Explore Charleston, the official marketing organization for the Charleston region, has announced the appointment of seven new members to its Board of Governors.
“These accomplished individuals are leaders in the industry and our community, and I am grateful for their willingness to join our Board of Governors,” said Helen Hill, CEO of Explore Charleston. “Their experience and expertise will be invaluable as we continue our recovery efforts and support responsible economic development for the Charleston region through innovative travel and tourism strategies.”
See below for a list of new board members and bios.
Dan Battista, Senior Vice President, Lowe
Leading Lowe’s Southeast regional office in Charleston, Dan Battista is responsible for Lowe’s hospitality, master-planned resort communities and commercial development and investment activities in the Southeast U.S. and the Caribbean. While with Lowe, he has been involved in development projects totaling $800 million. Lowe recently opened the Sweetgrass Inn, a luxury hotel at Wild Dunes Resort and is constructing The Cooper, downtown Charleston’s new full-service waterfront hotel. Dan is active in the American Heart Association, having served as the Chairman of the Executive Leadership Team for the 2021 Lowcountry Heart Walk. He is also a member of the Trident CEO Council and serves on the Board of Directors for the SC Aquarium.
David Bennett, Executive Director, Charleston County Parks & Recreation Commission
A Charleston native, David Bennett has devoted more than 30 years to serving his community and the park and recreation industry. His professional career started at Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission (CCPRC) as a part-time Recreation Program Specialist in 1987, and within a year and a half he became the Assistant Recreation Director. In 1993, he was honored as the South Carolina Recreation Park Association (SCRPA) Young Professional of the Year and was promoted to the Director of Recreation in 1993, where he created the Lowcountry Cajun Festival, which is now celebrating its 27th anniversary. In 2004, David served as SCRPA President and was promoted to Associate Executive Director of CCPRC in 2006. He was appointed by the CCPR Commission to Executive Director in 2016 and was recently honored as the 2017 SCRPA Professional of the Year. David is responsible for managing a $32-million operating budget with almost 1,200 employees during high season in an approximately 12,000-acre park system spanning nearly 100 miles.
Jonathan Kish, CEO, Queen Street Hospitality Group
With a passion for food and the legacy of Queen Street Hospitality, Jonathan Kish leads the Queen Street Hospitality Group with a background in management and finance. He graduated from Clemson University with a degree in international management and developed key skills while working with Northwestern Mutual. In late 2012, Jonathan began assisting his family with managing 82 Queen. Since then, Jonathan has stepped up to become Chief Executive Officer, managing all the restaurant group’s establishments, including 82 Queen, Florence’s Lowcountry Kitchen and Jalisco Taqueria & Tequila. A leader in Charleston’s hospitality industry, he brings the best culinary, beverage and service talents to his restaurants to make each a unique destination with award-winning menus.
Matt Barba, Vice President of Operations, Charlestowne Hotels
Matt Barba leads operational strategy for Charlestowne Hotels, which includes the expansion of the brand’s growing food and beverage division. Matt’s resume is a case study in operational excellence with nearly thirty years of hospitality experience and the last decade dedicated to expanding recognition for Charlestowne Hotels’ growing management capabilities. He was most recently the general manager at the award-winning property, Deer Path Inn, and formerly led Charlestowne Hotels’ highest guest-rated properties as a regional operations director. Matt leads the team on operations, service culture, F&B execution and guest programming across their full portfolio. His extensive industry background, including firsthand experience as a hotelier, has influenced his 360-degree approach to operations.
Michael Blake, Director of Food and Beverage, Sanctuary Hotel
Michael Blake, a native to Charleston, attended Southern Wesleyan University where he majored in business management. Michael started 25 years ago as a dishwasher, server assistant and server at the Kiawah Island Inn. Through hard work and dedication, Michael moved into a leadership role and has held a variety of positions throughout Kiawah Island Golf Resort. He currently holds the position as Director of Food and Beverage at the Sanctuary Hotel. Food and beverage is Michael’s passion, and he enjoys the art and precession that goes along with working at this level of excellence. Michael is a member of the Heart for Hospitality Steering Committee, the Lowcountry Restaurant Association and the Board of Governors for the Charleston Area Visitors Bureau.
Michelle Woodhull, President, Charming Inns
Michelle Widman Woodhull has served as President of Charming Inns, Inc since 2019. Charming Inns is a Charleston-based hotel management company that is family owned and operated and has specialized in the management of historic hotels and bed and breakfast inns since 1982. A 25-year veteran of the hospitality industry, Michelle started her career with Hyatt Hotels and Doubletree in the Chicago area. In 1999, Michelle moved to Charleston to work for the family-owned business serving in various roles over her 22-year tenure. Michelle formerly served as President of the Lowcountry Hospitality Association from 2020-2021. Currently, she sits on the Boards of Directors for both the South Carolina Hospitality Association and the Lowcountry Hospitality Association. Michelle is also a member of the City of Charleston Restaurant Advisory Group. Michelle received her undergraduate degree in hospitality and tourism management from Purdue University in 1995.
Oliver Rooskens, Managing Director, Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina
Oliver Rooskens’ first job in hospitality at the age of 14 sparked an interest in the industry that continues today in his role as Managing Director of Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina where he oversees more than 225 associates at The Beach Club, Harborside, Fish House Restaurant and Marina. Born and raised in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and a graduate of the famed Hotel School in The Hague, his career has taken him from The Howard and Claridge’s in London to the Conrad Brussels in Belgium, and more recently, The Arrabelle at Vail Square and The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach. Oliver was an integral part of the construction and opening of The Arrabelle and Pelican Hill and utilized that experience to open The Beach Club, a 92-room award-winning hotel.
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