said. “She’s a great organizer and her unique ability to create collaboration among various business groups and departments is a true strength of hers. I truly will miss her.”
McDonald says it has been a pleasure working with the dedicated and talented town staff. “The joys and challenges of collegiality as we did the town’s important work have made me a better professional, employee and person,” McDonald said. “It is now time for me to celebrate my 40-plus year long career in brand development and pass the torch.”
The town is currently planning for the transition and preparing for the recruitment process to hire McDonald’s successor.