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Larry Alexander

LARRY ALEXANDER, who has served as president and CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau for nine years, has spearheaded the successful transition of the organization into metro Detroit’s leading tourism economic development agency. He was responsible for the creation of the Tourism Economic Development Council, a Bureau subsidiary that has implemented several new tourism improvement projects in the Detroit region, including highway beautification, convention center expansion studies, hospitality training, local and national image enhancement projects and other infrastructure enhancements.

Alexander also created the Detroit Metro Sports Commission, another wholly-owned Bureau subsidiary charged with marketing the region as a destination to host marquee sporting events as well as amateur sports. Alexander led the effort that landed Super Bowl XL and the NCAA Men’s Final Four, the AAU Junior Olympics and the USBC Women’s Bowling Championship, among many other sporting events.

Alexander’s core responsibilities include directing a staff of 50 employees that specialize in convention sales and tourism marketing. He is a hospitality veteran with over 30 years in hotel industry executive positions. He serves on numerous boards throughout the Detroit region, including the Riverfront Conservancy, the Parade Company and the National Kidney Foundation.

Jessie Allen

JESSIE ALLEN, general manager of the Orange County Convention Center, boasts a career that spans 29 years with Orange County, Florida. Fourteen years ago, Allen assumed the role of deputy director of the Orange County Convention Center. In this position, which was later renamed general manager, he is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the facility, the second-largest convention center in the nation.

In the early years of his career, Allen managed several departments within the Orange County Government structure.

Don Barden

DON H. BARDEN is owner, chairman and CEO of Barden Companies, Inc., the Majestic Star Casino, Waycor Development Company and Namibia, Africa-based Barden International, Inc. In December 2001, Barden acquired the Fitzgeralds Casino Hotel with properties in Las Vegas, Mississippi and Colorado. His international conglomerate operates in the casino, real estate development, entertainment and automotive sales, service and manufacturing industries from his corporate headquarters in downtown Detroit.

With a business career spanning more than 30 years, Barden is recognized as one of the top Black entrepreneurs in the country. He has guided Barden Companies and its affiliates from earnings of $600,000 to 2004 revenues of more than $372 million, making it one of the largest African-American-owned businesses in the country.

Prior to establishing Barden Companies, Barden spent 20 years in Lorain, Ohio, where he became the first elected Black city councilman in Lorain history and served two terms before leaving to pursue other business endeavors.

Kathleen Bertrand

KATHLEEN J. BERTRAND is a native Atlantan and a 23-year veteran of the hospitality industry, having joined the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau in 1983 and worked her way up, first as Membership account executive, later as Advertising & Membership manager, and in 1990 as vice president - Membership & Community Affairs.

In January 2003, Bertrand assumed the title of vice-president – Community & Government Affairs. She has been instrumental in the ACVB’s development of its diversity marketing programs – programs whose success has been validated by the TIAA naming Atlanta as the number one destination for African-American travelers for the past five years. Through her concept and direction Atlanta Heritage has been published as a visitors guide aimed at the African-American traveler for the past 16 years, and atlantaheritage.com was launched as the first web-site of a major CVB to concentrate on African-American local sights and attractions.

Elliott Ferguson

ELLIOTT FERGUSON serves as senior vice president of Convention Sales and Services for the Washington, DC Convention and Tourism Corporation (WCTC). In this position, Ferguson directs and manages the activities of WCTC’s convention sales and services staff as they promote Washington, DC as a premier meeting and convention destination. Ferguson is also charged with developing the corporation’s convention sales strategy and working with local hotel properties to further build business for individual hotels in the metro area. Additionally, he is acting as interim head of the WCTC Membership Department. Prior to joining WCTC in 2001, he served as vice-president of Sales for the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and as director of sales for the Atlanta and the Savannah Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Valerie Ferguson

VALERIE C. FERGUSON, a 25-year veteran of the hospitality industry, serves as regional vice president and managing director , Loews Philadelphia Hotel. Ferguson is the past chairperson of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA), where she spearheaded “Opportunity of a Lifetime,” a campaign to promote hospitality careers throughout the United States. She currently serves on the AH&LA Diversity Committee.

Ferguson arrived in Philadelphia in 1998 with a corporate mandate to direct the $115 million conversion of the landmark PSFS Building into the luxury, convention-driven Loews Philadelphia Hotel. She was further charged with leading the property through its high-profile opening in the spring of 2000, into the National Republican Convention and beyond.

Before joining Loews Corporation in 1998, Ferguson served as general manager of the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta and held general manager positions at Hyatt properties in Atlanta, Chicago and Flint, Michigan.

Gerry Fernandez

GERRY FERNANDEZ is founder and president of the MultiCultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance (MFHA), an educational non-profit organization that promotes the economic benefits of multicultural diversity in the restaurant, foodservice & lodging industry. Under Fernandez' leadership, MFHA has become the industry's main source for multicultural information and is considered one of hospitality's elite organizations.

Fernandez conducts lectures, workshops and strategy sessions for some of America's best-known companies, organizations and brands. An accomplished restaurateur and foodservice professional, Fernandez has received numerous awards including being named one of industry's "Fifty Power Players" by Nation's Restaurant News. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Foodservice Management from Johnson & Wales University where he also received an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration for his contribution to the industry's diversity efforts.

Monte Ford

MONTE FORD is senior vice president and chief information officer at American Airlines. He has broad executive responsibility for the company’s information systems organization, all Internet activities, decision science and operations research. Ford is widely regarded as a leader in the field of information systems and has worked extensively throughout the financial services industry and for technology provider companies.

Previously, Ford was executive vice president and chief information officer at The Associates First Capital Corporation. Ford joined Associates First Capital in 1994 as senior vice president and chief information officer of its consumer sector, progressing to executive vice president and CIO for all company operations. He previously served as senior vice president Technology at the Bank of Boston from 1990 to 1994 and held a number of positions of increasing responsibility at Digital Equipment Corp. from 1982-1990.

Dittie Guise

DITTIE F. GUISE is currently the chief operating officer of the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. In this capacity, she is responsible for implementing the Convention Center’s restructuring initiatives and is a member of the team for the $700 million expansion. Project.

Since taking office in 2004, Guise has made sweeping changes to restart the region’s most important economic engine, from improving the Convention Center’s marketing and sales efforts, to introducing Five Star Customer Service Training, to building strategic alliances with the media and other hospitality venues. In her short term, Guise has gained a reputation as one of the region’s prominent “Movers and Shakers.”

Guise possesses more than 30 years of senior leadership experience. A comprehensive blend of general management, operations, recruitment, training, marketing, finance, advertising, and public relations, her professional background encompasses virtually every aspect of the hospitality business.

Prior to joining the Pennsylvania Convention Center, she had been heading the SMG-Greater Columbus Convention Center as general manager in Columbus, Ohio.

 Tanya Hall

TANYA HALL serves as executive director of the Philadelphia Multicultural Affairs Congress (MAC), a division of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PCVB), with a mission to increase Philadelphia’s share of the national multicultural convention and tourism market – an industry that attracts more than $1 billion to the City annually.

 

SARA B. HAMLIN has been in the tourism industry for more than 20 years. She has been vice president of Tourism for the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau for seven years.

Hamlin is responsible for promoting and booking motor coach business, family reunions, implementation of the tourism division’s marketing plan and budget for the greater Birmingham area. She also supervises the operations of three Birmingham area visitor centers.

Hamlin serves on the Board of the American Bus Association. She’s also on the Board of the Transportation Review Board for the City of Birmingham. Hamlin serves on the Scholarship Foundation Board of the American Bus Association. She is involved in the following organizations: International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus, Bank Travel, National Tour Association, YWCA, Ontario Motorcoach Association, African-American Travel Conference and City Stages (a music festival).

 

CHARLOTTE HAYMORE, serves as both president of TPOC (Travel Professionals of Color), and program director of TPOC’s annual minority travel agents conference.

TPOC is an organization whose focus is on education, training and networking with and for minority travel agency owners, managers, agents and sales staff with a special emphasis on the African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Native Americans. Haymore formed TPOC with the help of Betty Jones of CB Jones Travel Service, another minority travel agent also located Denver, Co.

Haymore has 30 years experience in the travel industry, including 25 years as an airline employee and 10 years as a travel agency owner, and is passionate about minority travel businesses being run professionally and providing the very best in customer service.

SOLOMON J. HERBERT is the publisher/Editor-in-Chief of (i)Black Meetings & Tourism(ei) magazine, the multi award-winning international industry trade publication for the African-American meeting planner, travel agent and hospitality/tourism professional. He also serves as executive producer of “Globetrotting,” a travel television series that debuted in April of 2002 on BET on Jazz.

Before creating Black Meetings & Tourism with his business partner and wife Gloria, Herbert was self-employed as a full-time freelance print and photo journalist since 1981. During that period over 800 of his articles appeared in numerous regional, national and international publications.

Herbert currently holds membership in several professional organizations, including the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners (NCBMP), Meeting Professional International (MPI), Travel Professionals Of Color (TPOC), Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Africa Travel Association (ATA), Travel and Tourism Marketing Association (TTMA), Black Business Association of Los Angeles (BBA) and Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce (GLAAAC). He also sits on the Board of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers, and co-sponsors the annual Multicultural Tourism & Hotel Ownership Summit & Trade Show. Additionally, Herbert is a member of the MGM Grand Specialty Markets Advisory Council. Herbert and his wife were the 2002 recipients of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planner's Minority Business Award and the 2005 recipients of the Regional Black Chamber of Commerce of San Fernando Valley’s Small Business of the Year Award.

 

WILLIAM A. HOLLAND was named vice president – workforce planning & analysis for Hilton Hotels Corporation in 2000. In this position, Holland is responsible for affirmative action compliance for the corporate office, as well as all regional offices, and company-managed field locations; including analysis of legislation and regulation with EEO/AA ramifications and preparation of comprehensive reports for executive management and coordination of matters involving the OFCCP. Holland also serves as the company’s compliance officer, reporting to the general counsel and the audit committee of the board of directors.

Holland comes to Hilton with more than 20 years of human resources management experience, specializing in employee relations, industrial relations, equal opportunity affairs and workforce diversity. Prior to joining the Hilton family, Holland worked with Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) as director of workforce diversity & development.

 

 

Ernest Boger

ERNEST P. BOGER, CHA, FMP, CHE, assumed the chairmanship of the Hotel & Restaurant Management Department within the School of Business and Technology at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, MD, Princess Anne, at the beginning of the Spring 2006 Term.

Dr. Boger moved from Bethune-Cookman College (B-CC), where he completed 17 years as head of the Department of Hospitality Management. Similar to B-CC, Dr. Boger will retain CEO accountability for a thriving Bachelor of Science Degree Program, designed to produce entry level managers for a variety of Foodservice, Lodging and Travel/Tourism related careers. With 40+ years of industry operations and training expertise, he is recognized as the “Dean” of Black College Hospitality Educators.

Dr. Boger regularly provides consulting services in hospitality marketing and training to U.S., Caribbean, or African companies and governments. He holds leadership positions with more than 20 major industry organizations, including the Professional Certification Commission of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA). Since last year, he has added the Hotel & Catering International Management Association (HCIMA) and the Doctorate of Management (DMgt) to his dossier.

A prolific writer, Dr. Boger has authored 10 book chapters and more than 100 articles on industry subjects.

 

BENNISH D. BROWN is executive director of the Rock Hill/York County Convention and Visitors Bureau in Rock Hill, SC. He was hired as the organization’s first executive director in June of 2000 after the official merger of the York County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Rock Hill Sports Council.

Brown’s primary duties are to oversee the daily operations of the CVB, with specific responsibility for supervising activities that market York County to the sports, group tour, meetings and leisure traveler tourism segments.

Prior to joining the tourism industry, Brown worked in public relations and media relations for 19 years, and held a number of positions in the communications field.

 

BEVERLY BRYANT is professor, founder and director of the Bachelor of Science degree program in Hospitality and Tourism Administration at North Carolina Central University’s School of Business. She has over 29 years of higher education experience and over 16 years of association conference planning. She is a Certified Hospitality Educator and a Corporate and International Etiquette Consultant. As an outstanding leader in her field, she has participated in the National Leadership America Women’s Forum, and has published articles in refereed journals and contributed chapters in university textbooks on hospitality and tourism.

Dr. Bryant is currently the president of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners (NCBMP) located in Silver Springs, Maryland. NCBMP is the premier professional organization for educating African-American meeting professionals. As a meeting planner, she has planned and implemented the National Head Start Association Nutrition Institute and statewide training conferences for Head Start associations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama. She has also utilized her meeting planning experience to facilitate conferences for the National Cancer Institute on the campuses of Tuskegee University, Dillard University and North Carolina Central University. Dr. Bryant is the president and managing partner of the Protocol School of North Carolina and Management and Training Development. She holds the BS, MS and Ed.D. degrees from Tuskegee University and Auburn University respectively.

 

RONNIE BURT, while serving as vice president of convention sales and services for the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association since March 2005, assumed the role of interim president and CEO of BACVA in May 2006. Burt is charged with overseeing sales and marketing for the bureau and strategic planning. In this leadership role, Burt is responsible for identifying market growth opportunities for the destination that will drive business demand from the leisure, convention, meetings, and group tour segments, generating greater economic impact for the region.

 

WANDA COLLIER-WILSON joined the Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau in 1983 and has served as Executive Director since mid-1998. She is the first African-American woman to hold the executive director position in the City of Jackson, and the first person from within the bureau to ever be promoted to the top spot.

Her duties include fiscal responsibility and overall management of the CVB and a staff of 15, as well as maintaining a quarter-million dollar grant program designed to assist non-profit tourism entities in the city with marketing projects. The focus of the Jackson CVB is developing programs and projects designed to further tourism development within Jackson, which will position the city as a premier convention and tourist destination.

 

LEWIS H. DAWLEY III, a 20+ year veteran of the convention center industry, serves as senior vice president of Convention Center Operations and Business Development for SMG. Prior to joining SMG he was general manager and CEO of the Washington Convention Center Authority, Washington D.C. Dawley is one of a handful of industry experts to manage the planning, construction and grand opening of four convention centers. Before Washington, Dawley served as the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority’s general manager, where he developed a strategic operational plan for the opening of the 1.3 million-sq. ft. facility and directed day-to-day operations. Dawley also opened and operated the COBO Convention/Exhibition Center in Detroit, where he was general manager from 1977 to 1989, and the Minneapolis Convention Center, where he was director of Operations from 1989 to 1991.

Dawley is a member of several professional organizations including the International Association of Assembly Managers, the National Association of Exposition Managers, the Professional Convention Management Association, the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners and the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association.

Horace C. Hord, Jr.

HORACE C. HORD, JR. serves as regional vice president, Government & Community Relations for Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. Hord has been a tourism industry leader for over seventeen (17) years in sales, marketing and government Industry relations. His business management experience runs the gamut from entrepreneur to corporate leader. A dynamic manager whose strategic planning and positive listening skills combined with the ability to motivate and stimulate a team, has consistently built and increased business together with achieving what seems to be the unreachable.

Hord joined Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises in June 2004, in the newly created position of Regional Vice President for Caribbean Government and Industry Relations. His key role in the Company’s initiative is to establish a unique working partnership with the Caribbean governments and other private sector Organizations to keep RCI as the foremost cruise tourism partner and provider of tourists to the Caribbean region.

Prior to joining RCI, Hord was president & CEO of the Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association, and before that served as American Airlines director of Marketing/Atlantic Caribbean from 1989 to 2000.

Andy Ingraham

ANDY INGRAHAM serves as president/CEO of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers, Inc. (NABHOOD), of which he is one of the founders in 1999. NABHOOD was formed to increase the number of African-Americans developing, managing, operating and owning hotels; increase vendor opportunities and executive level positions for minorities, thereby creating wealth within the African-American community.

Ingraham is also president of Horizons Marketing Group Intl. Inc., a marketing and public relations corporation with special emphasis on African American and multicultural tourism. He has over 19 years in the tourism industry, developing specific expertise in multicultural and Caribbean tourism. Because of his knowledge and expertise, he is a constant source of articles and has been featured or quoted in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, National Public Radio, Hotel Business, Black Meetings & Tourism magazine and a host of other publications. Horizons created a number of programs for Caribbean destinations seeking to access the growing African American and multicultural market.

Roy Jay

ROY JAY serves as president/CEO of the Oregon Convention and Visitor Services Network. Jay is often described by clients, customers and competitors as the Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan in this rapidly growing industry. Jay, a native of Portland, Oregon, is one stays on top of his game. Whether in a lead or support role, Jay exemplifies the meaning of professionalism, salesmanship and being a true colleague. His keynote speech, last May, to the San Diego Chapter of MPI left no doubt that he has the ability of working with diverse groups of people in an effort to accomplish better cultural awareness and understanding among everyone. He currently serves on the board of NCBMP, advisor to TPOC, maintains memberships or participations in over 60 local, national or regional associations and organizations. A savvy business entrepreneur, he was the 2005 recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major For Justice Award for the development of one of his community service programs which helped expunge minor criminal convictions and reinstate drivers’ licenses in Oregon.

In addition to his convention, tourism and community service work, Roy serves as the head of several non profit organizations including the African American Chamber of Commerce and the Alliance of Minority Chambers, which was awarded of the entire management of Portland, Oregon’s Smart park public parking garages in 2003. Roy shared his good fortune with the Hispanic, Philippine and African American Chambers of Commerce.

Deborah Johnson

DEBORAH HUNTER JOHNSON is vice president of Global Human Resources Services for American Airlines, where she leads a team of professionals who provide HR services and support to domestic and international managers of people in the U.S., Latin America, Canada and Mexico. She also has primary responsibility for coordinating the company’s global diversity and corporate citizenship efforts.

Johnson obtained a B.A. in English from the University of Michigan and J.D. from Howard University School of Law. She resides in Dallas, Texas with her husband and their daughter.

Before joining American, Johnson served as an attorney with the then Chrysler Corporation and the former law firm of Patterson Phifer & Phillips.

 

JILL JOHNSON serves as executive director at the Jefferson City Convention & Visitors Bureau, a position she has held since January of 2004. Johnson is in charge of marketing, serves as a communications strategist, and oversees the CVB budget. Johnson has now been involved in the hospitality industry for 20-plus years. Previously, Johnson was employed by the Marriott Corporation. Originally hired as account manager, Johnson worked her way up the ladder and was promoted to director of sales. Among her professional affiliations, Johnson is a member of The Missouri Society of Association Executives (MSAE).

Robert Johnson

ROBERT JOHNSON is the Founder and Chairman of The RLJ Companies, an innovative business network that provides strategic investment and direction in and for a diverse portfolio of companies in the financial services, real estate, hospitality/restaurant, professional sports, film production, gaming and recording industries.

Under The RLJ Companies umbrella, Johnson owns or holds interests in companies operating in the professional sports, hospitality/restaurant, real estate, financial services, gaming and recording industries. Core assets of The RLJ Companies include RLJ Development, a privately held hotel investment company, which acquires and develops upscale select-service hotels, including Hilton-branded and Marriott-branded hotels in major North American urban markets. In February 2006, RLJ Development entered into an agreement to acquire 100 hotels for approximately $1.7 billion, bringing total holdings to 111 hotels.

Other assets include RLJ Urban Lodging Fund, a private equity hotel investment company, RLJ Asset Management Group, RolloverSystems, a financial services company in Charlotte, NC.

 

RON KELLY is president and CEO of Global Jet Shares, who are the leaders in providing fractional ownership in previously owned Gulfstreams, considered by most to be the Rolls Royce of corporate jets. Located in Van Nuys, California, Tetoboro, New York, and Ft Lauderdale, Florida, Global Jet Shares has redefined the fractional jet ownership industry by offering the prestige and performance of the luxurious Gulfstream at the fraction of the price of a comparable aircraft. Now with Global Jet Shares' new MyJet card program you can have a Gulfstream at your disposal for as little as $185,000.

Kelly’s life long affair with aviation started at the age of 14 when he soloed his first Sailplane. Kelly currently holds a Multi-Commercial pilots license and his 25 years of experience in sales, marketing, and real estate have afforded him the insight to identify the various proven aviation professionals that have become the synergistic team of Global Jet Shares. With over twenty-five years of Gulfstream operational experience, at GJS safety is our number one priority, followed closely by customer service.

 

JON MANNS has been the president and chief executive officer of the DeKalb Convention & Visitors Bureau (DCVB) since 1999. DCVB is an innovative destination marketing organization dedicated to attracting visitors to Georgia’s most culturally diverse county. Manns has implemented several innovative programs, which complement the rich diversity and influential community in DeKalb. DCVB is a leader in the family reunion market and has created a cutting-edge Tourism Academy that teaches our tourism partners and the community at large the things to see and do in DeKalb County.

Manns is a native of Atlanta, a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and an accomplished photographer, trombonist and vocalist. Manns currently holds the office of Chairman for the DeKalb Symphony Orchestra and Treasurer for the DeKalb History Center. He also serves on the Board of Directors or advisory boards for the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI), Southeast Tourism Society (STS), the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, the DeKalb Convention Center Authority and other civic organizations.

 

OSCAR MCGASKEY, JR. is the executive director of the Kansas City Convention and Entertainment Facilities, which consist of the Convention Center, Music Hall, Kemper Arena and the American Royal complex. McGaskey is responsible for a $20 million operating budget, 120 employees and managing a $150 million capital improvement program. He has held this position since June 2004 and was previously the general manager of the Dallas Convention Center from 1992-2002.

 

HOWARD MILLS, SR. - CMP is a dynamic, results-oriented executive with an extensive business background that includes over 30 years as a chief meeting/conference planner for the National Urban League. He is a founding member of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners and continues to be a tireless advocate for inclusion and advancement of Blacks in the industry. Mills currently serves as the organization's Chairman Emeritus.

Mills freelances as a trainer and consultant in the meetings industry. He regularly attends industry conferences to keep abreast of changing trends, share experiences and to network with meeting planners and suppliers. He remains steadfast in his commitment to mentor and work with young people in the industry. Through his vigilant networking, he brings together young people and key industry practitioners, often resulting in new or advanced employment opportunities for young people.

Mills is pleased to have been recognized by his peers in the industry. He was given the Hall of Leaders Award presented by ASAE, The Spirit of Hospitality Award given by the IACVB Foundation, numerous awards presented by the NCBMP, the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award and the Ann Tanneyhill Award, both bestowed by the National Urban League, as well as many citations and awards presented to him by cities, bureaus and hoteliers.

A graduate of Tuskegee University, Mills is experienced in all facets of meeting/conference planning, budgeting and negotiations. He has been singularly honored for his pioneering efforts and sterling contributions on behalf of Black meeting planners and promoting meeting planning as a career.

 

R. DONAHUE PEEBLES is president and CEO of The Peebles Corporation. Recognized today as a leader in the exclusive field of real estate development and management, Peebles' portfolio includes four-star hotels and quality residential and commercial properties in Washington, D.C., and glamorous Miami Beach. In addition to serving as president and CEO of his multi-million dollar real estate development firm, Peebles also chairs the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, a private, not-for-profit sales and marketing organization whose mission is to attract business travelers and sightseers to Miami.

Pamela Richards

PAMELA C. RICHARDS serves as the commissioner of Tourism for the United States Virgin Islands. Richards is the first woman in the history of the territory to hold this cabinet-level position. She oversees the Department of Tourism’s advertising and marketing plans, its national and international tourism-related efforts and product development.

As a St. Croix native, Richards brings a wealth of firsthand knowledge of the territory to the Department of Tourism, as well as a strong marketing, advertising and public relations background. Since U.S.V.I. Governor Charles W. Turnbull nominated her in January 2001, she has been an active member of the board of directors of the Virgin Islands Port Authority, serving as chairman for four years. Prior to her appointment, she was assistant commissioner of Tourism on St. Croix for two years. Before that, she served as assistant director press secretary of the Office of Public Relations in Governor Alexander Farrelly’s administration, press secretary for Senator David S. Jones, marketing director for Sunshine Mall and office manager for Senate President Lorraine L. Berry.

In October 2004, Richards was elected chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization. Only the second woman to serve in this prestigious position, she was previously first vice-chair of the organization. She also heads the CTO’s Aviation Committee in addition to active roles in other initiatives. Outside of the Caribbean she serves on the board of directors for the Travel Industry Association of America, a nonprofit organization that represents the common interests of the U.S. travel industry. In May of 2006 Commissioner Richards was presented with the 2006 APEX Award for Distinguished Service presented by Black Meetings & Tourism magazine.

Brenda Scott

BRENDA SCOTT , who serves as vice president of Sales for the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau, leads a team of nine professionals dedicated to marketing Fun Central as the premier family destination and convention location in Texas. She is responsible for overseeing and directing the results-driven convention and tourism sales departments, supervising the exemplary services department and assisting in the creation, development and execution of the annual Marketing Plan. Scott joined the Fun Central team in June 2006.

A 14-year tourism industry veteran, Scott most recently served as the president and CEO of the Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau. While there, she developed and implemented a comprehensive marketing plan designed to promote and position Mobile as a premier convention and tourism destination. She assumed a leadership role in building and developing the city of Mobile’s infrastructure that will improve the quality of the destination and its amenities and contribute to the quality of life for citizens and experience for visitors.

Francis Harris Smiley


FRANCES HARRIS SMILEY, CTIS, TMP, a 30 year career Alabama State Employee is the supervisor of the eight Alabama Welcome Centers and serves as the coordinator of the State’s Heritage Tourism Program. She has served as the assistant director of the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and prior to this appointment she served on the Governor's Cabinet for Tourism in the Siegleman Administration. She was responsible for the state's group tour marketing initiatives for 22 years. She is the author of the nation's first Black Heritage Tourism Guide . In 1994, she received the Phoenix Award from the American Society of Travel Writers, a delegate to the Nation's First White House Conference on Travel and Tourism. In August 1997 she received the Nation's first "Trailblazer Pioneer Award for Multicultural Tourism", from the Multicultural Tourism Conference, and the award is henceforth named, "The Frances Smiley Trailblazer Award."

Smiley was recognized by Black Meetings and Tourism magazine as one of the "Most Influential African Americans in Tourism" in the United States in '97-'05. In July of 1999 She was inducted in the Alabama Tourism Hall of Fame and in May 2003 into the West Alabama Tourism Hall of Fame.

Richard Lee Snow

RICHARD LEE SNOW currently serves as the executive director/COO of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of an active membership of nearly 120,000 and over 700 subsidiaries (chapters) throughout the United States and abroad.

Snow also oversees the national meetings of the fraternity and, thus, has been affiliated with the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners since 1998. He has served as Chairman of NCBMP’s membership committee and as a member of the Board of Directors. In November 2004, he was elected as Chairman of the Board. He has been featured both locally and nationally in various print media as well as radio and television. The Philadelphia Tribune has selected him since 1999 as one of Philadelphia’s Most Influential African-Americans and most recently, was named as one of the 25 Most Influential People in the Hospitality and Meetings Industry by Successful Meetings magazine.

Snow’s industry affiliations include the Board of Directors, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau; Advisory Board, Washington (DC) Conventions & Tourism Authority; Executive Committee, Multicultural Affairs Congress; Board of Directors, Convention Industry Council (CIC); and Host Committee, PCMA Philadelphia National Convention.

Robert L. Steele III

ROBERT L. STEELE, III , general manager of the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, is the 2005 secretary/treasurer of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), the largest trade association representing the U.S. lodging industry. In 2007, Steele will ascend to the chairmanship as the association’s second African-American chairman.

A 30-year lodging industry veteran, Steele has spent his entire career with Hyatt Hotels Corporation, serving as general manager of the Hyatt Regency Baltimore, Baltimore, Md., Hyatt Regency Washington, Washington, D.C., and Hyatt Fairlakes, Fairfax, Va., prior to his current position.

Steele has served as an active member on numerous committees and boards, including Board of Directors, Baltimore Area Convention & Visitors Association, Board of Directors, Governor's Tourism Development Board, and Board of Directors, Maryland Hotel & Lodging Association, to name a few.

Calvin Taylor

CALVIN TAYLOR is vice president of Government Relations for the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau. Taylor works closely with state government, city officials and the local hospitality industry in enhancing the development and growth of Memphis tourism. In addition he serves as the bureau's director of the Memphis Tourism Education Foundation, which administers the city's official hospitality tourism training program. Taylor is co-founder of the Beale Street Development Corporation, the organization that reintroduced the historic district as a tourist destination. He also worked as publicity director at Southland Racing Corporation, the southeast's largest pari-mutuel waging center. Additionally he is a member of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners, former member of the Board of Directors for the Tennessee Tourism Roundtable, and former president of the Tennessee Association of Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Albert Tucker

ALBERT TUCKER serves as vice president of Multicultural Business Development for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. In this role, Tucker’s primary responsibility is to develop partnerships and alliances with community, civic and business leaders of Broward County and work together collectively to attract a larger number of multicultural conventions, family reunions and meetings to Greater Fort Lauderdale.

Representing the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, Tucker serves on the International Trade and Tourism Committee, which oversees the Import/Export and Trade, programs for Broward County. Tucker, a graduate of Leadership Broward Class XVIII, served on the Executive Board of 100 Black men of Greater Fort Lauderdale and has been appointed by the Governor to chair the state’s Multicultural Committee for VISIT FLORIDA, overseeing a $14.5 million marketing budget. Additionally, Tucker serves on Meeting Professionals International’s (MPI) International Multicultural Initiative committee, where he is directly involved in the development of the standards for international hospitality community relative to people of color. He was recently voted to serve on the Board of the Urban league of Broward County.

Rebe Pittman Walker

REBE PITTMAN WALKER has approximately 30 years of experience in management and operations. She is the chief executive officer and general manager of the Washington Convention Center Authority. Her responsibilities include day-to-day operations, client and contractor relations and setting the strategic direction for the WCCA. She previously held the role of deputy general manager before her most recent appointment to the post of CEO and GM.

Pittman Walker also spent 12 years at the former convention center serving her last four years there as the director of operations. Prior to returning to the Convention Center, she served as president of the Hotel Association of Washington, D.C.

Her professional career has included serving as vice president for Convention Center Sales for Volume Services America; a political appointment by President Clinton to the United States Department of Agriculture as deputy chief of staff to the Secretary of Agriculture and Acting Assistant Secretary for Administration, as well as serving a tour of duty in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel; and a brief assignment with District of Columbia Mayor Anthony A. Williams, as his chief of staff.

 

Carol Wallace CAROL WALLACE, president & CEO of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation, is responsible for the overall management of the San Diego Convention Center. She oversees a full-time and part-time staff of 530 and an annual budget that exceeds $25 million. On July 1, 2004, the Center became the first convention center responsible for its own sales and marketing efforts. In every major American city, this has previously been the responsibility of the local Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Wallace has more than 25 years experience in the convention and facility management industry.

She currently serves on the board of directors of the International Association for Exhibition Management (IAEM). She is the past president of the International Association of Assembly Managers (IAAM), the world’s largest public assembly facility management association. In 2004, the Charles A. McElravy Award, the highest honor bestowed by IAAM, recognized Wallace for her exceptional leadership and extraordinary career-long accomplishments.

Larry Walter

LARRY WALTER has served as vice president, Marketing for the Jacksonville & the Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau since January, 2002.

In this role, Walter is responsible for establishing and implementing an integrated marketing plan to promote Jacksonville and the Beaches as a major convention, group tour and leisure travel destination. In this position, he guides the achievement of the department’s advertising, promotion, marketing objectives. Additionally, Walter provides leadership and supervision for Partner Development, Super Bowl Housing and Hospitality, and the Visitor Centers.

Walter joined the CVB staff in 1990.

Heather Turner

Heather Turner serves as national sales manager for the San Jose Convention & Visitors Bureau (SJCVB), a position she has held since August of 2007. In this post Turner focuses on promoting San Jose as a premier destination to various east coast regions, including meeting planners in Maryland, Virginia, Southeast Region Association and the U.S. Government. She draws on extensive sales contacts and experience she obtained while working with Hyatt and Wyndham Hotels as well as with the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore convention & visitors bureaus (CVBs).

The San Jose CVB’s mission is to enhance the image and economic well being of San Jose by marketing San Jose as a globally recognized destination.

Kathy TaylorKathy Taylor has joined Road Scholar/Elderhostel as associate Vice president of Community Business Development. Taylor most recently served as senior director of Local Corporate Development at WGBH Educational Foundation in Boston for 10 years. Prior to WGBH, she was a senior account executive with WBZ-TV (CBS) of Boston and special assistant for Minority Affairs to Boston Mayor Kevin White. Taylor received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Boston College, a Masters in Education from Lesley University and a Certificate of Advanced Studies from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Road Scholar/Elderhostel, the world's largest provider of educational travel programs to the mature travel market, reports annual revenues of $190 million.

Experient, the source for integrated meeting and event solutions, recently announced the addition of Margot Louden to the Experient Sales Network. The Experient Sales Network (ESN) is comprised of a team of Experient business development specialists located in primary customer markets across North America. These meeting solution professionals design and implement meeting and incentive solutions for Experient customers. Louden is based in Laurel, MD – serving Washington DC and Baltimore, MD – and has 15 years of experience in the event industry. Her previous positions included reservations, production and sales at Global Distribution Systems in New York and site sourcing, as a regional manager, for HelmsBriscoe.

Heather Doughlin
 The Convention Industry Council (CIC) is pleased to announce that Heather Doughlin, CMP, has joined the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) program as its new director. She joins CIC after 25 years of service to the Hyatt Hotels Corporation with positions in the Chicago, Atlanta, New York, and Washington DC metropolitan areas.

Her most recent position was senior Catering and Convention Services manager for the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington DC. Notable accomplishments in her tenure at Hyatt include expanding the wedding market while director of Catering at Hyatt Arlington. She was also co-chair of the Hospitality Division for the DC Chapter of the National Association of Catering Executives for a period in 2006.

  
  
  
  
 
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