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A "Developing" Story

Kirstie Mack is the director of the Defiance Development And Visitors Bureau. She talks about the DDVB's role in Defiance, her background, and the people who have helped her along the way.

Ribfest, the Lilac Festival, the Chocolate Walk…That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the fun activities brought to us every year by the Defiance Development And Visitors Bureau! Kirstie Mack is the DDVB’s Executive Director, and we got the chance to ask Kirstie a whole bunch of questions about the bureau, her experiences, and her family.

DCED: How long has the DDVB been around?

Kirstie: Incorporated in 2006.

DCED: How long have you been director?

Kirstie: Since February 2018.

DCED: How did you become interested in the work you’re doing?

Kirstie: I began at the DDVB as an intern in 2009, when Cindy Mack needed some help. I loved the work then and continued to learn about the mission of the organization and want to reach goals of “the greater good” 😉 

DCED: What are some of the major annual events the DDVB stages?

Kirstie: Defiance County Restaurant Week, Chocolate Walk, Lilac Festival & Street Fair,

Family Fun Fridays, Defiance Fireworks Display, Battle of the Bands (partnership with Music on the Maumee), Buskerfest, Defiance Rib Fest, Witches Brew for CASA, Flip the Switch (partnership with iHeart Media), Santa’s Arrival, and Cookie Crumble.


The Holiday Trolley (part of Santa's Arrival), Ribfest, and the Lilac Festival are all huge draws to downtown Defiance.

DCED: What’s something the DDVB does that people may not know about?

Kirstie: We are a county-wide visitors bureau, but we receive 60% of our funding from city Hotel/Motel taxes. We host all of the events listed above, and we are also a Main Street office, and that is why a large portion of our focus is on the Downtown Defiance Business District.

DCED: What’s the biggest challenge in your job?

Kirstie: Keeping up with the promotional needs of our communities. We want to be a resource for all residents and visitors, but we cannot help promote if we do not have the information.

DCED: What’s been the biggest “Wow, we did it!” moment you’ve had with the DDVB?

Kirstie: A few…Implementation of DORA, construction of the Downtown Defiance Public Restroom, creation of the Façade Enhancement Grant Program, and building relationships throughout Defiance County.

DCED: Who did you learn from the most when you first took this job?

Kirstie: Cindy Mack was the director of the DDVB from 2006 – 2017. Her knowledge of the organization’s mission runs deep. She guided 28-year-old me to learn from those around me, listen in meetings, and always know you can learn more. To this day, I still ask her for advice.

Mandi Kissner was the Board President of the DDVB very soon after I was hired as Executive Director. Her leadership through my first year and beyond provided me with guidance and support, even at times when I didn’t realize I needed it.

DCED: How has your job changed since you started?

Kirstie: The tourism industry itself has changed drastically since 2018. Many industrial businesses and visitors alike are now more interested in the “quality of life” and “attractions” a community provides, which has changed our promotional focus. This has created opportunities to highlight parklands, historical places, and nature preserves.

DCED: How does your office’s mission differ from that of the Chamber of Commerce, or Economic Development?

Kirstie: Our organization’s mission is: To create a destination for residents and visitors that promotes Defiance while enhancing collaborative efforts that encourage economic growth and downtown viability. What this means to us is we dedicate our focus to promoting what Defiance County has to offer as a Visitors Bureau and as a Main Street organization we focus on promotion, beautification, historic preservation & business retention and development.

Due to the nature of our mission, it allows for a large range of focus and was selected that way to pivot to meet the needs of our community members and visitors.

DCED: Talk a little about your family, education, etc.

Kirstie: Born and raised in Defiance County. 2007 graduate of Ayersville High School. Took a few college courses, but none ended in a degree. 2013 hired at the DDVB as Visitors Bureau Manager, 2018 hired as Executive Director. Been married to my husband, Shaun, since September 2013. We have 3 children; Kyan – 18, Mia – 9, and Sadie – 7. They all attend Northeastern Local Schools. My family and extended family have always been very involved in our community. It has allowed me to see many different aspects of the area. From park boards, to PTO, to non-profit organizations, to school board members, to protective services, to city and county government; I feel like we have seen it all!

DCED: Finally, that classic job interview question, sort of…Where would you like to see Defiance in 5 years?

With vibrant downtown districts with no storefront vacancies, continued support for historic building preservation, bustling river activities, and excitement over the completion of the 1918 building project 😉 

It’s not often we get to close out a blog post interview with a smiley face! Kirstie and the rest of her team, Lori Hagerman and McKenzi Beck, work tirelessly to make Defiance not just A Great Place To Live, but a great destination. To see everything the Defiance Development And Visitors Bureau does year round, go to!

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