A longtime community leader who has made it her job to promote Livingston County is welcoming her “bittersweet” retirement.

Barb Barden, Executive Director of the Livingston County Convention & Visitors Bureau, has watched the destination marketing organization she helped start grow over the last 25 years. Barden says in that time, the LCCVB has gone from a part-time operation to an amazing machine with a $250 million annual impact on the local economy. She attributes much of its success to the friends she’s made through the bureau who, along with family, helped celebrate her retirement at the Crystal Gardens Banquet Center in Genoa Township last night.

Barden, who resides in Ann Arbor, says she’s looking forward to coming back to visit her “second home” and dropping some tourism dollars into Livingston County, while continuing to volunteer at events. Her plans for retirement also include gardening, traveling, and time spent with friends and family.

Reflecting on her career, she says one of her favorite memories was working with Good Morning America to bring Diane Sawyer to “Hell and back” to promote the Putnam Township community and Livingston County as a vacation destination. Barden says, “…those are the kinds of days you live for. When anybody shines a bright light on Livingston County, it’s great for everybody.”

Barden says she has always been in awe of the number of people that care in Livingston County and believes there is great leadership here that will carefully guard the investment that has been made into the region. Her successor, Mary Zucchero, is scheduled to start her first day with the LCCVB May 22nd. (DK)