Visit Laguna Beach names Joanna Bear as new board chair

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Joanna Bear, Surf & Sand Resort general manager, has taken the helm as Visit Laguna Beach’s new chair of the board. Photo courtesy of Visit Laguna Beach

Visit Laguna Beach has named Joanna Bear, General Manager at Surf & Sand Resort, as its board chair, effective immediately. 

In this role, Bear, a Visit Laguna board member since 2013, will oversee Visit Laguna’s tourism efforts.

“I’m honored to take on the role of chair of the board and look forward to sharing our Laguna Beach story and continuing to shine a spotlight on a destination I’m so passionate about,” Joanna Bear, Surf & Sand Resort general manager said. “This year will bring exciting enhancements along with the return of long-standing events, creating must-visit moments for visitors.” 

Bear joined JC Resorts in 2003 on the rooms operations team at Surf & Sand Resort and became general manager in 2010. She is responsible for all resort operations, financial performance, recruiting and retention, property programming (including outlets, food and beverage, retail, and spa), banquets and catering, commercial strategy, guest experience and employee culture.

Bear graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s in business. Soon after, she began her career in hospitality at the Buttes, a Carefree Resort in Tempe, Ariz. While there, she managed the property through the transition from Carefree to a Wyndham hotel. Afterward, she helped open Copperwynd Resort & Club, where she built the property team, installed the property management system, and created all employee standard operating procedures.

Bear has had a seat on the executive team for the board of directors of Visit Laguna Beach since 2013 and currently serves as chair. She also sat on the Government Affairs Counsel for Laguna Beach and continues to have an active advisory role to city leaders.

“Joanna is a true partner to our team at Visit Laguna Beach. For the past decade, she has been there to support our mission and help us grow our initiatives to become the premier coastal destination we are today,” Rachel O’Neill-Cusey, Visit Laguna Beach president and CEO said. “We look forward to working together to ensure we are delivering an incredible visitor experience while also maintaining and preserving the pristine terrain of Laguna Beach.” 

The Board of Directors comprises representatives from lodging businesses, a city representative, and independent professionals interested in the visitor industry. The following board members will be assuming new roles in 2024, including, Karyn Philippsen as secretary; Chris Wylie, Casa Loma Beach Hotel & Beach House – treasurer; Kurt Bjorkman, The Ranch at Laguna Beach – vice president; Visit Laguna Beach President & CEO Rachel O’Neill-Cusey and Visit Laguna Beach Chair of the Board Joanna Bear.

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