Finalists for leadership positions at two city departments announced

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 | 8:05 p.m. CST; updated 1:08 p.m. CST, Friday, November 18, 2011

COLUMBIA — The city has named two finalists each for vacant positions as director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau and manager of the Office of Cultural Affairs.

A public reception for people who want to talk with the candidates is scheduled from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Daniel Boone City Building.

Office of Cultural Affairs

Randy Gray and Chris Stevens are the two finalists for the Office of Cultural Affairs position.

Marie Nau Hunter left the job in November 2010. Connie Kacprowicz, who also works in the Water and Light Department, was named interim director in March.

Stevens is co-owner of the Perlow-Stevens Art Gallery in Columbia. He worked as vice president and relationship manager. He also served as assistant director of educational finance at Boone County National Bank but left the bank earlier this year to become vice president of connectivity for Pure Marketing.

Stevens said he is passionate about the arts. "My heart has always been in helping further the art here in Columbia."

Talking about what he can offer to the office, Stevens said he would like to get more people involved in the arts. "If I have a theme to carry out, it would be to get more butts in the seats."

Randy Gray is the other finalist. Gray has been president of Special Place Development since 2003, and he has 26 years of experience in community, economic, arts and organizational development.

"Being able to unite diverse groups and organizations to reach common goals is something I have learned while assisting more than 400 public and nonprofit entities across the country from Missouri to Kentucky, Florida to New Mexico," he said in an email.

For 12 years, Gray was the Main Street coordinator of the Missouri Department of Economic Development. He has been a member of the Downtown Columbia Leadership Council since 2008.

"We are very fortunate in Columbia to have a community that is engaged in and supportive of the arts, while matched with the city's recognition of the importance and value of an Office of Cultural Affairs," Gray said.

Convention and Visitors Bureau

Amy Schneider and Dan Lennon are the two finalists for director of the bureau, which works to bring tourists, conventions and other visitors to town.

Former director Lorah Steiner left the position in January to take a similar job in Florida. Schneider has been acting director since February.

"I appreciate the opportunity that I have been given," she said.

For more than three years, Schneider worked as the sales manager in the visitors bureau, preparing proposals and giving presentations in hopes of bringing clients to Columbia and filling hotel and motel rooms.

Schneider started working as assistant general manager at hotels such as the Ramada Inn in Manhattan, Kan., and the Holiday Inn in Columbia.

She applied for the permanent director's position because she believes in the mission of the bureau. "I think the department is headed in the right direction," she said.

Lennon, originally from Los Angeles, moved to Branson 17 years ago.

“I have visited Columbia many times and have been impressed with the community," he said. According to Lennon, Columbia is a very vibrant, diverse and active community especially in culture.


"I really hope I can be part of it and hope I can help to make it even more successful,” Lennon said.

Lennon has been vice president of marketing and public relations at the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau since 2003. He also worked as director of marketing at the Welk Resort & Champagne Theatre for eight years.

Both departments will work together in the Walton Building at 300 S. Providence Road. City Manager Mike Matthes proposed that strategy as part of the fiscal 2012 budget, as reported in a previous Missourian article








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