Today VISIT Milwaukee is thrilled to announce two promotions that will help the company reach its strategic goals to drive increased economic impact to Milwaukee, while ensuring the benefits of tourism are spread to every neighborhood and throughout the region.


The first of these is the promotion of Claire Koenig, who will now serve as the Vice President of Communications & Advocacy. In this role, Claire will continue to oversee the company’s internal and external communications, its government affairs work, and now its community engagement and DEI strategies.


The second promotion is for Tony Snell Rodriguez, who will serve as the organization’s Director of Community Engagement & Inclusion, the first time such a role has existed for the company. Now a part of the Communications team, Tony will manage and enhance efforts to bring forward the interests of the regional tourism industry and the organization to community decision-makers, while making certain that the community's priorities are reflected in VISIT Milwaukee's destination marketing strategy. Tony will serve as the main point of contact between BID, NIDS, municipalities and the nonprofit community, while maintaining the organization's giving strategy to ensure that the powerful impact of the travel and tourism industry reaches across all communities. 

“This shift in roles doesn’t just recognize the caliber of Claire and Tony’s work, it better positions VISIT Milwaukee for the years ahead to meet the needs of our community and to further the company’s mission to create economic impact and support a stronger, more inclusive community,” says Peggy Williams-Smith, president and CEO. “I couldn’t be more excited for the work they’ll do together, and I know their impact will be immense."


In line with the national destination marketing industry, VISIT Milwaukee is using the momentum of 2024 as an opportunity to realign its overarching community engagement plans to reach even more stakeholders and form deeper ties throughout the community. While VISIT Milwaukee’s mission is to bring visitors to the community, residents remain the company’s most important stakeholders. This refreshed approach reflects that. Additionally, since 2020, VISIT Milwaukee has made equity and inclusion a permanent part of each of the company’s strategic goals and the creation of Tony’s position ensures that the organization will remain accountable to this commitment for years to come.


Claire started with VISIT Milwaukee as a communications manager in 2017. Under her leadership, Milwaukee has garnered positive recognition in National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveler and Wall Street Journal, among others. She played a critical role in bringing Bravo’s “Top Chef” to the state, while helping to produce the organization’s Emmy-nominated television show “Good Things Brewing.” Last year she engaged with key stakeholders to support the increased sales tax and the effort to keep the Milwaukee Brewers in the market. And alongside her peers in local government, as well as the MMAC and MKE 2024 Host Committee, she leads a group of communications leaders who are working to ensure that the community garners the best coverage possible in the lead-up to and during the 2024 Republican National Convention. In 2021 she was recognized with the Wisconsin Governors Council on Tourism’s Rising Star Award, and in 2022 she was named a rising star in PR News’ Top Women in PR Awards. As an active member of the community, she serves on the boards of the Milwaukee Press Club, Imagine MKE and Pabst Mansion. She also serves on PRSA’s Travel & Tourism’s Executive Committee and co-chairs Destinations International’s PR Committee. Prior to her time at VISIT Milwaukee, she worked as a journalist.


Tony also started with the company in 2017 as its volunteer coordinator after serving as a volunteer for two years. Since then, Tony has stewarded VISIT Milwaukee’s volunteer corps, while shepherding a community activation strategy using the company’s mobile visitor center, an asset which he brought to life from securing funding to implementation. Tony has also led the company’s internal culture committee, which is tasked with planning both internal and external activations that sustain a positive company culture. Based on the success of his role at VISIT Milwaukee, Tony served as senior director of volunteer management for the 2020 Democratic National Convention Host Committee, an effort for which he created a database of 20,000 volunteers, and then worked as the Wisconsin Coalitions Deputy Director for President Biden’s successful 2020 campaign.


In addition to his work for VISIT Milwaukee, he has served on the City of Milwaukee’s Equal Rights Commission (ERC) since 2017 and has been its chair since 2019. As ERC Chair, he has championed a policy for an inclusive, adaptive bike-share program for persons with disabilities; successfully spearheaded the initiative for Milwaukee to achieve a perfect 100 score on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index (MEI) by advancing inclusive LGBTQ policies; and advanced discrimination protections in the City of Milwaukee based on hairstyles associated with racial, ethnic or other cultural identity. Other areas of Tony’s experience include serving as a member of the Destinations International EDI Committee and Destinations International Community Connection Professionals Task Force. In addition, he is a member of the City of Milwaukee’s Racial Equity and Inclusion Leadership Team, Milwaukee Health Department Equity Advisory Committee, Milwaukee Fire Department DEI Workgroup, and Milwaukee 2024 Plan Community Council. He has previously served as a board member of the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center and Milwaukee Pride. Prior to his time at VISIT Milwaukee, Tony worked in the hospitality industry in food and beverage management. He is currently the president of his condo association.


Click here for Claire and Tony's high-resolution headshots.