About Us

Tom Kern, CFEE

Tom Kern has over 35 years experience in local government, chamber of commerce and the special event industry. His areas of expertise include: internal performance auditing, economic development, financial and operational analysis, sponsorship development, leadership and customer service training.

Tom has been in senior leadership positions as the CEO/COO of 4 major chamber of commerce's (Cincinnati, OH Fairfax County, VA Lawrence, KS and Steamboat Springs, CO). Tom was also the Executive Director of the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, MI for 15 years. Tom began his career in city management profession having served as the Assistant City Manager in Traverse City and Blue Ash, OH. Tom holds a BS in Economics and Public Administration from Eastern Michigan University and an MPA in city management/finance from San Diego State University.

Chuck O’Connor, CFEE

Chuck O'Connor has over 35 years experience in media sales, corporate sponsorship and PR/Marketing. For the last 22 years Chuck has been responsible for all corporate sponsorships at the National Cherry Festival. In his tenure at the festival, corporate sponsorships have grown from $225,000 to over $1.2 million. Chuck has been recognized nationally as a leading expert on special event sponsorship and has spoken at numerous national and international conferences. Prior to working at the National Cherry Festival Chuck had a successful career in TV/Radio sales in Northern Michigan.

Susan Wilcox Olson

Susan has over 25 years experience in public relations and marketing. She specializes in lifestyle marketing and media from business to travel; food to cultural and sporting events. She has been the PR/Media Director for the National Cherry Festival since 1988. During her tenure the festival has received national exposure through the Today Show, Good Morning America, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Midwest Living and many more. Susan also runs a successful PR/Media Firm; Grand Bay Promotions and Public Relations Services. Her clients include Cherry Capital Airport, Great Lakes Winter Trails Council, Treetops Resort in Gaylord and the Grand Traverse Pie Company. Susan holds a BS degree in PR/Marketing from Northwood University.