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Press Release

VISIT Milwaukee names Peggy Williams-Smith as new President & CEO

Local leader poised to start November 18, 2019

By - Oct 23rd, 2019 02:05 pm
Peggy Williams-Smith. Photo courtesy of VISIT Milwaukee.

Peggy Williams-Smith. Photo courtesy of VISIT Milwaukee.

MILWAUKEE — (October 23, 2019) After a national search, VISIT Milwaukee has named Peggy Williams-Smith, Senior Vice President of Marcus Hotels & Resorts, as its new CEO, effective November 18. Williams-Smith replaces Paul Upchurch, who is leaving to pursue other opportunities.

Williams-Smith was selected from a national field of candidates in a months-long search, headed up Omar Shaikh, Chair of the VISIT Milwaukee Board of Directors. She is the first woman to lead the organization. 

“Peggy is well known in the Milwaukee community as a leader and as a woman who makes things happen, so she was a natural choice for the role,” said Shaikh. “Ultimately, the search committee was impressed with her vision for VISIT Milwaukee and her passion for the destination.”

Williams-Smith is a lifelong Milwaukeean, proud UWM Panther, and has honed her hospitality skills at Marcus Corporation since 1997. She has co-chaired the citywide UPAF campaign and is a member of Professional Dimensions and TEMPO Milwaukee, and the Milwaukee Business Journal named her as a “40 under 40” winner in 2010 and a “Woman of Influence” in 2017. 

“I could not be more excited to take the reins at VISIT Milwaukee as we go headfirst into a very busy and exciting year, featuring national events such as the DNC, the USA Triathalon, The Ryder Cup, and the 140th Annual Meeting of Northwestern Mutual Agents,” said Williams-Smith. “It is an honor to be selected to lead this organization into the next decade. I look forward to working closely with the dynamic team at VISIT Milwaukee, Marty Brooks and the Wisconsin Center District, and the hospitality community to make 2020 a banner year for our city.”

About VISIT Milwaukee

VISIT Milwaukee is the Greater Milwaukee area’s convention and visitors bureau, marketing the destination as a top choice for business, convention, and leisure travel to national and international visitors in order to increase the economic impact of tourism in the region. Each year, tourism supports over 52,000 full-time jobs and brings more than $5.7 billion to the community. VISIT Milwaukee has over 700 members, including hotels/motels, restaurants, attractions, services, and area businesses. The Wisconsin Center District, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, and City of Wauwatosa are strategic partners with VISIT Milwaukee, providing funding support for conventions and tourism programs. For more information call 1-800-554-1448 or visit

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One thought on “VISIT Milwaukee names Peggy Williams-Smith as new President & CEO”

  1. Joy Adams says:

    I would just like to congratulate Peggy Williams! I am really excited that she is the head and confident she will do a great job. I am a volunteer for Visit Milwaukee and I grew up with Peggy’s Mom. Joy Adams

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