Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau Hires Brittany Cockrell as Director of Membership and Corporate Events

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) announces the hiring of Brittany Cockrell as director, membership and corporate events. Cockrell will manage programs and initiatives to maximize member retention while also planning and executing a range of industry events including ACVB’s annual meeting and the Atlanta Hospitality Hall of Fame ceremony.

Cockrell comes to ACVB with more than 16 years in the hospitality industry. She most recently served as director of catering and conference services at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas. She also has experience working in Atlanta’s hospitality community as she previously worked in sales and catering at Hilton Atlanta and was a group sales manager for eight Starwood Hotels & Resorts properties in the market. Her career has included stops at Sheraton Premiere Tysons Corner, Chicago Marriott Downtown and Marriott Marquis Chicago.

Cockrell is a graduate of The University of Alabama with a degree in hotel, restaurants and meetings management.

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ACVB Announces Promotion and Managerial Hire 

Ankita Varman has been promoted to manager, human resources and Candace Woodruff has been hired as trade show project manager for Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB).  

In her new role as manager of human resources, Varman will take on additional employee relations responsibilities, become more involved with benefits renewal, ensure ACVB remains in compliance with employment laws and focus on improving the recruitment and onboarding process. She recently earned her SHRM-SP HR certification while serving as ACVB’s human resources specialist. 

Woodruff will be responsible for managing the logistics for all trade shows, special sales events and familiarization tours. In this role, she will act as a liaison between sales, destination services, marketing and outside vendors. Prior to this role, Woodruff joined ACVB as a sales administrative assistant in 2019 and then assisted with the coordination of major shows on a part-time basis. Before joining ACVB, she worked with the AC Atlanta Hotel Downtown and the Marriott Southeast sales office.  

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Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau Promotes Four Members of its Marketing Team

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) announces promotions for Aubree Dumas as video production creator/producer; Jo Ann Haden-Miller as senior director, partner activation & engagement and executive director, ACVB Foundation; So Jin Lee as graphic designer and Lauren Dismuke Rushing as senior director, group markets.

Dumas joined ACVB as a content specialist in 2022 while completing her Master’s program in digital media strategies at Georgia State University. Her expertise allowed ACVB to bring video production in-house, allowing the team the opportunity and flexibility to produce and edit additional video content. In her new role as video production creator/producer, she will continue to enhance ACVB’s visual storytelling capabilities.

Beginning her tenure with ACVB in 1989 as manager, Central Atlanta Marketing, Haden-Miller has held various positions with ACVB throughout the years. She is an active participant on the boards of Atlanta Film Festival, BronzeLens Film Festival and Georgia State University’s Rialto Center for the Arts. She will continue to foster relationships with partners while overseeing collaborations, programs and co-op fundraising as well as annual initiatives of ACVB’s Foundation. 

With her promotion to graphic designer, Lee will continue to design collateral to ensure brand consistency and amplify destination appeal. In her previous role as junior graphic designer, she led the rebranding of Update Atlanta, UpNext and Styled by ATL. She is responsible for developing engaging and innovative concepts, designs and templates across various platforms.

Rushing has elevated the marketing support for ACVB’s clients by forging a strong partnership with the sales and destination services teams. With this promotion, she will continue to promote Atlanta as a premier destination for meetings and conventions. Rushing began her career with ACVB in 2011 as manager, group markets, progressing into new roles as senior manager, group markets and director, group markets.

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Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau Promotes Two Key Leaders to Senior Vice President

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) promotes Sheretha Bell and Cynthia Mokotoff to senior vice president, recognizing their exceptional dedication and invaluable contributions to the organization.

Bell has been promoted to senior vice president, marketing and brand strategy. In her new role, she will spearhead the strategic development and coordinated execution of ACVB’s integrated marketing efforts. With nearly 24 years of experience at ACVB, Bell’s extensive expertise will continue to shape the organization’s brand strategy, positioning and voice across all channels and touchpoints. She will oversee audience engagement, creative partnerships, creative direction and brand leadership to ensure alignment with the company’s mission, vision and strategic priorities. Bell’s journey at ACVB began in August 2000 as a sales and marketing research specialist, and she has steadily advanced through various positions within the organization, most recently serving as vice president, brand.

Mokotoff has been promoted to senior vice president, human resources, where she will lead the overall people strategy of the organization. In this capacity, Mokotoff will oversee human resources management, ACVB’s board of directors and front desk operations, ensuring alignment with employment laws and the organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. Mokotoff’s responsibilities include talent acquisition, employee engagement and retention, learning and development, compensation and benefits programs, workforce management, compliance and succession planning. She started at ACVB in 1999 and has held numerous roles in operations, finance and corporate events, supporting the board of directors, ACVB annual meeting and Atlanta Hospitality Hall of Fame.

“We celebrate and recognize Cynthia and Sheretha’s exceptional leadership, dedication and contributions to ACVB and Atlanta’s hospitality community,” said William Pate, president and CEO, ACVB. “Their wealth of experience and commitment to excellence have been major drivers in our success, and they will continue to lead our organization to new heights.”

Along with their contributions to ACVB, both women are involved throughout the Atlanta community. Bell is an inaugural member of the board of directors for the Ice Cream Festival Foundation and serves as board brand strategist for the Lawrence Taylor Family Foundation, Project Future, Beyond the Books Academy Prep School and the strategic marketing consultant for For Peace I Rise: The Musical. She is also a member of Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce’s 2023 leadership cohort ATLeaders.

Mokotoff is a member of the national and Atlanta chapters of Society for Human Resource Management, Destinations International and Alumnae and Women of Emory. She is a member of the Board of Trustees with the Center for the Visually Impaired and currently serves on the organization’s development and strategic planning committees. Previously, she served as a co-chair of the SHRM-Atlanta Community Affairs Committee. 

Atlanta Secures Top Spot in Northstar Meetings Group’s Convention Cities Index 


Atlanta earned the No. 1 ranking in Northstar Meetings Group’s December 2023 Convention Cities Index (CCI) as the best convention city in the United States. The index, which is updated biannually, uses a weighted ranking system in six categories to help meeting planners determine the best destinations for citywide events. 
Cities were evaluated in the following areas: 

One factor contributing to Atlanta’s success is its convention center campus. Georgia World Congress Center Authority offers the largest combined convention, sports and entertainment campus in North America, along with being the largest LEED Gold certified convention center in the world. Atlanta offers nearly 13,000 hotel rooms and 300 dining options within walking distance of the convention center campus.  

“Atlanta is built for large scale events, and the latest Convention Cities Index ranking reflects that,” said Charlene Lopez, executive vice president and chief sales officer, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. “With our dynamic convention center, globally accessible airport and expanding hotel portfolio across the city, Atlanta has positioned itself to provide an elevated experience to meeting planners and attendees.” 

“Atlanta was a strategic choice for NRECA’s PowerXchange / TechAdvantage Conference in 2025,” said Eric Commodore, director of meeting and event planning, NRECA. “The GWCC played a crucial role in the decision. The space allowed us to meet our increased attendance and expo needs. The hotel package is remarkable, comfortably housing our attendees in seven hotels. Overall, Atlanta aligns well with our growth goals and offers the necessary conveniences for a successful conference.” 

Additionally, Atlanta’s accessibility played into the ranking. A two-hour flight connects 80 percent of the U.S. population to the city via Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which also provides access to more than 75 international destinations in 50 countries. The airport is a short 20-minute drive from Atlanta’s walkable convention and entertainment district. 
“It’s no surprise Atlanta landed atop the Convention Cities Index at No. 1. At the NACS SHOW we’re all about convenience—and Atlanta delivers just that to both our exhibitors and buyer-attendees,” said Bob Hughes, vice president of supplier relations and expositions, NACS. “From its ease of accessibility to overall value – not to mention an impressive restaurant scene – Atlanta is a great destination in the NACS SHOW rotation.”   

Atlanta was also highlighted for its significant increase in safety ranking. U.S. cities had an average increase of 10 percent while Atlanta saw a 17 percent increase from the June 2023 index.  
“As our show continues to grow, and our audience diversifies, it becomes more important to select a destination and a venue that will not only meet our needs but will partner with us to excel at providing the kind of event and environment that our customers demand,” said Lexy Olisko, vice president of expositions, PRINTING United Alliance. “Atlanta and the Georgia World Congress Center provide a footprint for us to put our event under one roof with the connection of Exhibit Halls BC. This package provides a contiguous experience for our audience.” 

“The ACC is thrilled to bring its upcoming Annual Scientific Sessions to Atlanta,” said Cortney Hale, education product manager, American College of Cardiology. “Central to our success in delivering an exceptional meeting is the unparalleled service provided by the Atlanta CVB and GWCC. Their dedication to excellence is evident in every interaction and their expertise and support ensure seamless coordination which will enhance the overall experience for our attendees. Their commitment to hospitality goes above and beyond. Moreover, Atlanta’s strategic location with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport being the world’s busiest airport and short distance from the convention center, ensures a seamless journey setting the stage for an enjoyable experience.” 

For more information on meetings in Atlanta, visit  

Jason Lusk

Vice President, Sales

Jason Lusk leads sales initiatives for Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) through events, lead generation and customer engagement to increase hotel room night bookings across the city. 

Lusk’s experience in the hospitality industry spans nearly 30 years. Prior to ACVB, Lusk served as associate vice president of convention sales at Visit Denver where he managed the organization’s citywide sales efforts. His career also includes roles with Visit Baltimore as D.C. regional sales manager and P.W. Feats, Inc. as director of destination management. 

Lusk is currently affiliated with American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA). He earned his bachelor’s degree in geography from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  

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Heather Kirksey

Vice President, Public Relations, Corporate Events and Membership

Heather Kirksey

Heather Kirksey is vice president of public relations, corporate events and membership at Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB), where her team leads media relations efforts to bolster the city’s $18 billion hospitality industry. Along with developing and implementing strategies to increase Atlanta’s visibility as a top leisure travel and meetings destination, Kirksey also oversees issues management and crisis communications for the organization and provides counsel to ACVB’s executive leadership team. She also oversees member relations along with production of the organization’s corporate events including its annual meeting, Atlanta Hospitality Hall of Fame induction ceremony and quarterly member networking events. 

Kirksey joined the organization in 2014 as public relations manager and has served as ACVB’s director of public relations since 2016. She is involved in several professional organizations including Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Georgia chapter where she serves on the board of directors. She is a member of Destinations International’s Public Relations and Communications Task Force and sits on U.S. Travel Association’s Communications Advisory Committee. 

Previously, Kirksey served as chair of the marketing and communications committee for the 2020 NCAA Men’s Final Four, member of the communications committee for Super Bowl LIII in 2019 and member of the marketing and communications committee for the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship. She was recognized by PRSA Georgia in 2023 as the chapter’s Luminary Star award recipient and was named to the chapter’s inaugural Forty under 40 class in 2019.  

Before joining ACVB, Kirksey worked at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and supported the healthcare system’s sports medicine, orthopedic, transplant and foundation programs by managing external media relations efforts. Prior to life in public relations, she was an award-winning journalist who spent a decade in sports broadcasting in various markets throughout the Southeast. 

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FIFA Announces World Cup 2026™ Schedule, Atlanta to Host Eight Matches, Including Semifinal Match

In front of a global television audience, FIFA unveiled the Match Schedule for the FIFA World Cup 2026™ and Atlanta has been selected to host eight matches – including five group stage matches, a round of 32 match, a round of 16 match and a semifinal match – at Mercedes-Benz Stadium during the summer of 2026. 

The dates of the Atlanta group stage matches will be June 15, 18, 21, 24 and 27. The round of 32 match will be July 1, the round of 16 on July 7 and the semifinal will take place July 15.

The FIFA World Cup 2026™ tournament draw will take place in December 2025. At that time, specific teams and matchups for Atlanta will be announced.

FIFA World Cup 2026™ will be the biggest sporting event in history, with 48 teams participating in 104 matches across 16 cities in North America. The event will feature a new tournament format while keeping the exciting 4-team group stage phase to ensure the ultimate football spectacle. The Opening Match will take place in Mexico City on June 11 and the Final Match will be held in New York/New Jersey on July 19. 

“This is a momentous occasion and a true celebration of the beautiful game of soccer in our city,” said Arthur M. Blank, Chairman, Blank Family of Businesses. “The FIFA World Cup 2026™ brings people together in a way that transcends borders and makes this tournament an unforgettable journey for fans globally. We look forward to welcoming the world to Atlanta and Mercedes-Benz Stadium for eight matches, including a semifinal in 2026.”

FIFA World Cup 2026™ will bring an economic boom to the region. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of fans who will descend on the city for the events, multiple locations in the region could also become official training sites for teams as they prepare.  An impact analysis by the Boston Consulting Group during the initial bid process in 2017-18 found that the FIFA World Cup 2026™ is forecasted to contribute $5 billion in new economic activity. Of that, $415 million alone is estimated in net economic benefit for Atlanta. 

FIFA World Cup 2026™ will again be the most watched competition in the world. With an audience of 19 billion in 2022, it captured the attention of more viewers than the Summer Olympics, UEFA Champions League, Tour de France, Formula 1, the National Football League, and the Rugby World Cup combined. Approximately 50 percent of the entire world watched the FIFA World Cup. 

“With world-class venues, accommodations, and our unmatched Southern hospitality, Georgia is ready to welcome the world to our capital city for the FIFA World Cup 2026™,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “With a strong record of hosting major sporting events, the people of our state are prepared and capable to meet the needs of this once-in-a-lifetime event and leave visitors with a reason to keep Georgia on their minds.”

Hosting the FIFA World Cup 2026™ will continue to build upon the city’s growing legacy as the epicenter of soccer in the United States. Atlanta United launched as the most successful expansion franchise in the history of Major League Soccer since beginning play in 2017. The team holds nearly every attendance record and has won every major trophy in the league. In addition, U.S. Soccer is set to break ground on the first-ever National Training Center in 2024 just south of the city in Fayette County.  The National Training Center will be the new headquarters for all U.S. Soccer teams, coaches, referees, and players. 

“Thirty years after the Centennial Olympic Games, Atlanta will once again host a global audience and some of the world’s greatest athletes for the FIFA World Cup 2026™,” said Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens. “In that time, our city has continued to become a reflection of this beautiful game – we are diverse, inclusive and growing every day. Much like 1996, we will work with all our partners to ensure the FIFA World Cup 2026™ has a positive, equitable impact on our communities for generations.”

When North America secured the right to host FIFA World Cup 2026™ in June 2018, twenty-two cities competed for bids to host matches, with 16 receiving the nod in 2022. The Atlanta Sports Council led the bid effort, collaborating with state and local governments, Atlanta United F.C., Arthur M. Blank Sports + Entertainment, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority to win the bid.

“Simply put, we believe that Atlanta is the best city in America to host a major sporting event and today’s announcement reinforces that,” said Dan Corso, Atlanta Sports Council and Atlanta World Cup Host Committee president. “Our experience hosting events of this scale has been invaluable, and this will be one of the greatest events our region has ever seen.”

“Atlanta will once again take its place on the world’s stage as the site for a semifinal match in FIFA World Cup 2026,” said William Pate, president and CEO, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We are excited for the opportunity to host a total of eight matches during the world’s premier sporting event and welcome visitors from around the globe to our city.”

For more information on Atlanta’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup 2026™ and to get involved, please visit

ACVB Hires New Citywide Sales Executive and International Tourism Sales Manager

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) announces the hiring of Jon Herr as citywide sales executive and Haewon Jang as international tourism sales manager.

Herr joins ACVB to sell and market Atlanta as a destination for prospective trade shows and group meetings. He will be responsible for generating leads and subsequent bookings for trade show and national account sales requiring 1,201 rooms or greater on peak night. Herr previously served as senior sales manager at Waldorf Astoria Atlanta Buckhead. He is a graduate of Chaffey College with a degree in marketing.

In her role, Jang will promote Atlanta globally as a top tourism destination, focusing on servicing and expanding Asian inbound visitation markets. She will also coordinate international trade shows, sales missions and familiarization tours. Jang is a graduate of Kyung Hee University and received a master’s degree in global hospitality management from Georgia State University.

ACVB Promotes LyLy Nguyen to Data and Analytics Manager

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) promotes LyLy Nguyen to data and analytics manager. In her new role, Nguyen will have more responsibility over the coordination and execution of ACVB’s strategies for managing and analyzing data. She will work on an expanded range of data sources and analytical tools that can be shared with ACVB’s partners.

Nguyen joined ACVB in 2022 as data and reporting specialist to assist with updating and refreshing reports. Previously she worked as administrative lab coordinator for Georgia State University. Nguyen graduated from Georgia State University with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and statistics and a master’s degree in data science and analytics.

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