Today, the Visit Fort Wayne Board of Directors announced that current President/CEO Dan O’Connell announced his retirement effective December 31, 2021.
Visit Fort Wayne Announces Retirement of President/CEO Dan O’Connell
Fort Wayne, Indiana (October 4, 2021) – Visit Fort Wayne Board of Directors announced today that current President/CEO Dan O’Connell announced his retirement effective December 31, 2021. O’Connell has been at the helm of Visit Fort Wayne for 33 years.
“It has been an honor and privilege to have worked with so many wonderful people over the years,” says O’Connell. “I’ve seen our city and county grow into a major destination for conventions, tradeshows, tournaments and leisure visitors. It’s been great to be a part of it.”
Earlier in his career, O’Connell organized three new convention & visitor bureaus in Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois. In 1988, O’Connell was recruited to Fort Wayne to reorganize the Chamber of Commerce’s tourism department with a small 3-person staff and $100,000 budget. In 1990, he helped form the Fort Wayne/Allen County Convention and Visitors Bureau, an independent not-for-profit organization, which changed its name in 2010 to Visit Fort Wayne. Today Visit Fort Wayne has 12 full-time, professional staff, a $2.5 million annual budget, and is governed by a 23-member board of directors comprised of civic leaders from attractions, hotels, restaurants, sports venues, business, convention centers, and government.
O’Connell has led Visit Fort Wayne to become an effective marketing and sales organization for the city and county. He has helped attract notable events like NCAA championships, both the Republic and Democratic state conventions, and several national conventions including the International Jugglers Festival, State Wars Roller Hockey and Gold Wing’s National Rally (three times)!
A statewide leader in sports, O’Connell is a founding member of the Fort Wayne Sports Corporation and has also assisted Turnstone in hosting the 10-day International Goalball and Judo Paralympic qualifying events in 2018, the largest Paralympic event ever held in Fort Wayne.
O’Connell has been recognized twice by the Indiana Lt. Governor for distinguished service with tourism awards. He has also been honored by the Indiana Tourism Association’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award. O’Connell earned his certification or CAE from the National Association of Association Executives.
Board President Kelly Updike adds, “We as a community are grateful for Dan’s leadership and vision in growing Visit Fort Wayne into a tourism powerhouse. It is now important for us as the board of directors to continue Dan’s fine legacy by finding the best person possible to lead Visit Fort Wayne in its next chapter.”
The Visit Fort Wayne Board of Directors has contracted with SearchWide Global to conduct a nationwide search for his replacement.
On August 1, 2013, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry declared it to be Dan O’Connell Day in celebration of his 25 years of service to Visit Fort Wayne. Click here to view photos and video from the event.