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Hospitality and Tourism

Charleston Wine & Food names interim executive director

Hospitality and Tourism
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The Charleston Wine & Food Festival has named its long-time marketing communications director Alyssa Maute Smith as its interim executive director, while it launches a search for a permanent fill for the nonprofit organization that supports the annual five-day festival. 

Smith, a Charleston native, takes over after executive director Gillian Zettler left the position after nine years at the helm in order to pursue a new role in Charleston. Her departure was announced shortly after the 2022 festival. 

“Alyssa’s tenure with the festival has been marked by very effective execution on numerous fronts, and her leadership skills have impressed the entire board,” said board chair Mamie Bush. “We are thrilled that she is eager to step into this new role and help create an amazing 2023 festival.” 

Over the last 16 years, the Charleston Wine & Food Festival has welcomed nearly 335,000 guests and generated more than $112.2 million in economic impact. The event is held the first full weekend in March.  

Ticketed events are held at Charleston restaurants and other venues with local, regional and national chefs, winemakers and authors hosting beverage workshops, brunches, lunches, dinners, signature events, immersive excursions and more. A Culinary Village features restaurants and food and beverage vendors. 

After the COVID pandemic cancelled the 2021 festival, the Culinary Village was moved from downtown Charleston’s Marion Square to Riverfront Park in North Charleston to accommodate larger crowds and added parking. The 2022 festival also added NightCap, two nights of concerts with food and beverage vendors at Riverfront Park. 

Prior to joining the festival as marketing director, Smith owned a marketing communications firm and has managed other businesses. She holds a master’s degree in strategic communications from the College of Charleston and was a fellow in Washington, D.C. with S.C. Representative James Clyburn’s staff. 

“I am humbled and inspired by the board’s support of me as interim director,” Smith said. “It is no exaggeration to say I deeply love this city and this festival, and I am excited to have the opportunity to work with a great team to help keep this organization moving forward with purpose and energy.” 

The board announced it will use a firm in its search for a permanent executive director. Details about the permanent position and how to apply will be available on the festival’s website at in the coming weeks. 

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