The Salem News included William Smith alum Kate Fox ’92 among its “North Shore 100.” Fox is the executive director of Destination Salem, a nonprofit organization that promotes tourism in the Salem, Mass., region.
“Kate is amazing,” the article quotes Tina Jordan, director of the Salem Witch Museum and a Destination Salem board member. “She manages to take limited funds and really puts Salem on the forefront domestically and internationally.”
Fox earned a B.A. in English from William Smith. The full “North Shore 100” profile of her follows.
The Salem News
North Shore 100 Profile: Kate Fox, Destination Salem
“Markets the Witch City to the World”
Amanda McGregor, Staff Writer 2010
It’s fitting that Kate Fox’s first visit to Salem was as a tourist, in the 1990s, when she and her husband heard that a replica of the 18th-century vessel Friendship was sailing into port.
Little did Fox know then, she would one day become a driving force behind tourism in Salem.
Whether she is assisting television producers, blogging about local events, or working to put out 300,000 copies of the annual Salem visitors guide, Fox’s job as executive director of Destination Salem is to ensure the city’s tourist offerings are well-marketed to the 800,000 annual visitors.
Fox deals with everyone – from international tour operators to local psychics, museums and restaurateurs – and she says no two days are ever the same.
“It’s a fun place to market and promote and work,” Fox said.
Destination Salem is a nonprofit entity with a board of directors. It is funded by a portion of Salem’s local option hotel/motel tax and the ad revenue from the visitor guides, for a total budget of $250,000.
“Kate is amazing,” said Tina Jordan, director of the Salem Witch Museum and a Destination Salem board member. “She manages to take limited funds and really puts Salem on the forefront domestically and internationally.”
Destination Salem also operates the city’s popular tourism Web sites: Salem.org and HauntedHappenings.org, where Fox updates visitors on events and continuously blogs and tweets.
“She’s one of the most innovative people I know when it comes to social media,” Jordan said.
Fox was hired at Destination Salem in 1998 after she and her husband relocated from Colorado. She left in 2002 to work as director of Heritage Development at the Essex National Heritage Commission, but Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll courted her back in 2007.
“The organization was really faltering,” said Fox, 39, “so Mayor Driscoll got stakeholders together, and she was committing city funding – and city support is crucial.”
Considering all Destination Salem does, it’s a remarkable feat, because Fox isn’t just the face of Destination Salem – she is Destination Salem.
“It’s just me and (project assistant) Stacia Cooper, who is part time,” Fox said from her office, which is nestled into an attic room of City Hall with sloped ceilings and some peeling paint, which she jokingly referred to as “our executive suite.”
Fox said she works hard to be fair to local attractions, big and small, and to balance the promotion of witchcraft hysteria, costumes and haunted houses with the city’s intellectual history and its cultural and architectural offerings and food.
“I think she has unified Salem,” Jordan said. “She is very, very fair.”
She and her husband, matt, who is principal of the Hamilton-Wenham middle and high schools, live in Beverly with their sons, George, 9, and Nick, 6.
She never set out to be the marketer of the “Witch City,” but in retrospect, maybe it was meant to be.
“I graduated in 1992 from William Smith College with a degree in English literature and religious studies,” she said. “With the literary history and the different religious diversity, could I be anywhere more perfect than Salem?”