Familiar face to head Port’s tourism efforts

Former Historical Society leader, downtown businessman Wayne Chrusciel named executive director of Tourism Council

STANDING OUTSIDE of what will soon be his new office in the Visitor Center on Grand Avenue on Tuesday was Wayne Chrusciel, who will take over for Kathy Tank (left) as executive director of the Port Washington Tourism Council on July 20. Tank, who served in that position for 23 years, is retiring. Photo by Sam Arendt


Ozaukee Press staff

Wayne Chrusciel will take over as executive director of the Port Washington Tourism Council effective Wednesday July 20, replacing longtime director Kathy Tank, who is retiring.

“Kathy has blazed the trail,” Chrusciel said. “I’m very impressed with what she’s done. My hope is to keep going with what she started.”

Bill Schanen III, president of the Port Washington Tourism Council, said Chrusciel’s experiences make him a worthy successor to Tank.

“Port Washington’s tourism promotion efforts need a strong successor to follow up on Kathy Tank’s excellent work, and we have one in Wayne Chrusciel,” Schanen said.

“His experience in business and in his service to the community in various marketing roles make him an ideal fit for the Council’s mission of supporting and invigorating the city’s essential tourism economy.”

In a city like Port Washington, it’s a vital role. Tourism brings in millions of dollars a year, and many downtown businesses depend on tourist dollars earned in the summer to support them throughout the winter months.

Chrusciel is well positioned to understand that fact. He owned and operated Fireworks Popcorn in downtown for years and most recently operated Chrusciel Consulting, a marketing and business planning firm.

He served as executive director of the Port Washington Historical Society, has been a member and president of Port Washington’s Business Improvement District, was president of Port Main Street Inc. and a member of the Port Washington Tourism Council.

He is also served as a trustee and treasurer of St. John XXIII Parish in Port.

Working with the Historical Society was the job that prepared him the most for his new position, Chrusciel said.

“I’m not from Port originally,” he said. “Being with the Historical Society, I learned a lot about Port. It gave me a good perspective.”

Chrusciel said he’s excited to take on his new role.

“Port’s at a great point in its history,” he said. “A lot of people are visiting the city and discovering what it has to offer, and a lot of people are moving to town. Now is a great time to get involved in this.”

Tank, he said, may be retiring, but she will continue to be a valuable resource.

“I plan to use Kathy as a good sounding board,” he said, noting her connections are invaluable. “She’s forgotten more names than I know.”

Chrusciel said his immediate goals are to formalize things like the city’s marketing plan, recruit a few more members of the Tourism Council and build on the foundation laid by Tank, who was the first director of the Tourism Council.

“I’m very impressed with what she’s done,” he said. “She’s laid the groundwork to take this to the next level.”

That includes marketing the city to communities that haven’t been reached yet, he said.

“There’s still a lot to grow,” Chrusciel said, noting that while many city visitors come from Chicago, Madison and Iowa, there are plenty of other places to get the word out about Port.

“I don’t think we’ve scratched the surface,” he added. “We’ve got great opportunities to promote the city.”

He said that, like Tank, he will work closely with groups such as Port Main Street Inc. and the Business Improvement District.

“Tourism doesn’t get directly involved in the events they hold, but it can play a vital role in promoting them and bringing people to them,” Chrusciel said.

He plans to work with agencies such as the Ozaukee County Tourism Council, Harbor Towns and eventually the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is developing the Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary that stretches north from Port to Two Rivers.

In his new job, he will also be responsible for such things as staffing the Visitor Center in the historic Pebble House on Grand Avenue.

“It’s really all about being the face of the city,” he said.

Part of the job is also letting people know what the role of tourism is, Chrusciel said.

“Some people get confused about what the role of tourism is,” he said, noting some people believe it’s about drawing new residents to the city.

“It really is bringing people into town and getting them to stay the night, to visit the shops and restaurants,” Chrusciel said. “It’s getting them to stop here, and maybe next time they spend the day and after that maybe they’ll spend the night here.”

The city has a brand, he said, and his role is to “make sure it’s out there, in the right place at the time to reach the right people and to work with other organizations in the city to make sure we’re speaking with one voice.

“Let’s take advantage of the fact we’re all doing this and try to maximize what we’re all doing.”



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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