TTS Team

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Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports (TTS) is a 501 c(6) non-profit organization funded by the City of Tuscaloosa, the Tuscaloosa County Commission, and various fundraising efforts. The primary purpose of TTS is to enhance economic development through destination promotion. Destination promotion drives economic development in four ways: attracting strategic events, raising the destination profile, building transport networks, and raising the quality of life of residents.

The primary measure for judging the success of TTS is the amount of lodging tax generated in the Tuscaloosa area. Lodging taxes are paid by individuals spending the night in hotels. Therefore, the tax we look to increase is paid by visitors to our area, not our local hotels nor most of the citizens that live here every day. Thus, as we increase the amount of lodging tax collected, we help to relieve a portion of the tax burden our citizens must pay to enjoy the services offered by our government. The economic impact our agency has on the community is significant. Tax dollars generated by tourism produce tax savings for each household. To be specific, without the taxes produced by tourism, each household would have to pay $1,452 more in taxes each year to maintain services currently offered by the government.

TTS Team

TTS is governed by a board of outstanding community leaders who willingly commit their time to nurture our efforts to be an economic development driver for the Tuscaloosa/Tuscaloosa County area.

Team Members

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Don Staley
President / CEO
[email protected]
Don Staley was named President & CEO of the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission June 23, 2017, by a unanimous board vote. Staley, who left Tuscaloosa in 2014 to take on a similar position in Foley, Alabama returns to the city where he built his career. Before starting UA’s soccer program in 1994 as the first coach, Staley was the head men’s and women’s coach at Radford University in Virginia. As a coach, Staley in 2004 became the fifth coach in NCAA soccer history to reach the 300-win mark. His overall career record of 324-257-38 spans 23 years. As a head coach at the Division 1 collegiate level, Staley garnered four Coach of the Year awards in two different leagues. Don’s experience encompasses far more than just coaching. He served on the 1996 Birmingham Olympic Committee and has a wide range of experience supervising athletics events and championships, including the SEC and the NCAA, acting as overseer of budgets, facilities, and personnel administration. Not only did Staley have success leading soccer teams, his professional record has been just as stellar. Staley played a significant role in the 2007 formation of the Tuscaloosa Sports Foundation and as well as luring the prestigious Super Six High School Football Championships to Bryant Denny Stadium in 2009. Staley’s dedicated efforts to the sports tourism industry were recognized in April 2015 by the National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC) during their annual symposium, where he was named Sports Tourism Executive of the Year.

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Loretta Jones
Accounting & Executive Assistant
[email protected]
Loretta Jones is the Accounting & Executive Assistant for TTS. A native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, she is a 2014 graduate of The University of Alabama with a major in Accounting. Roll Tide! While a student at UA, Loretta worked at The University of Alabama Department of Student Affairs as a residential advisor. She worked on numerous events for Culverhouse College of Commerce, serving as the Vice President for National Association of Black Accountants. After graduation, Loretta worked as an accountant for a biodiesel company.

Bill Buchanan

Bill Buchanan
Director of Community Development
[email protected]
Before being named Director of Tourism Development for Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports, Bill spent 40 years in the newspaper business in various capacities, including publisher and owner. A 1976 graduate of The University of Alabama, Bill and his wife, Ava, returned to Tuscaloosa in 1992. He has been an active volunteer in the community, serving on the boards of Theatre Tuscaloosa and Kentuck. He is also a member of the Arts and Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa, as well as a literacy volunteer at Central Primary through the Adopt-A-School program.

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Jasmine Rainey
Director of Tourism Development
[email protected]
Mrs. Rainey began her career as a front desk associate at Days Inn in 2011 after graduating from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University. She furthered her career in the hospitality industry at the Home-Towne Suites in Tuscaloosa as the guest service representative and worked her way up to be their sales manager. Following she worked as the director of sales (and marketing) at Wingate and LBA Hospitality. More recently, Mrs. Rainey has been working as the director of sales at Vista Host Hotels (Home2), establishing her experience in the Tuscaloosa area. Mrs. Rainey also served on the Board of Directors for Temporary Emergency Services in 2015 and as an Ambassador for the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce for five years. Born and raised in Tuscaloosa, she is married to Paul and they share three children together, Elijah, Fayth, and Carter. Suitably she enjoys traveling in her free time and cheers for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

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Sarah Elizabeth Heggem
Director of Strategic Operations
[email protected]
Sarah Elizabeth Heggem joined the Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports team in July 2015 has the Event Operations Manager. A native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, she is a 2014 graduate of The University of Alabama with a major in business. While a student at UA, Sarah worked in The University of Alabama Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. She worked on numerous events on campus including, serving as the recruitment director for UA Panhellenic Recruitment. After graduation, Sarah moved to New York to work for a pharmaceutical advertising agency for a year.

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Barrett Elder
Director of Marketing & Communications
[email protected]
Barrett Elder is the Marketing & Communications Manager for Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports (TTS). After interning with TTS in the Summer and Fall of 2016, he was hired on to be a full-time member of the team as the Digital Media Specialist. After working in that role for seven months, he was promoted to manage the Marketing and Communications of TTS. Barrett graduated from the University of Alabama in December of 2016 with a degree in Marketing. Roll Tide! While at the University, Barrett and spent much of his college career on the drumline with the Million Dollar Band and with the Avanti Orientation Team.

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Stan Adams
Sports Sales Manager
[email protected]
Stan Adams first joined Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports back in January of 2015 as an intern while attending graduate school at the University of Alabama. Before becoming the Sports Marketing rep. for Wicomico County Tourism, in Maryland, he was an Operations Assistant at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama for Bruno Event Team. During his time with Wicomico County, he was able to obtain several sporting events such as Ahtletx Youth Baseball Nationals, US Quidditch Mid Atlantic Regionals, Flag Football World Championships Tour, and Central Maryland Soccer’s Delmarva Cup. Outside of sales, Stan managed or operated several large events such as the USSSA Eastern World Series, the ISSA East Coast Championships, as well as was the Operations Director for the largest holiday basketball tournament in the country (The Governor’s Challenge).

Board of Directors

Bill Lloyd

Bill Lloyd
Chairman | Business Owner – 301 Bistro, Bar & Beer Garden
Bill graduated from The University of Alabama in 1978 with a B.A. in Advertising/ Marketing. He was involved in Kappa Sigma Fraternity, Division Chair for the University Program Council, and contributor for the Crimson White newspaper. Bill has been the owner of Wilhagen’s of Nashville for 26 years and owner of Wilhagen’s of Tuscaloosa for 14. Most recently, he is the owner of Casual Class Catering in Tuscaloosa. Bill is involved in the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Alliance and is the Past Chairman of the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. He has also been on the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Board of Directors since 2013.

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Josh Rivers
Vice President | Bryant Conference Center Assistant Director
Josh Rivers is originally from Greenville, SC and graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2009. He has made Tuscaloosa home since October 2012 with his wife, Litsa, and daughter Larkin. He currently serves as Assistant Director of the Bryant Conference Center, which is West Alabama’s largest meeting facility specializing in conferences, tradeshows, and community events. His responsibilities include overseeing the customer experience and working to bring new groups to Tuscaloosa!

Max Karrh

Max Karrh
Treasurer | Senior Vice President at Bryant Bank

Max Karrh is a Senior Vice President at Bryant Bank and has been with the company for 10 years. He has a history in banking dating back to 1997 after graduating from the University of Alabama with a BS in Commerce and Business Administration that same year. Max has served on numerous boards in the community including American Christian Academy, The Tuscaloosa Children’s Center, The YMCA, Youth for Christ, The Home Builders Association of Tuscaloosa, and the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports. Max is often caught making everyone laugh with his witty jokes. He has a beautiful wife and 2 beautiful daughters.

Toby Wilson

Toby Wilson
Secretary | President of Wilson Hospitality

Born in New Mexico to the father of an oil and gas businessman and a mother who was an Episcopal Deacon, Toby grew up with a sense of hard work. At the age of 16 he began his first job bussing tables in Tuscaloosa. He then went on to enroll at The University of Alabama. After graduation, Toby became Assistant General Manager at Hampton Inn University. From there Toby held all kinds of jobs including Director of Sales and Marketing for Embassy Suites, Property Manager for the Microtel Inn in Tuscaloosa, and opening General Manager at Hampton Inn Interstate. At age 34 Toby received the Governor’s Award for Employer of the Year for Employing People with disabilities. Toby has served as Chairman for the Greater Tuscaloosa Convention & Visitor’s Bureau and is a Former Board of Directors Member of the Tuscaloosa Sports Foundation. Toby has been married to Heather Wilson for 14 years and has three sons: Garrett Dan (11), Matthew Wynne (9), and Chase Alexander (7). Family time, reading, personal finance, fishing, dog training, hunting, and outdoor activities are personal interests of Toby’s.

Jimmy Warren

Jimmy Warren
Past Chairman I President of TotalCom Marketing Communications

Jimmy Warren is President of TotalCom Marketing Communications, a full-service advertising and branding agency with offices in Tuscaloosa and Huntsville. For more than 30 years, the company has had the privilege of telling the stories of some of the best healthcare, automotive, financial and retail organizations. A graduate of the University of Alabama, Jimmy is involved in numerous civic and community organizations. He is Immediate Past President of the Alabama National Alumni Association, Past Chair of the Council of Governors of the American Advertising Federation, Past Chair of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and currently serves on the boards of the Tuscaloosa Public Library, the Bank of Tuscaloosa and is Chair-elect for Caring Days.

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Lesley Bruinton
TCS Public Relations Coordinator

Lesley Bruinton is the public relations coordinator for the Tuscaloosa City Schools where she oversees internal and external communications for a system of more than 10,000 students and 1,300 employees. As a former television reporter who consistently integrates traditional and new media, she works to keep active communication between parents, teachers, students and community stakeholders within the school system. Bruinton earned the Accreditation in Public Relations in December 2013. Professionals using this designation demonstrate commitment to strategic and ethical practice of public relations. She has been honored for her public relations work at the state, regional and national levels. Bruinton was named a 2015-2016 NSPRA Front-Runner by the National School Public Relations Association. This distinction is given to four individuals each year, with each Front-Runner representing a different NSPRA Region. She was also named as one of NSPRA’s “35 Under 35” among school public relations practitioners in 2014.Lesley Bruinton currently serves as the Alabama School Public Relations Association (ALSPRA) president.

Tracy Braggs

Tracy Braggs, Sr.
Executive Committee I Logistics Coordinator – BROSE

Mr. Tracy L. Braggs, Sr. was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He is married to Latonya D. Braggs and they have three daughters, two sons and two grandchildren. Mr. Braggs was educated in the Tuscaloosa County Public School System, graduating from Hillcrest High School. He is a member of Friendship Baptist Church in Duncanville, Alabama where he serves on the Deacon Board. Mr. Braggs is employed at Brose in Vance, Alabama where he is the Logistics Coordinator. Mr. Braggs was a dedicated volunteer in coaching little league football for over 15 years. He is a compassionate supporter of children sports and their education. He works with Northridge High School Band Boosters and for the past 3 years he has served on the Tuscaloosa Sports & Tourism Board.

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Sarah Patterson
Retired UA Gymnastics Coach

From 1978 to 2015, Sarah Patterson led The University of Alabama gymnastics program to the highest echelon of collegiate athletics, including six NCAA Championships in 1988, 1991, 1996, 2002, 2011, and 2012. She is the only coach – regardless of sport – in Southeastern Conference history to win NCAA team titles in four different decades. She is also the only coach in collegiate gymnastics history to win national team titles in four different decades.

Under her direction, Alabama finished in the top-10 for 32 years in a row, finishing in the top six nationally 30 times including an NCAA-best 22 top-three finishes. She also coached Alabama to eight Southeastern Conference and an NCAA-record 29 regional titles.

In December of 2004, Patterson joined with the DCH Foundation to create the Alabama Gymnastics DCH Breast Cancer Fund and went on to create the “Power of Pink” initiative to help raise money and awareness in the fight against breast cancer. The results have been phenomenal. The Crimson Tide has hosted 11 “Power of Pink” meets, bringing more than 150,000 people to Coleman Coliseum to not only witness outstanding gymnastics but to join in the fight against a disease that is among the top killers of women in this country   

In addition to raising awareness through its annual pink meets, Patterson’s “Power of Pink” initiative has helped raise more than $1.5 million for the Alabama Gymnastics/DCH Breast Cancer Fund, which provides for breast cancer screenings and treatment for the less fortunate in the Tuscaloosa community. She is also the Chair of the 2017 United Way of West Alabama campaign.

Kelvin Croom

Dr. Kelvin W. Croom
Senior Pastor – College Hill Baptish Church

Dr. Kelvin W. Croom is the Senior Pastor of College Hill Missionary Baptist Church. Dr. Croom is a retired employee of the Tuscaloosa City Schools System. He earned his Bachelor’s, Master’s, Educational Specialist degree, and his Doctoral degree from The University of Alabama where he also played football under the late Paul DzBeardz Bryant. During his 31years of employment with the State of Alabama, Dr. Croom served 29 of those years with the Tuscaloosa City School District where he taught history, coached varsity football, served as an Attendance Supervisor, an Assistant Principal at Tuscaloosa Middle School, Central High School-East Campus, and the Paul W. Bryant High School. He served two years with the University of Alabama Crimson Tide Athletic Department as the Director of Football Student Athletes and the Director of Athletic Academics. Dr. Croom is currently on the Board of Directors for Tuscaloosa Habitat for Humanity and the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission. He is a past board member for the Young Men’s Christian Association, Tuscaloosa Forward, Tuscaloosa County Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the University of Alabama Athletic Department’s First & Ten Club. Dr. Croom has four children: Tamara (TAM-RAH) who is married to Erwin Dudley, Kevin, Teresa, and Kennis. His grandchildren are LaDaisha, Ethan and twins: Talia (TA-LEE-YA) and Erwin Jr.

Gene Poole

Gene “Poodgie” Poole
President of Hudson-Poole Fine Jewelers

Gene Poole is president of Hudson-Poole Fine Jewelers. Founded in 1985, Hudson-Poole sells fine jewelry, fine gifts, and maintains a large bridal registry. Married to Jamie Bennert Poole, he and his wife have three children. Gene is retired from the U.S. Army as a Lt. Colonel. Gene has served as president of the DCH Hospital Foundation, Chairman of the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce, president of the Alabama Jewelers Association, one of the founders of Tuscaloosa Cityfest, and president of the Exchange Club of Tuscaloosa. Gene was selected Retailer of the Year by the Alabama Retail Association in 2000, Jeweler of the Year by the 24 Karat Club of The Southeastern United States in 2008, and member of the year by the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce in 2003. Gene is a huge supporter of Hospice of West Alabama, Arts and Autism, Eagles Wings, Easter Seal, DCH Hospital, and the Tuscaloosa Symphony. For the city of Tuscaloosa, Gene has served on The Original City Commission, The Downtown Tuscaloosa Authority, The River Front Committee, the Our Great Lake Committee, and The Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission.

Gary Minor

Gary Minor
Executive Director – PARA

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Samyra Snoddy
City of Tuscaloosa Accounting and Finance Department

Samyra Snoddy graduated from the University of Alabama with a BS in Corporate Finance Investment Management and Human Resource Management. She received her MS in Management from the University of Phoenix. She is employed with the City of Tuscaloosa in the Accounting and Finance Department. A native of Tuscaloosa, Samyra has a passion for servicing her community. She is the founder and President of West Alabama Multicultural Alliance Inc. (WAMA). An organization, which focuses on educating people on the importance of community development through diversity, education, political awareness, economics, and health and well-being. WAMA presents a series titled “The Talk” and hosts the Tuscaloosa Heritage Festival. Samyra serves as the treasurer for the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History Task Force. The organization works to make Tuscaloosa an important tourist destination for civil rights history through the implementation of a civil rights trail and museum. Samyra has helped organized several programs aimed at mentoring and developing youth in the community. She worked with her sorority to collaborate with the city and county school systems and organized “Empowering Students on Rights and Responsibilities”, “Youth In Leadership and Politics” forum and “The Amazing Voter Registration Race”. Samyra collaborated with the local Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) for The MLK March “Still Marching for Justice for All”. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and a member Bethel Baptist Church. She serves on United Way of West Alabama Campaign Cabinets and on the board of directors for Temporary Emergency Service.

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Amy Echols
Executive Director – Kentuck Art Center

Amy Echols became executive director of Kentuck Art Center and Kentuck Festival of the Arts in October of 2013, after serving on the board since 2006, and as president in 2009-2010. Each year the 2-day festival, held in October, brings a 5.3-million-dollar economic impact to the West Alabama area, promotes the livelihood of more than 300 artists, engages more than 200 volunteers, is financially supported by over 30 businesses, and brings thousands of attendees from across the US. The rest of the year, the Center hosts monthly art nights, provides below-market rental spaces for 8 art studios, runs a gallery shop representing 200 artists from across the US, curates 3 gallery spaces including space in Tuscaloosa’s Hotel Indigo, offers classes and workshops, and manages a 30-member group called the Red Dog Potters. Since Amy began her leadership role in 2013, the center has undergone a successful 1.2-million-dollar renovation, increased studio artists from 6 to 9, and increased net assets by 180%. Most recently she has served as an elder at First Presbyterian Church, serves on the education committee, and is a 2016 graduate of Leadership Tuscaloosa. She was named as one of Tuscaloosa’s “Movers and Shapers” by Business Alabama Magazine in the fall of 2017.

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Barry Carden
General Manager of Hotel Capstone