A Regional Outlook on Hospitality & Tourism (H&T) Employment Landscape

Mayor Craft

Robert Craft
Mayor of Gulf Shores

  • Attended Auburn University majoring in Agriculture Economics – 1969 - 1974
  • 1974 founded Craft Farms (1,200 acre turf farm)
  • 1986 started Craft Farms Residential Planned Community and Golf Courses comprised of nine residential villages, two Arnold Palmer designed golf courses, a Courtyard by Marriott Hotel and Cypress Point Condominiums.
  • 2004 - Elected to Gulf Shores City Council
  • 2008 – Present – Elected as Mayor
  • Member of GUMBO – Gulf United Metro Business Organization
  • Married 42 years, two children, Mitchell and Libby.
  • Mitch and his wife Kari live in Georgia and are parents to our 6 year old grandson, Brooks.
  • Libby and her husband Cavin live in Lahaina, Hawaii and are parents to our one year old grandson
Allen Godfrey

Allen Godfrey
Executive Director
Mississippi Gaming Commission

Allen Godfrey is the Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, which is responsible for regulating the gaming industry in the State of Mississippi.  He has been with the MGC since 2003, serving as the Director of the Compliance Division, and most recently, as Deputy Director.

Allen’s twenty years of public service began at the Mississippi State Tax Commission, now known as the Department of Revenue.  While at the Tax Commission, he assisted in collecting the taxes, developing internal controls, and auditing gaming before the MGC became an independent agency in 1993.  He served as Deputy Director for the Alcohol Beverage Control division of the Tax Commission before coming to the MGC.

Tony Kennon

Tony Kennon
City of Orange Beach

Tony Kennon was elected Mayor of the City of Orange Beach on August 26, 2008. He has previously served on the Orange Beach Planning Commission and the City Council. Mayor Kennon, a native of Chickasaw, Alabama Mobile County has been coming to Orange Beach, Alabama since the 1960’s. Mayor Kennon is a graduate of the University of South Alabama with a degree in Physical Therapy and past owner of Forever Young Rehabilitation Services, now known as Encore Rehabilitation. The Mayor continues to work as a rehabilitation consultant and has a company that restores classic American muscle cars.  He is married to Paula, a graduate of Huntingdon College and University of Alabama School of Law. They have two children, Bailey and Zane. 

John Koniar

John Koniar
City of Foley

Graduated from the University of Alabama, served 4 years in the Air Force, worked 2 years for Shell Oil Company. Came to Foley in 1971 & worked 38 years for Vulcan Inc. Elected to the Foley City Council in 1980 and have served continuously ever since. Became Mayor in 2006 and currently hold that position. Married for 50 years, 3 children and six grandchildren.

Julian MacQueen

Julian MacQueen
Founder & Chief Executive Officer (Career Beginning: Busboy)
Innisfree Hotels

Julian’s hospitality career began five decades ago with a summer job as a busboy at a resort in Destin, Florida. He founded Innisfree Hotels in 1985, leaving a position as the Executive Vice President of Family Inns of America for the uncertainty of entrepreneurship.

Since then, his company has grown from a single-property operation to one of the largest hotel companies in the southern United States, with more than 2,700 rooms owned and managed, 1,500 employees and revenues of $150 million.

A charismatic leader, he inspires loyalty in his team and a company-wide commitment to outstanding customer service and hospitality. His vision, tenacity and ability to build alliances have resulted in many growth opportunities. Much of Innisfree’s success can be attributed to Julian’s mandate of fostering a workplace culture that celebrates creativity, dignity and principled corporate citizenship. Under his guidance, Innisfree adopted a ‘Triple Bottom Line’ business model – implementing an expanded spectrum of criteria for measuring success which values communities, sustainability and profit in equal measure.

Julian has been married to Kim MacQueen for four decades and they have two children, Skye and Jonathan, and two grandchildren. He’s a jet and flying boat pilot, a graduate of the University of South Alabama in Psychology and an ardent Crimson Tide fan.

  • MacQueen School of Hospitality at the University of West Florida, Founder
  • Escambia Destination Marketing Organization, Founding Chairman
  • University of South Alabama Distinguished Alumni and contributor for the MacQueen Alumni Center
  • Independence for the Blind of North West Florida, Founding Chairman and Board Member
  • Beach Community Bank, Board Member and investor
  • WICAB, a medical device that allows the blind population to see with their tongue, Founding Board Member and investor
  • Sacred Heart Hospital, Advisory Board Member
  • Institute of Human and Machine Cognition, Foundation Board Member
  • From The Ground Up Community Garden, Founder
  • THNK School of Leadership graduate
  • Tocqueville Society of United Way, member
  • Take Stock in Children, Advisory Board Member
  • The Baha’i Chair for World Peace, University of Maryland, Advisory Board Member

Past Affiliations

  • Hotel Sales and Marketing Association of Alabama, Founding Board Member
  • Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Board Member
James T. Martin

James T. Martin
Creek Indian Enterprise Development Authority

For more than three decades, James T. Martin has successfully lead public and private policy development on a national level that has enhanced the lives of American Indians and Alaskan Natives. Currently, Mr. Martin serves as President/CEO of Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority (CIEDA) and is Managing Member of OWA, a Southern Resort Destination under construction in Foley, AL. CIEDA is the economic development arm of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, a federally recognized Indian Tribe located in Atmore, AL. CIEDA is tasked with diversifying the Tribe’s business portfolio through corporate operations as well as direct and indirect investments. Mr. Martin provides executive direction to CIEDA’s eight subsidiary enterprises which includes hospitality, retail, agriculture, eco-tourism, construction management, and aerospace manufacturing. Mr. Martin is also tasked with conducting due diligence and reporting on external economic investment opportunities. Under Mr. Martin’s leadership, CIEDA has experienced a significant success rate in managing multi-faceted commercial projects throughout the Southeastern region. These projects include developing and constructing more than 470,000 sq. ft. of commercial real estate. CIEDA has successfully deployed over $450M in external investments; primarily focused on real estate, hospitality/entertainment, and technology business sectors. 

Mr. Martin has held various leadership positions at the local, state and national levels on behalf of Indian Tribes. He began his career in 1986 serving as the first Tribal Administrator for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, expanding governmental infrastructure and services from 15 employees to over 300 in less than ten years. From 1995 to 2006, he served as the Executive Director of the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET); where he advocated on behalf of twenty-three Indian Tribes at both the regional and national levels. During Mr. Martin’s tenure, USET was regarded as the leading Tribal organization for the development of national public policy affecting American Indians and Alaskan Natives. As an enrolled member of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Mr. Martin has dedicated his life to the advancement of his people.

Mayor Sandy Stimpson

Sandy Stimpson
City of Mobile

For over forty years, Sandy Stimpson has dedicated his life to leading and serving others focusing his efforts on the pillars of faith, family, and education. His successful career in the private sector and his decades of experience serving on countless boards laid the foundation for him to serve as the 108th Mayor of Mobile, Alabama.

Sandy’s mission is for Mobile to become the safest, most business and family friendly city in America by 2020. His visionary goal, known as “One Mobile,” has empowered every person to have a voice. A culture of transparency, effectiveness, and efficiency is being cultivated at City Hall, allowing each stakeholder to invest in the advancement of Mobile.  During his short time in office, the Mayor has worked hard to address issues of public safety, fiscal responsibility, downtown revitalization, and blight eradication. 

Upon graduating from the University of Alabama in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, Sandy returned to his hometown of Mobile, and began a nearly 40-year career in his family’s lumber manufacturing business. Starting at an early age, he worked his way up through virtually every position in the family business including serving as its CFO and ultimately its Executive Vice President.

Sandy’s mark on Mobile is most evident in his selfless and passionate dedication to improving education and equipping children with the life skills they need to succeed. He has been the chairman and a long serving board member of both UMS-Wright Preparatory School and Prichard Preparatory School. He is a member of the University of Alabama's President's Cabinet and a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Alabama.

Sandy's business and civic endeavors are numerous and varied. He has served on the board of the Boy’s and Girl’s Club, Alabama Wildlife Federation, Governor's Conservation Advisory Board, Partners for Environmental Progress, the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, where he served as Chair in 2009, the Business Council of Alabama, where he served as chair in 2010.

Sandy and his wife Jean have been married since 1975 and have four grown, married children and ten grandchildren. They are longtime, active members of Ashland Place United Methodist Church.