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Ellis Appointed Gulf State Park Community Relations Director

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) announces that J. Gary Ellis has been appointed by Commissioner Chris Blankenship to serve as Director of Community Relations and Administration at Gulf State Park.

“We are fortunate to have the opportunity to bring Gary onto the team at a critical time,” Blankenship said. “The Lodge at Gulf State Park’s opening in November gives the state a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to maximize the benefits to the entire Gulf Coast. With an investment of more than $140 million in Gulf State Park improvements, we felt it was important to bring in an experienced professional to ensure the connection between state park employees, Valor Hospitality and the various community stakeholders is achieved.”

Ellis, the founder of hospitality-focused Compass Media, Inc., has a passion for the Gulf Coast. He retired from Compass in 2016, but in his 30 years at the helm he and his team grew the company to a multi-million dollar firm serving hundreds of clients in more than 12 southeastern states.

“I look forward to connecting personal passions for the community and sustainability along the Gulf Coast with my business experience and the many relationships developed over the past 30 years,” Ellis said. “I am enthusiastic about this new opportunity to build a stronger working relationship between the employees of Gulf State Park, the community and Valor Hospitality Inc., the exceptional company chosen by ADCNR to manage The Lodge.”

A member of the University of Montevallo Board of Trustees, Ellis has been honored as an Alabama Hospitality Hall of Fame inductee and received the Alabama Governor’s Tourism Award in 2009. His professional career has worked hand-in-hand with his investment in the health of the community and the environment. He has provided leadership to organizations throughout the southeastern United States, including: co-founder of the Coastal Resiliency Coalition; co-founder and member of the board of directors for the Gulf United Metro Business Organization and Alabama Coastal Foundation board member.

A lifelong resident of Gulf Shores, he and his wife, Sally Kizzire Ellis, have five children.

For more information about Gulf State Park, visit

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions: Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. 

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