Margi Grant: 25 years of selling San Mateo County

Last Thursday, Margi Grant was feted by the San Mateo County Convention and Visitors Bureau for a quarter-century of service marketing the Peninsula.

In 1981, the then-single mother and immigrant from a Russian community in China by way of Brazil started as a sales assistant for the bureau. The bureau was good to the Foster City resident.

Four years ago, she became the publications manager, burning with enthusiasm for meeting travel journalists and selling them on San Mateo County’s history, coastal wilderness, Silicon Valley hubbub and all its other facets.

“I was amazed about how much we have here to offer for different markets,” Grantsaid. “What I’m doing is packaging our attractions in different ways.”

That means touting Mavericks to the surf writers, the Ano Nuevo elephant seals to nature writers and Filoli Gardens to horticulture enthusiasts. A new promotion, focusing on the county’s agricultural and culinary bounty, has attracted a lot of attention from food writers, she said.

“I’ve got pieces on each one of those things, and when I sit down with a travel writer, I ask them, ‘Tell me what you write about.’ If he’s strictly a sports writer, I’m not going to waste his time on gardens.”

Grant’s family left China in 1953, four years after the communist takeover of her hometown Shanghai. Unable to immediately come to the U.S., she lived in Brazil until she was 15. She attended San Francisco schools after that, held back a year because she didn’t speak English. She later majored in journalism at City College of San Francisco.

Afterward, she worked for National Airlines, and then briefly at Pan Am, before settling on a more family-friendly schedule at the bureau.

“I just feel like I’m doing a good job and part of it is that I have some real, genuine enthusiasm about it. I just love this part of our area,” Grant said. “You do something you like and get recognized for it.”

kwilliamson@examiner.com

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