About

Meet the Staff


Claude Legris

 CLAUDE  LEGRIS
 Executive  Director

 Claude has worked in the public  assembly facility and destination  marketing industry for the past  36  years. Having held management  positions in Tulsa, Nashville and Philadelphia, he returned to  his adopted hometown of Fort Smith in 2001. As Executive Director, he oversees all operations of the  Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau (the city's destination marketing organization) and the Fort  Smith Convention Center. He serves on the board for a variety of local and statewide organizations  like the Arkansas Travel Council, Arkansas Parks & Tourism Foundation, and the U.S. Marshals  Service Museum.


Carolyn Joyce CAROLYN  JOYCE
 Tour & Travel Sales  Director

Carolyn has helped guide Fort Smith's tourism effort since 1992 as one of the original Convention & Visitors Bureau staff members. She is nationally recognized for her group travel sales expertise and was inducted into the Tourism Hall of Fame by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism. She is well-known for the establishment of the Fort Smith Visitors Center and as a spokesperson for Fort Smith. Carolyn greets groups at the visitors center in the character of Miss Laura and recounts the intriguing past of the only remaining structure that was a part of Fort Smith's infamous "red light" district during the days of the Old West. Her efforts even led to the mansion becoming the first former bordello to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to all of this, Carolyn coordinates the visitors center volunteer group, "Miss Laura's Starrs," who provide free guided tours of the building seven days a week.


Amy Knight AMY KNIGHT JONES
 Convention & Event  Sales  Manager

Amy was born in Enid, Oklahoma and raised in Broken Arrow. She relocated to the Fort Smith area in 1997 where she raised her three children Lauren, Tanner and Ty.  Amy has worked for Rausch Coleman Homes and attended college at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith, as well as Carl Albert University. While working in the Fort Smith area, she was most comfortable working with the public and fell in love with the downtown area. Before taking her current position in June 2015 she spent 4 years as the Director of Sales for the Courtyard Marriott in Fort Smith. Her expertise was Sales and she found a calling in the Hospitality and Tourism Industry. She is passionate when it comes to representing her city and strives to bring Conventions and Events to Fort Smith. In April of 2016, Amy married Kenny Jones. 


 RUSS JESTER
MarCom & Event  Svcs. Manager

 Russ was born in Texarkana, Texas  and raised in Ashdown, Arkansas.  He began using the Adobe Creative Suite in high school and would earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism; Advertising & Public Relations. Upon graduating, he worked for Townsquare Media and Townsquare Interactive as a Digital Media Strategist & Account Executive, and later as an Assistant Digital Media Sales Manager. In 2014, he decided to relocate back to Northwest Arkansas and would ultimately bring a broad list of skills related to graphic design, integrated marketing, communications, and information technology to our team.


Debra Cossey DEBRA COSSEY
 Executive Secretary

 Debra was born in Compton,  California and raised in Bellflower,  California. When she married her  husband, Dave, she relocated to  Pocola, Oklahoma where she worked for several years at Pocola  City Hall. Afterwards, she worked at Tyson Foods – in Fort Smith – within the Accounting & HR  Department for nearly 20 years. Debra and Dave have one son, Court. Luckily, for the Fort Smith  Convention & Visitors Bureau, Debra would apply for a position through the City of Fort Smith and  become a valuable member of our team. As we like to say, Debra is our "Zookeeper" and keeps  everything organized and on track!