Chelly Townsend has been named as the next executive director of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. Currently the DECC’s assistant executive director, she will replace Dan Russell when he retires Aug. 31.

DECC Search Committee Chair Roger Reinert said Townsend was selected after a robust regional search process that began last January.

“Working for the past six months with Cincinnatus, our Minneapolis-based executive search firm, we attracted an excellent pool of applicants from around the Midwest,” Reinert said in a news release.  “We had an excellent pool of candidates, and Chelly rose as the best choice to lead the DECC during this time of transition.”

Jeff Stark, director of venue for Bayfront Park, and Dan Hartman, director of Glensheen Mansion, were among the top three finalists.

"The board felt strongly we should go through a robust search," Reinert said.

DECC Board Chair Jay Seiler said Townsend’s hiring ensures there will be a smooth transition. 

“Thanks to the creativity, vision and savvy Dan brought as the DECC’s leader for nearly three decades, this is one of the best run convention and entertainment operations in the entire country,” he said. “Much of that success can also be attributed to Chelly, who helped lead many of the DECC’s expansions.  The DECC won’t miss a beat going forward under her leadership.”

Townsend is appreciative of the opportunity to lead the organization she has called home for the past 27 years. 

“Being chosen to lead the DECC is an extreme honor, and I thank the board for its confidence in me,” said Townsend, who has worked at the DECC in various capacities since 1990. “I also thank Dan Russell for giving me opportunities to learn the entire operation over the years. That trust, along with our already having a great team in place at the DECC, means the public will see continued momentum and the same excellent customer service it has enjoyed for years.”