Named in harassment lawsuit, CEO of VisitKC resigns, saying it’s the ‘best time to move on’
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ronnie Burt, President and CEO of Visit KC, announced on Thursday that he’s resigning, effective Jan. 31st.
“It is with mixed emotions that I submit my resignation as your President and CEO. I have made the decision that now is the best time for me to move on and consider other opportunities. I am proud of the achievements made since 2014 with the support and hard work of the Visit KC Team,” said Burt, in a statement to the board of directors.
Burt has served as President and CEO since 2014 when he joined the organization from Washington, D.C., where he served as Vice President of Sales and Services for Destination DC, the convention and tourism organization for the nation’s capital.
His resignation comes after Visit KC’s former human resources manager Janette Barron filed a lawsuit claiming her firing was related to her request to start an investigation into multiple complaints of Burt’s alleged harassment and bullying behavior.
In December, the board of directors held a three-hour meeting to talk about the lawsuit in executive session but had no comment about it or Burt’s future.
The lawsuit alleges bullying, harassment and retaliation against female employees by Burt. Barron says she was fired after 21 years on the job after requesting the investigation into Burt’s conduct.
VisitKC provided a summary of key successes generated under Burt’s leadership, which it says helped the organization achieve many important milestones:
- Adopted the organization’s new name (Visit KC) and marketing platform focused on the call to action: “Visit”.
- Re-opened the KC Film Office to the region, which has generated $29 million in direct spending and secured “American Ninja Warrior” twice in the last three years.
- Implemented an effective government affairs strategy that enhanced relationships with elected officials and defeated legislation that could have negatively impacted the local tourism industry and business community.
- Implemented key changes to selling the city, focusing on performance accountability and high performing culture. Convention sales performance has exceeded goals every year from 2014 to 2017.
- Strategically implemented a finance and administration review which led to a revenue-growth strategy and transitioned the organization to a stable financial position with the establishment of a reserve fund.
- Built a sports acquisition strategy with the KC Sports Commission to secure the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and renewal of the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship through 2020.
- Executed a sales and marketing strategy that assisted in leading occupancy and average daily rate in 2017 to a 10-year high, as well as increasing visitation in 2016 to more than 25 million visitors and $5.5 billion in economic impact.
- Implemented a new marketing strategy and platform that led to the organization’s highest return on advertising effectiveness at $93 for every $1 invested.
“The Board of Directors of Visit KC would like to thank Mr. Burt for his leadership and commitment to enhance the hospitality industry in the Greater Kansas City region,” the news release said.
Over the next few weeks, Burt will assist the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors with a smooth, seamless transition process to ensure the important work of Visit KC continues.
Visit KC will appoint an interim President and CEO in the very near term to allow for a smooth transition and a search committee will be appointed to identify a permanent replacement.
About Visit KC
Visit KC is a non-profit organization whose mission is to ignite global passion for visiting Kansas City. Through marketing, sales and service of the convention and tourism industries, Visit KC supports a vital and growing component of the local economy—generating nearly 48,000 jobs and $5.5 billion in economic impact annually. For more information about Kansas City, go to VisitKC.com.