Written by Tom Knighton
Liz Gray was always described as Albany’s biggest cheerleader. Her role at the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau was a natural fit for the Albany native. Now, however, she’s opted for greener pastures as the director of sales and marketing at Merry Acres Inn and Conference Center.
Gray’s departure comes amid a great deal of upheaval at the CVB after the termination of Lisa Riddle and the controversy surrounding that, as well as the public debate about Albany Chamber of Commerce Catherine Glover’s salary and its funding. The timing, which came a short time after former Welcome Center Manager Rashelle Beasley, the was promoted to interim manager for the CVB left many wondering why Gray opted for the private sector. “The time felt right for me to move on,” she said, citing more leadership opportunities and the ability to be more creative in her new position.
Called “The Turtle Lady”, Gray was worried that some in the community would be less than supportive of her move. However, that clearly hasn’t been the case. When news broke of Gray leaving, emails poured into her CVB account, all expressing their desire for Gray’s continued success. Gray’s reputation for a friendly attitude and professional excellence definitely played a key role.
In an email announcing the move obtained by The Albany Journal, Glover said:
I’m writing to you today to let you know that Liz will be leaving us soon (Nov. 4 official last day), as she has been given an opportunity to take on a new leadership role as Director of Sales & Marketing with Merry Acres Inn. As you know, Merry Acres Inn is under new ownership, and was looking for just the right person to assist them with their transition.
Liz has the talent, experience and savvy to build a marketing and sales program from the ground up.
We’ll continue to work with her as she will serve as the community liaison to Merry Acres Inn.
Please join me in wishing her the very best.
So, will Gray still be a cheerleader for Albany? “Right now, I want to focus on the new job and on building my career. Albany’s my home town, and I love my home town,” she said.
What does the future have in store for Gray, and by extension Merry Acres? To start with, her goals included helping the convention center become more competitive, work on growing the catering side of the business, and work behind the scenes to market new programs for the center. Gray opted to not discuss the programs, citing concerns that Merry Acres management wasn’t ready to go public with them at this time.
Gray, an Albany native, will hit the ground running with working on branding Merry Acres as a family owned hotel here in Albany. “We want people to think of it as an upscale, boutique hotel with southern charm,” Gray said.
The general consensus seems to be that the CVB’s loss is Merry Acres’ gain.