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Featuring more than 300 events in 2013, and serving over 10,000 guests, the Buena Vista Conference Center is certainly a popular place. Called “the perfect wedding location” in Delaware Bride Magazine’s fall/winter 2013-2014 edition, Buena Vista features “lush grounds, cozy accommodations and luxe décor” that are utilized for a wide variety of functions including business gatherings and government meetings as well as receptions, parties and celebrations.
With that kind of acclaim, someone must be doing something right, and that someone (or some people as the case may be) are the conference center’s highly capable staff members. Following are profiles of these dedicated individuals who are helping to make events at Buena Vista a memorable experience.
Overall administration of Buena Vista is managed by Desiree Williams and Morgan Booker who work together to maintain customer relations, meet with new clients, conduct tours of the property, schedule events, process reservation agreements and billing, delegate and monitor staff duties, create and manage social-media initiatives, and oversee the maintenance and upkeep of the house and grounds.
Desiree Williams began service in April 2014 having previously worked as an administrator with the Delaware Department of State. Originally from New York City, Williams attended Delaware State University on a full scholarship, graduating in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and public relations. During the course of her studies, she served as a summer intern at the Cable News Network (CNN) and at the public-relations firm Brotman-Winter-Fried in McLean, Va. The Smyrna, Del. resident is now realizing one of her career objectives by working in the field of event planning.
Morgan Booker began work at Buena Vista in July 2014. She received her bachelor’s degree from Texas A & M University in 2013 with a major in horticulture and a minor in business. While at the university, she volunteered for the Opera and Performing Arts Society of the Memorial Student Center (MSC OPAS), a student organization that presents professional productions of theatre, music and dance. After moving to the East Coast in 2013, she worked in administration, public relations and promotion for the Friends of Belmont Hall in Smyrna, Del.; and as a restaurant floor-manager and a member of the catering team at the Kitty Knight House in Georgetown, Md. The Tyler, Texas native now lives in Wilmington, Del.
Sally Shorey, a familiar face at Buena Vista, has worked at the conference center since 2001. Her responsibilities include customer relations and hospitality, and the upkeep and cleanliness of the facility’s kitchen. A life-long Delawarean and graduate of John Dickinson High School, she currently lives in Bear. Prior to joining the Buena Vista staff, Shorey worked for a local catering firm and for Chemical Bank in Newark, Del. She and her husband of 49 years have two children and three grandchildren.
Housekeepers Ryan Cardwell, Kevin Garner and Carlton Hall work hard to ensure that Buena Vista is clean and ready for the many visitors that attend events at the site. In addition to the upkeep of the house, they are responsible for the set-up and break-down of events, and assist in a wide variety of tasks including food service, hospitality, customer relations and inventory management.
Lifelong Wilmingtonian Ryan Cardwell received both his high school diploma and a certificate in facilities maintenance from the Job Corps Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. A member of the Buena Vista staff since June 2013, Cardwell previously worked in construction and at Sears, as well as serving as an inventory clerk for the Delaware Transit Corporation (DART) and as an account representative for Comcast.
Brooklyn-born Kevin Garner joined the Buena Vista staff in June 2013. He has studied both heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC), and accounting in New York City and is continuing his studies at Goldey-Beacom College in Wilmington with the ultimate goal of becoming a certified public account. Prior to moving to the First State in February 2013, Garner worked for Graffiti-Free NYC, a graffiti removal service in the City of New York. He currently lives in Newark, Del.
Carlton Hall holds a bachelor’s degree in theater arts from Cheyney University and a master’s degree in historic preservation from Delaware State University. Originally from Salem, N.J., the New Castle resident previously worked in food service at the Glen Mills Schools, a residential facility for juvenile delinquents located in Glen Mills, Pa. He joined the Buena Vista staff in September 2014.
Located at 661 S. Dupont Highway (Route 13), southwest of New Castle, Buena Vista is one of Delaware’s most historic homes. The main section of the house was built between 1845 and 1847 by John M. Clayton, United States secretary of state from 1849 to 1850 under presidents Taylor and Fillmore, and United States senator from 1829 to 1836, 1845 to 1849 and 1853 until his death in 1856. The home later became the residence of C. Douglass Buck, governor of Delaware from 1929 to 1937 and United States senator from 1942 to 1948. Buena Vista and its grounds were donated to the state by the Buck family in 1965 and now serve as a state conference center administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.