FARMINGTON — Tonya Stinson, a longtime marketing employee at the Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau, has been named executive director.

Stinson was officially named by a board vote on Oct. 17. She had served as interim manager since January.

Stinson is the first executive director since Debbie Dusenbery resigned Jan. 17 while under investigation for suspicion of embezzling about $450,000 from the Bureau over eight years. Dusenbery committed suicide in Arizona shortly after her resignation.

"It was extremely difficult on everybody," Stinson said. "We're just ready to move on."

The board named Stinson from among eight applicants, three of whom were identified as finalists. The position was advertised in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and the Four Corners.

Keith Barbeau, chairman of the Convention and Visitors Bureau board, said the board found what it was looking for in Stinson.

"We wanted someone who was very familiar with the Four Corners familiar with Farmington specifically but the Four Corners in general," he said. "We were looking for someone intelligent, motivated, ambitious and I think those are all things Tonya has exhibited."

Stinson, 39, grew up in Aztec and graduated from Aztec High in 1991. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology at Brigham Young University. She is the daughter of Margaret McDaniel, a San Juan County commissioner, and Herb Stinson, a retired Aztec teacher and wrestling coach.


She came to the Convention and Visitors Bureau as marketing manager after working at First National Bank of Farmington, which was taken over by Wells Fargo & Co. in 2000.

Barbeau praised Stinson's handling of the fallout that followed Dusenbery's resignation.

"Tonya was the one that really was there working through the whole situation with us," he said. "She exhibited strength and intelligence and dedication to what the CVB does."

Barbeau added, "She showed a lot, but she was truly the most qualified."

The Convention and Visitor's Bureau works to bring tourists and convention visitors to Farmington. In other words, "to put heads in beds," Stinson said.

The Convention and Visitor's Bureau operates on an annual budget of about $800,000. It is funded largely by a portion of the city's lodger's tax. The bureau operates as a nonprofit on contract to the city of Farmington. It has six employees.

The bureau has beefed up its internal financial controls since the embezzlement scandal. Stinson receives every invoice, and two employees must sign every check. The Bureau uses an outside accounting firm. And the board is keeping a closer eye on the Bureau's finances.

"We're really headed in the right direction," Barbeau said. "In my 19 years of being on the board, the board has never been more involved than it is now. There are a lot of checks and balances."

Stinson said she is focused on hiring for her former position, marketing manager, and revitalizing the Convention and Visitors Bureau's website.

"We are here doing our jobs — we've never lost sight of that through everything," she said. "We're really grateful for the support of the community and everybody that's got us through this."