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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

MeetNKY CEO Retires, Former Fort Thomas Resident Named as Interim CEO

Eric Summe retiring from meetNKY, Julie Kirkpatrick named interim CEO amid challenging times for tourism

Eric Summe, president and CEO of meetNKY is retiring. Julie Kirkpatrick will serve as interim President and CEO. 

Editor's Note:

Julie Kirkpatrick is a Lexington native who moved to Fort Thomas in 2005. Her daughter attended Moyer, Highlands Middle and completed one year at Highlands High School. Although she moved to Taylor Mill in 2014, Julie still has family in Fort Thomas and she still has so much love for our city. "One of my favorite bourbon bars and definitely my favorite wings are in Fort Thomas (Midway CafĂ©). I still root for the Bluebirds, love some Fort Thomas Pizza and I cannot do without a burger every now and then from 915 Pub & Grill," said Julie. "I always look forward to the Fourth in the Fort as well as Merchants and Musicians." 


The following release was sent by meetNKY:

Eric Summe, president and CEO of meetNKY, has announced his early retirement, and the Convention and Visitors Bureau has appointed Julie Kirkpatrick as interim President & CEO. Kirkpatrick is currently vice president of meetNKY.

These past few months have been incredibly challenging as the entire Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati regional tourism community have all felt the impact of COVID-19 and a cessation of traveling to the region for business or pleasure. The industry which has historically generated a robust economic impact for Northern Kentucky communities has seen the effects of the pandemic erode forecasts for this year and likely into the near future – but even as there are small and hopeful indicators of recovery in some markets, it is clear there is a long, tough road ahead.

Looking ahead to the future, meetNKY has entered a period of transformation and reorganization. It has accepted the notice of retirement from the current President & CEO, Eric Summe. Summe has had a long career in the tourism industry after a career with Delta Airlines and his nearly nine-year stint as the leadership at meetNKY. He has held board positions with many Northern Kentucky organizations including this year’s Chair role of the Covington Business Council and Chair of the Kentucky Tourism Industry Association. Summe’s retirement is effective July 1.

“The Northern Kentucky hospitality community cannot celebrate Eric Summe’s accomplishments enough,” said meetNKY Board Chair, Tim Bray. “Eric has been integral in the past success of the organization and guided the organization through its rebranding to meetNKY in 2014. He worked tirelessly to create the destination development fund that will eventually lead to enhanced convention presence at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center and has been a transformative leader at the organization. The organization wishes Eric a well-deserved retirement and much future success.”

“It has been the honor of my career to spend this time leading meetNKY,” said Summe on his retirement. “While I had planned to retire at the end of 2020 and planned to start the process in July, the ongoing pandemic has changed a lot of priorities. With the restructuring plan that meetNKY will undertake very soon, it is a good time to make this move now to allow the organization to flex for the future. I have much pride in the tremendous accomplishment and success that Northern Kentucky has had and will continue to have as a place that people want to visit, work and live. It has been a privilege to work with so many talented staff members, an engaged community of partners and a world class destination.”

Commissioner of Tourism for the Kentucky Department of Tourism, Michael Mangeot also sent along his well wishes during this transition.

“As a native of Covington myself, I know Eric’s love for the area and have seen his passion, leadership and relentless advocacy for Northern Kentucky.” Mangeot said. “Whether serving on the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority, as President of the Kentucky Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus or his current role as Chairman of the Kentucky Travel Industry Association, Eric has always been available to lend his perspective and much sought after advice to tourism partners across the Commonwealth. Above all though, Eric is a valued and trusted friend and I wish him much happiness and joy in his retirement. He will be greatly missed in the tourism industry.”

Taking over for Summe as the Interim President & CEO is Julie Kirkpatrick, the current Vice President, Sales & Marketing for the organization.

Kirkpatrick joined meetNKY in 2014 and has guided the organization’s brand position and revenue generation efforts including the development and launch of Northern Kentucky’s bourbon tourism brand, The B-Line. Prior to meetNKY, Kirkpatrick had a successful 20 plus year career with several hotel brands and lives in Taylor Mill.

“We are all confident that the NKY tourism industry and meetNKY are in good hands with Julie,” said Bray. “The next six months are going to be transformative for the industry and Julie is the right person to lead the organization’s “Go Forward” plan. She is a very strategic leader and has the confidence of the entire board.”

“While this is a very hard, no doubt one of the hardest times for our industry and our organization, the road ahead will be bumpy, but we will recover,” said Kirkpatrick. “I am humbled in the faith and trust our board, Judge Executives, and the community have placed in us to execute on a plan to provide recovery to the industry. As a proud resident of Northern Kentucky, we will once again enjoy a robust visitation to this region we call home and we love. I also want to thank Eric Summe for his leadership, mentoring and friendship. We will make you proud.”

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