Hospitality & Tourism Trends, Future Outlook, and Workforce Needs for the Gulf Coast Region

Fitzgerald Washington  Secretary of the Alabama Department of Labor

The Honorable Fitzgerald Washington
Alabama Secretary of Labor  

Fitzgerald Washington has served as Secretary of the Alabama Department of Labor since 2014. During his tenure, the Department has launched a statewide marketing campaign, initiated a new job fair initiative that brings available jobs to Alabamians, and has participated in a new alignment of workforce regions that allows for better distribution of state workforce resources.

Washington currently serves on the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) Board of Directors as the President-Elect and is a member of the National Association of Government Labor Officials (NAGLO).

Washington is a member of the Alabama Workforce Council, the Alabama Small Business Commission, the State Workforce Development Board and the Alabama Bicentennial 200 Commission.

Prior to his appointment as the Secretary of the Alabama Department of Labor, Washington worked for The Buffalo Rock Company for 15 years, serving as Corporate Marketing and Sales Director handling the company’s multicultural marketing initiatives before being promoted to General Sales Manager in 2002.

Washington has served as a past Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, where he helped create the Minority Business Council to foster growth and competitiveness of minority-owned businesses in West Alabama. Other community involvement includes the Druid City Business League, Black Warrior Council Board, BB&T Bank Advisory Board, Board of Visitors for the University of Alabama College of Continuing Studies, and DCH Health Systems Foundation Board of Directors.

Washington, his wife Peggy, and their children Karla and Fitzgerald reside in Tuscaloosa.

Allen Godfrey

Allen Godfrey
Executive Director, Mississippi Gaming Commission

Allen Godfrey is the Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, which is responsible for regulating the gaming industry in the State of Mississippi. He has been with the MGC since 2003, serving as the Director of the Compliance Division, and most recently, as Deputy Director.

Allen’s twenty-five years of public service began at the Mississippi State Tax Commission, now known as the Department of Revenue. While at the Tax Commission, he assisted in collecting the taxes, developing internal controls, and auditing gaming before the MGC became an independent agency in 1993. He served as Deputy Director for the Alcohol Beverage Control division of the Tax Commission before coming to the MGC.

Raised in Mississippi, Allen is a Certified Public Accountant who holds a BS degree in Business Administration from Mississippi State University. He lives in Madison with his wife Susan, who is a retired public school teacher. He is a proud father of two sons who have served their country in the US Armed Forces.

Larry Gregory

Larry Gregory
Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association

Larry Gregory serves as Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association, a position he has held since September of 2011.  Prior to this appointment, Gregory also held the position of Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission from 2001 – 2011.  Before working for the Mississippi Gaming Commission, Gregory served in other state government capacities, serving as Deputy Director of the Mississippi State Personnel Board, Secretary to the Mississippi Transportation Commission and staff member to the Mississippi Legislature.  A native of Jackson, Mississippi, he served four years in the United States Air Force.  He received a Bachelors of Science Degree in Political Science from the University of Southern Mississippi and a Masters in Public Policy and Administration from Mississippi State University.  He also received a Certificate of Paralegal Studies from Mississippi College.

The International Masters of Gaming Law named Gregory 2005 Regulator of the Year.

Gregory also served as a Board Member to the American Gaming Association.

Mindy Hanan

Mindy Hanan
Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association (AHRA)

Mindy Hanan is the President/CEO of the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association (AHRA), a non-profit corporation dedicated to serve the needs of the food service and hospitality industry in the state of Alabama by providing educational programs, membership services, governmental relations, informational services and industry promotion. 

Hanan has over 20 years of organizational management experience. Prior to joining ARHA in 2014, she had leadership roles at the Alabama Bankers Association and the Alabama Optometric Association, where she oversaw the operations of the organization, governmental affairs, for profit ventures and educational programs.

Mindy is a native of Huntsville, Alabama and is a graduate of Auburn University and Jones School of Law. She is a member of the Alabama State Bar, the American Society of Association Executives and the Council of State Restaurant Associations.  She has served on the board of directors of the Alabama Travel Council, the Alabama Department of Tourism, the Alabama Tourism Partnership, the Alabama Seafood Commission, the Trenholm State Foundation and currently serves as the Chair of the International Society of Hotel Associations.

Mindy and her husband, Ellis, reside in Montgomery and have a daughter, Amelia, who attends graduate school at UAB.    

Anthony Del Vescovo

Anthony Del Vescovo
Vice President and Legal Counsel, Gold Strike and Beau Rivage Properties

Anthony Del Vescovo is Vice President and Legal Counsel for both Gold Strike and Beau Rivage properties. He is responsible for establishing and maintaining numerous initiatives including gaming, governmental relations, community affairs, design and construction, development, contracts, compliance, labor law, litigation and risk management. In his role as Beau Rivage and Gold Strike’s corporate spokesman on legal matters, he works with property leaders to strategize and implement litigation, preventative maintenance and solve legal issues.

Anthony joined the company in 2006 with more than 12 years of in-house corporate legal practice as the Executive Director, Corporate Counsel for Caesars Entertainment and Harrah’s Entertainment. His foresight has proven to be instrumental in his ability to understand many intense legal matters that led to his success particularly in the gaming community in Mississippi.     

Anthony is a member of the Mississippi and Louisiana State Bar Associations, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the American Corporate Counsel Association and the American Bar Association.   He sits on the Board of Directors for the Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, MGCCC Gaming Advisory Committee, USM Casino Hospitality & Tourism Management Advisory Committee and is an Executive Committee member of the Gaming Section of the Mississippi Bar.  He is also a member of all Louisiana State Courts and all Mississippi State and Federal Courts.

A 1989 graduate of Louisiana State University Anthony lettered in football and earned a scholarship in wrestling. 

After completing a Bachelor of Arts degree at Louisiana State University, Anthony received a Juris Doctorate degree from Southern University Law Center. 

Craig Ray

Craig Ray
Visit Mississippi, the Tourism office of the Mississippi Development 

Craig Ray is the Director of Visit Mississippi, the Tourism office of the Mississippi Development Authority. In this role, he promotes Mississippi as a travel destination and film location by highlighting the state’s culture, heritage, history, natural resources and recreational opportunities through a multifaceted marketing effort. Ray oversees a diverse number of programs and initiatives, such as International, Outdoor Recreation & Sports , MS Blues & Country Music Trails, the Mississippi Film Office and the State's 13 Welcome Centers.

Ray returned to the Mississippi Development Authority in 2016 after serving as a Principal in The Talon Group, LLC, a government relations firm providing advice, advocacy and access to federal and state government agencies. Prior to joining The Talon Group, Ray served as President of DCRAY Consulting and as Executive Producer of a number of statewide and national events, including Mississippi Night at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles and the Mississippi GRAMMY Celebration. Ray has also
served in senior-level positions at the White House for two U.S. Presidents and for two Mississippi Governors.

Ray previously served as the Director of the Tourism Division at the Mississippi Development Authority from 2004 – 2009. During his tenure he played a key role in developing the branding campaign for “Mississippi – The Birthplace of America’s Music,” as well as launching the groundbreaking Mississippi Blues Trail. Today, the Mississippi Blues Trail has more than 200 markers throughout Mississippi and the world.

A Mississippi native, Ray graduated from the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He has one daughter, Emma Claire.

Milton Segarra

Milton Segarra, CDME
Coastal Mississippi

Milton Segarra, CDME is CEO of Coastal Mississippi, the official regional tourism entity representing Mississippi's three coastal counties. With over 30 years in tourism, corporate America and government experience, Segarra is charged with leading the regional tourism organization, promoting South Mississippi as a tourism and convention destination worldwide.

In addition to directing the efforts of the Coastal Mississippi team and implementing policies set by the organization's Board of Commissioners, Segarra works to maintain strong relationships with stakeholders, elected officials, and the 12 Coastal communities. He served on the Destinations International Board of Directors for three years and is now a trustee on the Destinations International Foundation Board of Trustees, which directs the affairs of the Foundation and determines policies. He is also a Director-at-Large on the United States Travel Association Board of Directors and the Mississippi Tourism Association. Segarra is a Certified Destination Management Executive, CDME.

Prior to his appointment as CEO of Coastal Mississippi, formerly known as Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast, Segarra was President and CEO of Meet Puerto Rico, the non-profit organization that markets Puerto Rico as a premier meeting and convention destination.  Segarra's time spent working for governmental organizations also includes the position of Executive Director of The Puerto Rico Tourism Company, as well as Secretary of Commerce and Economic Development. He also has extensive experience in sales, marketing, and revenue management during his tenure as Director or Vice President at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Sands Hotels & Casinos, and Hilton Hotels and Resorts.

An accomplished industry leader with extensive experience in the public and private sector, Segarra's understanding of the tourism, meetings and conventions market, coupled with his advocacy approach, industry relationships and business acumen, contribute to his reputation and proven track record as a forward-thinking leader.

Jo Jo Terry

Jo Jo Terry
Digital Marketing Strategist and Gulf Coast Regional Director
Alabama Tourism Department

Jo Jo Terry is the Digital Marketing Strategist and Gulf Coast Regional Director for the Alabama Tourism Department. Responsibilities include content creation for all the Department’s social media channels-Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram; liaison to Gulf Coast Tourism Industry Partners; works with international/domestic journalists/bloggers to market Sweet Home Alabama as a vacation destination and coordinates/conducts press trips. 

Before accepting her position with Alabama Tourism she worked at Global Marketing Solutions, Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism and the former Alabama Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce.

Suntrease Williams-Maynard

Suntrease Williams-Maynard
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Suntrease Williams-Maynard, a native of Farmville, Virginia, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a Concentration in Criminal Justice, a Master of Public Administration and a
Juris Doctorate. 

She is a trial attorney for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where she works to eradicate employment discrimination. She also served as an Assistant United States Attorney for over nine years joining the U.S. Department of Justice through the Attorney General’s Honors Program. She served in Texas and Alabama prosecuting over three thousand border crimes and focusing on community relations and civil rights. 

She is also a Captain in the U.S Air Force serving as an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate at the 1st
Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, where legal services are provided to more 13,800 service members, civilians and contractors in support of special operation missions worldwide.

She is admitted to practice law in DC, Maryland, federal courts in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and the United States Supreme Court. She also serves our community in various professional and philanthropic organizations. She is the President of the Vernon Z. Crawford Bar Association; Chair of the Mobile Bar Association’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee; Co-Chair of the National Conference of Bar Presidents Diversity & Inclusion Committee; Chair of Diversity & Inclusion for Junior League (Mobile); and a member of the Rotary Club of Mobile, to name a few.

She is also the proud mother to Dareon and Destiny Maynard and wife to Stephen Maynard, II. She and her family are members of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Daphne, Alabama.