Warm hospitality is a true treasure of the Emerald Coast.

Your attendees will be swept up in all the Emerald Coast has to offer, and they'll quickly see that our attentive team is an absolute gem. We strive to exceed all expectations by providing a positive, stress-free experience topped with superlative service. We look forward to welcoming you soon.

 

GENERAL MANAGER:

General Manager Bill Leaman

Bill Leaman

General Manager

Charter Team Member with the Emerald Coast Convention Center since March 2002

bleaman@co.okaloosa.fl.us

 

Bill has been in the entertainment business for 35 years, the last 20 of which have been in the facilities management, special event entertainment and technical entertainment fields.

 

His interest in the entertainment business was apparent early in his life when at age 8 he attended a program in piano performance and music composition at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. This continued until he finished eight years later at age 16. He has been with the Emerald Coast Convention Center since its construction in 2002. Originally charged with developing pre-opening and annual operating budgets, staffing levels, SOP, hiring and negotiating vendor contracts, he now oversees a very talented and distinguished team of professionals. Prior to coming to Fort Walton Beach, Bill was the assistant director of entertainment and special events at Universal Studios, Universal Citywalk and Universal Islands of Adventure in Orlando, FL.

SALES:

Sales and Marketing Manager, Tisha Maraj

Tisha Maraj, CMP

Sales and Marketing Manager

With the Emerald Coast Convention Center since August 2004

tmaraj@co.okaloosa.fl.us

 

Tisha has been in the hospitality industry since the start of her career. She has traveled the country, working as a sales/marketing professional in many destination markets, including Albuquerque, NM, Virginia Beach, VA, and Atlanta, GA.

 

The incredible natural beauty of the Emerald Coast won Tisha's heart more than 20 years ago when she made it her home. Her enthusiasm for the Emerald Coast is what drives her to capture new group business so they too can delight in our "paradise."

 

Tisha Maraj is a member of Toastmasters International, MPI, PCMA, HSMAI, several area chambers of commerce, and serves on the board of musical echoes, which hosts the largest Native American flute and art festival each year. She earned her CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) designation in the spring of 2011.

 

Business Development Coordinator, Emma Thompson

Emma Owens

Business Development Manager

With the Emerald Coast Convention Center since March 2016

eowens@co.okaloosa.fl.us

 

Emma develops new business opportunities for the Emerald Coast Convention Center. Her background in resort services, retail management, food and beverage, and sales and marketing guarantees her success in this newly created position. The Emerald Coast has held a special place in her heart since visiting with her parents and grandparents as a little girl.

 

Emma grew up not far from the Emerald Coast in Thomasville, GA. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Art History at the University of Georgia, she moved to Truckee, CA to work in the sales and reservations department of Northstar California. Emma is excited to have finally made it back to the Emerald Coast and the hospitality industry via Tallahassee, FL.

 

When she is not working, she loves to sail, kayak, snorkel, and watch the sunset on the Choctawhatchee Bay.

 

Jemsy Llantin, Sales AssistantJemsy Llantin

 

Sales Assistant

Jemsy brings over 18 years of customer service, sales, sales support and corporate event planning experience to the Emerald Coast Convention Center. In his previous positions, he has been awarded as a top salesman, the most recent one he was awarded the employee of the year for the Southeast Region at Cox by achieving $1.2 million dollars in sales.

 

He also has helped produce large corporate events around the country.

 

He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration at the University of Puerto Rico, is a native of Lajas, Puerto Rico and is fluent in Spanish, his first language.

CONVENTION AND EVENT SERVICES:

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Carol K. Foley, CMP

Convention Services Manager

Charter Team Member with the Emerald Coast Convention Center since April 2003

cfoley@co.okaloosa.fl.us

 

Carol began her career in the convention and meeting industry in 1997 after receiving her Bachelor of Science at the University of West Florida, followed by her Master of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Since then, Carol's accomplishments have included positions as Convention and Event Director at MAS Management, Inc., an independent meeting planning firm; Catering Manager at the Adam's Mark Hotel; and Event Manager at the Emerald Coast Convention Center. In each of these professional roles Carol has performed impeccably whether organizing intimate corporate dinners focused on confidential negotiations or full-scale conventions and trade shows for various organizations.

 

Carol has continued her professional development, receiving her CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) designation in April 2008. She is a graduate of the Public Assembly Facility Management School (June 2008) and the Graduate Institute Venue Management School (June 2011).

Events Supervisor, Lindsay Gowing

Lindsay Gowing, CMP

Events Supervisor

Charter Team Member with the Emerald Coast Convention Center since April 2003

lgowing@co.okaloosa.fl.us

 

Lindsay began her career with the Emerald Coast Convention Center as an event coordinator. In 2009, she was promoted to events supervisor. To date, she has coordinated more than 900 events with the ECCC. Many organizations and businesses have requested that Lindsay be assigned as their permanent coordinator once they experience her excellent attention to detail.

 

She graduated from the University of West Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She has been a member of International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) since 2009 and recently graduated from IAVM’s Venue Management School, one of the best professional education programs available for venue managers. She is also an active volunteer for the NWF Girl Scout Council. Lindsay received the distinguished CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) designation in July 2011. Lindsay was born and raised in Fort Walton Beach, FL, so she has truly grown up in paradise and loves sharing our area.

Events Coordinator Emerald Coast Convention Center

Patrick Rigney

Events Coordinator

With the Emerald Coast Convention Center since August 2014

prigney@co.okaloosa.fl.us

 

Prior to joining the Emerald Coast Convention Center team, Patrick served for three years as a law enforcement officer in Louisiana and Tennessee. However, the beautiful emerald green water drew Patrick to Okaloosa County in August 2014. Patrick began working at the Emerald Coast Convention Center as an Events Support Technician and was promoted to Lead Events Support Technician less than four months later. His experience with back-of-house operations including room setup and audio/visual support prepared him for his next move as an Event Coordinator.

 

He has been successfully working in this position since April 2016. His knowledge and experience with the technical aspects of coordinating events positions him and our clients for extraordinary success.  He is very excited about his new role and the opportunity to provide excellent customer service to his clients.

 

Events Coordinator Heather Lightsey

Heather Lightsey

Events Coordinator

With the Emerald Coast Convention Center since October 2014

hlightsey@co.okaloosa.fl.us

 

Heather first got a taste of the events industry in 2012 as a student at The University of Alabama where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Restaurant and Hospitality Management. While at The University of Alabama, she was an active member of several hospitality organizations and served on various executive boards for two years. In addition, Heather worked as an intern with the City of Tuscaloosa River Market, where she acquired experience with venue management, sales, and marketing. After acquiring her degree, Heather moved to Fort Walton Beach, Florida, to further pursue her career along the sugar white sands at the Emerald Coast Convention Center. During her time on the Emerald Coast, Heather has coordinated hundreds of events and has proven to be a valuable member of the ECCC team. Her clients love her attention to detail, her enthusiasm, and her constant desire to excel in everything she does, and are eager to work with her year after year. Heather is an active member of Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) and the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) where she currently serves on the University Committee. She recently completed her first year of Venue Management School and is preparing to sit for her Certified Meetings Professional (CMP) certification in 2017.

 

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Jennifer Brost

Event Services Specialist

With the Emerald Coast Convention Center since June 2016

Jbrost@co.okaloosa.fl.us

 

Jennifer’s role at the ECCC is to assist the events team with coordination of all our events. Her attention to detail enhances the events team. Jennifer’s brings 20 years of customer service to our team along with 10 years of finance and project coordination. She is currently attending Northwest Florida State College working toward her Associates Degree in Office Administration.Originally from Michigan, Jennifer moved between Florida and North Carolina as military spouse.

 

She chose to settle here with her family after falling in love with the Emerald Coast over the years. On her time off, Jennifer can be found boating, camping and always enjoying our beautiful beaches. She is also an accomplished painter and enjoys crafts of all kinds.

 

CATERING:

Chef Lara Robidoux

Chef Lara Robidoux

Executive Chef

With ARAMARK at the Emerald Coast Convention Center since July 2007

robidoux-lara@aramark.com

 

The Emerald Coast Convention Center is pleased to showcase the culinary skills of Executive Chef Lara Robidoux. Chef Lara is an honors graduate of the Culinary Arts program at Sandhills Community College in Pinehurst, N.C. She hails from Grand Rapids, Mich., but has spent most of her adult life moving around the United States as a military spouse.

 

Chef Lara has honed her skills working for several fine dining establishments and catering companies. The variety of distinctive areas where she has lived influences her work and serves as a culinary inspiration. From Hawaii and St. Louis to Arizona and the beautiful Emerald Coast of Florida, she enjoys mixing flavors from different cultures to bring to the table an inspired dining experience.

 

Chef Lara began her tenure with the Emerald Coast Convention Center in 2007 and has enjoyed over eight years here as our Sous Chef. During her time at the Emerald Coast Convention Center, Chef Lara has planned and executed many weddings, corporate events, and major events as the All Sports Banquet, the Emerald Coast Regional Seder Dinner, the grand opening of our own Bayview Plaza, EOD Memorial Ball, and AFSOC Order of the Sword.

 

Rory J. Boothby

Rory J. Boothby

General Manager

With ARAMARK at the Emerald Coast Convention Center since September 2015

boothby-rory@aramark.com

 

Rory joined the Emerald Coast Convention Center team from the post of manager of the EMC Club, Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. Prior to that position he was manager of the Legends Club, TD Garden, Boston, and manager of the Lexus Home Plate Club, Petco Park, San Diego. His career in fine dining and restaurant management since 2006 has included working at management level in high class restaurants in the exclusive summer resort areas of the Hamptons, Long Island, New York and San Diego.

 

Committed to the development and maintenance of high standards, Rory attaches great importance to personal relations and team-building with the objective of providing top-class service to customers and clients. Rory’s motto: ‘Excellence – from soup to nuts’.

 

Catering Sales Coordinator, Jennifer Minto

Jennifer Minto

Catering Sales Coordinator

With ARAMARK at the Emerald Coast Convention Center since October 2014

minto-jennifer@aramark.com

 

Jennifer has lived on the Emerald Coast for over 20 years. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Merchandising from Florida State University. She started her career in catering in Destin, FL, in 2010. Her degree and work experience in retail and hospitality have helped her develop exceptional sales, management and customer service skills.

 

Jennifer works hand in hand with each client to maintain excellent communication in every aspect of the sales process, from the first phone call to the close of each event.

 

Jennifer is excited to bring new business to the ECCC and help establish ARAMARK’s presence in the local community.

 

 

Office Manager, Jamie Hutchins

Jamie Hutchins

Office Manager

With ARAMARK at the Emerald Coast Convention Center since October 2009

hutchins-jamie@aramark.com

 

Jamie has over 15 years of professional experience in sales, accounts payable/receivable, customer service and management in hospitality and sports & entertainment.

Jamie has developed an amazing front of the house staff with ARAMARK in sharing her passion in event planning and execution. Her attention to detail and tireless commitment to excellence paves the way for each successful event planned at the Emerald Coast Convention Center.

Jamie was born and raised in Ft. Walton Beach and truly loves living on the Emerald Coast. She and her family enjoy the uniqueness that makes this area so special.

 

 

OPERATIONS:

Operations Manager, Allen Lassiter

Allen Lassiter

Operations Manager

With the Emerald Coast Convention Center since June 2016

alassiter@co.okaloosa.fl.us

 

Allen is a lifelong resident of Fort Walton Beach FL. He worked for the City of Fort Walton Beach for over 33 years as the Services/Operations Manager started as an electrician, worked his way up to superintendent spending most of his years at the head of the department. He directed construction and improvement projects for the city of Fort Walton Beach greatly improving the quality of life for city residents. He brings abundant experience to the Emerald Coast Convention Center. Allen has been happily married for 28 years to Christine and they have one son. He loves to play golf and is a true nature lover. With Allen’s experience and skills his goal is to upgrade and update the Emerald Coast Convention Center bringing innovation and new development.

 

 

RC Chaney

RC Chancy

Systems Application Administrator & Support Specialist

With the Emerald Coast Convention Center since December 2014

rchancy@co.okaloosa.fl.us

 

RC Chancy is the Emerald Coast Convention Center’s first Systems Applications Administrator & Support Specialist. RC will be the on-site point of contact for IT issues and the software administrator. RC comes to the ECCC with a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Security from ITT Technical Institute, Denver, CO.

 

RC has worked as a help desk specialist at L-3 Communications, Northrop Grumman and IBM. Before she went into the IT field, she had a long career as an administrative assistant, working in a wide variety of industries including aerospace, oil & gas and marine construction.

 

RC’s family lived in Ft. Walton Beach for a short time when she was a little girl. Her family then moved to north Alabama, where she grew up, although she always held Ft. Walton Beach in her heart. RC has lived in New Orleans and Denver. She moved back to Ft. Walton Beach five years ago. It took her a long time to get back here, and now you couldn’t blast her out with dynamite.

 

RC is eager to bring her expertise in IT to the ECCC. She has three cats and is a member of the local Animal Protection League and participates in their trap/neuter/release program.

 

 

 

SECURITY:

Security Coordinator, Wes Fields

Wes Fields

Security Coordinator

Charter Team Member with the Emerald Coast Convention Center since April 2003

wfields@co.okaloosa.fl.us

 

Wes transitioned from 24 years in the U.S. Air Force to join the Emerald Coast Convention Center team when it opened in April 2003. He has 17 years of experience as a law enforcement auxiliary officer with the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office and Florida Highway Patrol. Wes is certified in the American Heart Association's Basic Life Support for Automated External Defibrillators, and he has completed the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and 17 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Emergency Management Institute (EMI) courses.

 

Wes implemented "Code Adam," a missing child safety program for lost and possibly abducted children, and has assisted a number of other facilities and business with this endeavor. He is a former American Red Cross First Aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) instructor, Florosa Volunteer Fire Department firefighter, and a U.S. Air Force disaster preparation representative. Wes spends his off-duty time escorting World War II veterans to their reunions and events and is the official Doolittle Raider's security director.