President & CEOAs VISIT FLORIDA’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Dana Young leads Florida’s official destination marketing organization in partnership with its Board of Directors and the statewide tourism industry.
Throughout her career, Dana has served in leadership positions working to cultivate and protect Florida’s exceptional business climate and a world-class quality of life. As an attorney at Fowler, White, Boggs, P.A. in Tampa, she represented a broad spectrum of businesses, landowners, and individuals in areas of regulatory compliance, permitting, zoning, and administrative law proceedings. Dana served in the Florida House from 2010 through 2016, rising to Majority Leader for the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions. In 2016, she was elected to the Florida Senate, where she represented parts of western Hillsborough County for two years. Dana was recommended for the VISIT FLORIDA position by Governor Ron DeSantis and was unanimously approved by the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors on January 7, 2019. In addition to her duties as President and CEO, she is a member of the U.S. Travel Association’s Chairman’s Circle.
Dana is a sixth-generation Floridian and was born and raised in Tallahassee. She received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Florida State University and, in pursuit of her interest in law and public policy, graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1993. In her free time, Dana enjoys spending time in natural Florida and tarpon fishing with her husband, Matt, and two daughters, Alexandra and Carson.
Chief Marketing OfficerGerardo Llanes is the Chief Marketing Officer for VISIT FLORIDA. In this role, he leads the planning, development and execution of VISIT FLORIDA's marketing and advertising initiatives to ensure the corporation achieves its overall objectives.
Gerardo has more than 30 years of experience in international tourism marketing, brand development and management. As a take-charge international marketing leader, he has a strong background of global success in marketing, general management and consulting with multinational companies and tourism destinations. He most recently served as the Executive Director of Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE where he led brand development, marketing and destination strategies. He previously served as the global Chief Marketing Officer for the Mexico Tourism Board.
Gerardo also has extensive experience in the private sector, having worked or consulted for major companies like Kellogg, Coca-Cola, Prudential Financial, Royal Caribbean, Unilever, Miller Coors and Frito Lay. He began his career with McCann Erickson and holds an MBA from the Thunderbird Graduate School of International Management which is now part of Arizona State University and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the Universidad de Las Americas in Mexico City.
In his free time, Gerardo enjoys traveling with his family and playing golf.
Chief Financial OfficerShanna Pace is the Chief Financial Officer for VISIT FLORIDA. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing and directing the financial actions of VISIT FLORIDA to ensure the marketing corporation provides excellent stewardship of both public and private funds.
A Tallahassee native, Shanna started with VISIT FLORIDA as an Accounts Payable Specialist and worked her way up to her current position. During her time at VISIT FLORIDA, she received her Bachelor of Arts in accounting from Flagler College and Certified Public Accountant license.
When Shanna is not at the office you can find her enjoying the Fishing Capital of the World.
Chief Operating Officer & General CounselCraig Thomas is the Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel for VISIT FLORIDA. In this role, he oversees all of VISIT FLORIDA’s operational and legal affairs. Craig is a native of Jacksonville, Florida and received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida, a Juris Doctor from Florida Coastal School of Law, and a Master of Business Administration from Florida State University. In his free time, Craig enjoys dancing to “Wheels on the Bus” with his 2 year old daughter, spending time at the beach, and rooting for the Florida Gators and Buffalo Bills.
Craig enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, rooting for the Gators and expects the Buffalo Bills to win the Super Bowl every year.
Vice President of Executive Operations and AdministrationMeredith DaSilva is the Vice President of Executive Operations and Administration for VISIT FLORIDA. In this role, she is responsible for the leading the tourism marketing corporation’s human resources, information technology and administration departments to ensure VISIT FLORIDA has the best and brightest talent, along with cutting-edge technology as we market the Sunshine State. Throughout her career at VISIT FLORIDA, Meredith has held several positions within industry relations, promotions and executive operations.
Meredith is a native of Tallahassee and received a Bachelor of Science from the Florida State University. She holds her Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) designation, serves on the Southeast Tourism Society Board of Directors and the Destination International's DMAP Board of Directors, and is a member of Leadership Tallahassee, Class 34.
Meredith loves spending family time at the beach, traveling and cheering on her beloved ‘Noles.
Vice President of Visitor ServicesDavid Dodd is Vice President of Visitor Services for VISIT FLORIDA. In this role, he oversees the five official Florida Welcome Centers and directs the policy, procedure and operations for a staff of X information specialists who are the first Florida ambassadors to more than 2.7 million Florida visitors. David is passionate about giving our visitors an exceptional versus acceptable Florida experience when they visit our Welcome Center facilities.
With more than 27 years of commitment to the Florida tourism industry, he began his career with Delta Airlines and later worked in international tourism with the Florida Department of Commerce. With the creation of VISIT FLORIDA, he was named Manager of International Tourism and Domestic Tourism Sales. David later assumed the role of Director of Visitor Services before becoming Vice President of Visitor Services. David is a sought after speaker on the topic of customer service, founder of several professional associations related to tourism, and attended the University of Florida. Go Gators!
David is a cowboy and farmer at heart. When he is not warming a bench at his three kids' activities, he raises Watusi cattle, alpacas, a herd of miniature Jerusalem donkeys and is a beekeeper.
Senior Vice President of MarketingStaci Mellman leads the development of the Florida tourism brand, integrated marketing initiatives, and long-term strategic planning. As the VP, Brand she ensures that every initiative is strategically driven, measurable, and effective. Since joining the VISIT FLORIDA team, Mellman has been an integral part of developing the organization’s 2020 strategic plan, shifting to an audience segmentation approach, and evolving Florida’s brand advocacy platform, Share a Little Sunshine.
With 17 years of experience in her field, Mellman is a seasoned creative marketer and event professional with a proven record of developing strategic marketing initiatives that increase awareness and brand value. Her work has resulted in national recognition on behalf of brands across disciplines including VISIT FLORIDA and PBS, as well as personal accolades including being named Tallahassee’s Top 20 under 40. She has an M.B.A from the Australian Graduate School of Management and a B.A in Sociology from The University of Texas at Austin.
Vice President of External Affairs
Director of BrandMeagan Chiamardas is the Director of Brand for VISIT FLORIDA. In this role, she is responsible for leading campaign managers and working with cross-functional teams and agencies to ensure VISIT FLORIDA's business-to-business and consumer brand marketing efforts align with short-term and long-term business goals. Throughout her more than 10 year career at VISIT FLORIDA, Meagan has held several positions in agency management and marketing operations.
Meagan is a native Floridian and holds a master's degree in communications from Florida State University. She serves on the Association of National Advertisers' Agency Relations and Digital & Social Southeast Chapter Committees and was recognized as a member of Destination International's 30 under 30 class of 2103.
Meagan loves to experience new places through food, play volleyball and relax by the water.
Director of Industry Relations & SalesKate Chunka is the Director of Industry Relations & Sales for VISIT FLORIDA. In this role, Kate leads the team responsible for growing and retaining VISIT FLORIDA's partnership base and providing the Florida tourism industry with resources, education and assistance to engage travelers. In addition to building and managing VISIT FLORIDA's strategic partnerships, Kate oversees co-op program and event sponsorship sales.
Kate is a native Floridian and has worked in marketing for Darden Restaurants, H&R Block, and on large accounts at Mediaedge:cia, a New York City media agency. She holds a Master of Arts in Communication from Notre Dame of Maryland University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from The Johns Hopkins University.
In her free time, Kate is an avid runner and foodie who loves to travel.
Director of Content MarketingDani DeStafney is the Director of Content Marketing for VISIT FLORIDA. In this role, she leads content creation and oversees the consumer experience on our website. Videos, articles, photography and anything else developed for the website or to support advertising campaigns is managed by Dani and her team.
Dani came to us from AT&T where she worked on high profile brand campaigns and sponsorships including the Olympics, the Masters, American Idol and even the launch of the very first iPhone. She holds various marketing professional certifications from Google, Cornell University, Harvard University and AT&T.
Dani is a native Floridian growing up in Pensacola and graduating from FSU. She is passionate about travel, live music and rescuing golden retrievers.
Director of Public RelationsMeagan Dougherty is the Director of Public Relations for VISIT FLORIDA. In this role, she oversees a team responsible for keeping Florida top of mind with trade and consumer media, influencers and consumers through the implementation of public relations campaigns both domestically and internationally.
A native Floridian, Meagan is a graduate of the University of West Florida and previously served as a member of the brand management team at the Florida Lottery. She is a member of the Florida Public Relations Society of America Travel and Tourism Chapter and the Florida Public Relations Association Capital Chapter.
In her free time, Meagan enjoys being in the sun, riding roller coasters, doing hot yoga and spending time with her dog Maggie.
Director of Legislative AffairsKatie Juckett is the Director of Legislative Affairs for VISIT FLORIDA. In this role, she oversees the development and implementation of strategies to ensure VISIT FLORIDA's legislative success. While advocating for VISIT FLORIDA's interests, she works with Florida's legislative body and other entities whose interests are similar or functions impact the marketing corporation.
Katie has over a decade of experience in the legislative affairs arena. Prior to joining VISIT FLORIDA, she worked at Greenberg Traurig, PA with the Government Law & Policy practice group. Katie is a graduate of Florida State University, where she earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science.
Katie is a native Floridian and, in her free time, enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and friends.
Director of Consumer Insights and AnalyticsJacob Pewitt Yancey is the Director of Consumer Insights and Analytics. In this role, he leads the VISIT FLORIDA research team responsible for producing quarterly visitor estimates, evaluations of the effectiveness of VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing and consumer insights used in planning the company's marketing strategies.
Jacob has spent most of his career working in and around state government. Most recently, he served as the Director of the Office of Research and Planning for Florida CFOs Jimmy Patronis and Jeff Atwater. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Tulane University, a Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Florida, and a graduate certificate in Information Architecture from Florida State University. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Southeastern chapter of the Travel and Tourism Research Association, and on the U.S. Travel Association Research Advisory Board.
When not doing research, Jacob can be found petting his five cats or backpacking in the mountains of Colorado.
Director of Technology OperationsMatsu is the Director of Technology Operations for VISIT FLORIDA. In this role, he is responsible for the network infrastructure, equipment, and systems the corporation’s staff utilize to market the state of Florida.
Matsu Prior has more than twenty years of experience in the technology field. Prior to VISIT FLORIDA, he worked at the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Matsu is a native Floridan who in his free time enjoys watching and playing a variety of sports and vacationing in the Sunshine State with his wife and daughter.