How did you end up in Visalia?
My husband was born and raised in Visalia, but moved out of the area to attend college. We moved here so that he could work with his father.

How did you get your start in this line of work?
I worked in marketing for a nationwide company that required a lot of travel, which I enjoyed. After moving to Visalia, I worked for the Convention Center, which I also enjoyed. This job sort of blends the two together.

Suzanne (L) on her very first flight around 1975

Why are you passionate about your work?
I really love Visalia, the National Parks, and the surrounding area and enjoy promoting it to convention groups and tourists from around the world. The partners I work with, both within the city and throughout California, are wonderful, which makes coming to work fun. I love talking with visitors who come to Visalia from around the globe. Visalia has a friendly and vibrant feeling that is not found in many other places, which makes it easy to promote.

What is the most challenging thing about your job?
We are a non-profit and face the challenges of limited budget and staffing. As the County Seat and the largest gateway city to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Visalia should be the premier resource for information on hotels, restaurants, attractions, and the local National Parks. We want to get visitors to stop here on their way to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks or even Yosemite, as well as attract visitors traveling along Highway 99.

Tell us about a single moment when you realized this was the right occupation for you:
I tell the story of when my husband and I moved here. As we were driving up the 99 with all our worldly possessions stuffed in a U-Haul moving van, I told him that I would give Visalia one year, that’s it. Well, it’s been more than 20 years. So how appropriate is it that I now promote Visalia?

If you had to choose another career, what would it be?
I would like to sell real estate in Hawaii. I love looking at people’s houses and think it would be fun helping people find the right home. The Hawaii part doesn’t need explanation.

Tell as a little about life outside of work:
I really love to travel, though I haven’t been anywhere exciting lately, and one day would love to road trip all across the U.S. We have one daughter who is a sophomore in college and one who is a senior in high school waiting to hear from colleges. I guess that is why we haven’t traveled anywhere lately!

What is something most people don’t know about you?
I love to watch “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race.” In fact, when I met Phil Keoghan, the host of “The Amazing Race” at a Travel Show, I asked him to consider Visalia and Sequoia National Park for one of the legs of the race. He considered it, but our location didn’t fit into their itinerary.

What about Visalia makes this a good community to live and work in?
Another story about when I first moved here; I was walking down Main Street and people would look me in the eye and say hello. It freaked me out. I thought they were going to rob me or something. As it turns out, Visalia is a very friendly place!

Just for fun, if you were stranded on an island, what three objects would you take with you?

Ok. Good question. My family loves to watch “Survivor,” so we often discuss this.

  1. I would definitely bring my reading glasses because I couldn’t ‘MacGyver’ a seashell into radio transmitter or whatever without them (Plus, I could use the lens to start a fire.)
  2. I would hope I had a Swiss army knife with all the gadgets, including flint (in case I can’t start a fire with my reading glasses.)
  3. And lastly, I would hope to have a hotel on the island, because I really don’t like sleeping out in the wild. (And they likely will have a fire pit out by the pool!)