A 29-year veteran of the Irving CVB, Maura was named executive director in October 2003. A leading business travel destination, Irving is home to the world headquarters of ExxonMobil, Kimberly-Clark, Flowserve and Fluor, among others. She led the team that delivered the on-time, under-budget and architecturally distinctive Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas, and has oversight of its day-to-day operations, which is averaging 250 events per year. The second anchor of Irving’s visitor district, the Toyota Music Factory, includes the Live Nation Pavilion and an Alamo Drafthouse Theater, as well as a dozen other restaurants. The third and final anchor, the 350-room Westin Irving Convention Center Hotel, opened in March 2019.
Maura is a former chair of Destinations International, and has just finished a three-year term chairing the inaugural Certified Destination Management Executive Board of Directors and is now serving as Chair of the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program . She also serves on the DestinationNEXT task force and is a DestinationNEXT facilitator. She has earned the designation of Fellow, Certified Destination Management Executive (FCDME).
On the industry’s behalf, she’s worked to weave economic development strategy with community planning tenets, along with solid destination sales and marketing, in order to enhance the standing of CVBs/DMOs/DOs/US! in their community. Maura’s “Building Blocks” have been used by many to build the case for support and investment in destination development, and the should-be-vital role of tourism in any community’s economic health strategies. “Build a place where people want to visit, and you’ll build a place where people want to live. Build a place where people want to live, and you’ll build a place where people want to work. Build a place where people want to work, and you’ll build a place where business has to be. Build a place where business has to be, and you’ll build a place where people have to visit. It all starts with the visit, and the visit starts with us.”
Back home in Irving, she serves on boards for the Heritage Society, Rotary, La Cima Club, Salvation Army Advisory Council and Chamber of Commerce. She is a past chair of the Dallas Advertising League/AAF-Dallas.
Before joining the hospitality industry, Gast spent time in the retail and newspaper worlds, in a variety of sales, marketing and event management roles; she is also a recovering meeting professional. She is a graduate of St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, and a first-generation native of San Angelo, Texas.