FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Visit Fort Wayne announced that President and CEO Dan O’Connell will retire on Dec. 31. O’Connell has served as the head of the tourism bureau for the last 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 part of it.”
O’Connell was first recruited to Fort Wayne to reorganize the Chamber of Commerce’s tourism department with a 3-person staff and $100,000 budget. In 1990, O’Connell helped form the Fort Wayne/Allen County Convention and Visitors Bureau, which would later be renamed to Visit Fort Wayne.
Over his tenure, the city has attracted notable events like NCAA Championships, both the Republican and Democratic state conventions, and other national conventions like the International Jugglers Festival, State Wars Roller Hockey and Gold Wing’s National Rally.
O’Connell is also a founding member of the Fort Wayne Sports Corporation, assisting Turnstone in hosting the 10-day International Goalball and Judo Paralympic qualifying events in 2018.
The Visit Fort Wayne Board of Directors has contracted with SearchWide Global to conduct a nationwide search for O’Connell’s replacement.