Launch - Movers and Shakers - March 2019


Robert Ripley in 1948 (Credit: Ripley Entertainment)

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Turns 100

One of the most recognized names in the attractions industry, Ripley Entertainment, recently celebrated the milestone event that launched the company into the mainstream. On Dec. 19, 1918, Ripley progenitor Robert Ripley’s first newspaper cartoon appeared when he was working as a sports cartoonist. On a slow news day, he decided to pull together some of his old cartoons of unusual sports feats that hadn’t been previously published. The nine-panel strip ran under the title “Champs and Chumps,” but when the next such cartoon ran, it carried the now-famous title “Believe It or Not.” It’s still published today as one of the world’s longest-running syndicated cartoon series. Ripley Entertainment is now a multibillion-dollar company operating more than 100 attractions worldwide.


Space Center Houston Names New Vice President

As Space Center Houston spends 2019 celebrating the 50th anniversary of landing on the moon, the center has named Richard E. Glover Jr. as its vice president of communications and marketing, where he will be responsible for the center’s overall communications strategy, public relations, marketing, website, social media, and crisis communications. Bringing more than 25 years of communications and marketing experience, Glover served as vice president of marketing, communications, and external affairs for The Florida Aquarium and as chief marketing officer for the Texas State Aquarium.


Zoo Knoxville President Joins AZA Board

Lisa New, the president and CEO of Zoo Knoxville, was elected to serve on the 13-member national board of directors for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). AZA represents 233 accredited zoos and aquariums across the United States. As a board member, New will be responsible for implementing a strategic plan encompassing leadership in animal welfare, conservation of endangered species, and a sustainable financial plan for the organization. New’s career began in 1990 as a zookeeper at Zoo Knoxville, and in May 2013, she was chosen as president and CEO. With New at the helm, the zoo launched a new brand and broke attendance records for four straight years.


Two Executive Promotions at AVS

AVS Companies—a distributor of amusement, gaming, and vending equipment—has announced two promotions in its executive staff. Controller Michelle Lopez is AVS Companies’ new chief financial officer (CFO), and Dallas general manager Tony Costa is now director of sales and operations—Texas. AVS says Lopez has developed, implemented, and revised a number of financial policies and procedures and will continue to pursue these initiatives as CFO. Costa, with 19 years in the Dallas office working for H.A. Franz (before it was acquired by AVS) and now AVS, will continue to be responsible for vending sales and operations in Dallas, as well as day-to-day operations at the AVS Houston office.


Alex Couzins

Global LED display manufacturer Absen has strengthened its European operations with the appointment of Alex Couzins to the newly created position of head of brand and marketing for Europe. Absen says the move underlines its commitment to the region, where Couzins will boost brand marketing and support the company’s value-added partners. He joins Absen from systems integrator AVMI and will be based in London, with frequent travel to Absen’s global headquarters in Shenzhen, China, and European subsidiary in Rüsselsheim, Germany, near Frankfurt.


Kaywin Feldman

The board of trustees of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. has named Kaywin Feldman as the museum’s next director. On March 11, 2019, she will succeed Earl A. Powell III, who has served as director since 1992. Feldman is the first woman named as the museum’s director in its 77-year history. She has been president of the Minneapolis Institute of Art since 2008, is a past president of the Association of Art Museum Directors, and past chair of the American Alliance of Museums. The National Gallery of Art notes that Feldman is a champion of digital technology and is a frequent speaker on reinventing museums for the 21st century.


Michael Turner

Michael Turner has joined The Producers Group (TPG) as vice president of global business development. He’ll be responsible for TPG’s global strategic planning and business development and will be instrumental in the continued growth of the TPG global offices in Shanghai, Dubai, and Orlando. He will work out of the company’s newly opened Orlando office. TPG says Turner will be key to the company’s growth in emerging markets of the attractions industry. Most recently, Turner was executive vice president, global business development, at CAVU Designwerks. Prior to that, he spent seven years at Neptune-Benson and more than 18 years at Gateway Ticketing Systems.