Embracing the Seasons with Visit Rochester
Rochester is known as a city that embraces its full spectrum of seasons with various events. One alumna turned her passion for events like ROC Holiday Village, Lilac Festival, and the Jazz Festival into a career with Visit Rochester, the official tourism promotion agency for Monroe County.
Meet Alicia (Fultz) Gazda ’10, the convention sales manager for Visit Rochester who celebrated five years with the agency on November 7, 2022.
“Once I got the job with Visit Rochester many of my friends were like you’re perfect for this, ‘You’re always finding these things to do that I had no idea existed or was an event happening,’” Gazda shared. “It came easy, and it doesn’t even feel like a job because I love what I do. I’m pretty lucky!”
Growing up in a small town fueled Gazda’s desire for more. She grew up in Dundee, a town about 90 minutes southeast of Rochester in the Finger Lakes region. Gazda credits the Finger Lakes region for increasing its tourism sector in recent years but recalls limited opportunities while growing up in the area.
While in high school and prior to the expansion of vineyards across the Finger Lakes Gazda worked at Seneca Lake’s first winery. She gained valuable experience in the hospitality industry at Glenora Winery’s full-service hotel. The job proved to be a career building block, but it was unknown at the time to Gazda.
After beginning her collegiate career at Tompkins County Community College and SUNY Potsdam, Gazda found herself in Rochester working at a hotel. A conversation with the hotel owner sparked an interest towards a degree in hospitality. Gazda began reviewing colleges in the Rochester area.
“I thought about going to RIT for their hospitality program but ultimately Brockport won out,” explained Gazda. “Brockport offered a similar degree at a more affordable cost.”
As she worked towards completion of her degree in Recreation & Leisure Management, Gazda earned promotions. She was first promoted into hotel management and then became a director of sales.
All the while in Rochester, Gazda was the friend and colleague people counted on to find the best upcoming events. She was like an encyclopedia for events. Out of town friends would often travel to Rochester to experience events.
“My friends from junior college would drive in and we would go out to East End Fest to check out the night life and bars,” said Gazda. “In the daytime, there was the Lilac Festival at Highland Park, the Public Market on Saturdays, and the Food Truck Rodeo events among others. I didn’t realize I could turn my own interests into a job. Now I get to bring convention attendees to Rochester and introduce them to the fun and new experiences in restaurants, attractions, events and festivals.”
Not only did Gazda turn her interests into a job, but she’s excelled while doing so. She was recognized as a member of Connect Association magazine’s “40 Under 40” in 2020.
“Some of my favorites include Jazz Festival, Fringe Festival, and I’m ecstatic about the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club next year,” Gazda exclaimed. “It excites me to see Rochester buzzing with residents and people at events, so it’s even more thrilling when you can share that with out of town visitors and convention attendees.”