Meet the Sonoma County Tourism Staff
Sonoma County Tourism
400 Aviation Boulevard, Suite 500
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Main: 800-576-6662 / 707-522-5800
General E-mail: [email protected]
Marketing E-mail: [email protected]
Advertising E-mail: [email protected]
Public/Media Relations E-mail: [email protected]
Business Development E-mail: [email protected]onomacounty.com
President and CEO
Joined SCT: Nov. 2017
Bio: Claudia Vecchio brings more than 25 years in the destination and consumer marketing arena to her post as President/CEO of Sonoma County Tourism. During the four years she’s led the organization, she’s managed significant crisis situations, launched the “Life Opens Up” brand and driven the organization’s sustainability and destination stewardship platform.
Claudia comes to Sonoma County following six years as Director of the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs where she helped propel the state’s economy out of recession through boosting domestic and international visitation, launching an award-winning brand, increasing international sales and marketing campaigns and building both the operational and programmatic function of a newly formed statewide department.
During her career, Claudia also led the Ohio Division of Tourism where she introduced experiential marketing to the statewide industry and integrated an evidence-based environment. She also and oversaw the marketing efforts of the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau. As an executive with global public relations agencies including Edelman and Hill and Knowlton, Claudia managed brand launch campaigns for global brands, and executed consumer marketing and public affairs programs for travel and consumer brands.
In 2015, Claudia was named among the Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Marketing by the Hospitality, Sales & Marketing Association International and was presented the J. Desmond Slattery award for Marketer of the Year by the Travel and Tourism Research Association. Her campaigns have been recognized by the U.S. Travel Association with an Odyssey Award for the Best State Tourism Office Public Relations Program and by the Public Relations Society of America as a Silver Anvil Winner for the agency’s innovative outreach to Millennial travelers.
Claudia has served on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Travel Association and on the national boards for the Public Relations Society of America and the Travel and Tourism Research Association.
Interests: The arts, travel, gardening, innovation.
What I love about Sonoma County: Sonoma County has an infinite bounty of natural and cultural resources that all create inspiring and joyful opportunities for exploration. The region’s beauty is found its diversity and undiscovered treasures. Love it all!
Vice President, Finance & Operations
Senior Manager, Research
Joined SCT: Jan. 2022
Bio: Conrad Braganza is Senior Manager, Research, at Sonoma County Tourism. He collaborates with diverse teams in the organization by providing competitive quantitative and qualitative insights to achieve organizational strategic goals. Conrad identifies and communicates consumer trends in the travel and tourism sector, and important intersections such as the wine industry, outdoor recreation, and sustainable travel. He is a current member of the Travel and Tourism Research Association and serves on the Research Committee of Visit California.
Conrad has a M.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Biometry and Plant Physiology from Fresno State. Prior to working for Sonoma County Tourism, he developed the Recycled Water program for the City of Fresno and served on the Regulatory-Legislative Committee of WateReuse, California. He is passionate about building a sense of community connection to his work, applying analytical skills, and communicating data in a practical way. A native of Goa, India, Conrad grew up in Dubai and is a proud Californian and new Sonoma Countian.
Interests: I love kayaking, reading, traveling with my partner, and classical piano.
What I love about Sonoma County: I love the strong sense of localism, and down-to-earth culture and people.
Data & Systems Specialist
Joined SCT: Aug. 2021
Bio: Emma Schmitz is the Data and Systems Specialist for Sonoma County Tourism. Working with each department, Emma manages SCT’s Simpleview database which feeds information to the website and the mobile app. She is a Simpleview Certified Mentor and trains SCT staff and partners. Additionally, she manages the Hospitality Hub. Emma is passionate about supporting the Sonoma County business community by connecting them to opportunities and helping to represent them on the website.
Emma holds a degree in Food and Beverage Management from the Culinary Institute of Michigan and a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Northern Michigan University. She has wide breath of work experiences starting at a young age at her parent’s retail stores. Over the years she’s worked in retail, restaurants, a distillery, an event venue, a historically restored attraction, a resort, and an event décor company.
Interests: Cross-country skiing, hiking, craft beer & spirits, travel.
What I love about Sonoma County: One of the reasons I love Sonoma County is that no matter how long you have lived there, or how many times you've visited, there is always more to discover and explore.
Accounting & Administrative Coordinator
Joined SCT: May 2022
Bio: Jenn comes to SCT with a varied professional background in travel, beer and cannabis. Born and raised in Los Angeles County, she has called Sonoma County home since 2005. A seasoned front-desk gal, Jenn has spent most of her career as ‘first line of defense’ front and center with industry giants such as Lagunitas Brewing Company (yes, chances are good that you’ve chatted with her if you’ve called the number printed on the bottle) and is happy to relinquish her front-facing duties in favor of a more operations-based role. As ‘Gatekeeper’ participating in the management and training of hundreds of small-group tour guides at PEAK Adventure Travel, she won the ‘Be Yourself’ Award and was right at home among like-minded travel and fun enthusiasts. She feels that visitor education around conservation and sustainability is one of the most important responsibilities for a tourism agency to embrace, since residents and visitors all share a motivation to continue to enjoy the natural features of this extraordinary area. Typically, Jenn can be found drinking a pint with friends at Cooperage Brewing, at home watching movies or Sharks hockey with her boyfriend and cat, or at the beach enjoying a book with some coffee.
Interests: Cooking, gardening, yoga, traveling
What I love about Sonoma County: The ruggedly beautiful Sonoma Coast and redwoods, the vivid green the hills take on in the springtime, and getting out of the area as often as possible to keep things fresh!
Vice President, Marketing & Communications
Joined SCT: Oct 2018
Bio: Todd was raised on a beef cattle farm just outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While about 1,800 miles separates his hometown from Sonoma County, the two locations share a lot of similarities that makes him feel at home here, including an appreciation for the value of hard work and treating people right. Todd graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Urban Planning and Marketing. Todd started his career in the tourism industry at VISIT Milwaukee, where he worked his way up from an unpaid PR intern to Director of Marketing. After thirteen years at VISIT Milwaukee, he moved to California where he was the VP of Global Partnerships and Strategic Alliances for San Francisco Travel. In 2018, Todd became the VP of Marketing and Communications at Sonoma County Tourism, where he oversees all consumer-focused marketing and public relations activities. Todd holds two industry certifications – the Certified Tourism Industry Specialist (CTIS), and the highest industry certification – the Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) certification. He is also highly involved in the tourism industry, including committee roles at CalTravel, Visit California, and Destinations International. Todd and his husband live in Santa Rosa with their two cats.
Interests: Traveling, Food & Wine, Gardening
What I love about Sonoma County: Dry Creek Valley. When I first started visiting Sonoma County in 2006, Dry Creek Valley was the first AVA I went to and I became enamored with the scenery, charm, lovely people, and, of course, the fantastic wines!
Director of Public Relations
Joined SCT: Aug 2011
Bio: Birgitt “Biggi” Vaughan is the Director of Public Relations at Sonoma County Tourism, responsible for the communications and public relations strategy. As a seasoned professional for more than 20 years in the tourism industry, Birgitt is known for cultivating media relationships, creating initiatives, managing tradeshows and events, and driving brand awareness. Successfully positioning Sonoma County as the wine & food capital in the most sustainable wine region in top outlets, she is shifting the recognition to being the go-to destination for wellbeing and responsible travel. Originally from Germany, she always sees the glass half-full, preferably filled with the world-class wine Sonoma County offers.
Interests: Experience new cultures, environments and culinary arts
What I love about Sonoma County: It’s like choosing your favorite child. The coast is amazing, so are our many regional & state parks, but enjoying our locally-grown food and crafted wine & other beverage scene is one of my favorite things to do.
Director of Brand Marketing
Joined SCT: June 2021
Bio: Frank was born and raised in Los Gatos, California and graduated from Sonoma State University with a BS degree in Business Administration and a concentration of Marketing. He has spent almost his entire career in Marketing, working at a variety of different consumer packaged goods companies prior to entering into the tourism industry. He joined Sonoma County Tourism in June of 2021 and was awarded "Rising Tourism Star" by E-Tourism Summit in 2022. He has lived in Sonoma County for over seventeen years and loves the outdoors and spending time with his family. When he is not driving overnight visitation to Sonoma County, Frank can be found out in his garden, hanging out with his wife and kids and cuddling his two dogs, a Golden Retriever and a King Charles Cavalier.
Interests: Photography, Coffee and Indoor plants
What I love about Sonoma County: Trione-Annadel State Park. Amazing hiking and biking trails. Love taking a long hike on a warm spring day, then walking over to Trailhouse for a cold beer after.
Senior Manager, Consumer Public Relations
Joined SCT: May 2022
Bio: Chris Vomvolakis is natural leader, go-getter, and promoter, with creative ideas and acknowledged strengths synthesizing experience and analysis into dynamic public relations and communications solutions. Recognized for building consensus across business management functions, he has been praised for his enthusiasm, diligence, can-do attitude, sense of humor, and roll-up-the-sleeves work ethic. Chris has over 20 years of experience in marketing, communications, public and media relations. A hospitality management graduate of Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz County, California, he has orchestrated marketing, global communications, and value proposition development for nationally and globally recognized brands such as the acclaimed Shadowbrook Restaurant (Capitola, California), the Florida Culinary Institute (West Palm Beach, Florida), Benziger Family Winery (Glen Ellen, California) and Visit Santa Rosa (Sonoma County, California). Chris’ solutions to strategic public relations are thoughtful, innovative, and multidisciplinary.
Interests: Dining, travel, health, and fitness
What I love about Sonoma County: The pool at Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville. It’s an amazing oasis in the middle of Sonoma Wine Country.
Senior Manager, Digital Marketing
Joined SCT: Jan 2022
Bio: Born on the Northernımost Ionian island of Corfu Greece, Achilles moved to California in his early teens and quickly developed a thirst for all things technology during Silicon Valley's explosive 90's boom. A strong entrepreneurial spirit has driven Achilles to build several successful companies specializing in web development/e-commerce, hyperlocal tourism and drone sensor fusion. After attending university in Europe and here in the States, Achilles has called Sonoma County home for more than 30 years, attracted by the diversity in geographic terrain and the almost infinite number of creative makers that also call Sonoma County home. Outside of work, Achilles is an active member of CRFG (California Rare Fruit Growers) a non-profit organization of rare exotic fruit enthusiasts, hobbyists and amateur horticulturists based in California. Additionally, Achilles is a passionate organic farmer and gardener, growing fruits and vegetables year round in Sonoma County's perfect climate.
Interests: Traveling, Gardening, Farming
What I love about Sonoma County: Armstrong Woods is a magical location and one that highlights what makes Sonoma County truly a special place to live and visit.
Content & Social Media Manager
Joined SCT: Dec 2021
Bio: Jamie Trump is the Content and Social Media Manager at Sonoma County Tourism. Born and raised in Northern California, she has always loved the Sonoma Coast. After graduating from Chico State with a degree in journalism and creative writing, she worked as a reporter for a daily newspaper before eventually promoting to editor. After more than a decade in the newsroom, she switched gears and began working in public relations and marketing. In 2021, Jamie moved to Bodega Bay and landed her dream job at SCT. She now uses her skills to promote an area she truly loves. Some say she really is living the dream.
Interests: Reading, writing, exploring new areas (usually with my sweet lab, Glory, in tow).
What I love about Sonoma County: Bodega Bay. Not only is it stunning, but it’s where my family has vacationed since I was a child, so it also has special personal ties for me.
Project & Design Specialist
Joined SCT: Sept 2021
Bio: Kate Davis is a creative marketing professional that has spent her career in Creative Marketing, Media, and Communications and has enjoyed connecting brands and stories with the targeted audiences that impact them. Kate was born and raised in Petaluma, California. Kate graduated from California State University, Chico with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Design, focusing on Media Arts. Kate returned to Sonoma County a few years later, working in media services at the local public access television station, while simultaneously working as a freelance videographer and editor and helping businesses with their branding and launching their social media presence. Most recently, Kate worked in Sonoma County’s Craft Beverage industry for many years, with a focus in Marketing and Public Relations. During this time, Kate helped open Bear Republic Brewing Company’s Rohnert Park brewpub location and attended the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado. After taking some time off following the birth of her first child, Kate joined Sonoma County Tourism in her role as Project & Design Specialist in 2021. Kate loves spending time with her friends and family. You can often find her outdoors and going on fun adventures with her husband and son.
Interests: Baking, Hiking
What I love about Sonoma County: The coast – I love going to the coast its calming nature helps me to reconnect. Yummy taffy nearby doesn’t hurt either!
Marketing & Public Relations Coordinator
Joined SCT: Feb 2022
Bio: A.J. is a Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator tasked with supporting both teams through creative and administrative duties. He’s always had a passion for storytelling and supporting his community, which led him to joining Sonoma County Tourism. Having graduated from San Francisco State University in 2022 with bachelor’s degrees in Marketing and Cinema, A.J.’s hit the ground running as part of SCT. He’s tackled his responsibilities with gusto as well as spearheaded the launch of SCT’s TikTok account (@sonomacounty), where he highlights the bountiful beauty of Sonoma County in tandem with today’s social trends. A.J. has also been instrumental in the PR-focused “What’s Happening” video series, directing and editing each episode. Throughout high school and college, A.J. worked as a freelance videographer and photographer. He fills his free time working on short films, photographing live music, enjoying sports, playing video games, and relaxing with his girlfriend and their two cats.
Interests: Filmmaking, Watching Sports and Photographing Live Music
What I love about Sonoma County: The Theatre District in Downtown Petaluma because it’s the perfect spot for dinner and a movie.
Vice President, Business Development
Joined SCT: Aug. 2021
Bio: Jonny Westom joined Sonoma County Tourism in 2021 as the Vice President, Business Development with a goal of increasing Sonoma County’s visibility as an overnight destination for groups, meetings, special events, weddings, and international travelers. The California native attended Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, earning a BA degree in business administration. He then went on to earn his Masters in Business Administration – Global Marketing from the University of Redlands. After 10 years with the Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, Jonny became the Executive Director of the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau where he led the executive, sales, marketing, and re-branding efforts of the world class wine country destination. In 2017 Jonny became the President of Visit Dana Point, leading the small beach community in southern Orange County, CA sales and marketing efforts while creating an award-winning brand strategy.
Jonny lives in Windsor, CA with his wife Jamie Westom, son, Jonathan Owen, and daughter Kayleigh, born in 2021.
Interests: Music, Traveling, Boating, Golf, Cooking.
What I love about Sonoma County: Upon first arriving in Sonoma County in 2015 my family was welcomed with open arms by the community. We moved away in 2017 and when we returned, three years later, we were welcomed “back home.” The people and the pride of the community is what I love most about Sonoma County.
Director of Travel Trade
Joined SCT: March 2022
Bio: Percy Stevens joined Sonoma County Tourism as Director, Travel Trade. Stevens in March 2022, operating within SCT’s Business Development division, and overseeing domestic leisure sales programming and international sales and marketing efforts for the destination.
Percy comes to Sonoma County Tourism from Visit Durango, where he oversaw the development, implementation, and management of sales and promotion as the director of sales & marketing. In his time at Visit Durango, Stevens spearheaded all Durango marketing and sales initiatives, created the Cycling Task Force Committee, and was elected to the Colorado Tourism Office’s International Promotions Committee.
Prior to his position in Colorado, Stevens spent the better part of a decade in the Bay Area as director of global business development for the San Francisco Travel Association, associate director of business development for California Academy of Sciences and travel trade manager for Visit California in Sacramento.
Interests: Mountain biking, trail running, skiing, traveling, food, and sipping nice Sonoma County wine.
What I love about Sonoma County: The variety of the region with its coastline, Forests, and State parks. The food & beer scene is incredible and that’s why it is the perfect place for me.
Senior Manager, Business Development
Group Business Development Executive
Joined SCT: Jul. 2021
Bio: Kurt Shaver joined Sonoma County Tourism as Group Business Development Manager in July 2021. In this role Kurt is responsible for attracting groups and special events to Sonoma County for overnights stays and meetings. Kurt works with meeting planners, associations, non-profits, government agencies and other organization types while working with local hotel partners, venues, wineries, and attractions that focus on meetings the. Kurt’s duties include trade show attendance, participation in meeting industry associations, conducting buyer site visits and FAM tours, social media engagement, and other community activities. His background includes 20 years of experience in the technology sales industry. After leaving the corporate world, Kurt founded his own sales training and professional speaking company. Six years later his business merged with a training company where Kurt served as a founding partner for 4 years before joining the SCT team.
Interests: Cycling, music, and cooking in his outdoor wood oven.
What I love about Sonoma County: Driving out to the Pacific coast in the Summer with the top down, listening to the abundant live music (especially outdoors) and enjoying the variety and quality of food and wine produced in the area.
Business Development Coordinator
Joined SCT: Dec. 2021
Bio: Kira Butz was born and raised in Southern California and graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a degree in Tourism, Hospitality, and Destination Management. While attending college, she immersed herself into the DMO industry through coursework and opportunities to attend industry events such as the Visit California Outlook Forum. Kira also gained work experience in the hotel industry as a Front Desk Agent at Spyglass Inn, in Pismo Beach, CA. Kira moved to Sonoma County following her graduation from Cal Poly in June 2021.
She began her role as the Business Development Coordinator for Sonoma County Tourism in December 2021 where she has been involved in a variety of projects, including the Sonoma County Tasting Pass, client events, video shoots, and tradeshow coordination. Kira was recognized as a 30 & Under Emerging Leader by the California Travel Association in October 2022. She is very passionate about the hospitality and tourism industry and is excited to learn more about the DMO sector.
Interests: Kira enjoys hiking, volleyball, exploring the coast, and reading.
What I love about Sonoma County: The Pinnacle Gulch Trail. It’s the perfect place to go on a walk, enjoy the outdoor scenery, and experience the beautiful coastline.
Mid-West Sales Representative
Joined SCT: Jul. 2022
Bio: Steve Lee comes to Sonoma County Tourism with more than 20 years of demonstrated performance in the meetings & incentive industry, global tourism, and destination management. Steve is an in-market contractor based in Minnesota where he promotes and develops the Midwest market for groups and meetings. In his career path, Steve has served in prominent sales & marketing roles with TREK International Travel, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, and Destination Hotels. In addition, Steve spent 7 years representing the 9 cities of the Coachella Valley in a national sales capacity developing convention and event business for the Greater Palm Springs CVB. Most recently, Steve currently works with multiple clients through his full-service meeting & incentive solution company, focusing on high-profile clients throughout the Midwest, East Coast, and incentive houses… Steve has held professional membership in various chapters of SITE – Society of Incentive Travel Excellence, MPI – Meeting Professionals International, and PCMA – Professional Convention Management Association.
Interests: Spending time with family, traveling, hiking, national parks, and coaching ice hockey.
What I love about Sonoma County: The diverse landscape and incredible food & wine scene. From the stunning Northern California coastline; through the towering groves of redwoods; to the amazing winegrowing regions; Sonoma County is truly one of the most awe-inspiring destinations in the entire world.
Kelly Bass Seibel
Vice President, Community Engagement
Joined SCT: Dec 2019
Bio: Kelly Bass Seibel serves as the Vice President, Community Engagement for Sonoma County Tourism. In her role at Sonoma County Tourism Kelly oversees the organization’s efforts in sustainability, destination stewardship and community engagement.
Previously, Kelly served in leadership roles at the Petaluma Health Center and the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber and has expertise in collaborative partnerships, advocacy, workforce development and program development. Kelly has played a pivotal role in the creation of the Santa Rosa Young Professionals Network, as well as the creation of the Chamber’s award-winning Mike Hauser Algebra Academy and widely recognized WHEEL program.
With a passion for giving back to her community, Kelly has served on several local committees and boards, including the Sonoma State University Alumni Association and First 5 Sonoma County, where she served as Commission chair. She has been named to “Forty Under 40” by both the North Bay Business Journal and the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives and was an Educational Fellow for the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. Kelly is a proud alumnus of Leadership Santa Rosa and Leadership Petaluma, and resides in Petaluma with her husband, Pat, and her daughters, Riley and Gracie.
Interests: Reading, iced coffee and playing with my kids.
What I love about Sonoma County: I could talk about the diversity of our geography, the individualism of our cities and towns, or our commitment to preserving this place, but the thing I love most about Sonoma County are the authentic and creative makers, thinkers and innovators that call this place home.
Sustainability & Climate Initiatives Manager
Joined SCT: June 2017
Bio: Devin McConnell is a lifelong Sonoma Countian, save for a brief window while attending San José State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Advertising in 2010. Devin joined Sonoma County Tourism in 2017 as its Office Coordinator, subsequently becoming the Marketing Coordinator, Community Engagement Specialist, Community Engagement Manager, and most recently the Sustainability and Climate Initiatives Manager. In his current position, Devin has been a key player in the development of the Sonoma County Leave No Trace Seven Principles and its related programming, the Rewards For Rubbish litter reduction program, and the organization’s various volunteer initiatives. Devin represents Sonoma County Tourism as a founding member of Cleaner California Coast, a three-county alliance dedicated to reducing negative impacts from visitation to Northern California’s coastline. He also sits on the California Travel Association’s Sustainability and Stewardship Committee and represents SCT as part of the Russian River Confluence. By year’s end, Devin will have successfully completed requirements to receive professional certification in sustainable tourism by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
Interests: Consuming locally produced cider, animal and child welfare, and the performing arts.
What I love about Sonoma County: I treasure its moderate climate, great food, and quick access to the best of what California has to offer.
Administrative Program Manager / AHP Program Manager