TTS Board of Directors Appoints Kelsey Rush as President and CEO in Waiting
Tuscaloosa, AL– The Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports (TTS) board of directors has announced Kelsey Rush as president and CEO in waiting for the organization. Don Staley continues to serve TTS as their president and CEO and will do so until his retirement.
Rush returned to TTS one year ago as the vice president of marketing and communications after having spent five years with the organization between 2010 and 2015. Beginning her career with the organization, she worked in the capacity of a sports sales marketing representative as well as the director of event operations. Rush left the organization in 2015 to pursue new opportunities in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband.
“As I transition out of my role as president and CEO at TTS, it’s my belief that Kelsey and the board will execute our succession plan and the organization will achieve new heights under her leadership and vision to become one of the top destination marketing organizations in the region,” said Staley. “TTS’ brightest and most innovative days are ahead and I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a different way.”
Staley was responsible for hiring Rush in 2010 and the two have worked together in various capacities since then. TTS brought Staley back to the organization in 2017 as the president and CEO after spending time as the executive director of Foley Sports Tourism. The organization has witnessed great growth over Staley’s tenure, which has experienced increased hotel rooms around the community, a significant number of events, boosted agency funding, growth in staff and much more.
“It has been a tremendous honor to serve as the president and CEO of TTS for the past five years and I am incredibly proud of everything that our team has accomplished together during this period,” said Staley. “We’ve made meaningful progress toward the promotion and economic impact for our community and have made some of the best friends of my life while at TTS. While my tenure isn’t quite up yet, I am incredibly thankful for the many years I’ve had the opportunity to work in this great community.”
Rush has both nonprofit and private sector experience. Prior to returning to TTS, she served as the vice president of marketing and communications for Bryant Bank, a community bank based in Alabama that grew from the seventh largest bank in Alabama to the fourth in 2021 based on asset size during her time there. Her experience ranges from strategic marketing and communications, brand management, business development, community relations, sales and fundraising, event management, and media buying.
“Kelsey has gained experience at every turn in her career as a marketing vice president for a large corporation as well as working directly in the tourism and nonprofit industry,” said Max Karrh, TTS vice chair and a SVP at Bryant Bank. “She brings the experience necessary to move TTS – a destination marketing organization – forward in the trajectory that Don Staley has the organization heading now. The board of directors is proud of the TTS team and its success in creating tourism opportunities for West Alabama.”
Rush has taken on an active role in the community and is currently on The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama’s executive committee as the vice chair for marketing and communications. She earned the highest honor bestowed by the Chamber, the Charles H. Land Member of the Year, in 2020. Rush volunteers for Junior Achievement and has engaged with several organizations such as Tuscaloosa’s One Place, Young Tuscaloosa, the PARA Foundation, United Way, and more. Rush is pursuing her masters in advertising and public relations with a concentration in marketing communication management through The University of Alabama’s Bama by Distance program and will graduate in December and completed her travel marketing professional (TMP) certification through the Southeast Tourism Society in 2014.
“TTS is excited about the opportunity to work with Kelsey as our new president and CEO in waiting. She has the experience and the talent to excel this organization to new heights,” said Samyra Snoddy, TTS board chair and senior revenue officer for the City of Tuscaloosa. “We have been extremely pleased with her and appreciate her dedication to TTS and her passion for serving our community. We look forward to a vibrant and flourishing future for our organization as she continues the exceptional path Don Staley has laid out.”