VISIT Milwaukee thanks outgoing chair Dr. Eve Hall, recognizes tourism community for contributions to MKE


Celebrating a record year for tourism in our region and all the people who helped make it happen, VISIT Milwaukee welcomed incoming board chair Sarah Pancheri and thanked outgoing chair Dr. Eve M. Hall during its annual meeting on Wednesday.

Held at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater on the Summerfest grounds, the meeting included remarks from Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Anne Sayers, Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson, VISIT Milwaukee leadership, Wisconsin Center District President & CEO Marty Brooks and Greater Milwaukee Hotel & Lodging Association President Adam Dziadosz. It was attended by more than 700 business leaders, elected officials, community members and representatives from dozens of partner organizations. VISIT Milwaukee also released its annual report, detailing the record-setting results from investing in destination marketing efforts through VISIT Milwaukee.


Pancheri is president of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc., (MWF) the organization that produces Summerfest and manages Henry Maier Festival Park.

“I’m proud to serve as VISIT Milwaukee’s next board chair, and excited to use my tourism and hospitality experience to help promote Milwaukee as a premier destination for locals and visitors alike,” Pancheri said. “VISIT has a terrific team, and this is a remarkable time for our city and region. Together, we’ll work every day to make sure that everyone else can see what we already know: There are good things brewing in Milwaukee, with many more to come.”

“Sarah’s experience and leadership make her an ideal fit for board chair for VISIT Milwaukee, especially at such a pivotal time for our region,” said Peggy Williams-Smith, president and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee. “When you talk about Milwaukee’s merits as a destination, Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival, helps cement our status as the city of festivals, and with her lifetime of living and working in Milwaukee, Sarah can help us build on a record year and strive for even more.”

Dr. Hall concludes her two-year term as chair on a high note, as the Greater Milwaukee region set an all-time tourism record with a $6.018 billion economic impact in 2022. Given that Milwaukee accounts for more than 25% of statewide tourism, the region made a significant contribution to what also was a record year for tourism in Wisconsin. 

The four-county tourism industry’s 2022 economic impact beat the previous record of $5.930 billion in 2019, according to an annual tourism impact study commissioned by the state and conducted by Tourism Economics.


“Milwaukee made so much progress over the past year, from setting tourism records to making multiple, intentional efforts to help our city become even more welcoming to everyone,” Dr. Hall said. “And while there is far more work to do, in many ways the feeling of positive narrative change for Milwaukee feels more real today than ever before. I’m excited to pass the baton to Sarah, and even more excited to see where she’ll take us. I’ll continue to promote Milwaukee, and hope you will, too.”

“On behalf of everyone at VISIT and our broader tourism industry, I want to offer our most heartfelt thanks to Dr. Hall for her leadership as our board chair over the past two years,” Williams-Smith said. “While the results that VISIT and our tourism industry have achieved speak for themselves, they don’t tell the full story. Making Milwaukee more welcoming to everyone was a specific area of focus for VISIT over the past year and will remain so going forward. We thank Dr. Hall for inspiring our work in this and so many other areas and look forward to seeing her continued contributions to Milwaukee.”

Other Highlights

VISIT Milwaukee made several announcements during Wednesday’s meeting, including:

  • VISIT will launch a new website in the coming weeks, featuring a new look, increased functionality and improved ability to highlight VISIT partners. VISIT set a record for website traffic in 2022, and the new website should broaden the organization’s reach even more in 2023 and beyond.
  • A broader rebranding effort also is underway, building toward the design and rollout of a fresh logo, fresh ad campaigns - and an overall new attitude for the organization. This work is being done with local design agency Ocupop, which is partnering with P3 Development Group to ensure that the community’s voice is represented in the process.
  • VISIT continues to build its multimedia efforts, including a second season of the successful “Good Things Brewing” television show and additional investments in podcasting. VISIT already has launched the “Joshing Around” podcast, where VISIT Vice President of Marketing and Communications Josh Albrecht has partnered with a fellow Milwaukeean – also named Josh Albrecht, an on-air talent and executive producer at 97.3 The Game – to explore the city’s must-dos and celebrate the people and places that make Milwaukee one of the best cities in the world.
  • VISIT highlighted the latest collaboration video featuring Milwaukee Bucks star Bobby Portis. The new video was produced by Nō Studios and takes viewers on a trip to explore Bobby’s Milwaukee at attractions around the city. VISIT’s partnership with Portis continues in 2023 to promote Milwaukee and drive increased visitation. Supported by a robust marketing campaign, the bureau uses video content featuring Portis to attract both leisure visitors, as well as meeting planners through tradeshow activations, video bid proposals, and more.
  • VISIT also is getting into NFTs – in this case, a reference to non-fungible tourism. Built to amplify the value of the creator economy, blockchain technology and Web3VISIT Milwaukee introduced Authenticated Experiences (AX) as a non-fungible token (NFT) art tourism program. AX is the tourism’s industry’s only immersive and interactive NFT platform, leveraging non-fungible token art as a utility for collectors to unlock exclusive, real-life experiences and prizes amidst a scavenger-hunt-like format, thereby promoting exploration of the city. AX will formally launch on June 28 in partnership with Summerfest, and additional information will be available at
  • VISIT renewed its emphasis on fundraising to provide scholarships to Milwaukee-area college students who are pursuing degrees in hospitality. VISIT Milwaukee announced today that it awarded one $1,500 scholarship each to Milwaukee Area Technical College and Concordia University, which both have standout hospitality programs. These schools will be offering the scholarship to one of their promising students.


Awards and Recognition

  • VISIT’s DearMKE Award went to the creative team behind the Milwaukee Public Library’s social media channels, which earned national attention that included the Today Show. This award recognizes a local small business that has captured local fans’ affection and succeeded in attracting attention to Milwaukee on a national level.
  • Erik Kennedy received the Joe Bartolotta Hospitality Award. Kennedy is the co-founder of ElevAsian, which uplifts and unites Milwaukee’s Asian American and Pacific Islander community through advocacy, special programming and Milwaukee’s first Asian Restaurant Week. The award goes to an individual in the hospitality industry who has demonstrated exemplary commitment and passion for Milwaukee and its residents through initiatives that uplift the community. 
  • The Milwaukee Magnet Award was presented to USA Triathlon, which showcases our city to athletes from around the world and since 2013 has generated over $35 million in economic impact for the community. This award honors a company or organization drawing dollars and talent into the community, for their leadership and commitment to long-term economic investment in the region. 
  • The Heart of Milwaukee Award recognized Brian Johnson, Public Service Ambassador specializing in homeless outreach at Milwaukee Downtown BID #21. After encountering a person experiencing a crisis on a downtown bridge, Johnson acted with compassion and courage to talk the person out of harming themselves.


About Sarah Pancheri
Sarah Pancheri serves as President of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc., the non-profit organization that produces Summerfest presented by American Family Insurance and manages, develops and stewards Henry Maier Festival Park, a permanent 75-acre festival site, which hosts 50+ events annually, including ethnic and cultural festivals, charitable events and concerts.


After spending the formative years of her career with MWF, Sarah left the organization to gain experience as Managing Director for Milwaukee fundraising at Marquette University, and, later, as Vice President of Development and Communications for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee.  Rejoining the MWF team in December 2015, Sarah plays a central role in strategic planning, budgeting and operating decisions for MWF. She was named President in June 2022.


She is a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and currently serves as the chair-elect of VISIT Milwaukee and is a member of the Marketing Committee of Travel Wisconsin. Sarah was named a Woman of Influence by the Milwaukee Business Journal in 2018 and is also involved with several notable initiatives including the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts and the Sponsorship Marketing Association.


About VISIT Milwaukee
VISIT Milwaukee creates economic impact and supports a stronger, more inclusive community by promoting the Greater Milwaukee area as a premier tourism destination. Strengthened by VISIT Milwaukee’s dynamic convention and leisure marketing initiatives, tourism to Milwaukee contributes $6.018 billion to the local economy, supporting over 43,000 hospitality employees. VISIT Milwaukee has over 850 members, including hotels/motels, restaurants, attractions, services, and area businesses. The Wisconsin Center District, which is undergoing a large-scale expansion slated for completion in 2024, the city of Wauwatosa, and Potawatomi Casino | Hotel are strategic partners with VISIT Milwaukee, providing funding support for conventions and tourism programs. For more information call (800) 554-1448 or visit