Marcus Hotels & Resorts exec named new CEO of VISIT Milwaukee

Peggy Williams-Smith to replace Paul Upchurch

Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 01:38 pm

VISIT Milwaukee announced Wednesday that it has named Peggy Williams-Smith, senior vice president of Marcus Hotels & Resorts, as its new CEO.

Williams-Smith takes over leadership of VISIT Milwaukee just before one of the biggest tourism years ever for the city. The 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee and the Ryder Cup in Sheboygan County will bring a surge of visitors to the region next year.

“I could not be more excited to take the reins at VISIT Milwaukee as we go headfirst into a very busy and exciting year, featuring national events such as the DNC, the USA Triathalon, The Ryder Cup, and the 140th Annual Meeting of Northwestern Mutual Agents,” she said. “It is an honor to be selected to lead this organization into the next decade. I look forward to working closely with the dynamic team at VISIT Milwaukee, Marty Brooks (CEO of) the Wisconsin Center District, and the hospitality community to make 2020 a banner year for our city.”

Williams-Smith will join VISIT Milwaukee on Nov. 18. She is replacing Paul Upchurch, who is leaving VISIT Milwaukee to pursue other opportunities.

Williams-Smith will be the first woman to lead the organization. She was selected from a national field of candidates in a months-long search, headed up by Omar Shaikh, chairman of the VISIT Milwaukee board, the organization said.

“Peggy is well known in the Milwaukee community as a leader and as a woman who makes things happen, so she was a natural choice for the role,” said Shaikh. “Ultimately, the search committee was impressed with her vision for VISIT Milwaukee and her passion for the destination.”

Williams-Smith has worked or The Marcus Corp. since 1997. She has also co-chaired the citywide UPAF campaign and is a member of Professional Dimensions and TEMPO Milwaukee.

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.