Colorado Tourism Leadership Journey

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.

To better serve the Colorado tourism industry, the Colorado Tourism Leadership Journey will now be offered every other year. This new schedule allows CTO to more effectively evaluate and update the curriculum while dedicating full attention to each cohort throughout the program.
During the interim period, CTO will provide additional leadership opportunities, such as facilitated webinars, for the industry. For the updated timeline, please scroll to the schedule section for more information.

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 2025 and conclude at the annual Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference in September 2026. 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 period: April-June

OEDIT division: Colorado Tourism Office

Participants represent a range of sectors including, but not limited to:

  • Accommodations and Hotels
  • Agritourism 
  • Charitable/Social Organizations
  • Cultural Facilities and Groups
  • Destination Marketing Organizations
  • Gaming 
  • Media/Marketing/Advertising
  • Private Attractions
  • Public Lands Agencies
  • Restaurant, Food & Beverage
  • Ski Industry and Outdoor Recreation
  • Transportation

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 from an in-person experience 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 leadership@colorado.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

The Colorado Tourism Leadership Journey is moving to an every other year cadence. With this new schedule, CTO will be able to evaluate and change the curriculum more effectively, as well as focus on one cohort for the entirety of the class. 
In interim time, CTO will offer auxiliary leadership opportunities like webinars, workshops, and additional learning opportunities for the industry. Please refer back to this page and to our Tourism Tuesday newsletter for more information in the coming months.

Below you’ll find the schedule for the Class of 2026. 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. 

  • Applications Open: April 2025
  • Applications Close: June 2025
  • New Class Announced: August 1, 2025
  • Virtual Onboarding Session: August 2025
  • Program Duration: September 1, 2025 – Gov Con 2026
  • Experiences:
    • Optional Gov Con 2025
    • 1st: October 2025
    • 2nd: January 2026
    • 3rd: April 2026
    • 4th: July 2026
  • Graduation: Gov Con 2026 

*Please note, experience locations for the Class of 2026 have not yet been planned and are subject to change based on program capabilities

Application Period April-June

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.

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.

  • Ani Steele, Public Programs and Events Manager, History Colorado
  • Charles Lammers, Marketing Manager, Visit Loveland (City of Loveland)
  • Christina Tuchman, Marketing Manager, Colorado Tourism Office
  • Dana Paiement, Senior Manager, Destination Development, Visit Estes Park
  • Gabriel Pino, Marketing Manager, Monarch Casino Resort Spa
  • Gera Sivak-Salva, Tourism Manager, Visit Longmont
  • Ginny Vietti, VP of Marketing Breckenridge, Grand Vacations
  • Heather Anderson, Director, Visit Greeley
  • Irving Antonio Tinoco, Owner, A Colorado Road Yacht for Adventure
  • Jeremy Gross, Special Event Coordinator, Town of Vail
  • Jessica Burford, President & CEO, Palisade Chamber of Commerce
  • Jessica Edwards, Marketing and Events Manager, Town of Georgetown
  • Katie Llewellyn, Central Reservations Manager, Copper Mountain
  • Kayla Coe, Associate Media Director, Miles Partnership
  • Megan Pinson, Community Marketing, Manager Visit Golden
  • Molly Norton, Community Engagement Coordinator, Town of Mountain Village
  • Onyx Cly-Peek, Assistant Manager, Grande River Vineyards
  • Patton Murray, International Sales Manager, Alterra Mountain Company
  • Peter Cacek, Public Engagement Manager, Town of Nederland
  • Sara Stookey Sanchez, PR Manager, Snowmass Tourism/Town of Snowmass Village
  • Sarah-Jane Johnson, Sustainable Tourism Consultant, Self employed/ RoadMap Consulting
  • Talia Siens, Chairperson Pawnee Pioneer Trails Scenic and Historic Byway

Program Manager

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