Being a leader in the tourism industry is more important than ever. As one of the leading industries in Colorado’s economy, it is vital to ensure that the tourism industry has the access and ability to foster talented leaders who we can depend on for our future success.
The Colorado Tourism Leadership Journey was developed in 2017 as a statewide leadership program designed to activate the full potential of Colorado’s tourism industry through its people. This one-of-a-kind program is aimed at managers and mid-career professionals who are seeking to grow their tourism leadership skills. This tuition-based, year-long program, creates an opportunity to strengthen leadership skills not only for the benefit of the participants, but also for their employers and communities. For employers, it is a cost-effective means for developing, rewarding and retaining top talent. By equipping up-and-coming tourism leaders with skills to inspire others, create change and overcome challenges, we are building a competitive edge for a key Colorado industry.
Through the Colorado Tourism Leadership Journey, participants will:
- Build leadership skills, creative team problem-solving skills, listening and communication skills, and more
- Develop relationships and networking pathways within the Colorado tourism industry
- Participate in transformational, experiential learning opportunities around the state
- Increase knowledge and understanding of the Colorado tourism industry
- Engage with alumni after the program concludes
This one-year program will begin August 2023 and conclude at the annual Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference in September 2024. The program encompasses:
- Five experiential learning opportunities spanning three days (half day, full day, half day)
- Monthly meetings with small groups
- Required readings on leadership competencies
- Regular connections with assigned mentors
- Completion of an Action Learning Project
- Attendance, registration fees and networking opportunities at the 2024 Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference
- Discounted registration fees and networking opportunities at the 2023 Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference (attendance optional)
“This experience has given me the opportunity to take leadership traits and values that I’ve always admired and turn them into practical and tangible applications in my everyday life. It has been an unforgettable experience to be surrounded by incredible leaders who are learning together to better themselves and the industry.” – Melissa Williams, Visit Colorado Springs
Type: Leadership program
For: Tourism professionals
Cost: $2,850 per person
Application deadline: July 7, 2023
OEDIT division: Colorado Tourism Office
Participants represent a range of sectors including, but not limited to:
- Accommodations and Hotels
- Charitable/Social Organizations
- Cultural Facilities and Groups
- Destination Marketing Organizations
- Private Attractions
- Public Lands Agencies
- Restaurant, Food & Beverage
- Ski Industry and Outdoor Recreation
To be eligible, you need to:
- Work in a sector of the Colorado tourism industry
- Demonstrate capability as an emerging leader
- Complete the required application process
- Provide a letter of recommendation from your organization to participate in the Leadership Journey (unless you are an independent contractor)
- Demonstrate leadership potential based on a selection panel’s scoring of your application and a virtual interview
Participating in the Colorado Tourism Leadership Journey is a significant time commitment. Only one excused absence is allowed to accommodate extreme circumstances.
If you are selected for the class, you are responsible for:
- $2,850 for tuition, which includes attendance at one Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference, all program facilitation, meals and activity fees at the five experiences across the state. (Limited scholarships for tuition, travel reimbursement or child care stipends are available based on need. Contact email@example.com for more information.)
- Costs for travel and lodging (about $200 per night) to take part in experiences.
- Attending a minimum of four of the five experiences (including final experience at the Governor’s Conference)
- Purchasing or acquiring the required readings (four books, about $20 per book)
- Completing required readings and other materials
- Developing a relationship with an assigned mentor, including initiating regular mentoring sessions
- Attending monthly small-group discussions
- Completing an action learning project
Below you’ll find the schedule for the Class of 2024. Please use this as a reference while we finalize details for the Class of 2024 curriculum and schedule. All experiences, with the exception of experience V, will begin at 1 p.m. MT on the first day and conclude by noon MT on the last day.
- Virtual Onboarding Session - Aug. 29, 2023, 10 - 11 a.m. MT
- Experience I: Granby - Oct. 25 - 27, 2023
- Experience II: Colorado Springs - Jan. 17 - 19, 2024
- Experience III: Black Hawk - April 10 - 12, 2024
- Experience IV: Durango - July 17 - 19, 2024
- Experience V: Governor’s Conference, location TBA - Sept. 25 - 27, 2024
*Please note, experience locations are subject to change based on program capabilities
The application will be open Tuesday, May 2, 2023 through 4 p.m. MST Friday, July 7, 2023.
Apply online through the Online Application Form
The application includes basic demographic information, short answer questions and other documentation outlined below. The following short answer samples are only a reference and do not include all of the information you need to include in the application.
- Tell us who you are, beyond your resume. Share about your work in the tourism industry and/or in your community.
- How would your participation in this program make a difference for you, your employer and for your community?
- Describe a time when you adapted to change, overcame a challenge, and/or demonstrated resilience.
Your completed application will also need to provide uploads of:
- A resume that gives an overview of your employment history, educational background, current affiliations and extracurricular activities.
- One letter of recommendation for your participation in this program from your employer.
This is a competitive application process. A panel of Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) staff, industry partners and facilitators will review applications once the application period ends and conduct virtual interviews on Aug. 7, 9 and 11, 2023. All applicants will be notified of their status in the program by Aug. 14, 2023.
The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) engaged the Keystone Policy Center to design a curriculum around both career and personal growth for participants. CTO staff and the CTLJ Alumni Ambassadors guide the program.
Participants of the Colorado Tourism Leadership Journey Class of 2023 are as follows:
- Holly Blando, Marketing Director, Breckenridge Tourism Office
- Tessa Breder, Director of Community Affairs & Destination Management, Breckenridge Tourism Office
- Alyssa Brunette, Casino Marketing Manager, Monarch Casino Resort Spa
- Rebecca Domenico-Gelsinger, Deputy Director, Visit Estes Park
- Julie Dufault, International Promotions Manager, Colorado Tourism Office
- Sandy Elliott, Parks Operations Administrator, Pikes Peak - America's Mountain
- Keely Ellis, Northwest Rural Opportunity Representative, Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade
- Jenna Gallas, Special Events Coordinator, Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce, Visitors Bureau & Office of Economic Development
- Martha Gowin, Marketing Specialist, Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
- Katherine Hegemann, Owner and Founder, D&B Specialty Services/Colorado Tours 4 U
- Jessica Hite, Director of Marketing, Aspen Chamber Resort Association
- Matthew Klug, Lead Business Development Manager, Expedia
- Abraham Medina, Recreation Program Manager, Colorado State Land Board
- Faith Overall, Community Engagement Manager, Leave No Trace
- Weylin Ryan, Sustainability & Policy Manager, Visit Durango
- Gillian Rossi, Senior Park Ranger, City of Colorado Springs
- Katy Schneider, VP of Marketing, Visit Fort Collins
- Elizabeth Sumner, Director of Destination Development, Visit Alamosa
- Jeff Sparhawk, Executive Director, Colorado Search and Rescue Association
- Rachel Ward Oppermann, Senior Manager, Community Relations & Sustainability, Visit Estes Park
- Mira Whang, Senior Account Executive, MMGY Global