Wichita Woman Named President of Visit Topeka!

TOPEKA, Kan. - Olivia A. Simmons, CDME, has been named president of Visit Topeka! and will assume her duties on January 19, 2009.

Simmons is presently vice president-communications, marketing & industry relations for the Greater Wichita Convention & Visitors Bureau.

"We're extremely pleased to welcome Olivia to Topeka," said Mike Bell, 2008 board chairman of Visit Topeka! and general manager of the Holiday Inn Holidome. "After conducting an eight-month nationwide search, we believe she will bring extensive sales expertise and leadership ability to our organization. We had many very highly qualified candidates to choose from and we believe her strengths in marketing will enable the organization to develop the impact of tourism in the City of Topeka."

"Topeka has lots of potential to become a destination for tourists, conventions and meetings. There's a wide variety of facilities and attractions that could be marketed effectively and grow the tourism industry in Topeka," Simmons said. "I'm looking forward to meeting and working with the tourism and hospitality representatives in Topeka as we work together to market Topeka's assets."

Simmons has been with the Greater Wichita Convention & Visitors Bureau since 2002, serving first as director of tourism before moving to her present position in 2004. She is also director and a certified film commission professional with the Wichita Film Commission.

Before moving to Wichita, Simmons was the tourism coordinator and then director of the Greater Hutchinson Convention and Visitors Bureau from 1994 to 2002.

"I was very impressed with her vision for the future of Visit Topeka! and her extensive background in marketing the tourism industry in Wichita," said Bob Carmichael, owner of Perkins, and look forward to working with her as I assume the chairmanship of the Visit Topeka! board next month.

Simmons presently chairs the Governor's Council on Travel & Tourism and was the 2004 chairman of the Travel Industry Association of Kansas. She has completed the Executive Program in Destination Management from Purdue University and the University of Calgary (1999-2003) earning the Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) status.

She serves on the boards of the Flint Hills Coalition, Wichita Arts Council, Wichita Festivals, Inc., Wichita Association of Motion Picture Arts and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. She also served on the 2004 Kansas State Image Task Force.

Simmons and her husband Ray, who is an attorney with Ayesh Law Office in Wichita, will relocate to Topeka. They have six adult children.