A lot happens in a decade. We walk through our lives facing challenges and celebrating victories one day at a time. We don’t really think in a lump-sum way about all that occurs until we stop at a point and look back. This is one of those points.

Dana Lodge joined our CVB staff 10 years ago. Over the past couple of weeks as we’ve celebrated Dana and her many accomplishments, I’ve found myself looking back through the decade at our journey and Denton’s evolution.

So who is Dana Lodge really? It’s important to get to know a bit of her personal life, because when she joined our team she brought every bit of herself to the game.

When she is not at the office, Dana is thoroughly wrapped up with her kids. In the decade she’s been with us, we’ve witnessed 20 or so born, weaned, reared and sold by her hands. In the past 30 years, there have been scores. Most of them are black and white, a few brown and white, all of them precisely planned.

Now wait a minute. What are you thinking? I’m talking about puppies! English Springer Spaniel puppies born to show. These are her kids. Dana is an internationally-renown breeder, competitor and judge in the world of show dogs. While most of us pack pleasure gear for vacation, Dana loads her mammoth van with crates of beautiful dogs and travels the country racking up trophies and ribbons at America’s top canine competitions.

When she first arrived at the CVB, we were just beginning work on a new tourism product for Denton. Our plan was to tell the world about all the gorgeous horses and variety of breeds and disciplines concentrated across North Texas. It turns out that Dana’s fervor for dogs translated seamlessly to the equine world. She embraced the project with passion. Since much of the breeding and competing language is the same, Dana forged quick and credible relationships in the ranching culture and shaped the North Texas Horse Country Tour, now a nationally recognized, viable experience that draws thousands to Denton from countries all over the globe every year. The Horse Country Tour literally launched Denton into the tourism limelight and opened doors for promoting the whole Denton experience as a result.

In 2015, the CVB will host around 75 motorcoach tours. When Dana arrived in 2005, we were excited to host a tour once in a while. Her tenacious sales tactics and top-notch service bring new group clients to discover our unique product and keep our existing ones returning again and again. She birthed the group tour industry in Denton with the same planning, passion and attention to detail as she invests in her dogs, and her love has not waned one iota.

But her role in Denton’s tourism success is not relegated only to the animal kingdom. Dana earned her Certified Meeting Professional credentials in 2009 and has applied the same drive and service to bringing countless other group business to Denton including conferences and sports events. In the event that a true convention center becomes a reality in our city, she is more than ready for more, chomping at the bit so to speak.

I’ve always thought Dana’s last name “Lodge” is perfect because of her expertise within the lodging industry. Denton’s guest room inventory almost doubled between 2006 and 2010, with more than 500 of those rooms opening in just 18 months, in 2009 and 2010. Dana’s experience and creative expertise proved an invaluable asset to the CVB as we worked with our hotel partners to stabilize the market share and recruit new business to keep Denton hotels healthy. It wasn’t quick or easy, but here we are now stronger than we have ever been.

In a decade we’ve seen Apogee Stadium rise and our universities expand. Denton was named a “most fun small town in America” by the Travel Channel, second most popular destination in Texas by Texas Highways readers, one of the top six small towns in America by Yahoo! and one of Livability.com’s top 100 best places to live. Dana’s been a key leader making it all happen.

I am incredibly proud of every member of our CVB staff. Without a doubt, it is the best in Texas, perhaps in the world. Dana Lodge, you rock! Thank you 10 great years as my partner and right hand telling the world about this wonderful, original, independent Denton.

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