Gretchen began working at the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau (LRCVB) in 2001. Her career began in the Operations division as an Event Coordinator; she provided leadership within the Little Rock hospitality industry with her work in celebrating the Grand Opening of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park as well as the 50th Anniversary of the Integration of Little Rock Central High School. She later become the Director of Merchandising and Communications and managed the public relations, communications and marketing initiatives. She was named the bureau’s President and CEO in May 2011.
As the official destination marketing organization for the City of Little Rock, the LRCVB also manages public meeting facilities including the Statehouse Convention Center, Robinson Center, Ottenheimer Hall, First Security Amphitheater, and five downtown public parking facilities. The LRCVB has 117 full-time employees, and another 100 part-time and seasonal staff. During her tenure, Gretchen managed the $70 million renovation and expansion of Robinson Performance Hall and Conference Center, which closed July 2014 and reopened in November 2016.
Travel and tourism is one of the largest economic industries in the state of Arkansas, and Little Rock serves as the state’s capital and is the largest hub for tourism.
Gretchen serves on the executive committee for Destinations International as the Chair, is the President of the Heart of Arkansas Regional Tourism Association, past President of the Arkansas Travel Council, past Chair of the Arkansas Association of CVBs, past President of Skål Arkansas, an executive committee member of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership, and serves on the board of directors for the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. She is also a member of the US Travel Association, Southeast Tourism Society and Little Rock Rotary – Club 99.
In 2016, Gretchen was awarded Top of the Rock by the Downtown Little Rock Partnership; an annual award given to an organization, business or individual that has demonstrated extraordinary advancement for downtown Little Rock. In 2017, she was honored as Smart Meetings Magazine’s Smart Women in the “Doers” category as well as receiving the Arkansas Diamond Award from PRSA – Arkansas Chapter and given the Distinguished Alumna Award by Lyon College. Most recently she was named the Arkansas Tourism Person of the Year at the 2019 Governor’s Conference, and received the 2020 Governor’s Arts Community Development Award.
Gretchen was a scholarship athlete in basketball while earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lyon College and later a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She is a Certified Meeting Professional and Certified Destination Management Executive. She loves sports and volunteers as a basketball coach at Little Rock Christian Academy. She is also a published author, as the co-author of 100 Things to do in Little Rock Before You Die – 2nd Edition.