You’d be hard-pressed to find a better champion of Amarillo than Hope Stokes, director of brand management for the Amarillo Convention & Visitor Council. Born and raised in the Texas Panhandle city, she graduated from nearby West Texas A&M University and her first job in the tourism industry was as an intern at the council. Stokes shared with us her love of her hometown.

What is your favorite thing about marketing Amarillo?

My favorite part about marketing Amarillo is that I have the opportunity to share my passion for Amarillo with the world. Amarilloans have this deep connection with our city that I’ve never seen anywhere else. Amarillo is now an oasis on the high plains, but it wasn’t always. Early settlers had to accept that they had little to no control over their environment and formed a partnership with the land. When things got rough, they found comfort in their faith and community, but they never gave up on the land. That camaraderie between the land and the people is the base of our heritage and has translated into a deep respect for our area and community that is ingrained in all Amarilloans. The passion we have for our city is almost palpable, and once people see it, they want to get a taste.

What is your favorite part of your job? 

Hands down it’s simply sharing Amarillo with others. I grew up here, so I know this city like the back of my hand. That gives me the opportunity to showcase Amarillo in a way that fits everyone’s interests. I was guilty of thinking, “There’s nothing to do in Amarillo,” in my younger years, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. I live for the opportunity to either change the way people think about Amarillo or introduce them to everything Amarillo has to offer.

What is your favorite event in Amarillo? 

My favorite event in Amarillo is the Good Times Celebration Barbecue Cook-Off. It’s my favorite event because 100 cooking teams provide tons of food, and with a typical attendance of over 6,000, you get to see people from all over Amarillo come together to have drinks and enjoy some of the best barbecue in the city

For Andrea Mokros, Minneapolis-based public relations executive and independent event consultant, the last decade has been a whirlwind. From serving as special assistant to President Obama and director of strategic planning for then-first lady Michelle Obama, to welcoming newcomers to the Bold North as the vice president of communications and events for the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, Mokros shares the key takeaways that inspire her work today. 

 

Tony Michaels is no stranger to navigating choppy waters. The CEO and executive director of The Parade Company, which puts on traditions like America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Ford Fireworks, took the helm of the Detroit nonprofit during tough times, at the height of the financial crisis. “2008, 2009, are you kidding me?” says Michaels.

 

Originally from Ontario, Heather Odendaal got her start in event planning early, serving as her high school’s head of social events. She ended up on the West Coast, courtesy of her studies at the University of British Columbia, and launched her career in Whistler, working for the resort in marketing and events. Today, she’s CEO of Bluebird Strategy, a boutique event planning firm, and CEO and founder of WNORTH, a global community of women who have their sights set on the C-suite.