Gatlinburg recently honored community leaders who have shown amazing volunteer spirit and dedication to the promotion of Gatlinburg as a premier mountain destination on Monday, November 27. The Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce presented prestigious awards, including the William C. Stevens Award, Zeno Wall Jr. Tourism Award, and a Special Chamber Recognition at the annual Gatlinburg Chamber Banquet.

Kirby Smith Zeno Wall 2023

Mayor Mike Werner and Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau Directors Chair Logan Coykendall recognized Sevier County local and award-winning restaurateur, Kirby Smith with a proclamation presentation, establishing Smith as the 2023 recipient of the Zeno Wall Jr. Tourism Award. Given to those who exemplify incredible community activism, as well as dedication to the promotion of tourism in Gatlinburg, Smith received the honor for achieving those feats through a life-long devotion to Gatlinburg and Sevier County. A successful businessman, Smith owns 14 restaurants in the area, including 5 in Gatlinburg, highlighting regional cuisine for locals and visitors, alike. Smith has served the community through several different city boards including the Gatlinburg Public Building Authority, Housing Authority, Gatlinburg Planning Commission, and Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors. In 2022, Smith was sworn in as a Gatlinburg City Commissioner. Recently representing Gatlinburg in record- breaking style, Smith received Hospitality TNs 2023 Restaurateur of the Year Award. Smith is the first recipient of this award from Gatlinburg.

“We’re very proud to present Kirby Smith with the Zeno Wall Jr. Tourism Award,” says Chad Netherland, President and CEO of the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Kirby has undeniably been a pillar in supporting tourism in the city by bringing our visitors a taste of Smoky Mountain hospitality.”

William stevens award hospitality solutions group 2023

The Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce also presented the William C. Stevens Award at the night’s festivities. Given to those with patent volunteer spirit and great servitude to the community, the award was given to Hospitality Solutions Hotel Group. Representing the organization and receiving the honor was Mignonne Coykendall, Cornelia Dobbins, Kent Nelson, and Amelia Sweeney for their exemplary volunteer work and leadership of Gatlinburg’s Festival of Trees. Hospitality Solutions Hotel Group took the event under their wing in 2015, building the festival upward and ringing the holiday tradition into its 50th year, this season. Through encouragement of local business involvement and countless volunteer hours, the group has transformed the event into an instrument of goodwill for the community. Each year, the festival sets new goals to fundraise for the Boys and Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains and the Gatlinburg Chamber Foundation. Throughout the years, the festival has raised a combined total of over $400,000 dollars for these organizations.

“Hospitality Solutions Hotel Group shows amazing volunteer spirit every year as presenting sponsor of Gatlinburg’s Festival of Trees,” says Netherland. “This festival is a long-time tradition for many families in our area and brings such holiday joy while also giving back to our local community.”

Cindy Cameron Ogle award

City Manager Cindy Cameron Ogle was also honored at the event with a Special Chamber Presentation. As Gatlinburg’s longest tenured City Manager, Ogle has left a lasting footprint on the community. Ogle has been an integral part of ensuring the be4erment of Gatlinburg through creating and managing instrumental collaborations between city and its local businesses and organizations. Recognized for her vital role, Ogle was honored for her immense dedication throughout the years by leading the community through times of uncertainty, including through the 2016 Wildfires, periods of economic decline, and the COVID-19 Pandemic. With that same leadership, Ogle was honored for ensuring the flourishment of the city, following up with record-breaking visitation, welcoming visitors from across the globe to experience Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains. Serving her community through various functions, Ogle has served on the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors, numerous city and local organizations’ Board of Directors such as Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center Board of Directors and the Sevier County United Way Campaign.

Outgoing Chair Logan Coykendall was recognized and honored with a special presentation during the event for his leadership and service on the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors. The role will be assumed by Incoming Chair, Beau Massey, representing Collier Food Groups.

newly appointed directors 2023

Newly elected and newly appointed Board of Director members were announced during the banquet, as well. These include Karen Bentz with Anakeesta, Marlee Montgomery with Gatlin’s, Jackelyn Schafer with The Park Vista, Jackie Leatherwood with Greystone Lodge on the River, and Amy Overbeck with the Great Smoky Arts and Crams Community.