Personality: Angela Kelly-Wiecek

Spotlight on board chair of Richmond Region Tourism

9/7/2023, 6 p.m.
It’s easy to tell Angela Kelly- Wiecek loves the Richmond region. The Hanover County resident was born in Petersburg and …

It’s easy to tell Angela Kelly- Wiecek loves the Richmond region.

The Hanover County resident was born in Petersburg and lived for a time in Chesterfield as a teen. She also has served as the Chickahominy District Representative on the Hanover County Board of Supervisors since 2011.

Those combined experiences, including her current role as board chair for Richmond Region Tourism, have provided what Ms. Kelly-Wiecek describes as a “regional perspective.”

Richmond Region Tourism’s footprint covers Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico and New Kent counties, along with the cities of Richmond and Colonial Heights and the town of Ashland.

“With world-class dining options, entertainment venues, rich history, vibrant outdoor recreation and inclusive attractions, the Richmond Region speaks for itself in many ways,” she said. A highlight for her includes attending festivals with her husband of 23 years, Paul Wiecek, and their son, Stephen, currently in his third year at the University of Virginia.

Among the fall events that earn her recommendation are AutumnFest at the Hanover Tavern, the Richmond Folk Festival in Downtown Richmond and the Maymont Oktoberfest in Maymont Park. Ms. Kelly-Wiecek further suggests steering youngsters to AutumnFest to watch trains come through town, or dining in Shockoe Bottom or on the riverfront during the Richmond Folk Festival.

If Ms. Kelly-Wiecek sounds like a cheerleader for Richmond Region Tourism, she is. The organization began in 1983 to promote tourism, attract visitors and ensure them memorable experiences. RRT also supports and showcases the region’s assets to local residents as well.

One way the nonprofit does this is through their I Am Tourism program.

“Whether you are new to our region or have been here all your life, this free program equips participants with everything they need to know about the region’s top attractions and historical spaces,” Ms. Kelly-Wiecek said. “I would love for everyone to become an I Am Tourism ambassador.”

There is always plenty to learn and new places to visit, she added. She currently lists exploring local wineries at the top of her to-do list. In May, her visit to two such wineries in New Kent was a Mother’s Day treat from her son.

“My goal is to visit the remaining ones,” Ms. Kelly-Wiecek says. “Although we keep adding wineries in our region, so it might take a while!”

Along with her new board post, Ms. Kelly-Wiecek said her mission is to “put more into this world than I take out of it.” It is a mindset she developed by watching her parents earlier in life.

“I learned that you should always contribute to the community around you,” Ms. Kelly-Wiecek said. “Not only will you help others, but you will help yourself in the process.

Meet a proponent of enriching the cultural lives of Richmonders and visitors and this week’s Personality, Angela Kelly-Wiecek:

Volunteer position: Chair, Richmond Region Tourism.

Occupation: This is my 12th and final year as the Chickahominy District Representative on the Hanover County Board of Supervisors.

Place of birth: Petersburg.

Where I live now: Hanover County.

Education: Associates degree in science from Richard Bland College of the College of William and Mary, bachelor’s in business administration from Averette University.

Family: Husband, Paul and one son, Stephen.

Richmond Region Tourism is: The region’s destination organization helping enrich the lives of residents and visitors by sharing the unique culture and humanity that is the Richmond Region. We generate economic prosperity through tourism by attracting conventions, meetings, sports tournaments, and visitors, all while ensuring everyone has an unforgettable experience.

Mission: Our mission is to share a passion for the Richmond region with the world.

How I became involved with RRT: Hanover is a proud partner and participant in Richmond Re- gion Tourism, and I am honored to represent our citizenry as we showcase all the amazing assets of our region.

No. 1 goal or project: Our new Tourism Improvement District is really exciting and went into effect on July 1, 2023. We are particularly proud of how the Richmond Region approved the TID with tremendous support from hotel owners and stakeholders. It will generate as much as $8.2 million annually to support the promotion of the region as a leisure, conference and sports tourism destination and provide the resources to compete aggressively with other comparable markets around the country.

No. 1 challenge facing RRT: One challenge (and opportunity) ahead of the region is a headquarter hotel. We need a Downtown headquarter hotel to provide more guest rooms for visitors to stay. This will allow the region to compete for larger conventions.

In partnership with the Greater Richmond Convention Center Authority, the City of Richmond Economic Development Authority is currently evaluating proposals from finalists to redevelop City Center, which would include the headquarter hotel.

Proudest moment of RRT: I’m exceedingly proud of how we were able to use our strategic reserves during (the height of) COVID-19. We were able to retain our staff, be creative in supporting and promoting safe and outdoor based activities in the region, and have fully recovered! In fact, we set records this spring surpassing our previous high-water marks for RevPAR (revenue per available room night).

How RRT is funded: Richmond Region Tourism’s primary funding comes from a tax (transient lodging tax) that hotel guests pay on lodging. We are also partially funded by the Greater Richmond Convention Center Authority (GRCCA), local partners and sponsors.

Top three must-see places to visit in the Richmond Region: We have outstanding places and activities for active living enthusiasts like Pocahontas State Park, we have museums large and small and for every area of interest – Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Science Museum, The Children’s Museum of Richmond, the Hanover Museum of History and Culture and the Keystone Antique Truck & Tractor Museum in Colonial Heights.

A hidden gem to many might be: Historic Pole Green Church – this is really a beautiful and peaceful place to visit and reflect on how so much of the history of our nation began right here in Virginia.

Why Richmond Region Tourism knows inclusivity of all cultures is important: Richmond Region Tourism prioritizes diversity and inclusion throughout all its efforts and demonstrates its commitment through two programs: BLK RVA and Out-RVA. The organization launched BLK RVA with local community leaders in 2019 to celebrate the region’s Black community, businesses and culture. Visitor data from Longwoods International reveals travel by African-Americans to the Richmond Region is 27%, which is 12% higher compared to the national average. OutRVA is a program of Richmond Region Tourism promoting LGBTQ tourism in partnership with community members and organizations.

Upcoming events: The Richmond Region Open takes place on Monday, Sept. 18 at Magnolia Green Golf Club. This signature event for the Richmond Region Tourism Foundation funds four annual hospitality scholarships, local education, DEIA initiatives and programs, and local sports tourism grant programs. Register before Sept. 8 to reserve your spot.

How I start the day: I try to start each day with focus and optimism (and lots of caffeine). I always have a list of “must do’s” and “hope to do’s.”

Three words that best describe me: I’m going with vivacious, compassionate and optimistic.

If I had 10 extra minutes in the day: Ideally, I would spend 10 minutes meditating. But the reality is that it would probably be taken up with an extra phone call – I make and take A LOT of phone calls given the many regional boards where I represent Hanover.

If I hosted a dream dinner party, my one special guest would be: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She has such a compelling personal story. Her grace under pressure, her confidence, and her accomplishments are something I admire.

Best late-night snack: Specialty cheese (probably from The Caboose in Ashland) or dark chocolate!

Book that influenced me the most: “Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser. Reading this book, changed the way I thought about food and nutrition and made me a real advocate for locally owned restaurants.

What I’m reading now: “Choosing to Run” by Des Linden. I’ve always loved biographies because you get insight into other people’s thought processes and perspectives.

Next goal: After 12 years in local government, I’ve had a great opportunity to see the many needs of our community and the region. So in all aspects, I am focused on finding the next way to serve my community and put more into this world than I take out of it!