Maureen Haley Thornton has served as President & CEO of Visit Franklin since July 2021.

Prior to Visit Franklin, Thornton served as the Vice President of Strategic Tourism Initiatives at Visit Houston. There she developed and executed successful strategic tourism initiatives designed to increase leisure tourism visitation and ensure both consistency and quality of the visitor experience. During her time at Visit Houston, Thornton built and launched the Houston Experience Marketplace, a digital platform that curates and sells experiences directly to consumers, as well as the Houston Insider Program, a local ambassador program designed to help Houstonians be knowledgeable, engaged, and prepared to welcome visitors. In addition to her role as Vice President at Visit Houston, Thornton serves on the board of Fresh Arts, an organization that champions local artists and creative entrepreneurs to succeed in the business of art.

Prior to joining Visit Houston, Thornton was Vice President & Regional Director within the Tourism Practice for Development Counsellors International, the industry leader in strategic destination marketing. With DCI, Thornton managed public relations, travel trade development, and marketing strategy for clients such as Visit California, Greater Williamsburg, Virginia, Visit North Carolina, and the US Virgin Islands. Additionally, she opened and grew DCI’s regional office in Toronto, Ontario.

A graduate of the University of Miami, Thornton began her career in media relations at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. She also spent time working as a marketing coordinator for a Miami area hotel and as an account executive at a pair of Miami-area public relations firms.