Few things keep the local economy thriving like a knowledgeable and hard-working network of tourism advocates. These professionals keep a finger on the pulse of Memphis, working tirelessly to present our city in a way that reflects our greatest assets. That the rest of the country and the rest of the world are aware of our rich musical tradition, our unique cultural heritage, and, of course, our unparalleled barbecue, is a testament to the hard work of POWER PLAYERS in the tourism industry. In the list below, we have collected the top tourism representatives in the region. These are the men and women who help keep the city on the map. 


President, Beale Street Merchants Association. Educated, Dyersburg State Community College, Business Administration and Economics. Has been with organization since 2008. Works with the nearly 30 establishments on Beale Street to promote the street itself and its businesses. Owner, Miss Polly’s Soul City Café. Voted Manager of the Year 2004 by the Beale Street Merchants Association. Former Board Member, Literacy Mid-South and Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse.

President and CEO, Memphis Zoo. Ph.D., Zoology, Ohio University. Responsible for overseeing all expansions at the zoo, including $23 million Northwest Passage exhibit and $16 million Teton Trek exhibit. Played key role in negotiations with the Chinese government to bring giant pandas — Le Le and Ya Ya — to zoo in spring 2003. Future exhibits in develoment include Zambezi River Hippo Camp and Chickasaw Bluffs. Board Member, Giant Panda Conservation Foundation and the Jaguar Conservation Fund.

Chairman/CEO, Performa Entertainment Real Estate; Managing Broker, Elkington Real Estate Group. Bachelor’s, Vanderbilt; J.D., University of Memphis. Awarded Top 400 Builders in America by Professional Builder, A.W. Willis Award for Preservation, and American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year. Former Chairman, Land Use Control and State of Tennessee Contractor Board. Founding Board Member, National Civil Rights Museum and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Memphis.

General Manager, Mud Island River Park, Riverfront Development Corporation. Graduated from the University of Memphis. Has worked with promoters to host top performers like Erykah Badu, Kid Rock, Willie Nelson, Def Leppard, Sheryl Crow, the Black Crowes, and Robert Plant. Serves as a multi-termed Board Member of Tennessee Association of Museums and contributing author for the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Supports Special Olympics, American Cancer Society, I-FUN Entertainment, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

CEO, The Children’s Museum of Memphis. Attended University of Memphis. Served as Mayor of Memphis from 1982 to 1992. As mayor, instrumental in museum’s conception by awarding a 25-year, $1-a-year lease at old National Guard Armory. Founder, Wonders: the Memphis International Cultural Series. Instrumental in bringing International Paper to Memphis. Led the effort to keep St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis and expand Tom Lee Park. Built the Trolley Line and bridge to Mud Island. Trustee, Healthcare Trust Fund for Mississippi.

President and CEO, Memphis in May International Festival. Awarded the Ministry of Culture & Tourism from the Republic of Korea. Named Tennessee Ambassador of Goodwill by Governor Phil Bredesen. Board Member, Festival and Events Association. Former Board Member, Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau, Memphis Riverfront Development Corporation, and Memphis Chapter of the Recording Academy. Former President, Mid South Concerts and Holt Entertainment. Has worked with music artists including U2, the Police, and Ray Charles.

Executive Director, National Ornamental Metal Museum. M.B.A., University of Memphis; Bachelor’s, University of Washington; Bachelor’s and Master’s, Boston University. Awarded Ellida Fri Leadership Award and Memphis Center City Commission Vision Award. Named to “50 Women Who Make A Difference,” Memphis Women. Member, Society of North American Goldsmiths, International Women’s Forum, Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis. Organization is only in U.S. devoted exclusively to advancement of art and craft of fine metalwork.

President and CEO, Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau. President of its subsidiary, MMG LLC, which manages Memphis Cook Convention Center and the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts. Graduate, University of Memphis. Chairman, Destination Marketing Association International and Memphis Rock ’N’ Soul Museum. Board member, US Travel Association, Blues Foundation, Riverfront Development Corporation, International Tennis Hall of Fame, CBHS, Metropolitan Memphis Hotel & Lodging Association, and Greater Memphis Chamber. 

Director of Museums, Pink Palace Family of Museums. Bachelor’s, Marian University; Doctoral Fellowship, Temple University. Awarded Commonwealth Distinguished Service Award and Excellence in Teaching from Temple University. Member, American Association of Museums, Association of Science and Technology Centers, and Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau. Serves on Advisory Board for Marcus Orr Center for the Humanities at University of Memphis. Museum system includes Pink Palace Museum, Sharpe Planetarium, and Lichterman Nature Center.

President, National Civil Rights Museum. Attended University of Memphis. Awarded National Community Service Award, National Council of LaRaza Capital Awards, African Diaspora Award, and Briggs Foundation Award. Member of International Coalition of Historic Sites, American Association of Museums, and African American Association of Museums. Affiliated with Rise Foundation, United Way, Links Incorporated, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. The museum is located at the Lorraine Motel, the assassination site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

President and CEO, Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. Company has more than 400 employees, and Graceland has become one of the nation’s premier tourist attractions with annual visitors in excess of 600,000, bringing an estimated $200 million per year to the Memphis economy. Company also owns and operates Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel at Graceland.  Serves on the boards of Greater Memphis Chamber, Regional Medical Center at Memphis, and ALSAC Leadership Council for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

President and CEO, Soulsville Foundation, Stax Museum of American Soul Music, and Stax Music Academy. B.A., Music, Texas Southern University; M.A., Religion, Memphis Theological Seminary. Handles fund-raising for Soulsville Foundation and raises awareness for Stax Museum and Stax Music Academy. Won Grammy in 2011 for Best Gospel Song, “It’s What I Do,” with Jerry Peters. Has also received 11 Grammy nominations, two Stellar Awards, and one Dove Award nomination. 

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