Santa Monica Travel & Tourism Welcomes 2016/2017 Executive Committee and New Board Members

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (July 20, 2016) – Santa Monica Travel & Tourism (SMTT) recently announced the introduction of two new members to its board of directors, in addition to the installment its 2016/2017 executive committee members. Juan Viramontes and Darlene Evans have been newly-appointed to the SMTT Board of Directors; Raphael Lunetta, Nicole Flynn, Richard Chacker and Ellis O’Connor have been installed as officers to the SMTT Board of Directors Executive Committee as chair, vice chair, treasurer and secretary, respectively. “Each of our 2016/2017 board members brings a remarkable wealth of expertise, leadership ability, and commitment to our local community that will propel SMTT to meet our strategic goals,” said SMTT President/CEO Misti Kerns. “We look forward to leveraging the diversity of their expertise to strengthen SMTT’s position as an integral part of our local community.”

New board member Darlene Evans is a long-time Santa Monica resident and an active local volunteer. Evans serves as a chair of both the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Corporation and the Santa Monica College General Advisory Board. Evans practices professionally as a litigation attorney with an emphasis in workers’ compensation and has previous experience in civil litigation.

Juan Viramontes has served SMTT’s Tourism Marketing District Hotel Committee since its 2013 inception, and has now been appointed to serve on the organization’s board of directors as well. Viramontes has spent half of his life working in Santa Monica, and today holds the position of general manager at Ocean Avenue’s The Georgian Hotel. In addition to SMTT, Viramontes regularly lends his support and expertise to Heal the Bay, Santa Monica Conservancy and Westside Shelter and Hunger Coalition, amongst others.

Santa Monica native and local restaurateur Raphael Lunetta has been appointed chair of SMTT Board of Directors, previously having served as a board member and most recently as vice chair. As Lunetta steps into his position as chair of the board, the award-winning chef is poised to launch the hotly anticipated follow-up to his beloved JiRaffe Restaurant, a Santa Monica institution for over 18 years before its closure in 2015. The new concept, a chef-driven neighborhood restaurant, will occupy the Pico Boulevard spaces that previously housed Josie and Next Door by Josie. Lunetta will partner with Mike Garret and Daniel Weinstock of Culver City’s Maple Block on the new project, which is currently slated for a fall 2016 opening.

Lunetta will be supported by Vice Chair Nicole Flynn, who brings with her more than 18 years of experience of marketing strategy and public relations for 16 regional shopping centers located throughout the state of California. Flynn is the assistant vice president of marketing for retail leader Macerich, the country’s third-largest owner, operator and developer of major retail projects in many of the nation’s most desirable markets. Flynn will join the SMTT Executive Committee after serving on the board of directors for three years in both secretary and treasurer roles.

Ellis O’Connor steps into his role as secretary as the organization’s past chair, and has been a SMTT board member since 2009. As co-president of MSD Hospitality, O’Connor oversees MSD Capital’s portfolio of prominent hospitality assets, including Santa Monica’s Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows. He is past chair of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, current board member for British American Business Council and BritWeek, and is a member of the Santa Monica Bay chapter of Young Presidents’ Organization.

Local business owner Richard Chacker joins the SMTT Executive Committee as treasurer after serving on the organization’s board of directors for the previous six years.  He opened Perry’s Café and Beach Rentals in 1977 and continues to run the local company with five locations on the beach in Santa Monica as well as Blazing Saddles on the Pier.  In addition to Perry’s, Chacker is also part owner of the Santa Monica Bike Center and a Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce executive board member.

About Santa Monica Travel & Tourism

Santa Monica Travel & Tourism (SMTT) is a non-profit organization designed to increase visitor expenditures, tourism revenues and local employment opportunities through the promotion of Santa Monica as a travel destination. For travel and accommodation information or a free copy of the official Visitors Guide, the public can write to the Santa Monica Visitor Center, 2427 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405; call (800) 544-5319 or (310) 393-7593; visit; or email Follow SMCVB on Twitter @GoSantaMonica or become a Facebook fan at


Contact: Jackie Alvarez
Santa Monica Travel & Tourism