Michelle Glass, following in the footsteps of Sue Carter, Kim Booth, Kathy Tarr, and Ricky Gease, has become the Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau's (KCVB) fifth executive director since the facility opened in 1991.
Glass says she came to Alaska fresh out of college in 1986 for one summer only and has been here ever since working in the visitors industry, "I love being in Alaska, and for me having lived in Valdez, then moving on to Skagway and Haines it feels full circle to be back in South-central, and what really excites me is learning about a whole new area of Alaska and furthering my Alaskan experience. I'm very passionate about Alaska in general so this opportunity will certainly round out the picture," said Glass.
She added that Haines and Kenai face a few similar challenges such as name recognition and community distinction, "Haines in Southeastern is sandwiched between two big cruise ports so I worked there to develop name recognition with visitors, and when I told people I was taking this job in Kenai, there was confusion as to whether it was the Peninsula, the Borough, or the City, so I hope to work here on some immediate name recognition and thoughts about what Kenai is and brand development and distinction about what makes Kenai so special. From what I see there are a lot of great things about our area that are different from say Anchorage or Mat-Su, and even Homer and Soldotna. I believe the arts and the promotion of the arts can be a reason for visitors to come here and complement so well with fishing the other primary reason for people coming here. I'd like Kenai to become known as the premier arts destination in Alaska," said Glass.
A large part of Glass's new job description is running the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center, which is owned by the city of Kenai but run by the Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau. The center gets some financial support from the city, but due to budget constraints receives most of it's funding from charitable gaming such as pull-tabs. However, as pull-tab popularity has waned, so has the center's funding. Glass admits that establishing a long term funding source will be the biggest challenge of her new job, but that she does have some ideas that she thinks are worth pursuing such as making better use of the internet for marketing purposes and getting the community to make better use of the center's event and convention hosting capabilities.
Glass's top priority is preparing the new art show that premiers April 30th, "It's going to be very exciting, the theme for the show is Bounty of the Sea, we're working daily on it and it's now first and foremost on my agenda," said Glass.
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