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Maryland Tourism Development Board

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The work of the Office of Tourism is guided and supported by hospitality industry leadership under the gubernatorially appointed board of executives representing lodging, retail, transportation, food service and attractions, and six members of Maryland’s General Assembly.

By General Assembly authority, the Board has broad policy powers to guide the direction of all activities necessary to develop and market the State as a destination.

Executive Committee

Ms. Judy Long Bixler
Ms. Judy Long Bixler
Chair - Transportation
Chair - Transportation

Owner/Captain
Oxford Bellevue Ferry

Not only does Judy Bixler captain the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry, she also steers the Maryland Tourism Development Board. As the owner of the oldest privately-operated ferry in America, she works diligently to protect the long legacy of the ferry which was established in 1683!

In the spring of 2022, the Captains Bixler will begin their 21st season as owners of the ferry, thus proving that “ferry tales can come true.” Captain Tom likes to tell people that Judy didn’t know which end of an oar to hold when he married her, but she now holds a 100-ton Masters License from the U.S. Coast Guard.  She pilots the ferry as it dances with the working watermen, young sailors at the Tred Avon Yacht Club, and intrepid sailors at the annual log canoe races as they run back and forth across the Tred Avon River from April through mid-November.

Judy has led many organizations in her career; currently serving as chairman of the Talbot County Tourism Board and director of the Oxford Business Association. She is a member of the Circle of Excellence (3-time winner) of the Top 100 Women in Maryland and the Top 100 Minority Business Owners.  The Bixler’s enjoy spending time with their three children and four grandchildren.

Members at Large

Ms. Heather Shaffer Braue
Ms. Heather Shaffer Braue
Director of Marketing & Public Relations Royal Farm Arena
Director of Marketing & Public Relations Royal Farm Arena

Heather Shaffer Braue is Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. Ms. Braue has over 20 years of experience in the live entertainment event industry. In addition to her role with the Maryland Tourism Development Board, Ms. Braue serves on the parent advisory board for both the Gilman School and Roland Park Country School and has previously served on the Board of Directors of the Fallston Swim and Tennis Club and the Fallston Country Pre-K School. Ms. Braue is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Society, Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society and Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Corporate Communications and English from Elon College (University) in North Carolina. Ms. Braue resides in Monkton, MD.

Ms. Ashley Chenault
Ms. Ashley Chenault
Chief of Tourism, Recreation Parks & Tourism Charles County
Chief of Tourism, Recreation Parks & Tourism Charles County

Ashley Chenault is a Norfolk State University Alumnus holding a B.A. in Journalism Communications. She currently serves as the Tourism Chief for Explore Charles County.  She brings her industry experience, passion, and commitment to excellence to her new role with Charles County Government. She was awarded the Maryland Tourism Coalition Best Destination Guide (2017) and a Maryland Tourism Development Board Market Expansion Award (2019) with Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area while employed with Queen Anne’s County Department of Economic & Tourism Development. The newly appointed board member to the Maryland Tourism Development Board, is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and a board member for Southern Maryland Heritage Area Consortium. The Eastern Shore native is eager to share her passion for the industry in Charles County.

Mr. Adolph W. Ebersberger
Mr. Adolph W. Ebersberger
Insurance and Financial Specialist – Retired, Millersville, Anne Arundel County
Insurance and Financial Specialist – Retired, Millersville, Anne Arundel County

Mr. Ebersberger has more than 40 years of experience in the insurance industry. His agency was among the largest and most successful in the state prior to his temporary retirement in the early 1990s. He currently provides financial planning services for his clients on a part-time basis. Mr. Ebersberger served in the Navy as a legal officer.

Mr. G. Hale Harrison
Mr. G. Hale Harrison
Vice President of Operations & Real Estate, Harrison Group Resort Hotels
Vice President of Operations & Real Estate, Harrison Group Resort Hotels

G. Hale Harrison is Vice President of Operations & Real Estate for Harrison Group Resort Hotels in Ocean City, Maryland. Mr. Harrison currently serves on the board of Calvin B. Taylor Bank and the Ocean City Development Corporation. He is past President of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association and a past member of the Town of Ocean City’s Tourism Commission.

Mr. Michael James
Mr. Michael James
President and COO, Hospitality Partners
President and COO, Hospitality Partners

President and COO of Hospitality Partners, the Maryland based Hotel Management Company. Mr. James assumed the role of President late in 2012. Hospitality Partners has offices in both Ocean City and Bethesda. Mr. James has over 30 years of experience in the Hospitality Industry, managing a wide array of hotels, both independent and franchise, including Sheraton, Guest Quarters Suites, Embassy Suites, Doubletree and Marriott. Mr. James joined Hospitality Partners in 1989 and spent a decade in the Washington D.C. area managing several properties.

Mr. Casey Jenkins
Mr. Casey Jenkins
Executive Chef/Owner, Southern Living Restaurant Group
Executive Chef/Owner, Southern Living Restaurant Group

Casey Jenkins, Executive Chef/ Owner of the Southern Living Restaurant Group, has over 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry. Starting his career in the United States Marine Corps cooking for hundreds of Marines allowed him the opportunity to attend the Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park New York. After graduating he worked in a number of well-known restaurants throughout New York: Aquavits, Waters Edge, and The Delegates Dining Room at the United Nations before moving on to national companies Sodexho, and Aramark working in front line leadership positions in the Maryland, and DC areas. In 2006 Chef Jenkins opened his first restaurant in Baltimore Md., Darker than Blue Café, over the last decade wining many notable awards: Baltimore Magazine 50 best restaurants 2009, and Best Southern Restaurant of 2010. In 2013 Chef Jenkins opened Birdland Sports Bar & Grill, with the new Darker than Blue Café slated to open in 2018.

Ms. Cara Hergan Joyce
Ms. Cara Hergan Joyce
Owner/Operator, Urban Pirates | Baltimore, Maryland
Owner/Operator, Urban Pirates | Baltimore, Maryland

Cara Hergan Joyce is the visionary behind Urban Pirates, a successful tourist attraction, founded nine years ago in Baltimore. Urban Pirates has expanded, the new location in National Harbor, Maryland opened in April 2016. Her business is consistently recognized as one of the Top 5 Attractions; entertaining over 500,000 customers. Cara sits on The White House Business Forward Leadership Council, the Board of the Fell’s Point Preservation Society and she is actively involved with the Baltimore Tourism Association among other organizations. Cara taught Special Education for over two decades in Anne Arundel County Public Schools and has remained involved in athletics by teaching and coaching youth sports.

Mr. Juan Carlos Linares
Mr. Juan Carlos Linares
General Manager, Tanger Outlets National Harbor
General Manager, Tanger Outlets National Harbor

Mr. Linares has served as General Manager of Tanger Outlets National Harbor since 2014, prior to which he served in several leadership positions within Tanger Outlets including Corporate Director of Marketing and General Manager of the San Marcos and Terrell locations. In addition to his new role with the Maryland Tourism Board, Mr. Linares serves on the boards of Prince George’s County Workforce Development, Experience Prince George’s, and Visit National Harbor.

Mr. James N. Mathias, Jr.
Mr. James N. Mathias, Jr.
Former Senator, District 38
Former Senator, District 38

Jim was raised in Baltimore Maryland. He graduated from Calvert Hall College High School in Towson and continued his education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He graduated with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Political Science in 1974. He was formely the Maryland State Senator of District 38, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties and the Business Development Officer, for Royal Plus, Inc.

Jim has spent his lifetime in the service of others. He served as a member of the Ocean City Board of Zoning Appeals, the Ocean City Council and then Mayor of the town of Ocean City Maryland. He served as Mayor from 1996 to 2006. That year he was appointed Delegate to the Maryland General Assembly, District 38B, and was elected as the Delegate in 2006, serving on the Economic Matters Committee. He maintained that role until 2011 when he was elected a Maryland State Senator, for District 38, being re-elected to the State Senate in 2014, serving on the Senate Finance Committee.

Mr. Dan Spedden
Mr. Dan Spedden
President, Hagerstown Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau
President, Hagerstown Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Dan currently serves as the President of the Hagerstown Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, an organization with a mission to promote the economic development of Hagerstown and Washington County through travel and tourism. In addition to the MD tourism Development Board Dan serves as a member of the MD Heritage Area Authority.

Dan is retired from a 30-year career with the MD Park Service where he served as Park Superintendent of the South Mountain Recreation Area, a complex of State Parks including Gathland, Greenbrier, South Mountain, and Washington Monument State Parks and the South Mountain State Battlefield. Dan was a law enforcement ranger and retired at the rank of Captain. Originally from Baltimore County, Maryland a 1982 graduate of the University of Maine’s Natural Resource Management program. Dan resides in Hagerstown, MD with his wife Janette.

Mr. Albert A. Spence
Mr. Albert A. Spence
President, A.S. Midway Tours
President, A.S. Midway Tours

As a renowned entrepreneur, and covenanted community leader, Mr. Albert Spence is a national prominent businessman who has delivered a consistent luxury product in the transportation industry for over 40 years. In addition to his role as President of A.S. Midway Tours, Mr. Spence is a leading national authority on the motorcoach industry, a former board member of the Baltimore County Board of Tourism, a fourth-term board member of the American Bus Association, and the third-term president of the Maryland Motorcoach Association.

Cassandra Vanhooser, Director of Economic Development and Tourism for Talbot County
Ms. Cassandra Vanhooser
Director of Economic Development and Tourism, Talbot County
Director of Economic Development and Tourism, Talbot County

Cassandra Vanhooser is the director of economic development and tourism for Talbot County, Maryland.

She grew up on a dairy farm and holds a degree in agriculture from the University of Tennessee. Cassandra spent more than 14 years as a travel and features writer at Southern Living magazine, where she first covered Georgia and then Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C. She has crisscrossed the region's highways and byways, writing about everything from the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial to the South's best fried chicken.

In addition to writing about food and travel, Cassandra also served for many years as the magazine's football editor. Her second book, The All-New SEC Tailgating Cookbook: Great Food, Legendary Teams, Cherished Traditions, was published by Time Inc./Oxmoor House Books in August 2018.

Today, Cassandra is Talbot County’s chief storyteller and business advocate.

Legislative Appointees

The Honorable Wendell R. Beitzel
The Honorable Wendell R. Beitzel
Maryland House of Delegates, Delegate, District 1A | Garrett & Allegany Counties
Maryland House of Delegates, Delegate, District 1A | Garrett & Allegany Counties

Delegate Beitzel is a recent appointment to the Maryland Tourism Development Board. He is owner of the Accident Bakery and President of Beitzel Enterprises, Inc.

The Honorable Bill Ferguson
The Honorable Bill Ferguson
Senator, District 46 | Baltimore City
Senator, District 46 | Baltimore City

Senator Ferguson, was elected to the Maryland State Senate in 2010, then becoming the youngest ever-elected State Senator in Maryland’s history.

A lifelong Maryland resident, Bill made Baltimore City his home when he joined Teach for America after graduating from Davidson College with a double major in political science and economics. From 2005 to 2007, Bill taught U.S. history and U.S. government to ninth and tenth graders in a breakout academy of one of Baltimore’s most challenged high schools.

After teaching, Bill worked as a Community Liaison for the Baltimore City Council President’s Office; earned a law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law; and served as the Special Assistant to Dr. Andres Alonso, CEO of the Baltimore City Public Schools. Through these pursuits, Ferguson continually drew from his classroom experiences to find ways to bring new resources and greater attention to the city’s educational achievement gap. Senator Ferguson is married with two children and two dogs.

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