On her desk, Nanci Sikes has a coffee mug with a saying written across either side: Success is doing what you love. Success is loving what you do.
Sikes has been lucky enough to live that out over the past 26 years at the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau.
Early in her career, she was working up the corporate ladder in event planning and marketing for major companies and big-time hotels. Her work took her around the country and allowed her to meet celebrities and big-time politicians.
While many would consider that the path to success, Sikes ultimately took a different path with hope of showing the world why they should come to the place where she grew up.
"This was the only job I wanted," she said earlier this week.
Sikes will end her 26-year tenure at the Visitors Bureau when she retires on Oct. 31. A fifth-generation Tuolumne County native, she worked in the corporate world throughout the state and on the East Coast before becoming the tourism guru for Tuolumne County. As the bureau's director, she is the main spokeswoman for tourism in the county and drives marketing efforts around the world for local hotels, food, recreation and outdoor sports.
Through her years with the visitors' bureau, she's seen the fallout and recovery from devastating wildfires and economic downturns while watching the world of marketing and communications in the tourism industry change dramatically.
"I took a leap of faith," she said when describing her move back to the area in 1988.
For the complete story, see the Aug. 28, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.