NASHVILLE – Long-time leader of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp Butch Spyridon, who guided Nashville into a top global destination, will retire from the organization on June 30, 2023, after 32 years as its top executive. Deana Ivey, who currently holds the title of President, will be promoted to President and CEO on July 1, 2023.
“It is hard to imagine anyone else who has shaped Nashville’s growth and success as much as Butch, from branding it as Music City to making it attractive to professional sports teams and corporate relocations to elevating the quality of life by drawing world-class events, restaurants, retail and hotels,” said Kevin P. Lavender, head of commercial banking at Fifth Third Bank, who serves as chairman of the NCVC Board of Directors. “I particularly appreciate how Butch has intentionally supported Nashville’s diversity throughout his tenure, both marketing our cultural assets to visitors and in voluntarily assisting community groups and projects. Two prime examples are Butch serving as a founding board member of the National Museum of African American Music and continuing more than 20 years in the role until completion and also ensuring that the Fisk Jubilee Singers were presented as the foundation of the Music City story. Butch has nurtured the city’s creative culture, preserved the authenticity of our music brand and worked every day to make Nashville a better version of itself. We should all be eternally grateful to the legacy he will leave behind.”
Spyridon has led the organization since 1991 and has held the dual title of President and CEO since 2003. The 22-member NCVC board of directors developed a long-term strategic succession plan several years ago to prepare for Spyridon’s retirement, including Ivey’s transition into the CEO role. Ivey, who has been with the NCVC for 25 years, was promoted to President in January of 2022 and previously served as Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer.
“We are proud of the succession plan that will allow for a seamless transition in leadership so that the NCVC staff can continue their great work bringing visitors to Nashville and our city’s hospitality industry continues its upward momentum,” Lavender said.
On July 1, 2023, Spyridon will transition into a role as a strategic consultant to the NCVC under a two-year consulting contract, including efforts to recruit major global events, including Rugby World Cup, and additional nonstop international flights to Nashville International Airport. If an enclosed stadium is approved, his work would also include bidding on a Super Bowl and other premier events and bringing WrestleMania to Nissan Stadium.
“I cannot be more grateful to Nashville for the honor of being part of this community that has given me so much, from my college degree at Vanderbilt to meeting my wife to leading this extraordinary organization,” Spyridon said. “As I begin to reflect on my tenure, without question, my greatest professional accomplishment is the team we have assembled at the NCVC. They are second to none. I will treasure every moment as we work together these next six months. And anyone who knows me knows I won’t be slowing down.”
Under Spyridon’s leadership and with Ivey as his right hand for 25 years, Nashville’s tourism industry has grown into an $8.8 billion juggernaut, and Davidson County typically represents 30 percent of all visitor spending in Tennessee. The city has been named a top destination in the world by major travel outlets for the past 12 years. Spyridon has served alongside the past six Nashville mayors on nearly every major economic development project the city has seen.
“I am honored and humbled that I will be stepping into this new role this summer,” Ivey said. “Everyone knows Butch has big shoes to fill, and I appreciate the faith the Board and Butch have placed in me. I look forward to continuing the work of the NCVC and the hospitality industry as we sell and market the best destination in the world.”
Spyridon has led the city’s hospitality industry through the closure of a theme park, a major flood, a recession, tornadoes and the COVID pandemic. As a testament to his leadership and the resilience of the industry he oversees, the hospitality industry continues to shatter tourism records and generate record levels of economic activity for the city with the most hotel room nights ever sold in a single year at 9.5 million room nights in 2022.
Under his leadership, the NCVC developed Nashville as both a leisure and convention destination, with the city ranked as the top sixth meetings destination in the United States. Spyridon spearheaded development of the Music City Center as a demand generator and created a major events strategy to bring visitors to the city.
Spyridon was instrumental in recruiting the city’s professional sports teams and construction of Bridgestone Arena, Nissan Stadium and GEODIS Park. He was the city’s point person in recruiting and hosting the 2019 NFL Draft – the most successful Draft in NFL history and the most successful one-day event in Nashville history. He also was the mastermind behind Nashville making the short list for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, the largest sporting event in the world, and in bringing the British Airways nonstop London flight to Nashville in 2018, just as he did in 1994 when American Airlines launched the same route. Recently, he led renovation and preservation efforts of Elks Lodge. No. 1102, the former home of the storied Club Baron on historic Jefferson Street.
Spyridon with Ivey created and produced successful large annual concert events to market the city, including Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4 and New Year’s Eve in Nashville. They co-produced and helped lead creation of two award-winning Nashville documentaries: For the Love of Music: The Story of Nashville and It All Begins With A Song.
Spyridon served on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Travel Association and as past Chair of Destinations International. He was named to the prestigious Hall of Leaders by the Events Industry Council’s 2022 Global Awards. Hall of Leaders is considered a lifetime achievement award in the industry. He was recently named in the Top 100 Most Influential People in the Event Industry 2022. Raised in Pascagoula, Miss., Spyridon graduated from Vanderbilt University. He is a graduate of the Institute of Comparative Political and Economic Systems at Georgetown University. He and his wife, Sunny, have four children and five grandchildren.
Ivey has received the Nashville Business Journal Women in Music award and the Women in Business award by Nashville Lifestyles. She is a board member of the Tennessee Hospitality Association, Academy of Country Music, Cheekwood Estate & Gardens and Rhythms of the South Corporation. Ivey was a member of the 2015 Leadership Music class. During the pandemic, Ivey was a key member of the Mayor’s Hospitality Committee advocating on behalf of the tourism industry and led creation of the Good to Go health and safety program. She has served as an adjunct professor at Belmont University. Before her work in Nashville, Ivey had prior CEO-level experience leading the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce, having served the tourism industry for ten years in both Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tenn. She is a graduate of Western Kentucky University and has completed master’s work at the University of Tennessee and Western Kentucky. She and her husband Brian have a college-age son.
The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp and Visit Music City
The mission of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp and Visit Music City is to maximize the economic contribution of the convention and tourism industry to the community by developing and marketing Nashville as a premier destination. Visit the NCVC’s website at www.visitmusiccity.com and follow us on social media @VisitMusicCity.