The Look in Brief

Visit Franklin names new President and CEO

By: - June 28, 2021 3:19 pm

Downtown Franklin. (Photo:

The board of directors for Visit Franklin, the convention and visitors bureau for Williamson County, has named Maureen Haley Thornton as president/CEO. 

Thornton replaces Ellie Westman Chin, who left the role in February to take over as president/CEO of Destination Madison in Madison, Wisconsin.

Maureen Haley Thornton (Photo: Visit Franklin)
Maureen Haley Thornton (Photo: Visit Franklin)

Andy Marshall, chair of the Visit Franklin Board and CEO of A. Marshalls Hospitality, which operates the Puckett’s Grocery restaurant chain, said Thornton’s professional background and enthusiasm for the area made her a stand out for the job.  

“Maureen had an impressive resume and multiple interviews that revealed great knowledge, innovative ideas, and passion that was exciting to the search committee,” said Marshall. “When asked what appealed to her about this opportunity, she answered in a simple way that spoke to why we all love this community. ‘I have a young daughter and when I think of where I would like to see her grow up Williamson County checks so many boxes.’ That said a lot to me personally.”

Thornton most recently served as the Vice President of Strategic Tourism Initiatives at Visit Houston in the country’s fourth largest city. 

“I could not be more excited to lead the team at Visit Franklin as we look to the future,” said Thornton. “The county already has fantastic assets and much great work has been done, creating a strong foundation to build on. To come to a place that has so much to offer both professionally and personally is an unbeatable opportunity.” 

At Visit Houston, Thornton developed and executed successful strategic tourism initiatives designed to increase leisure tourism visitation and ensure both consistency and quality of the visitor experience. During her time at Visit Houston, Thornton built and launched the Houston Experience Marketplace, a digital platform that curates and sells experiences directly to consumers, as well as the Houston Insider Program, a local ambassador program designed to help Houstonians be knowledgeable, engaged, and prepared to welcome visitors. 

Prior to joining Visit Houston, Thornton was Vice President & Regional Director within the Tourism Practice for Development Counsellors International, the industry leader in strategic destination marketing. With DCI, Thornton managed public relations, travel trade development, and marketing strategy for clients such as Visit California, Greater Williamsburg, Virginia, Visit North Carolina, and the US Virgin Islands. Additionally, she opened and grew DCI’s regional office in Toronto, Ontario.

A graduate of the University of Miami, Thornton began her career in media relations at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. She also spent time working as a marketing coordinator for a Miami area hotel and as an account executive at a pair of Miami-area public relations firms.


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.