Wisconsin 275
Wisconsin 275
BizTimes Media

Peggy Williams-Smith

Hospitality | Tourism
President and CEO
VISIT Milwaukee | Milwaukee

Peggy Williams-Smith has led VISIT Milwaukee, the region’s convention and visitors’ bureau, since late 2019. Just a few months into her role, Williams-Smith had to steer the organization through the COVID-19 pandemic, which upended the local tourism economy and rendered the Democratic National Convention a mostly virtual event. As the region rebounds, VISIT is responsible for helping draw conventions, trade shows and leisure travel back to the city. Milwaukee’s successful bid for the DNC helped it secure the 2024 Republican National Convention, which VISIT Milwaukee estimates will have a $180 million to $200 million economic impact and draw 45,000 visitors.

First job: “Arby’s as a cashier. I learned, immediately, that I loved going to work. I loved the sense of accomplishment it gave me and the feeling of family I got from my coworkers.”

Toughest business challenge you’ve ever faced: “The effects of COVID. Coming into a new job and having to lay off one-third of the team within the first six months.”

Biggest recent success: “Securing the Republican National Convention for the summer of 2024.”

Why you are excited for the future: “The new leadership in our region. We have energetic young leaders who grew up in our city. They know the issues we face, but they know that the way to move forward is public and private collaboration.”