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OCBA Hires New Executive Director

07/27/2018 - Ocracoke Islander Helena Stevens accepted the position following a four-month search.  She was selected from among 6 applicants and 3 finalists by a panel consisting of representatives from the OCBA and its major funding sources, the Ocracoke Occupancy Tax Board and the Ocracoke Travel & Tourism Development Authority (OTTDA). Her selection was presented by this panel to the OCBA Board of Directors, who voted unanimously to offer Stevens the position (Board Member Chip Stevens, spouse to Helena recused himself from the vote). 
Stevens is currently the Travel and Tourism Director for the nonprofit group whose mission is to promote economic development, bring about civic betterment and social improvements to improve the quality of life for the residents and the quality and value of an Ocracoke experience for visitors.  She has held that position since January 2016 and has overseen the implementation of a major marketing research project by Magellan Strategy Group and the subsequent logo design and advertising partnership with Element Advertising, both of Asheville, N.C.
“This is a new era for the OCBA from its humble beginnings in 1991 as a volunteer civic organization doing what it could to promote Ocracoke,” said Rudy Austin, OCBA president in announcing the appointment. “The growth of our budget has necessitated the hiring of fulltime staff. Helena has brought real-world experience to the travel & tourism job and we are pleased to offer the leadership position to her.”
As OCBA executive director, Stevens will continue to direct the oversight of overall island marketing in conjunction with the Ocracoke Township Tourism Development Authority (OTTDA), with which the OCBA recently signed a contract. 
The Hyde County commissioners authorized the establishment of the OTTDA last year and a subsequent raise from 3 to 5 percent in the Occupancy Tax levied on all island lodging.  The OTTDA’s objective is to increase visitation and economic betterment to the island with a focused strategic marketing initiative. This increased effort necessitates the hiring of a full time Executive Director.
“As a newly formed Tourism Development Authority, we realized that we needed to join with the established Ocracoke Civic and Business Association to hire an experienced director to help with the new marketing program to promote our island. Helena brings with her years of experience in marketing as well as an in depth understanding of Ocracoke and its unique challenges and opportunities,” said Amy Howard, OTTDA Chair.  “We are excited to be working with Helena in all realms of Ocracoke programming.”
In addition to overseeing island advertising, as the OCBA chief executive officer, Stevens will manage all OCBA activities, such as contributor relations, the annual Ocracoke walking map, the website and events, such as July 4 activities, Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree Oct. 25 to 28, the Boat Parade in November, and more.
Stevens has a professional marketing background, having previously worked for 15 years as a marketing specialist for BMC Software, Vinson & Elkins and Imaging Technology Solutions.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration & marketing and an MBA from Loyola University New Orleans.
In addition to the hiring of an Executive Director, OCBA has hired Jeffrey Dippold as a part-time bookkeeper for the OCBA.  Dippold is a CPA who retired after 30 plus years with the Finance Division of Bank of America.  He has also previously served as treasurer/bookkeeper for other non-profit organizations.  Originally from Maryland, Jeff lived near Charlotte, NC prior to moving permanently to Ocracoke in 2017.
About Ocracoke Village: At just a little over one square mile, and surrounded by water, everything within Ocracoke Village is conveniently located for walking or biking. Explore the tiny village and discover the many shops and restaurants tucked away on twisty, tree-lined streets.
Ocracoke Village is on the National Register of Historic Places, with houses and buildings dating from the 1880's, interspersed with more recent additions, under the dappled sunlight beneath live oaks, cedars, and yaupons. Ocracoke Lighthouse has been guarding the inlet since 1823. 

Find out how to plan your visit at, the official website for the Ocracoke Civic and Business Association. For information about the ferry schedules and fees, please visit