A 29-year veteran of the Irving CVB, Maura was named executive director in October 2003. A leading business travel destination, Irving is home to the world headquarters of ExxonMobil, Kimberly-Clark, Flowserve and Fluor, among others. She led the team that delivered the on-time, under-budget and architecturally distinctive Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas, and has oversight of its day-to-day operations, averaging 250 events per year. The second anchor of Irving’s visitor district, the Toyota Music Factory, includes the Live Nation Pavilion and an Alamo Drafthouse Theater, as well as a dozen other restaurants. The third and final anchor, the 350-room Westin Irving Convention Center Hotel, opened in March 2019.
Maura is a former chair of Destinations International, and currently chairs its Destination Marketing Accreditation Program board. She recently completed a three-year term as the first chair of the Certified Destination Management Executive program, and championed and led the recent debut of the program’s first Elective in Economic Development. She also serves on the DestinationNEXT task force and is a DestinationNEXT facilitator. She has earned the designation of Fellow, Certified Destination Management Executive (FCDME).
On the industry’s behalf, she’s worked to weave economic development strategy with community planning tenets, along with solid destination sales and marketing, in order to enhance the standing of CVBs in their community. Maura’s “Building Blocks” have been used by many to build the case for support and investment in destination development, and the should-be-vital role of tourism in any community’s economic health strategies. “Build a place where people want to visit, and you’ll build a place where people want to live. Build a place where people want to live, and you’ll build a place where people want to work. Build a place where people want to work, and you’ll build a place where business has to be. Build a place where business has to be, and you’ll build a place where people have to visit. It all starts with the visit, and the visit starts with us.”
In 2016, she was recognized by the Dallas Business Journal in its inaugural Women In Tourism Awards. In 2015, she was honored with the La Cima Legacy Award for her contributions to the Irving community. Maura also has been named as a “Meetings Trendsetter” by MeetingsFocus Magazine, and a “Top 25 Extraordinary Mind” by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International. She is the recipient of an Irving Schools Foundation Fellow, and in 2017 was recognized by the NAACP Irving-Carrollton Branch with the Fletcher Yates Community Service Award.
Back home in Irving, she is a key part of the Irving Economic Development Partnership. she serves on boards for the Heritage Society, Rotary, La Cima Club, Irving Salvation Army and Chamber of Commerce. She is a past chair of the Dallas Advertising League/AAF-Dallas.
Before joining the hospitality industry, Gast spent time in the retail and newspaper worlds, in a variety of sales, marketing and event management roles; she is also a recovering meeting professional. She is a graduate of St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.