She replaces Theresa Jenkins, who retired in June.
The bureau’s 17-member governing board voted 14 to 1 with member Juanita Carmichael opposed and Sally Macaulay and Betsy Gavin absent to hire Peterson.
Board president Dempsey Kirk of Marietta, a retired Pope High School history teacher, explained why Peterson was the person for the job.
“Katie: She’s young, she’s dynamic. I think she’s going to take us into a new era,” Kirk said. “She is so tourism savvy and also she’s media savvy, so I’m real excited about the direction that I’m hoping that she’ll take us in.”
City Councilman Philip Goldstein, who sits on the board, said he voted for Peterson because “she was unanimously recommended by the search committee and the personnel board, and I look forward to working with her.”
Yet Carmichael, the mother of Councilman Anthony Coleman, said she wasn’t pleased with the hire.
“I’ve been a personnel specialist and in reviewing the applications I didn’t see her as being the top applicant,” Carmichael said. “I have to stand up for what I believe in. That’s the only way to be. This Welcome Center needs to go in a different direction.”
The task of the bureau, which is largely funded by the city, is to market Marietta to the rest of the region and state.
“Although we do have visitors from other regions and other countries and so on, our job is to put heads in beds to get people to come and stay in our hotels so that that will generate more revenue,” Kirk said.
Peterson will receive a salary of $45,000.
In a previous interview, Peterson said her work as director would be to “up the technology game,” provide audio tours for Civil War sites and create a mobile app for the Taste of Marietta festival. Georgia offers so much, from the mountains to the beach, a large metropolis in Atlanta and small southern towns on the outskirts, but “Marietta can hold its own and compete,” she said.
Visitors choose Marietta as their destination, she said, because of the charming town center, historic Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park and Six Flags White Water.
Peterson, 28, lives in Marietta and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing degree from Georgia College & State University.