Willoughby to step down as director of the Convention & Visitors Bureau after more than 12 years at helm


Sarah Ridgway Willoughby will step down from her position as executive director of the Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau at the end of June.

The Bureau is a non-profit founded in 1978. It serves as New Castle County’s destination marketing organization, promoting the region’s tourism offerings to leisure travelers, business travelers, and planners of meetings and conventions. Willoughby has been the bureau’s director for more than 12 years.


Bill Sullivan, chairman of the Bureau’s board of directors, said, “Sarah is such an asset to our tourism community. We are very sorry to see her go. She has built a highly successful marketing program, strong community bonds and a dedicated team of staff members that will continue to build upon the foundation she has laid.”

Sullivan said a search committee has been formed by the board of directors to fill the position.

Willoughby said, “I am immensely proud of the marketing achievements we made over the years. From building a top-of-the-line destination marketing website to creating content for online and social engagement, we have constantly put our best foot forward.”

Willoughby is heading to Hernando, Florida with her husband, Gary. Gary retired in July 2020 after 47 years in the insurance industry.

Among Willoughby’s achievements as executive director was leading a successful 2018 appeal to save the Bureau from closure when the Joint Finance Committee eliminated the State’s Convention and Visitor Bureau funding without notice. Most recently, her leadership enabled the Bureau to continue to meet its mission despite significant budget and staff reductions due to Covis-19.

Willoughby joined the Bureau in September 2004 and was named executive director in September 2008.

Prior to that, she served as director of tourism development at Winterthur Museum and Library for 11 years. In 2020, Willoughby was named the Delaware Hotel Lodging Association Allied Member of the Year, the second time in her career she earned this distinction.

She was also named a Delaware Today Women in Business Honoree in 2011. Willoughby serves on the Delaware Tourism Advisory Board, Delaware Hotel Lodging Association Board, Brandywine Valley National Scenic Byway Advisory Board, Brandywine Valley National Scenic Partnership, and the Delaware Center for Horticulture Board.

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