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Meeting Leaders: Jacqueline Grena

Executive Profile

Name: Jacqueline Grena

Title: Meeting and Convention Sales Manager

Organization: Greater Zion Convention and Tourist Office

Location: St. George, Utah

Birthplace: Mansfield, Texas

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration from Utah State University

Career History

Catering manager, Copper Mill Restaurant (2013-15)

Conference registration coordinator at Utah State University (2015-16)

Venue coordinator, Logan Steakhouse and Four Seasons Event Center (2016-17)

Greater Zion CVB (2018-present)

Jacqueline Grena credits her mom with inspiring her to become an event planner. 

When Grena was still in high school, she worked on a project where she had to highlight her strengths and how they related to a possible career, but like many young people, she couldn’t quite see what her strengths were. 

“All of my friends knew what they wanted to do. I had a friend whose dad was a dentist and she wanted to be a dentist. Another friend who was really good at math wanted to be a statistician. I didn’t feel like there was anything that I was really good at in that way, but my mom was the one that said, ‘You’re really good at organizing people and bringing them together,’” said Grena. “I didn’t know I could make a career out of that kind of thing — I didn’t know that event planning existed.”

Grena grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area but looked to Utah for college, where her mother had family and tuition was more affordable. Attending Utah State University in Logan, Grena decided that coordinating events was something she wanted to pursue. She majored in business, and her college job was the perfect complement to her studies. Grena worked as the catering manager at a local restaurant and then at the university itself as the conference registration coordinator, a role that required managing all aspects of conference registration plus planning, organizing and coordinating meetings and other events, both on and off campus.

“During my last semester before I graduated, I was doing full-time school and working full time as a venue coordinator for a couple of different facilities,” said Grena. “I then worked briefly as a meeting planner, and that was the first experience I had sourcing destinations, hotels and venues, before the company went under.”

Grena used the downtime between positions to think about all the skills she had developed in those other roles, when her uncle, who works for Saint George City, sent her the job posting for the position at Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office.

Grena said one of her biggest strengths is her natural affinity for logistics — which makes her great at planning all the details for an event. 

“I like figuring out all the puzzle pieces to make timelines work, and I love bringing those visions to life for my clients on the logistics side of things,” she said. “It’s exhilarating to me to see all the work that leads up to an experience, then go to the destination and be there and experience it right alongside the attendees.”

While she’s busy planning events coordinated through the CTO by day, she has launched her own event-planning company that focuses on weddings, reunions, birthdays and other events where her expertise and familiarity with the local scene are a huge advantage.

“Each experience has been so valuable in its own way, and I’ve learned something new from each job that helped my desire to want to be an event planner,” she said. “My current job checked all the boxes of everything I was looking for — being involved in events that touch people citywide, being able to use my skills with logistics to create incredible experiences for these planners. This was really just really where I was meant to be.”

Tips from Jacqueline Grena

• Embrace the local experiences available in the destination by building relationships early with your DMO partners and communicate your priorities. 

• Do the things that make you smile! We all do better work when we love what we do.

For those interested in working for a DMO/CVB, go out and explore the destination — you can’t sell it if you don’t know and love the area you’re in.