Visit Knoxville Board of Directors

Visit Knoxville is governed by a board of community leaders who willingly commit their time to nurture our efforts to be an economic driver for the Knoxville/Knox County area.

Executive Committee

Chris Ooten Headshot

Chris Ooten Board Chair

Chris Ooten is a highly accomplished real estate executive with over 25 years of experience in the commercial and residential development industry. As the CEO of Safe Harbor Development since July 2013, Chris is responsible for managing the overall operations of the company and its related entities, including acquisitions, development, construction, operations, and forecasting. 

Prior to joining Safe Harbor Development, Chris gained valuable experience as the Director of Real Estate for the Weigel family and Weigel's Stores, managing and purchasing new store locations as well as family holdings. Chris directed operations for Knoxville’s own Schaad Companies for over a decade, serving as their Chief Operations Officer. 

Chris is a visionary leader with diversified management skills and is known for his player-coach approach to leadership. He is also LEED certified from the Green Building Certification Institute and currently serves on the Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission as Vice Chair, broadening his already considerable experience in city planning and real estate development.

Originally from Oak Ridge, Chris earned his BS Degree from ETSU with an option in city planning. He is married to his wife, Leah, and has three children: Emily, Jack, and Miller. With his expertise in real estate development and his passion for creating thriving communities, Chris brings a unique perspective and skillset to the Safe Harbor Development team, providing critical oversight in capital investments and helping to drive the company's continued success.

Lola Alapo

Lola Alapo Vice Board Chair & Marketing Committee Chair

Lola Alapo has spent her career telling people’s stories through the written word. She's been a newspaper journalist, a public relations specialist and a science writer. She currently is the public information officer for University of Tennessee Public Safety and manages communications for five entities, including the UT Police Department.

Lola served on the City of Knoxville’s Neighborhood Advisory Council (At-Large Seat C, 2015-2017). She chaired the Board of Advisors for the University of Tennessee Master of Public Policy and Administration Program (2015-2021). She is active in Knoxville's faith community and foster care community. A Nigerian-born, New York-raised Tennessean, Lola loves the outdoors and travel—especially using both passions for a purpose. She hiked Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the Inca Trek to Machu Picchu in Peru and Pico Duarte in the Dominican Republic through Compassion International to raise money for children’s needs.

Lola believes any season in East Tennessee is a season for the outdoors. Favorite hikes include the River Boardwalk Trail and Ross Marble Quarry at Ijams Nature Center; North and South Old Mac trails at Frozen Head State Park; and Rainbow Falls trail to Mt. LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Robin Parton Pate

Robin Parton Pate Secretary & Sales Committee Chair

Robin Parton Pate serves as Chief Marketing Officer for Green Point Research (GPR), a vertically integrated phytocannabinoid-rich biomass originator and processor founded in 2016. Prior to joining GPR, Pate most recently served as the Chief Operating Officer at The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), a major public-private partnership funded in part by the Department of Energy and operating as a not-for-profit under the University of Tennessee Research Foundation. During her time at the Institute, she led government relations, strategic partnerships, communications, and other functional areas. Through her executive leadership positions with IACMI and many globally recognized media brands, including HGTV, CNN, and TBS, she has earned a reputation as an innovative and impactful marketer and business strategist.

Pate holds a Master of Arts in Marketing from the University of Alabama (UA), a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Western Carolina University (WCU), and a Graduate Certificate in Strategic Management from Harvard.

Community and advisory leadership highlights include serving as President of Western Carolina University’s (WCU) National Alumni Association Board of Directors (2016-2018), 100 Girls of Code’s Advisory Team (2015-Current), Childhelp East TN’s Board of Directors (2011-2018) and Alpha Xi Delta’s National Communications Advisory Team (2014-Current).

Robin grew up in Bryson City, NC, and currently lives in Knoxville, Tennessee with her husband and two daughters. They enjoy experiencing all the wonders of the beautiful area with favorite activities ranging from paddleboarding on the Little River, to youth sports, to Sunday drives on the Dragon.

Jay Kramer

Jay Kramer Board Treasurer

Jackson G. Kramer, a highly skilled, knowledgeable and trusted counselor who has over 28 years of legal experience, concentrates his practice in the areas of Corporate and Transactional, Real Estate, Estate Planning, Administration and Trusts, and Local Government and Public Utilities. He is a strong but reasonable advocate for his clients. His primary goal is to help his clients solve their legal issues and achieve their overall objectives while simultaneously protecting their best interests.

Mr. Kramer's broad practice focuses on: real estate transactions including ad valorem taxation questions and sales and use tax matters, general business matters such as corporate formation, contracts, etc, estate planning guidance and administration, property tax issues, and tax exempt organizations.

Board Members

Courtney Bergmeier

Courtney Bergmeier

Courtney Bergmeier serves as the Executive Director of the historic Bijou Theatre. She grew up in Cincinnati, OH, before moving to Knoxville in 2005 to attend the University of Tennessee, where she attained a degree in English with a concentration in Rhetoric and Writing and a minor in Journalism and Electronic Media. Since graduating, Courtney’s career has centered around music and performing arts. She began working for AC Entertainment in 2010 and eventually became the company’s first female talent buyer, booking artists and negotiating deals for venues in Knoxville and the Southeastern region. Wanting to get more involved and connected to the events she booked, she transitioned to venue management and accepted the job of Assistant General Manager of the Bijou Theatre in 2016.

Since then, Courtney’s role at the Bijou evolved from operations and programming to fundraising and strategic planning. In 2018 she completed two certificate programs at UT for Nonprofit Management and Grant Writing. While guiding the theatre through a global pandemic, Courtney was promoted to Executive Director in 2021 and oversees the Bijou's strategic plan, administration, programming, fundraising, community outreach, and education.

Outside of attending more than 50 concerts a year, Courtney enjoys hiking and camping with her husband and pup, toiling in her garden, and traveling to new places to experience different cultures and gain a global perspective. However, she is always happy to return home to Knoxville.

Linda Billman

Linda Billman

Linda Billman uses her working skills to benefit Knoxville area non-profits such as Knoxville History Project, her neighborhood association, Knoxville Civil War Roundtable, Visit Knoxville and other organizations. Previously Linda served as Interim Director of Legacy Housing Foundation and as General Manager of community public radio station WDVX, which is located in the Knoxville Visitor Center.

Linda’s professional background also includes independent documentary, lifestyle television and corporate video production and Managing Producer of the Emmy-award winning program, "The Heartland Series," on Knoxville NBC affiliate WBIR-TV.

Meg Counts

Meg​ Counts

Meg Counts is the Sr. Manager of Team Member Experience and Corporate Giving at the Pilot Company. Meg leads the company’s philanthropic initiatives in Knoxville and across the Pilot Flying J footprint in North America. She is overseeing a multimillion dollar philanthropic campaigns in connection with the company’s giving strategy. She oversees all donations will be made to both local and national organizations that align with our company’s mission, and is charged with identifying partnerships; researching and vetting the national recipients; and coordinating the process from start to finish. Meg also creates and manages the programs and events for the sales and support center in Knoxville including the company’s largest conference for its travel center general managers.

She manages a busy professional life, while making family a priority with her husband, Kevin Counts, who also works at the Pilot Company, and their two daughters Keally (11) and Frances (8).

Kristen Farley

Kristen Farley

Kristin was born in Washington D.C., but has called Knoxville home since 2004.

She is currently the Communications Director for the City of Knoxville.

Before joining the City, she was an Emmy award winning news reporter and anchor, having worked as a journalist for more than 26 years throughout West Virginia, Ohio, and Tennessee.

Kristin believes in giving back to her community. She currently sits on several boards, is the former president of the non-profit Girls on the Run, has served as a tour guide for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, and received the 2019 Pope Francis service award.

As the Communications Director for the City of Knoxville, Kristin and her team are dedicated to promoting and supporting all aspects of the City of Knoxville. Through news releases, social media posts, public service campaigns and more—the Department of Communications works to highlight critical services, promote citywide events, and educate people about local initiatives.

In her spare time she enjoys running, hiking and traveling with her family.

Becky Huckaby

Becky Huckaby

Becky Huckaby, APR, Fellow PRSA, A.A.E., is the Vice President of Public Relations for the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority, which owns and operates both McGhee Tyson and Downtown Island Airports in Knoxville, TN. Through her role, she oversees all facets of internal and external communication including media relations, social media strategy, employee communication and customer service.

Huckaby holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in mass communications from East Tennessee State University and a Master of Science in Communication & Information from the University of Tennessee. She attained her Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) in 2008. And in May 2018, she earned the designation of Accredited Airport Executive (A.A.E) from the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), the world’s largest professional organization for airport executives. And in October 2019, she was inducted into PRSA’s College of Fellows.

For the past 15 years, she has shared her passion for communication with college students as a lecturer for both the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and King University, teaching courses on professional communication, persuasion, public relations writing, advanced speech and campaigns.

She spends her free time with her husband and two children at ballfields, concerts and on the water of our region’s beautiful lakes. She loves to read entertaining stories about interesting people and traveling the world while exploring new cities and cultures.

Paul Jordan

Paul Jordan

Paul Jordan is an accomplished professional with over 30 years of experience in the hospitality and tourism industry. Paul served as the General Manager for the Hilton Knoxville hotel for 12 years before assuming the role of Area General Manager for Aimbridge Hospitality in the downtown Knoxville area. Paul also serves as the President of the Greater Knoxville Hospitality Association. Prior to his time in Knoxville, he served as a hotel professional with Davidson Hotels in multiple locations.

As the Area General Manager for the Hilton Knoxville, Marriott Downtown, and the Tennessean he is driven by delivering meaningful experiences for both his fellow associates and his guests. He takes great pride in being a passionate hands-on leader focusing on delivering exceptional hospitality at every opportunity.

Paul is a forward-thinking leader that continuously focuses on improvement for both him and the establishment. He is married to his lovely wife Tonya, has four children and two grandchildren who have given life a whole new level of appreciation. Paul enjoys traveling, sports and all things to do with food. He loves the city of Knoxville and is eager to be a part of the Visit Knoxville Team and the exciting growth in our future.

Joesph Mack

Joeseph Mack

Joe grew up in the Bronx and enlisted in the Navy in 1983 where he served at sea and ashore on active duty for 30 years until his retirement on August 1, 2013. During his sea tours, he earned both the Surface and Aviation Warfare designations. When he was stationed ashore, he graduated from the Navy’s Senior Enlisted Academy, earned his Certification as a Command Fitness Leader, and as a Master Training Specialist during a rewarding tour as a Recruit Division Commander, where he also served as President of the Recruit Training Command Chief Petty Officers Association. During his off-duty hours, he became a Certified Counselor with the Department of Labor and earned a bachelor’s degree in management from American Military University. He served on the Board of Directors and was both the President and Vice President of the National Navy Counselors Association.

His passion and willingness to serve grew, which led to him serving the communities where he was stationed. He loved coaching youth sports, mentoring and tutoring students from Rhode Island to California and wherever he was stationed in between.

Upon his retirement from the Navy in 2013, he started coaching high school, middle school, and youth sports in Covington, TN (basketball, football, and soccer). He also served as the Football Commissioner for the Tipton County Youth Tackle Football League. In July 2016 he was hired as the Parks and Recreation Director for the City of Covington where he continued to serve in the community as the President of the Covington Rotary Club from 2017-2018, Chairman of the Tipton County Foster Care Review Board and Vice Chairman of the Drug Free Tipton Coalition. He continues to strive to grow intellectually, and spiritually. He is a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional, Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor, and a Certified Nutrition Specialist/Coach. In July of 2021, he was hired as the Senior Director of Parks and Recreation for Knox County, TN.

Joseph is married to the former Jennifer Bowen, Senior Chief Petty Officer (Retired) they have six children Jamaal, Joneya, Shandi, Justice, Jackson, and Jacoby (Bo), and one grandchild Jayden.