By Debbie Hall
Photos by Connie Palen
Las Vegas native combines profession with her passion
As vice president of marketing and communication for The Smith Center, Las Vegas native Suzanne Chabre said, “The Smith Center represents the intersection of passion and profession. I love the performing arts world, and joining the management team has given me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live my passion and be part of a project that will have an impact on the community for years to come.”
In her position, Chabre is responsible for building The Smith Center brand, supporting education and donor giving initiatives, as well as promoting all performances and events. She oversees the areas of advertising, public relations, direct marketing, group sales and corporate sponsorships.
“As a longtime Las Vegas resident, I wish we had The Smith Center when I was in grade school,” said Chabre, “Now our children have that opportunity. You should see the look on their faces when they exit the school buses and step inside the lobby for the first time, I actually get teary eyed.”
Upon graduating from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and an MBA, Chabre began her marketing career in the automotive industry working for Volkswagen of America and Porsche Cars North America. Chabre moved back to Las Vegas, entered the gaming industry and worked as a marketing executive for Grand Casinos, Caesars Entertainment and Pinnacle Entertainment.
“Before joining The Smith Center team, my career was in male-dominated industries—automotive and gaming. There wasn’t a great deal of mentoring during those times. My break into gaming came from Bill Dayton, founder of Encore Productions and my boss at The Tropicana. He said it didn’t matter that I didn’t have any gaming experience, but that I had a good marketing background. I watched and learned from him as he successfully navigated the corporate world,” she said.
As for advice she would give other women entering the field of marketing, “As a marketing professional, you are the voice and point of view of the customer, the brand champion. You must instill a customer focus within your organization, and make sure you are gathering the necessary information to represent their needs and desires. The biggest mistake anyone can make in marketing is injecting a personal point of view. The best marketers combine creativity and return on investment.”
Chabre gives credit to her mother for being her biggest influence. Her mother never pushed Chabre down any particular path, but instilled confidence in her so that Chabre would make the right decision regardless of where it took her.
“I wanted to be an English professor after a high school teacher instilled within me a love of English literature and deciphering its true meaning. My mom was a teacher, so that probably influenced my love of learning and teaching. I ended up following in my sister’s footsteps and took marketing courses at Arizona State University, and the rest is history,” she said.
Chabre has served as the president of the Las Vegas chapter of the American Association of University Women, served on the board of the American Marketing Association and Junior Mesquite. Chabre has also been active in Junior Achievement, the Learning Center of Minneapolis, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and has taught at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In 2001, Chabre received the Chamber of Commerce tourism award for community service.
As for her community of Southern Nevada, Chabre believes, “We refer to The Smith Center as the ‘Heart of the Arts’, and I think that statement says it all. It has really become a community gathering place.” As a Fearless Female, Chabre is changing the fabric of Las Vegas.