Regional tourism initiative hires first director
CHRISTIANSBURG — A joint tourism initiative of Montgomery County and its towns, businesses and university has its first director.
Telesa “Lisa” Bleakley, a veteran administrator with the Virginia Beach Convention Center, will lead the Blacksburg/Christiansburg/Montgomery County Tourism Office starting Sept. 5, county officials announced last week.
The tourism office is funded with a percentage of hotel occupancy taxes collected by the county and towns. The office is a revamped version of a program that was at the heart of the charges against former Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce director Shane Adams, who prosecutors said improperly used money meant for boosting tourism for an array of personal expenses. Adams was convicted in May of three counts of embezzlement.
After allegations against Adams surfaced, the tourism office was reconfigured to have greater oversight from local government, Virginia Tech and the chamber, and its own director.
Bleakley attended last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting and said she was eager to begin.
She is presently assistant general manager of sales and service at the Virginia Beach center, where she has planned festivals and marketing programs, including tourism efforts. At the center since 1998, she has been its event coordinator and special events and film office manager.
Bleakley also is an adjunct faculty member at Old Dominion University, and is a Navy veteran. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Hawaii Pacific University and a master’s in tourism administration from George Washington University, a county news release said.
County spokeswoman Ruth Richey said Bleakley’s new salary will be $59,325.
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