Cris Collier has lead the Great Bend Convention & Visitors Bureau for the last 30 years. This month Loren Unruh, chairman of the board and the board of directors of the bureau announced her retirement as president of the organization.
Great Bend will be able to say good bye to Collier at a reception from 2-4 p.m. Tuesday at the Best Western Courtyard, 2920 10th Street, in Great Bend.
“We have been so fortunate to have Cris at the helm of our Bureau for 30 years,” Unruh said. “Our city, even though it is not large in population, has had first class, professional representation throughout Kansas and both nationally and internationally. The promotion of Great Bend by our Bureau has been award winning and among the best in the region. Cris has been a tireless and dedicated champion of Great Bend and its attractions.”
According to a release from the CVB, some of Collier’s accomplishments include:
• Increased annual convention delegates to the community by over 70 percent.
• Formed committee, produced corridor management plan, and successfully applied for Kansas and national designation of the Wetlands & Wildlife National Scenic Byway. This was Kansas’ first national byway and paved the way for Federal funding of the construction of the Kansas Wetlands Education Center at Cheyenne Bottoms.
• National Wildlife Education Award recipient.
• Two-time recipient of the Kansas Governor’s Award for Tourism Development because of her continuous fulfillment of the award’s criteria – cooperation, sustainability, quality and accountability.
• Developed volunteer program, handbooks and guidelines for Kansas Raptor Center at Great Bend’s Brit Spaugh Zoo, initiated formation of the Friends of the Zoo/Zoological Society, and assisted the Zoo with fundraising and membership drives.
• Founded annual Wings & Wetland Birding Festival where participants from throughout the United States and other countries arrive for a weekend of world-class bird and wildlife watching.
• Promoted Kansas agriculture and area tourism through support of the 3i Show held bi-annually in Great Bend; chaired the Hospitality Committee for 20 years.
• Completed training with the National Association for Interpretation as a Certified Interpretive Trainer of guides and hosts. And is an NAI Certified Interpretive Planner.
• The National Scenic Byway has certified Collier as a Grassroots Hospitality Trainer and she is one of 12 advisors trained by the National Scenic Byway as a Peer Advisor.
• Recipient of the Kansas Sampler Foundation “We Kan” Award.
• Served as president of the Travel Industry Association of Kansas.
• Project leader for the Western Kansas Rural Economic Development Association
• Governors ambassador for economic development - Kansas Cavalry
• Authored numerous successful grant applications, both state and Federal totalling over $450,000.
• Created the concept and obtained funding for the Santas Around the World (Santa World), which gained national recognition in an A&E Christmas special.
• Conceived and implemented the Christmas Cash program (which brought thousands of people to Great Bend’s Courthouse Square) to enhance the Trail of Lights, Santa World and other Christmas City initiatives as well as recognition of the Trail of Lights as an American Bus Association top attraction.