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Visitors bureau chooses new president

Jeff Miller takes over from Joe D'Alessandro, who took similar job in San Francisco
by: Courtesy of Portland Oregon Visitors Association, Jeff Miller

The Portland Oregon Visitors Association has chosen a new president and chief executive officer, the organization announced Tuesday.

The new leader is Jeff Miller, who currently works as general manager of the Metropolitan Exposition Recreation Commission (MERC), the agency responsible for managing several of the area's largest public venues, including the Oregon Convention Center, the Portland Center for the Performing Arts and the Portland Metropolitan Exposition Center.

Miller, 47, of Southwest Portland, will begin his post Nov. 13 and succeed Joe D'Alessandro, who was appointed president and CEO of the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau in July.

POVA spokeswoman Deborah Wakefield said Miller was chosen after a national search firm reviewed applicants from all over the country. 'He already knows the city, the convention business, the venues inside and out,' she said. 'And he's a really nice guy.'

As head of POVA, Miller will lead the nonprofit agency's business plan as well as be the public face of Portland.

POVA, the state's largest 'destination marketing organization,' has a staff of 50 full-time employees and an annual budget of nearly $8 million. Its mission is to boost the region's economy by positioning the area as a preferred destination for meetings, conventions and leisure travel.

Before joining MERC in February 2005, Miller was a retail executive of 20 years, including 13 as general manager of Saks Fifth Avenue in Portland.

He's also worked with the Portland Business Alliance and a seat on the advisory board for the Cascade AIDS Project.

 'As the general manager of MERC, Jeff was one of our primary partners in booking citywide convention business for Portland,' said Carol J. Lentz, executive vice president of services and operations and POVA's interim president. 'He knows the region, he knows what meeting planners are looking for, and he certainly knows our venues. He's going to be a great fit.'