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News Release
Brand USA Announces New and Reappointed Members to the 2019 Board of Directors
March 5, 2019

Brand USA, the destination marketing organization for the United States, has announced the appointment of three new board members and the reappointment of one existing member to the Brand USA board of directors. Appointments to the Brand USA board of directors are made by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce in consultation with the U.S. Secretary of State and the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, as provided for in the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014. The newly appointed and reappointed members include:

Paul Brown, co-founder & chief executive officer, Inspire Brands (newly appointed, representing the restaurant sector)

Kristen Branscum, commissioner, Kentucky Department of Tourism (newly appointed, representing the official of a state tourism office sector)

Kyle Edmiston, chief operating officer, Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau (reappointed, representing the official of a city convention & visitors bureau sector having previously represented the official of a state tourism office) 

Mark Hoplamazian, president and chief executive officer of Hyatt Hotels Corporation (newly appointed, representing the hotel accommodations sector)

Brand USA is governed by an 11-member board of directors appointed for a maximum of two consecutive three-year terms. The appointed members join a body of existing board members who represent the tourism industry’s various sectors and work together to provide leadership and overall guidance and direction to aid Brand USA’s mission and operations.
“The Brand USA board of directors welcomes and looks forward to the insight, expertise, and knowledge of our new members, who are distinguished and accomplished leaders of our industry. We are also pleased that our work to promote travel to and through the United States will continue to benefit from the reappointment of board member Kyle Edmiston,” said Barbara Richardson, Brand USA board chair and chief of external relations for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). “And of course, we extend our most sincere gratitude and well wishes to Arne Sorenson, Maryann Ferenc, and Rossi Ralenkotter for their years of service and leadership on the board.”
The newly appointed and reappointed board members will convene with the current board members at upcoming board committee meetings and the next quarterly board meeting on March 13, 2019. More information about the board meetings is available at The seven other officers and members of the Brand USA board of directors are:

Chair: Barbara Richardson, chief of external relations for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)

Brand USA Vice Chair: John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota

Andrew Greenfield, managing partner of the Washington DC office of Fragomen

Mike Gallagher, co-chairman and co-founder of CityPASS

Noel Irwin Hentschel, chairman and chief executive officer of American Tours International, LLC

Alice Norsworthy, chief marketing officer of Universal Parks & Resorts

Tom O’Toole, senior fellow and clinical professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University

“We are honored to welcome these new leaders to the Brand USA board of directors and look forward to benefitting from their sound advice and guidance,” said Chris Thompson, president and CEO of Brand USA. “The board is truly exemplary in their individual and combined expertise and I am confident that together, we can continue to meet and exceed our goals of driving international visitation to the United States, and creating jobs and economic growth across the nation.”
Brand USA is successfully deploying a number of marketing platforms and programs to increase inbound visitor travel to the United States and drive tourism dollars to communities in all 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia, as well as to promote tourism to, through, and beyond the gateways. To accomplish this, Brand USA employs a combination of brand marketing, public relations, travel trade outreach, and cooperative marketing programs that provide opportunities for partners of all types and sizes to participate.
According to studies by Oxford Economics, over the past five years Brand USA's marketing initiatives have helped welcome 5.4 million incremental visitors to the USA, benefiting the U.S. economy with more than $38 billion in total economic impact and supporting, on average, more than 51,000 incremental jobs a year.

About the Newly Appointed and Reappointed Board Members 

Paul Brown, Chief Executive Officer, Inspire Brands
Paul Brown serves as Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Inspire Brands, a multi-brand restaurant company whose portfolio includes more than 8,300 Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, SONIC Drive-In, and Rusty Taco locations worldwide. Prior to founding Inspire, Brown was Chief Executive Officer of Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc.

Arby’s turnaround “can be attributed to Brown’s vision and leadership,” according to Fortune. As CEO, he launched several transformative initiatives across the brand’s global system with a focus on innovation, including: introducing a new brand purpose, Inspiring Smiles Through Delicious Experiences®; unveiling a visionary restaurant design that increases energy efficiency; launching a team member training program that is centered on goal setting; and fostering a unique approach to product development that reinforces the brand’s We Have The Meats® marketing.

Under Brown, Arby’s global system sales surged over 20% to $3.8 billion, and Arby’s U.S. system restaurants achieved average annual sales that were 22% higher than before Brown arrived. For these efforts, Brown was recognized as the 2018 Norman Award recipient by Nation’s Restaurant News, a 2018 Silver Plate honoree by IFMA, the 2017 Restaurant Leader of the Year by Restaurant Business, a 2016 Golden Chain honoree by Nation’s Restaurant News, and a 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year in Retail and Consumer Products in the Southeast by EY.

Prior to Arby’s, Brown served as President of Brands and Commercial Services of Hilton Worldwide. The global hospitality company is comprised of ten brands including Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hampton by Hilton, and Home2 Suites by Hilton. Brown was the company’s global leader for brand management, product standards, marketing, sales, pricing, e-Commerce, loyalty programs, franchise relations, and information technology.

Brown also previously served with Expedia, Inc., the world’s leading online travel company, as President of and Expedia’s Partner Services Group. Prior to Expedia, Brown was a partner at McKinsey & Company. Based in London, he was a leader of the firm’s global travel and hospitality practice and served clients across the travel, hospitality, and retail sectors. Brown has worked with InterContinental Hotels Group as Senior Vice President of Global Brand Services and was responsible for global sales, reservations, the Priority Club loyalty program, e-Commerce, and purchasing. He was also a Manager for The Boston Consulting Group in the firm’s Chicago and Atlanta offices.

Brown is a member of the board of directors of H&R Block, Inc. (NYSE: HRB), J. C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE: JCP), and FOCUS Brands, Inc. Brown is also active in the Atlanta community, serving on the boards of the Georgia Tech Foundation, The Woodruff Arts Center, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the Buckhead Coalition, the Commerce Club, the Atlanta Police Foundation, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Brown is an alumnus of Georgia Tech where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in management. He also received an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a Master of Engineering Management from the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He also served as an executive-in-residence at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.

Kristen Branscum, Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Tourism
Kristen Branscum was named Commissioner of the Kentucky Department Tourism in January 2016, returning to the office after previously serving as Tourism Development Director from 2004-2008. As Commissioner, she and her staff are responsible for marketing and promoting Kentucky as a travel destination domestically and internationally. 

Commissioner Branscum is a member of the Board of Directors for Travel South USA and is currently serving as Chairwoman through August 2019.  Branscum is a member of the US Civil Rights Trail Marketing Alliance where she is currently serving as Chair for this organization as well.  She is also a member of the board for the Kentucky Travel Industry Association, U.S. Travel Association, Kentucky Derby Festival and the Southeast Tourism Society.

Prior to being named Commissioner, Branscum worked for eight years in the Kentucky Department of Agriculture in various leadership roles.  From 2012-2016, she was Executive Director of Marketing for the department and oversaw the highly successful Kentucky Proud™ branding program, which is the official logo for agricultural products in the state. 

Commissioner Branscum is a graduate of Auburn University and received post-graduate degrees at the University of Kentucky.  She is a native of Russell Springs, Kentucky and currently lives in Lexington.

Kyle Edmiston, Chief Operating Officer, Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau
Kyle Edmiston is chief operating officer for Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau and has served in that position since January 2018. Previously, Mr. Edmiston served as the state tourism director for Louisiana since 2012 and served as President/CEO of the Ruston Lincoln Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau prior to joining LOT.

Mr. Edmiston currently serves on the board of directors and as Treasurer of Louisiana Travel Association and serves on the board of U.S. Travel Association.  He is past chair and a six-year member of the board of Travel South USA.  He previously served on the Destination Management Association International (DMAI) Destination Foundation Board of Trustees, the U.S. Travel Association Board executive committee, Southeast Tourism Society Board of Directors, the U.S. Travel Association Project: Time Off Advisory Board, and the National Council of State Tourism Directors.

Mr. Edmiston was named National State Travel Director of the Year in 2017 by NCSTD and was named as a Top 25 Extraordinary Mind for Sales and Marketing by HSMAI in 2018.  He previously served as President of the Louisiana Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus and Vice Chair of the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association. He has also served on the Brand USA Marketing Advisory Committee.  He received his Certified Destination Management Executive distinction from DMAI in 2008 and was named as tourism’s Rising Star by Southeast Tourism Society in 2010. 

Mark Hoplamazian, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hyatt Hotels Corporation
Mark S. Hoplamazian was appointed to Hyatt Hotels Corporation’s board of directors in November 2006 and named the company’s president and chief executive officer in December 2006.

Prior to being appointed to his present position, Hoplamazian served as president of The Pritzker Organization (TPO), the principal financial and investment adviser for Pritzker family business interests. During his 17-year tenure with TPO, he served as adviser to various Pritzker family-owned companies, including Hyatt Hotels Corporation and its predecessors. He previously worked in international mergers and acquisitions at the First Boston Corporation in New York City.

Hoplamazian was appointed to the VF Corporation board of directors in February 2015, and serves on the advisory board of the Chicago Booth Council for the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the executive committee of the board of directors of World Business Chicago, and the board of trustees of the Aspen Institute and of the Latin School of Chicago. Hoplamazian is a member of the World Travel & Tourism Council and the Commercial Club of Chicago. He also is a member of the Discovery Class of the Henry Crown Fellowship.




Editor’s Note: Images of the board of directors are available for download here.



About Brand USA

Brand USA, the destination marketing organization for the United States, was established by the Travel Promotion Act as the nation's first public-private partnership to promote the United States as a premier travel destination and to communicate U.S. travel policies and procedures to worldwide travelers. The organization’s mission is to increase international visitation to the USA in order to fuel the U.S. economy and enhance the image of the United States worldwide. Formed as the Corporation for Travel Promotion in 2010, the public-private entity began operations in May 2011 and does business as Brand USA. According to studies by Oxford Economics, over the past six years, Brand USA's marketing initiatives have helped welcome 6.6 million incremental visitors to the USA, benefiting the U.S. economy with more than $21.8 billion in total economic impact and supporting, on average, nearly 52,000 incremental U.S. jobs a year.

For industry or partner information about Brand USA, visit To discover more about the USA and the boundless diversity of American travel experiences and authentic, rich culture, please visit Brand USA’s consumer website and follow Visit The USA on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.