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May 8, 2013

May 8, 2013

For additional information,
Contact: Amanda Shell
Moxley Carmichael
(865) 255-0661


Ksowards300_294382193451Kristi Sowards, sales manager at the Knoxville Convention Center, has been awarded the 2013 Pauly Award for Service/Supplier Employee of the Year by the Greater Knoxville Hospitality Association (GKHA) at the 9th Annual Pauly Awards sponsored by the University of Tennessee Tourism Institute and Visit Knoxville.

“I am thrilled that Kristi was recognized by the Greater Knoxville Hospitality Association,” said Mary Bogert, general manager of the Knoxville Convention Center. “Kristi has an amazing ‘can-do’ attitude and a great passion for service and hospitality. We’re gratified to have her on our team, and congratulate her on this well-deserved award.”

The Pauly Awards, named after local hospitality industry leader the late Paul Sherbakoff, are held annually by the GKHA to honor and recognize the best of the best in Knoxville’s hospitality and tourism industry.

“These winners exemplify hospitality,” said Jill Johnson, GKHA executive director. “So many deserve recognition for their dedication and commitment to the industry, and it makes me feel good that we can honor these hard-working individuals in front of their peers and in front of the industry.”

The award recognizes Sowards as a valuable leader who leads by example, cares about her staff, has an outstanding work ethic and will go above and beyond to ensure that her clients have an exceptional experience in Knoxville.

Sowards, a 20-plus-year hospitality veteran, has been promoted twice in two years at the Knoxville Convention Center, most recently to sales manager. She was also voted the 2012 Knoxville Convention Center Leader of the Year by her coworkers.

Other award winners were:

  • Lodging General Manager of the Year – Renie Carroll, Country Inn & Suites Cedar Bluff
  • Restaurant General Manager of the Year – Ken Scoonover, Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants
  • Lodging Manager of the Year – Robin Biggs, Hilton Garden Inn – West Knoxville
  • Restaurant Manager of the Year – Shannon Sensenbach, Ruth’s Chris Restaurant
  • Attraction/Museum of the Year – James White’s Fort
  • Service/Supplier of the Year – Dr. Carol Costello, University of Tennessee
  • Lodging Employee of the Year – Mark Munsey, Country Inn & Suites Cedar Bluff
  • Restaurant Employee of the Year – Kathy Harvey, Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants
  • Attraction/Museum Employee of the Year – Ashley Shalhoup Hackney, Knoxville Zoo
  • Community Service – Pepsi Beverages Company
  • Volunteer of the Year – Sean Powell, Hilton Knoxville
  • Friendliest Face – Bobbie LaBarge, Homewood Suites

Eligible Pauly Award winners are automatically submitted for the Stars of the Industry state awards sponsored by the Tennessee Hospitality Association.

About the Knoxville Convention Center

The Knoxville Convention Center, managed by SMG, is located in downtown Knoxville adjacent to the Sunsphere. It boasts a 120,000 square-foot exhibit hall, a 27,000 square-foot divisible ballroom and up to 25 meeting rooms. For more information, visit