FRANKLIN, Tenn. –  Lauren Ward has been promoted to Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Visit Franklin, while Nate Gaw was named Senior Sales Manager and Matthew Maxey, Associate Director of Public Relations. Ward will continue leading the marketing and communications efforts of Visit Franklin, in addition to overseeing the overall strategy and management of the Visitor Center and assisting the President & CEO with Visit Franklin’s governance.

“Lauren is an integral part of the Visit Franklin staff and has become a trusted voice throughout not just Williamson County with our partners; but in the tourism industry as a whole,” said Ellie Westman Chin. “She has guided our marketing efforts to new heights and provided invaluable counsel to the Visit Franklin organization as a whole. I look forward to seeing her continued visions for our marketing efforts, Visitor Center, and Visit Franklin going forward.

Since joining Visit Franklin in June of 2017, Ward has overseen wildly successful marketing campaigns, marketing partnerships with partners such as Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival, a refresh of the Visit Franklin branding, and a broadening of the brand’s reach across multiple digital platforms. Those marketing efforts have contributed significantly to the record numbers of visitation to Williamson County and the economic impact on the county as a result of increased tourism. 

Since joining Visit Franklin in 2015, Gaw has worked within both the youth and amateur sports, and the domestic tour and travel markets, increasing visitation and bookings from both year-over-year. In the youth and amateur sports market, Gaw has increased tournament bookings in Williamson County over 40 percent. Gaw will continue working with the youth and amateur sports market, in addition to expanding Visit Franklin’s presence in the international tour and travel market.

Maxey has been with Visit Franklin since 2016, and in that time he has earned media attention for Visit Franklin and attractions across Williamson County in countless regional, national, and international publications. Some of the attention garnered includes getting Franklin featured in publications like Travel + Leisure, Daily Mail, Southern Living, and several others. In all, Maxey has helped expand Visit Franklin’s annual media reach to an excess of 3 billion media impressions annually. In his expanded role, Maxey will continue to pursue national media attention for Visit Franklin and its partners across the county. He will also direct Visit Franklin’s content strategy both with its blog and outside influencers, along with taking on an expanded role supporting the President & CEO with advocacy and public affairs. 

“Both Nate and Matt have done tremendous work for Visit Franklin,” added Westman Chin. “Nate has become the face of youth and amateur sports for Williamson County to tournament planners across the country, so much so that we are having to turn away almost as much tournament business as we are bringing in because of how well he represents the county. Matt has done a tremendous job building relationships with media across the country and the globe, and his passion for matching the incredible stories we have in our community with great storytellers has really shown with the media coverage he’s garnered. I’m excited to see both Nate and Matt use these talents in their expanded roles as well.”

 Visit Franklin is the public brand name of the Williamson County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Visit Franklin is the official destination marketing organization for Franklin and the unique communities of Williamson County, Tennessee. Visit Franklin stimulates economic growth through the promotion of travel and tourism assets such as history, music, attractions, entertainment, the arts, and events to visitors from around the world. For information on Franklin and Williamson County, visit us on the web at



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Matt is the guy who is always ready to share a story with you.

With a passion for new experiences, taking the back roads, and seeing everything possible, Matt serves as Visit Franklin's Senior Director of Public Relations connecting the many unique stories in the Franklin community with great journalists and storytellers worldwide. When not pitching a story idea to travel writers, you’ll likely find him working as a photographer on the sidelines of college and professional sports events across the Southeast.