Diana Pfaff
972-252-7476 or 800-247-8464

IRVING, Texas (August 2008) Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Maura Allen Gast, FCDME, has been elected chair of the Board of Directors of Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI). Gast was installed as chair at DMAI's 94th Annual Convention on July 30 in front of more than 1,200 attendees. She is the third woman to chair DMAI in the association's 94-year history.

DMAI is the world's largest association for destination marketing organizations also called convention and visitor bureaus (CVBs). With offices in North America and Europe, DMAI is dedicated to improving the effectiveness of destination marketing organizations worldwide.

"Maura is very passionate about the industry, as well as for DMAI," said Michael D. Gehrisch, President & CEO of DMAI. "Her commitment to destination marketing and the betterment of the industry will be an invaluable asset in the coming year."

Gast has been an active DMAI member for 15 years, volunteering time for industry initiatives including the Futures Study Task Force (chair, 2007-08), Education Committee (1999-present; chair, 2002-04), the Brand Leadership Taskforce (2003-05) and the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program Board (2006-08). She has developed curriculum for the association's Program in Destination Management certificate program, and regularly facilitates courses at DMAI conferences and other industry forums.

"We are extremely proud of Maura's accomplishments," said Richard Stewart Jr., Irving CVB board chairman. "To have Irving represented in front of such a large and important audience gives further credibility and visibility to our city as a destination."

Gast joined the Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau in 1991, and was named executive director in 2003. In this role, she represents the dynamic visitor industry that is Irving's second largest employer, and oversees strategic direction for the CVB with a 26-person staff. A key initiative underway for the organization is its partnership with the city of Irving in developing the much-anticipated Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas scheduled to open in late 2010) and its associated retail, restaurant, hotels and entertainment venues.

"I'm honored to be selected among my peers to lead DMAI, an organization that I have been involved in for many years," said Gast. "On the selfish side, I look forward to a year of having the opportunity to be in front of numerous industry organizations and selling our new convention center."

Gast is a member of Meeting Professionals International, the Professional Convention Management Association, American Society of Association Executives, the Urban Land Institute and the International Economic Development Council. She serves on the boards of the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, the Irving Salvation Army and the Irving Rotary Club. She holds a B.A. in English-Communications Arts from St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas.