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Debbie Meritsky

Debbie Meritsky

Black Sheep Inn & Spa

 

Debbie Meritsky is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute and has worked in the food industry for over 30 years with an emphasis on local, organic, and seasonal ingredients. Debbie is co-owner of the Black Sheep Inn & Spa located in Hammondsport in the Finger Lakes region of NYS. As the Inn chef, she is an avid proponent of sourcing local organic foods and the clean food movement in the Finger Lakes region. Debbie prepares delicious farm-to-table breakfasts for her guests, sourced from within 50 miles of the Black Sheep Inn & Spa. She also enjoys sharing with her guests those techniques on how to create this lifestyle at home, wherever they may live. Debbie’s other passion is art, and, specifically, creating art from recycled and repurposed “ingredients”. Debbie and her husband Marc created the Arts in Bloom Art Trail to showcase the fantastic art being created in their area. In its 5th year Arts in Bloom is a family-friendly, free community event that features live demonstrations at artist studios and galleries on the trail.

Ramjee Chandran

Ramjee Chandran

Destinations of New York State

 

Ramjee Chandran is an entrepreneur, writer, publisher, and musician with 27 years of publishing experience. As a journalist, his articles have been published in India and other countries. Most of Chandran’s publishing career involved magazines related to the tourism industry including city guides and business travel magazines – both print and online.

The first city guide he launched was on March 31, 1989, for his hometown of Bangalore, India. In the years following, he launched the “Explocity Guide” series of city guide magazines in several destinations including New York City, Dubai and several major metros in India. Other magazines included Executive Traveller and other city-based lifestyle magazines.

Ramjee Chandran received investment from a US-based venture capital fund in 2000, and a few years later, a meeting with publishing mogul Rupert Murdoch led to Murdoch picking up a 25% stake in Chandran’s publishing enterprise, Explocity.

Chandran was awarded the prestigious “Chanakya Award” for Innovative Leadership by the Indian Council for Public Relations and was named one of 10 best entrepreneurs from the state of Karnataka, India by online giant, Rediff.com (REDF – NASDAQ).

Recently, Ramjee launched a website for New York State and runs this in an exclusive strategic alliance with the experienced tourism company, Destinations Of NYS, based in Saugerties, NY.

Chandran is also a jazz guitarist and has performed on stage with internationally acclaimed jazz musicians and at international jazz festivals. He believes that the one thing he does with more mediocrity than playing jazz is his other distraction, playing chess.

Brittany Gibson

Brittany Gibson

Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce

 

In her capacity at the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, Brittany is responsible for promoting Schuyler County’s tourism industry by creating and implementing tourism marketing and public relations programs. She is also responsible for developing and implementing programs to increase the visibility and credibility of the Chamber. Brittany serves on the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council Board of Directors, the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance Marketing Committee, the Schuyler County Planning Board, and the Community Development Corporation Board of Directors. She volunteers her time serving as the coordinator of her family’s charity organization, Team Charlie.

Brittany’s areas of expertise include marketing, advertising, public relations, social media, and event planning. She is passionate about the Finger Lakes and is eager to see Schuyler County continue to grow – both in business and tourism.

Valerie Knoblauch

Valerie Knoblauch

Finger Lakes Visitors Connection

 

Valerie is President and CEO of the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection where she has worked since 1984 when she was hired as the organization’s first employee. In her role, she is responsible for guiding a team of tourism marketing professionals who are charged with promoting all of the fun experiences offered in Ontario County and the Finger Lakes region. Valerie thrives on the challenge of figuring out people’s motivations to travel and translating that into marketing programs that inspire travel to the destination where she lives, works and plays. Prior to beginning with the Finger Lakes Visitors connection, Valerie worked as a Tour Guide and Public Relations Manager for Gold Seal Vineyards in Hammondsport, NY after a career as a High School English teacher at Red Jacket Central High School.

Valerie loves to travel – imagine that. She also enjoys bicycling, wine, gardening, photography, and cooking. She loves the theatre, especially live theatre and musicals, and likes history – especially as it is interpreted to put into place “where we are today …”

Valerie is blessed with a very large family, many of whom have settled in the area. She has been married to her husband Kurt since 1982. They have three sons and three wonderfully diverse daughters-in-law and three grandsons. Valerie has friends across the world, because of her career in travel and tourism and because of her multicultural family. She loves learning every day from all of the characters in her life.

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