“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.”
That quote is my own, written two years ago as we celebrated Director of Sales Dana Lodge’s 10-year anniversary at the Denton Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). We find ourselves at that point once again as CVB Advisory Board Chair Bob Moses, Chamber President Chuck Carpenter and I presented Veronica Maldonado with her 10-year award last Monday at the CVB Advisory Board meeting.
Remembering the start of Veronica’s decade is easy. She was a shining star in the interview process, but there was no doubt we had chosen well by her second day at the office, April 24, 2007. If you were in Denton then, you no doubt remember Veronica’s second day as well as we do. It was the day of the 100-year-flood. In about eight hours, 10 inches of rain pounded our city and turned much of downtown into a lake, including our offices at the Denton Chamber of Commerce building where cars and dumpsters were floating outside and carpet, computers, furniture and files were ruining inside.
The morning after the flood, brand-new Veronica answered the call with the rest of us for all hands on deck. We arrived in work clothes and galoshes to begin the task of wading in four-inch-deep water to rescue and salvage of our offices what we could. With no elevator in our building, the grueling work involved hauling everything savable to the second floor and everything lost to the relocated-by-the-flood dumpster, by then quite inconveniently far away.
Veronica is our CVB fashionista. Lovely dresses and high heels are her modus operandi. But not that day. She labored and grimaced, even grieved like the rest of us. As quick as the lightning during the rains the day before, she became cemented into our work family.
Hired as part-time administrator, Veronica proved right out of the gate she was worth much more. In short order, she was a full-time member of the team that was previously only Dana and me. We wondered how we’d ever lived without her. Veronica’s attitude was always, “I can do that.”
It was the dawn of the social media revolution. I call it that because it stormed our lives like nothing before had ever done. Denton was booming, but telling our story and making an impact in the new era required branching out experimentally in a new frontier.
“I can do that,” Veronica determined.
And she did. Veronica committed to learn the ins and outs of that brave new world and conquered it. Completely self-taught, she led our team to the front lines of a competitive field that no one in our destination marketing industry had yet won. Denton rose to the top, a destination that cities around the country longed to imitate. We were, and continue to this day to be the cutting-edge example of how to tell a destination story.
From Internet Marketing Coordinator to now director of a multi-member communications team, Veronica is still reaching, setting standards other destinations follow. Always a step ahead of the game, she’s researching trends and positioning Denton at the forefront of the “next great thing” in marketing. She and her team have solidified the Original Independent Denton brand as the coolest, edgiest, most genuine destination brand in Texas.
Veronica has risen to star status within the Texas destination marketing industry. She is an admired leader, consulting with state associations and our regional Visit DFW cooperative marketing initiative, plus boosting the efforts of our local hospitality partners.
On Valentine’s Day just a few weeks ago, Veronica, Dana and I were in Austin on business. Away from our families, we celebrated together, just the three of us, joking that we’ve been married for 10 years now. That is a statement within itself. How many lead teams actually stay together this long? I’ll wager not many.
I am incredibly proud of every member of our CVB staff. Without a doubt, it is the best in Texas, perhaps in the world. Veronica Maldonado, you rock! Thank you for 10 great years as the third leg of the sturdy stool that is the Denton CVB triad. With our fabulous staff members, we get to tell the world every day about our wonderful, original, independent Denton.
Here’s to the next 10 years, Veronica and Dana. It’s a never-ending challenge, but together, I believe we can do anything!