Eve Hall, president and chief executive officer of the Milwaukee Urban League, has been named board chair of VISIT Milwaukee.
Hall was unanimously elected to serve a one-year term, effective July 28. She succeeds local restaurateur Omar Shaikh, who served as board chair for the past five years and a board member for the past 10 years.
Hall's appointment was announced Wednesday during VISIT Milwaukee's annual meeting at the Miller High Life Theatre in downtown Milwaukee. More than 400 business leaders, elected officials, community members and representatives from over 130 partner organizations attended the event, according to the tourism bureau.
"Dr. Hall is the right leader at the right time as VISIT Milwaukee accelerates our plan to return to record levels of travel and tourism," said Peggy Williams-Smith, president and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee. "Her experience leading diverse member-based organizations, deep relationships within the business, civic and philanthropic communities, and proven ability to bring together solution makers will be of considerable value to advancing our region as a destination of choice."
Hall, the 2015 BizTimes Woman Executive of the Year, has almost three decades of experience working in education, government and nonprofit organizations. A native of Milwaukee, Hall has led the Milwaukee Urban League since 2017. Her previous roles include president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin and executive director of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund in Washington D.C.
She is also the co-founder of the African American Women’s Project Fund, which was formed in 1999 to support organizations dedicated to the well-being of women and girls. The $200,000 fund is held in the Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee.
Hall has sat on VISIT Milwaukee's board for the past three years. As board chair, she will provide strategic direction and advocate for the organization's mission. The board of assists in developing strategic plans and helps VISIT Milwaukee achieve its goals through participation in committees and board meetings.
"There are so many good things brewing in Milwaukee," said Hall. "The Milwaukee Bucks’ championship run has certainly reignited the glow that once was dimmed thanks to the (COVID-19) pandemic, but the momentum driving our community forward is fueled by so much more. Our neighborhood treasures, major community attractions, smallest shops and largest venues are reporting progress in their recovery. Yet there is much more to be done to make sure our region is truly a destination for all to live, work, play and, of course, visit."
Hall will lead the organization alongside Steve Bass, who was unanimously reelected as vice chair. Last year, Bass, who is senior vice president of governmental affairs at Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, was unanimously elected incoming chair of VISIT Milwaukee for 2020-2021, with Dr. Hall as vice chair. However, in response to the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local tourism and hospitality industries, VISIT ultimately decided to keep Shaikh as chair for the remainder of his term.
VISIT Milwaukee on Wednesday thanked Shaikh for his years of service to the organization.
"Our entire hospitality industry relies on the VISIT Milwaukee team for their insights and expertise, as well as their creativity and dogged tenacity in marketing our region to conventions, businesses, planners, leisure travelers and others," said Shaikh. "During my 10 years at VISIT Milwaukee, I have come to realize how truly essential the organization is to our economy and the livelihoods of hundreds of entrepreneurs and business owners and tens of thousands of hospitality employees who work to make every visitors’ stay memorable."