Steve Baas named board chair of VISIT Milwaukee

To succeed Omar Shaikh later this year

Last updated on May 27th, 2020 at 05:46 pm

VISIT Milwaukee has named Steve Baas, senior vice president of governmental affairs at Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce as its new board chair.

Outgoing board chair Omar Shaikh, co-owner of SURG Restaurant Group, announced the leadership change Friday morning during VISIT Milwaukee’s annual meeting, which was held via Zoom.

Baas will take over later this year at the end of Shaikh’s five-year term.

“It’s been an honor to lead this organization for the past few years, and even though I won’t be board chair I’ll continue to be involved in VISIT Milwaukee and the team,” Shaikh said during the virtual event. “For those who know Steve and for those who don’t know him, he’s been instrumental for this organization for several years now.”

Baas told BizTimes Milwaukee Friday afternoon that he’s looking forward to working with the VISIT Milwaukee team, led by Peggy Williams-Smith, who took over as CEO last year. He said Shaikh leaves “big shoes to fill.”

“It may seem counterintuitive, but I’m excited to be taking over at a time like this,” said Baas, referring to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, which has upended the tourism and hospitality industries.

“I think we’ve got a team capable of making this challenge an opportunity to shine here in Milwaukee, and do some creative things that really set us apart form a lot of other markets,” he said.

VISIT Milwaukee said it plans to make a formal announcement in the coming weeks once Baas’ start date is determined.

Prior to joining MMAC, Baas served as press secretary and communications director for the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1994 to 2005, according to LinkedIn.

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Maredithe Meyer covers restaurants, retail, tourism, and sports and entertainment. She joined BizTimes in 2015, previously as an intern reporter. She earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University in 2017. When she's not on the job, Maredithe coaches field hockey and loves exploring her favorite city on earth, Milwaukee.