SONOMA COUNTY, CA (September 19, 2022) Sonoma County Tourism will host its Annual Meeting on Wednesday afternoon, September 21, 2022, at the Student Center at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park beginning at 1:00 p.m.

Mountain climbers would say Sonoma County is in a “col,” the space between two peaks, considered an excellent place for navigation. Finding our way to the next peak will take strategy, innovation, and collaboration. As such, the theme of the meeting is Collaborate, Navigate, Elevate. The annual gathering will provide insights, inspiration and ways to integrate that will help Sonoma County’s tourism industry elevate to new heights.

SCT’s leadership will present its plans for the year ahead to elevate Sonoma County to both visitors and local stakeholders. The event will also feature two keynote speakers: Andrew Leary, Director of Sustainable Tourism and Partnerships at Leave No Trace, who will share updates on this innovative partnership between his organization, SCT and Sonoma County Regional Parks; and local mountain climber, adventurer, Sonoma County business owner, and motivational speaker, Kevin Jorgeson, who will leave attendees inspired about traversing the year ahead.

Claudia Vecchio, Sonoma County Tourism President & CEO, said “After all the difficulties Sonoma County has faced over the past 5 years, the conditions are ideal for our partners, stakeholders, and industry colleagues to collaborate, navigate the challenges, and truly elevate our destination.” Vecchio went on to say, “Kicking off that approach is what this year’s annual meeting is all about.”

After the Annual Meeting, SCT is offering four breakout sessions that will provide a forum for deeper discussions on key SCT initiatives and programming.

  1. Leave No Trace & Sonoma County: The Successes So Far and the Opportunities Ahead
    Presented by Andrew Leary, Director of Sustainable Tourism and Partnerships at Leave No Trace

In April 2021, Sonoma County Tourism and Sonoma County Regional Parks announced a partnership with the national Leave No Trace organization to help ensure visitors who enjoy the region’s parks and open spaces do so responsibly. This session will showcase the successes of this collaboration over the past year and a half and convey new opportunities to advance this initiative. Attendees will have access to tools and training materials and be the very first to watch Sonoma County’s new Leave No Trace video series.

  1. Cannabis Travel and Why it Matters
    Presented by Brian Applegarth, Founder of Cultivar Brands and the Cannabis Travel Association

Cannabis tourism has taken off in regions across the country, driving revenue and elevating the visitor experience. For a variety of reasons, Sonoma County is poised for tremendous growth within this sector. From product distributors to health and wellness experiences to trade and consumer events to business meetings, the potential for growth has never been greater. Brian Applegarth, Sonoma Countian and industry leader, will provide an overview of the cannabis travel industry and explores the question, “Why does it matter?”

  1. Navigating Post Pandemic Marketing and Public Relations: Insights and Strategies for Success
    Moderated by Todd O’Leary, VP, Marketing and Communications at SCT
    Panelists: Mina Robertson, Account Director at Miles Partnership; Gabe Saglie, Travel Editor at Travelzoo; and Conrad Braganza, Sr. Manager, Research at SCT

The pandemic has shifted consumer preferences and priorities around travel. In addition, budgets are still tight as businesses ramp back up. Marketers must navigate this new competitive landscape and find efficiencies to gain traction. The session will provide insights to help attendees understand trends and economic factors at play, and creative integrated solutions that dovetail with SCTs focus on both sustainability and wellbeing.

  1. Increase your Visibility: Meetings and Group Industry
    Presented by Chelsea Kendall, Regional Account Director, Destination Marketing at Cvent

The session will provide domestic and local industry trends, best practices, and ways for area meeting venues to maximize exposure on this critical site selection platform. Cvent is a leading meetings, events, and hospitality technology provider offering a comprehensive suite of solutions that automates and simplifies the entire event management process to maximize the impact of events.

Schedule of Events

1:00-2:30 p.m. – Annual Meeting

2:45 – 4:30 p.m. – Breakout Sessions

4:30 – 5:30 p.m. – Wine reception at the venue.

Registration is $40 per person. Tickets are available here.

About Kevin Jorgeson

On January 14, 2015, after 19 days of living on the side of the 3,000’ cliff El Capitan in Yosemite, CA, Kevin Jorgeson stood on top of the hardest rock climbs ever completed. Kevin spent over six years with partner Tommy Caldwell imagining, planning, preparing, and attempting to free climb the Dawn Wall of El Capitan. During their successful 19-day climb, the story became a global inspiration, garnering over 34 billion media impressions – easily one of the largest sports stories of all time.

You can call Kevin a climber, an explorer, or even crazy. But don’t call him a “daredevil” or “thrill seeker.” He would be the first to tell you that if you’re having an adrenaline rush while 3,000’ in the air, something is going wrong. Rather, the Dawn Wall is about partnership, adventure, optimism, determination, perseverance and the power of dreaming big. As Kevin shared with the world via Twitter just days before completing the climb: “This isn’t about conquering, it’s about realizing a dream.”

About Andrew Leary

Andrew builds strong partner relationships with tourism and travel professionals, closely working together to achieve long-term goals and objectives where Leave No Trace meets destination stewardship. Adjacent to Leave No Trace, Andrew brings a perspective from his ongoing work in the adventure tourism industry as an expedition ski guide, as well as previous experience in sales within the outdoor industry. Andrew has an MS in Parks, Recreation and Tourism from the University of Utah and a BA in Journalism from the University of Oregon. Fun Fact: Andrew has walked through every time zone on the globe.

About Sonoma County Tourism

Sonoma County Tourism (SCT) is the region’s official Destination Stewardship Organization. Through a multi-channel sales and marketing program, the organization promotes Sonoma County as a global visitor and meetings destination, where diversity thrives, and everyone is welcome. Leveraging the region’s unmatched assets, wine, culinary, wellness, and sustainability continue to define its character. Visitors spent $1.97 billion in Sonoma County in 2021, a 58% increase over 2020 and employed 17,640 Sonoma Countians, a gain of 8.3% over 2020 hospitality job levels. Post-pandemic, SCT works with partner businesses to rebuild the tourism economy, regain critical revenue, and re-establish a vibrant workforce. Planning the perfect trip to Sonoma County just got easier with the Sonoma County App! Create a unique itinerary in real time, travel with intention and share with your traveling party. Available for Android and iOS. For more information, visit

EDITORS NOTE: Journalists are invited to attend the meeting.  Please contact either Birgitt or Chris to secure your registration.

Media contacts:

Birgitt Vaughan, Director, Public Relations
Chris Vomvolakis, Senior Manager, Consumer Public Relations
[email protected]