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Carson is first Lake County CTA to win prestigious ‘CTA of the Year’ award
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Carson is first Lake County CTA to win prestigious ‘CTA of the Year’ award

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — The Lake County Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that Michele Carson, client relations manager at Strong Financial Network, has been named the “CTA of the Year” by the Tourism Ambassador Institute.

The institute, or TAI, is an international organization that licenses and accredits over 30 local CTA Programs in 20 states.

The Lake County CTAs have been delivering quality education to local residents that aspire to become advocates for Lake County.

The CTA Program teaches best practices, itinerary planning, customer service, and helps the CTAs increase their knowledge of Lake County. The program provides resources so that CTA know how to answer questions from visitors.

“Michele Carson, this year's recipient of the CTA of the Year Award, was an absolute standout amongst the competition,” said John Marks, former CEO of the San Francisco Convention & Visitors’ Bureau and Chair of the 2023 International CTA of the Year judging committee.

Marks said Carson leads an innovative, and involved program in Lake County, “where she plans, and executes, numerous gatherings for her local CTA’s to become even more involved in the community. Every time Michele walks into a room, everyone is greeted with a genuine smile, and her sense of invaluable service."

Carson is the shining star of this program, dedicating countless volunteer hours running meetings, facilitating annual strategizing sessions, planning “EdVentures” that combine fun social activities with education, and coordinating an annual project that will place our beautiful county in a positive light to our visitors.

In 2022, Carson wrote a grant and was awarded funding to promote Lake County to visiting anglers. The fishing industry has a big impact on the local economy, and she believed that we could do more to make the anglers feel more welcome.

She produced banners and signs for businesses and municipalities to display to make visiting anglers feel more welcome when they visited Clear Lake.

Carson is also credited with collaborating with the Clear Lake High School’s Culinary Program to ensure that the students became CTAs over the course of their studies.

“The CTA Program has been recognized by the Lakeport Unified School District administration as academically sound and has included in Clear Lake High School’s Hospitality Career Technical Education curriculum, a career readiness program that prepares students to enter the workforce upon graduation,” said Laura McAndrews Sammel, CEO of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce. “We are thrilled to serve our local businesses by offering this training to our up-and-coming workforce.”

Lake County boasts the only CTA Program in the entire network that is chaired and overseen by volunteers.

While Carson’s efforts are supported by the paid staff at the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, much of the program is coordinated by Carson and the CTA Core Committee — with the help of many other CTAs, which is what the chamber called “the Michele Magic.”

Carson is credited with being able to take an idea that someone mentions to her and put it into action. It inspires others into action and, before you know it, another major accomplishment has been made.

She focuses on strong customer service to and for Lake County’s visitors because she innately understands how that impacts economic development for the community.

Lake County residents and visitors alike will recognize a CTA by the gold or silver star lapel pin. Some CTAs wear their pin to work, while others don theirs when they go out to a community event.

Carson was recently spotted wearing hers at a friend’s wedding reception. She is always prepared to answer visitors’ questions no matter where she is! This international accolade proves what we already know: Michele Carson is a shining Lake County Star.

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