Ronnie Burt, chief executive of Visit KC, the Kansas City convention and tourism promoter, has announced that he will resign effective Jan. 31.
Burt, who came to Visit KC in 2014 from a similar organization in Washington D.C., had faced employee complaints and a lawsuit that accused the executive of bullying and harassing behavior.
“It is with mixed emotions that I submit my resignation as your President and CEO,” Burt said in a statement released by Visit KC. “I have made the decision that now is the best time for me to move on and consider other opportunities. I am proud of the achievements made since 2014 with the support and hard work of the Visit KC Team.”
The Star reported in December that Burt had written a letter to Visit KC’s board claiming that employees at Visit KC were trying to undermine him and that then-board chairman Kevin Pistilli asked him to resign in November.
Pistilli had told board members in an email that some of Burt’s claims were partly or entirely inaccurate, and confirmed that the organization was investigating complaints about Burt made by Visit KC employees.
Burt and Visit KC were sued in 2017 by former Visit KC human resources manager Janette Barron, who claimed she was fired from the organization after she sought an investigation into claims of Burt’s alleged harassing and bullying behavior toward female employees.
That lawsuit reached a settlement on Jan. 10, according to court records. Attorneys for Burt and Barron were not immediately available to discuss the settlement.
Since Burt’s letter to the board, the executive committee of Visit KC has held three closed-door meetings to discuss unspecified personnel and legal issues. At each of those meetings was a Lathrop Gage lawyer Bridget Romero, whose law practice specializes in employment, workplace and human resources issues.
Burt was present at the Dec. 22 executive committee meeting, but was not there at the beginning of subsequent meetings held on Jan. 5 and Jan. 10.
In a statement, the Visit KC board thanked Burt for his service and for setting “Kansas City and Visit KC on a path of success for years to come.”
“I would like to thank him for his service and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” said newly appointed Visit KC board chairwoman CiCi Rojas in a written statement. “On behalf of the Board, we also want to thank all Visit KC employees for their hard work and dedication in realizing many achievements over the last few years.”
Visit KC will appoint an interim chief executive soon and then look for a permanent replacement.