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People News Booms in Washington

From hotel hires to tourism bureau appointments, changes are abundant throughout the Evergreen State’s hospitality industry.

By Amanda Christensen

The industry is ever changing with evolving trends and increased demands for lodging and venues as planners prepare their group events. So, it is no surprise that the businesses and properties in Washington are also constantly growing, especially with the appointments of new professionals. People news is abundant in the city, and both Visit Seattle and Hyatt Regency Lake Washington are just two of many that welcome new team members to lead and direct corporate and business travel into the Seattle area.

Chris Connelly was appointed senior director of sales at Visit Seattle. Effective this past March, Connelly now oversees the day-to-day operations of the organization’s convention sales team. He also works collaboratively with the sales team at the Seattle Convention Center, nearby hotels, venues, and attractions to maintain reliable relationships with customers as they make their visits to and host their events in the Evergreen State.

Headshot of Chris Connelly. April 7, 2023
Chris Connelly, appointed senior director of sales for Visit Seattle CREDIT Chris Connelly

“After 11 years as a hospitality sales professional, I’m excited to bring my experience and skills to visit Seattle,” he says in a prepared statement. “I’ve been captivated with the culture, beauty, and attitude of [the] Seattle area since moving here in 2020, and [I] will work hard in my new role to ensure travelers and attendees have every opportunity to experience our beautiful city.”

Visit Seattle also welcomed Kennedy James as the new vice president of talent and culture in March. In her new role, James will work alongside the organization’s executive team to develop and lead the culture; diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); recruiting; and benefits programs to maintain an equitable, inclusive, and innovative work culture at Visit Seattle. “I have been proud to call the Puget Sound home for decades, and so bringing my talent and heart to the service of showcasing its astonishing beauty and cultural heritage is a privilege,” James says in a prepared statement. “I look forward to working with the team.”

Headshot of Kennedy James. April 7, 2023
Kennedy James, appointed vice president of talent and culture at Visit Seattle CREDIT Kennedy James

James comes to the destination marketing organization with 20 years of leadership experience, with her most recent role being chief officer of people and operations at the Seattle-based Gottman Institute, in charge of leading the design and implementation of people and culture across the talent life cycle.

Melissa Woodley is the new director of sales, marketing, and events for the Hyatt Regency Lake Washington as of March. She will oversee all events and marketing efforts alongside guiding all sales work. Woodley brings with her over 15 years of experience in the industry with previous roles at several other Hyatt properties across the western United States including Lake Tahoe and San Diego.

Headshot of Melissa Woodley. April 7, 2023
Melissa Woodley, appointed director of sales, marketing, and events at Hyatt Regency Lake Washington CREDIT Hyatt Regency Lake Washington

“I’m excited to be a part of the incredible team here at Hyatt Regency Lake Washington,” she says in a prepared statement. “My focus is on leading the team through the lens of care, working together to exceed our goals and instilling in the team core values of respect, integrity, humility, empathy, creativity, and fun.”