Discover Kalamazoo hosted their annual meeting on Wednesday evening, December 13th, at Bell’s Eccentric Café with over 150 community members from around the County involved in the travel and tourism industry. Vice President of Travel Michigan, Dave Lorenz, was also in attendance as well as Kelly Watkins, Director of Business Marketing for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. At the annual meeting, Discover Kalamazoo recognized winners of their Partnership Awards which were created in 2016 to recognize accomplishments of individuals, events, companies and organizations which have had a positive impact on the regional hospitality/tourism industry. Recipients of the 2023 Discover Kalamazoo Partnership Awards included:
  • Enrique Martinez, Towneplace Suites
  • Heritage Guitars
  • Katie LePard, Radisson Plaza Hotel & Suites
  • OutFront Kalamazoo
A new award was created in 2021 in conjunction with the Greater Kalamazoo Lodging Association (GKLA) to acknowledge an individual front line worker in the hospitality industry who has positively impacted the visitor experience. This year’s GKLA award recipient was Kevin Loofboro of SpringHill Suites, recognized for his customer service in going above and beyond with guests, recruiting best in class team members, and assisting every department through the pre and post opening of the new hotel. Following the awards, Discover Kalamazoo President and CEO, Jane Ghosh, engaged the room with a Kahoot quiz that featured different community stakeholders as question masters and provided insights into Kalamazoo County’s tourism over the past year. Dave Lorenz asked a question that revealed Kalamazoo County had the fastest growth in visitor spending out of the top 28 counties in Michigan from 2019 to 2022. Later in the quiz, the question asked by Kalamazoo County Administrator and Controller Kevin Catlin showed that high school students in the region play basketball and volleyball 40 times more than ice hockey, citing the need for a future youth and amateur sports indoor facility. The meeting concluded with nominations and elections for both the Discover Kalamazoo Board of Directors and Advisory Council. The slate for the 2024 Discover Kalamazoo Board of Directors was approved with the following candidates:
  • Troy Thrash, Chair, Air Zoo
  • Jeff Breneman, Vice Chair, Western Michigan University
  • Joy Underwood, Past Chair, Staybridge Suites
  • Dave Beysiegel, Treasurer, Greenleaf Hospitality Group
  • Amy Luce, Secretary, Kalamazoo House Bed and Breakfast
  • Craig Davies, Radisson Plaza Hotel & Suites
  • Kathleen Hoyle, Portage Parks and Recreation
  • Clarence Lloyd, The Chamber at Southwest Michigan First
  • Sterling Riethman, Bell’s Brewery
  • Andy Wenzel, Fishbeck
  • Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners Appointment
  • Jane Ghosh, Discover Kalamazoo
  Discover Kalamazoo’s Advisory Council has 17 members continuing their current terms of service:
  • Jeff Breneman, Western Michigan University
  • Cherri Emery, Cherri’s Chocol’art
  • Tracy Hall, OutFront Kalamazooo
  • Stephanie Hinman, Kalamazoo State Theatre
  • Danielle Lewis, Black Arts and Cultural Center
  • Clarence Lloyd, The Chamber at Southwest Michigan First
  • Kristie May, NowKalamazoo
  • Lisa Panich, Kalamazoo Nature Center
  • Dave Rachowicz, Kalamazoo County Parks
  • Sterling Riethman, Bell’s Brewery
  • Ida Salas, La Familia
  • Troy Thrash, Air Zoo
  • Joy Underwood, Staybridge Suites
  • Pierre van der Westhuizen, Gilmore Piano Festival
  • Justin Wendzel, Gull Meadow Farms
  • Andy Wenzel, Fishbeck
  • Craig Williams, Kalamazoo Battle Creek International Airport
  Existing members continuing service with a new term expiring December 31, 2026:
  • Craig Davies, Radisson Plaza Hotel and Suites
  • Deb Droppers, Kalamazoo Experiential Learning Center
  • Ken Fischang, Gilmore Car Museum
  • Kathleen Hoyle, Portage Parks and Recreation
  • Tracey Lawie, Miller Auditorium
  • Amy Luce, Kalamazoo House Bed and Breakfast
  • Megan Zielke, Vintage in the Zoo
  New members beginning service with a three-year term expiring December 31, 2026:
  • Donte Hudson, The Kalamazoo Promise
  • Matt Kakabeeke, Kalamazoo Optimists Hockey Association
  • Bobby Patel, multiple hotel properties including Best Western Plus and Comfort Inn
  Discover Kalamazoo also acknowledged the end of service for four advisory council members and thanked them for their years of volunteer leadership:
  • Kimberly Earnshaw, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
  • Bill Johnson, Gull Lake View Golf Resort
  • Jackie Koney, The Mill at Vicksburg
  • Brad Schmitz, Hilton Garden Inn