Visit Manhattan to say farewell to director Karen Hibbard

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 10:43 AM CDT
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - Visit Manhattan will say farewell to director Karen Hibbard upon her newly announced retirement.

The City of Manhattan says the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce and Visit Manhattan will see the end of a highly successful era in February as Chamber Vice President and Visit Manhattan Director Karen Hibbard announced her retirement.

Hibbard said she will end her 26 years of service to the City of Manhattan in February 2023.

“I am forever grateful for the opportunity I have had to be a part of making the Manhattan community better during the past 26 years,” Hibbard said. “The Chamber was my first job in 1978 after earning my college degree. After a rewarding career as a stay-at-home mom and community volunteer, I had the opportunity in 1997 to jump back into the Chamber world when Becky Blake hired me to do convention sales. I was honored to take Becky’s place in 2005 when she became the Kansas Tourism Director.

“I have had the fortunate opportunity to play a leadership role in Manhattan’s growth and development during my employment with the Chamber. My enthusiasm for our community couldn’t be greater and the opportunities awaiting our future visitors are indeed beyond our imagination. Gordon and I plan to continue to make Manhattan our permanent home. Rest assured, I will forever be a champion and cheerleader for The Little Apple®, the Kansas Flint Hills, and our beautiful State of Kansas.

“I’m thankful for the years I’ve been a part of the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce. I have gained an abundance of industry friends throughout our state and nation. I have the deep satisfaction that, by working together, we accomplished great success. I will always be grateful to current and former chamber staff, board members, and volunteer leaders that I’ve had the opportunity to call my friends.”

Hibbard has been honored to be in the role as she has enjoyed seeing the growth and visiting new people. “I have been so honored to serve in this role, I truly truly love people, I love telling the story about what the community has to offer, I love nothing more than when a travel writer or visitor when an event comes into the community for those folks to say, “oh my goodness we experienced unsolicited friendliness”,” said Hibbard.

Manhattan said Chamber President and CEO Jason Smith is now tasked with picking Hibbard’s replacement.

“I consider it an incredible honor to have had the opportunity to get to know and work with Karen over the past three and a half years,” Smith said. “She is a remarkable champion for Manhattan and a thoughtful co-worker. I am pleased to call her my friend and am glad she is staying in Manhattan.”

Smith said he will work with Chamber Chair Summer Ott Dierks to develop a process to choose the new director.

“Summer has a unique perspective as someone who worked at the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau before attending law school and opening her own practice,” Smith said. “She is the perfect person to advise on this process so I’ll be leaning on her expertise.”

Hibbard after retirement plans on doing some traveling as well as staying in Manhattan as seeing the continued growth of the community around her.