Spencer Eccles, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), announced today that Vicki Varela has been selected as the new managing director of Tourism, Film and Global Branding at the Utah Office of Tourism (UOT), an agency of GOED. The announcement was made during a regularly scheduled Board of Tourism Development meeting.
Ms. Varela is widely known in the Utah business community. One of her most public positions was as spokesperson and deputy chief of staff to Governor Mike Leavitt over an eight year span. She has been in the persuasion business for most of her career during which she organized many successful campaigns, including the statewide ballot initiative that positioned Utah to host the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
Working behind the scenes, Ms. Varela built brands such as the Kennecott Land Daybreak community and the Prosperity 2020 movement, which is focused on improving Utah’s workforce readiness and educational outcomes.
“We are very pleased that Vicki was willing to step out of her successful career in the private sector; it speaks to the love and passion she has for the State of Utah,” said Spencer Eccles, GOED executive director. “Her extensive strategic communications and branding experience will further enable us to unify the state under a global marketing and branding strategy.”
“Branding Utah is a communicator’s dream. My role will be to tell the stories that persuade tourists and business leaders alike to make Utah their destination. Yes, for our spectacular sites and business culture, but even more for the intrinsic shift that happens when people experience Utah,” Ms. Varela said. “I am honored to join the Herbert administration to help position Utah on the world stage.”
Ms. Varela will be transitioning into her new role over the next several weeks as she goes through
the process of closing Varela Strategic Communications Inc. She will be assuming the position which was left vacant with the recent retirement of long-time managing director Leigh von der Esch.
Ms. Varela is a graduate of Brigham Young University and mother of two adult sons.