Meet The Team

Darien Schaefer

Hometown:
Milwaukee, WI

Darien Schaefer

Born in Milwaukee, WI and growing up in the resort community of Wisconsin Dells, Darien has been involved in the hospitality and tourism industry for over 40 years.

A graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Stout with a degree in Hotel/Restaurant Management, Darien has worked for Holiday Inn Corporation, Marriott Hotels, and Tharaldson Lodging. It was with Tharaldson Lodging, as an Area Director responsible for 13 hotels in 8 different markets, that Darien began working closely with destination marketing organizations. Darien eventually left Tharaldson Lodging to become the Executive Director for the Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau in 1998.

In April of 2000, Darien joined the Wausau/Central Wisconsin Convention & Visitors Bureau. During his 13 years as the Executive Director, Marathon County rose from 17th to 9th out of 72 counties in Wisconsin for Economic Impact from traveler spending. Darien expanded the role of the CVB by creating a Sports Authority function that was responsible for developing new sporting events. Darien joined the Lake Geneva Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau in November 2013. Under Darien’s leadership, the two organizations were merged into Visit Lake Geneva in 2016.

Darien joined Visit Big Bear in 2017 as President & CEO to promote the resort community of Big Bear Lake, CA. In addition to growing tourism receipts by 83% in three years, Darien directed the purchase and renovation of a 5,000 sq. ft. building for a new Visitor Center and offices.

Darien and his wife, Karen, moved to Pensacola in April of 2020 when he accepted the position of President & CEO for Visit Pensacola.

Darien Schaefer

President/CEO
dschaefer@visitpensacola.com

 

 

Accounting and Administration

 

Kimberly Sparks

Hometown:
Detroit, Mich.

Financial controller. Dog mom. Designer Shoe Collector

Kimberly Sparks

Kimberly Sparks joined the Visit Pensacola in 2015 as the Director of Finance and Administration. She is responsible for managing all Visit Pensacola, Inc. financials and administrative matters that include human resources, employee welfare and building maintenance. Kimberly brings to the team over 20 years of experience in the areas of accounting, administration, human resources, and operations.

Her major achievements include:

  • Managed the Visit Pensacola budget growth from $4 million to $9 million
  • Established a year-end financial process that resulted in clean annual audits, and monthly produced over 1,500 pages of error-free monthly reports to Escambia County Clerk of the Court
  • As Director of Finance and Administration for Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida, she managed budget growth from $3 million to $12 million annually, created new site programs that encompassed 18 counties, and increased the number of staff members from 40 to 85 in two years
  • As Senior Accountant for Sacred Heart Hospitals, slashed costs by $200,000, managed budget growth from $10 million to $20 million, and was responsible for clean A-133 audits for all grants within the organization
  • Served as a Japanese translator to Japanese senators and IBM executives Kimberly holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting and a Master of Science in management from Troy University. Outside of the office, Kimberly can be found gardening, remodeling homes and shopping.

Kimberly Sparks

Director of Finance and Administration
ksparks@visitpensacola.com

 

 

Wandy Samuel

Hometown:
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Numbers guy. Kimberly stress monitor. Super dad

Wandy Samuel

Wandy Samuel is responsible for assisting the director of finance and administration of which includes daily financial cash flow, accounts payable and bill paying.

Wandy entered the tourism industry in 2013 as a staff accountant for Premier Island Management Group before joining the Visit Pensacola team in 2016. Previously, he served as the operations manager for Dollar Rent a Car of which he was responsible for effective and successful management of labor, productivity, quality control, safety measures and standard business operating procedures. He holds a degree in accounting from Pensacola Christian College.

Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his daughter. The two enjoy riding bikes, going shopping and Skyzone. He is an active member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida.

Wandy Samuel

Staff Accountant
wsamuel@visitpensacola.com

Larry

Hometown:
Pensacola, Fla.

Building gate keeper. Veteran. Bookworm

Larry Orvis

Larry Orvis currently serves as the facilities manager for Visit Pensacola. He is responsible for building maintenance, beautification, and office management. Orvis joined the team in 1998 as a tourism ambassador and served for two years before moving into his current role.

Prior to Visit Pensacola, Larry was a member of the U.S. Army for 28 years working in logistics. He retired to Pensacola in 1992 because he enjoys all of the activities. Outside of work, he enjoys reading.

Larry Orvis

Facilities Manager
lorvis@visitpensacola.com

 

Marketing and Communications

 

Nicole Stacey

Hometown:
Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Trendsetter. Coffee addict. Travel enthusiast

Nicole Stacey

Nicole Stacey joined the Visit Pensacola team in 2016 as the director of marketing and communications. She is responsible for overseeing the organizations domestic and international marketing efforts, the organization’s agency, Showcase Pensacola, grant allocations, public relations, brand identity, social media and web design.

Prior to Visit Pensacola, Stacey was the director of the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce where she was responsible for day to day operations. She has over 6 years of marketing and communications experience and has been in the tourism and hospitality industry for over 10 years.

Her major achievements include:

  • Evolved Visit Pensacola public relations efforts which included out of market activations in Nashville at the Country Music Awards, New York, and Canada
  • Responsible for rebranding Visit Pensacola and developing, The Pensacola Experience
  • Evolved Tourism Works for Pensacola campaign, an initiative to communicate the value of tourism in Escambia County
  • Managed a $281,000 BP grant to improve Taste of the Beach, an annual festival on Pensacola Beach that highlights the area’s diverse cuisine and drives tourism
  • Evolved the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce membership, budget and community presence

Stacey is active in several state and national professional and travel industry associations including:

  • Florida Public Relations Association – 2018 Vice President of Annual Conference, responsible for the execution of the 80th annual state conference. 2017 President of the Pensacola Chapter.
  • Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organization PR Committee
  • NWFL Coalition Brand Team member
  • Leadership Pensacola c/o 2018 Civic & Government Day committee member

Stacey is actively involved in the Pensacola community. She currently serves on the University of West Florida Alumni Board of Directors, Leadership FPRA Committee, Leadership Pensacola Committee, Fiesta Pensacola, Hip huggers Mardi Gras Crew Board of Directors, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida, FPRA Pensacola and Sister Cities International.

Nicole is a graduate of Leadership Pensacola’s class of 2015 and she was named a rising star in 2013. She holds a master’s degree in strategic communications and leadership and B.A. in public relations and marketing from the University of West Florida.

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends and travelling!

Nicole Stacey

Director of Marketing and Communications
nstacey@visitpensacola.com

 

 

Shawn

Hometown:
Gulf Breeze, Fla.

IT guy.Outdoor aficionado.Family man

Shawn Brown

Shawn Brown joined the Visit Pensacola team in 2014 as the digital marketing manager. He is responsible for managing the website, assisting partners with listings and providing support for internal team members. He is experienced in search engine optimization, creative design and data analyzation.

Prior to Visit Pensacola, Brown served as a webmaster for Cox Communications for 13 years. There, he developed applications for internal communications and focused on web design. Following college, he was self-taught in web design, coding, and information technology. Shawn earned a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies from Calvary Chapel Bible College.

A true outdoorsman, Shawn and his wife Lindy own Outdoor Gulf Coast, an adventure equipment rental company. In his spare time, he enjoys windsurfing, paddling, hiking and more. The two have two children, Sarah and Sam.

Shawn Brown

Digital Marketing Manager
sbrown@visitpensacola.com

Lindsey Steck

Hometown:
Pensacola, Fla.

Experience chaser. Content curator. NFL buff

Lindsey Steck

Lindsey Steck joined the Visit Pensacola team in 2017 and is responsible for copywriting, writing for press, public relations, integrated marketing, content curation and social media management.

Prior to Visit Pensacola, Steck served as a corporate communications assistant for the Kansas City Chiefs where she served as a public relations contact for community outreach events. She was responsible for writing for press and publication, press conference facilitation, public relations, football communications support, assisting club executives and game day support. Throughout her time in college, she served in athletic communications as the public relations contact for men and women’s cross country and additionally assisted with 13 other sports.

Steck began her journey in the tourism industry working for Florida House on Capitol Hill, the country’s only state embassy in Washington, D.C. There, she supported events, assisted administration and welcomed guests from across the globe. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations from the University of West Florida.

Outside of the office, Steck is actively involved in the community. She currently volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida, Junior League of Pensacola and serves on the Board of Directors for the Florida Public Relations Association. In her free time, you can find her scouring farmer’s markets, watching NFL football and working on her East Hill cottage.

Lindsey Steck

Marketing & Communications Associate
lsteck@visitpensacola.com

Sales and Services

 

Lori Coppels

Hometown:
Avon Lake, Ohio

Volunteer. Holiday Cheermeister. Community servant

Leslie White

Leslie White currently serves as the services and events manager for Visit Pensacola. She is charged with servicing partners, event planning, community outreach and group assistance for the organization. White joined the team in 2015 as the executive assistant to the president and entered her current role in May of 2016. Prior to Visit Pensacola, she was a member of the U.S. Air Force serving in the communications branch.

Outside of the office, she is actively involved in the Krewe of Gatsby Girls, Pensacola Yacht Club, and Impact 100. In her spare time, she enjoys paddle boarding, sailing, FSU football games and spending quality time with close friends and family. Leslie is married to Boyce White and she has three daughters – Jessica, Meredith and Emily.

Leslie White

Services and Events Manager
lwhite@visitpensacola.com

 

 

Kaya

Hometown:
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Fishin’ chick. Chef. Beach bum

Kaya Man

Kaya Man joined Visit Pensacola in 2018 as the Partner Relations Manager. She is responsible for partnership development and maintenance for the organization. Kaya brings over 15 years of hospitality experience to the team.

Man spent the last eight years serving, training and managing the Grand Marlin on Pensacola Beach. Previously, she owned an event planning company and also owned Elephant Seasoning, a catering and seasoning business started by her father. She holds a bachelor’s degree in restaurant and hospitality management from the University of West Florida.

Man is actively involved in the community and currently serves as the Greater Pensacola Tennis Ladies League captain, and Sandspur Tennis Tournament President. Outside of the office, she enjoys cooking and spending time at the beach with her husband Whitney and daughter MacKena.

Kaya Man

Partner Relations Manager
kman@visitpensacola.com

 

 

Visitor Services

 

Lisa Essman

Lisa Essman

Lisa Essman joined visit Pensacola in November of 2018 as a part-time tourism ambassador. She is responsible for greeting and servicing guests, building upkeep, and customer relations.

Before Visit Pensacola, Essman taught 12th-grade literature for nearly 30 years in the Shelby County School System in Alabama. Following her retirement, she decided to retire to the Pensacola Bay Area after vacationing here for over 20 years. Outside of work, she enjoys gardening, reading, and learning new things about the area.

Lisa Essman

Tourism Ambassador

 

 

Debbie

Hometown:
Natchez, Miss.

Active listener. Super swimmer. Dotson lover

Hometown:
Natchez, Miss.

Active listener. Super swimmer. Dachshund lover

Debbie Carpenter

Tourism Ambassador

Janie

Hometown:
Pensacola, Fla.

Turner Classic Movie enthusiast. Shopaholic. Pensacola advocate.

Hometown:
Pensacola, Fla.

Turner Classic Movie enthusiast. Shopaholic. Pensacola advocate.

Janie Turney

Tourism Ambassador

Maria

Hometown:
Guayaquil, Ecuador

Hometown:
Guayaquil, Ecuador

Maria Queirolo

Tourism Ambassador

 

 

Debbie

Debbie Keegan

Tourism Ambassador

Kendra Perkins

 

 

Kendra Perkins

Tourism Ambassador

Ethan

Ethan Roberts

Tourism Ambassador