Brigitte Bélanger-Warner, City of Charlottesville
Brigitte Bélanger-Warner, Director of Sales and Marketing, Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau
Where were you born (and raised, if different)?
I was born and raised in a small town called Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts in Québec, Canada (one hour north of Montreal in the Laurentian mountains).
When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?
My family and I moved to the Charlottesville area in August 2006 because we were seeking a family-friendly community to raise our son. Charlottesville was a much needed change from where we lived at the time: Las Vegas, NV!
What neighborhood do you live in now?
We live in the Lake Monticello community, in Fluvanna County.
What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?
I graduated in 1991 at Ottawa University (Ontario, Canada) with a bachelor`s degree in communications.
Family (spouse, kids, etc.)?
My husband, Steven Warner, is Technical Director and Lecturer at the Drama Department, and my son, Alexandre, will turn 10 in early February!
What were you doing before you came to work for the county?
I have a quite diverse professional background. I worked in television and public radio for eight years after graduation. Then in 1997, I joined the internationally-renowned entertainment company Cirque du Soleil as the Publicist at their headquarters in Montréal, Québec. After three years, I relocated to Las Vegas, NV to be the publicist for the Cirque du Soleil water-based show ‘O’ at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino. I stayed with the company for a total of ten wonderful years. When I moved to the Charlottesville area, I worked for a while at Oil & Vinegar at the Barracks Road shopping center before being hired as the Director of Sales & Marketing at The Clifton Inn, where I stayed for over three years. I joined the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau in August 2011.
Your job title is Director of Sales and Marketing for Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau- what, in your own words, would you say you do?
I see myself as an ambassador for our area, as I educate tour operators, meeting planners and journalists about our beautiful area. The goal is always to increase visitation to Charlottesville and Albemarle County. It is a fascinating job, as we have such a beautiful area to promote!
What is the best part of your job? The most difficult part?
The best part of my job is that I get to talk about the area where I live (and that I love!) to everyone who will listen. I meet amazing people and feel privileged to be part of the tourism industry, where everyone is so passionate, work together and help each other. The most difficult part is trying to help folks who need large hotel room blocks on dates when there are no hotel rooms available (this happens mainly in the Spring and Fall, when events and weddings are at their peak!)
How does your job most directly impact the average person?
Tourism to our area means a significant economic impact and influx of money, which contributes to a better quality of life for all residents.
What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the county?
The re-branding of Visit Charlottesville, which was done in collaboration with our agency Payne, Ross & Associates, was a fascinating process and we could not be happier with the results. I feel it really conveys a positive, dynamic image of Charlottesville and Albemarle County, and it is there for all our tourism partners to enjoy and use, to strengthen our destination`s identity.
What is a little-known fact about you?
I am a certified Zumba instructor and have been teaching for the past 6 years – I love it, as it brings balance to my life. Also, as part of my publicist job with Cirque du Soleil, I got to meet and hang out with a large number of celebrities such as Paul McCartney & George Harrison, Peter Gabriel, Mike Myers, Demi Moore, and Nicholas Cage to only name a few.
What do you do outside of work hours – hobbies, etc.?
Other than teaching Zumba, I run and practice yoga. I also love to cook and bake, play Rock Band, build Legos with my son and go hiking with my family along the trails of Albemarle County.