April 2017

Visit Florida Hires CFO Amid Budget Uncertainty


Visit Florida hired Cynthia Hefren as its new Chief Financial Officer (CFO), a position that will be of significance in coming months as the Florida House and State Senate continue budget negotiations.

Florida’s State Senate included $76 million in its budget proposal for Visit Florida for the upcoming fiscal year, which matched the original amount requested by Gov. Rick Scott*, who has been an advocate for the DMO.

Prior to the State Senate’s budget proposal, the Florida House of Representatives voted to cut Visit Florida’s annual budget by 67 percent, bringing its proposed total budget down to $25 million.

Visit Florida has been under scrutiny ever since a controversial $1 million marketing contract with Pitbull was released to the public via social media, which resulted in the departures of its CEO, CMO and CFO.

Ken Lawson took over the role of CEO (with a lower salary) in January and has been working alongside U.S. Travel and other industry organizations to promote the value of the statewide marketing organization.

Hefren officially started working as Visit Florida’s CFO on Monday, April 10. According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, she previously served as assistant state audit supervisor for the North Carolina Office of the State Auditor and has more than 25 years of experience in managing and leading audits.

Hefren is a certified internal auditor and certified information systems auditor.

*Editor's Note: On Tuesday, April 18, Florida Gov. Rick Scott called on the Florida Legislature to add another $24 million in funding for Visit Florida, beyond the $76 million proposed by the State Senate, which would bring total funding for the DMO to $100 million if that amount was approved. More information is available via the Miami Herald.

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