Five Questions with Joe Ward, Experience Rochester Executive Director

Joe Ward

Joe Ward joined Experience Rochester in August 2019 as the organization’s executive director. Experience Rochester oversees the operations of the Mayo Civic Center and is the official destination marketing organization for the City of Rochester. It’s currently working to synergize the Experience Rochester destination marketing team with the operations team of the Mayo Civic Center to create one cohesive and high performing team.

DMC: What path brought you to your current position with Experience Rochester?

Ward: I’ve been involved in the hospitality, special event and marketing industries for my entire career.  Most recently, I served as the Director of the Greater Saint Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau in Saint Charles, Missouri, where I also oversaw the third-party operations of the Saint Charles Convention Center.  The recent expansion and renovations of the Mayo Civic Center were very attractive as I was looking for a new career challenge.

DMC: What are some of the top priorities for the organization in the coming year?

Ward: 2020 will be a year of change for our entire organization.  Our first priority is to stabilize the organization and performance of the Mayo Civic Center.  Beginning in January, we will be contracting with industry leaders ASM Global to oversee operations and booking of the Civic Center- and Spectra Food Services to manage the food and beverage components of the Mayo Civic Center. Our guests will see those improvements manifest in increased quality and consistency of live entertainment programming, as well as improvements to the entire guest experience. We are committed to creating a more dynamic and energetic Civic Center, along with cultivating a greater sense of partnership within the entire community.

DMC: What do you feel sets Rochester apart from other cities?

Ward: It is impossible to answer this question without acknowledging the tremendous asset that Mayo Clinic is to our entire community.  When I speak to people who aren’t from Rochester, almost everyone’s first thought of Rochester is related to awareness of the Clinic’s excellence and importance to our well-being.  Along with that, there is a genuine sense of caring and empathy for others that resonates in Rochester.  Caring for others is truly part of the fabric of Rochester.  Rochester is also known as a tremendous place to live and raise a family.  My wife and I have two young sons so that element of livability was a large factor in our decision to move our family to Rochester.

DMC: Why is the Destination Medical Center initiative so important to the future of Rochester?

Ward: I believe the Destination Medical Center initiative is one of the most exciting and substantial economic development initiatives the country and is key to ensuring a diverse, vibrant, healthy and prosperous future for the City.  Our intent is to play a big role in helping grow the “D” in destination and supporting our Destination Medical Center partners in achieving all of their goals.

DMC: What advice would you give to someone thinking about building a life, starting a career, and/or raising a family in America’s City for Health?

Ward: The sky is the limit in Rochester.  Opportunity is in the air and I encourage everyone to seize the moment.