The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) today announced the inaugural class for the Colorado Tourism Leadership Journey, a brand-new, yearlong executive training program aimed at building the state tourism industry’s bench strength.
The Class of 2018 includes 20 participants from tourism settings as diverse as Expedia, YMCA of the Rockies and the National Park Service. Their yearlong experience will begin at the Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference Oct. 25-27 in Grand Junction.
“Our hope is that this program creates value not only for participants and their employers, but for Colorado,” said CTO Director Cathy Ritter. “In a state with just 1.7 percent of the nation’s population but 7.7 percent of U.S. tourism jobs, it’s vital to ensure that the tourism industry has access to talented leaders who can keep growing our competitive edge.”
To lead the tuition-based program, CTO has engaged the Keystone Policy Center, a public policy group with offices in Keystone, Denver and Washington, D.C. Under the guidance of the CTO and a statewide Leadership Committee, Keystone is designing a curriculum that encompasses facilitated sessions, required reading, one-on-one mentoring, action learning projects and experiential learning opportunities in three different Colorado locations.
The planning process began in November 2016 under the guidance of an 18-member advisory group chaired by Colorado Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne. The group, representing academic and industry professionals, guided the CTO in shaping the program. A first of its kind among state tourism offices, the program is the latest expression of the CTO’s new statewide strategic plan for the tourism industry, the Colorado Tourism Roadmap.
“This program is an innovative way of addressing an issue that is on the minds of hotel operators who are constantly faced with staffing challenges at all levels, including leadership positions,” said Amie Mayhew, president & CEO of the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association. “With an increase in retirements from within the leadership ranks, finding leaders to catch the reins is becoming increasingly more difficult. There’s a real concern about where that next generation of leaders is going to come from, which is why CHLA is excited about this program.”
Mayhew serves on the CTO’s Leadership Committee and took part in an industry interview panel that spent three days conducting 30-minute virtual interviews with 32 applicants last month.
The highest-scoring candidates ultimately represented a cross-section of Colorado’s tourism industry, including the ski, casino, hotel and beer industries as well as academia and several of the state’s destination marketing organizations.
The Colorado Tourism Leadership Journey Class of 2018 is as follows:
Hannah Berglund, Project Manager, Miles Partnership, Lakewood
Tammie Thompson Booker, Vice President of Sales/Marketing and Revenue, Mars Hospitality, LLC, Craig
Katelin Cook, Economic Development Coordinator, Rio Blanco County, Meeker
Erica Ferris, Director of Casino Marketing, Monarch Casino Black Hawk, Black Hawk
Donielle Gonzales, Tourism Director, Visit Pueblo Convention & Visitors Bureau, Pueblo
Amanda Graham, Industry Relations Director, Expedia, Denver
Jennifer Green, Director of Tourism, Visit Pagosa Springs, Pagosa Springs
Kelli Hepler, Delta County Tourism, Delta
Angela Hollingsworth, Program Planner, Master of Tourism Management, Colorado State University, Fort Collins
Steve Kurowski, Director of Marketing & Operations, Colorado Brewers Guild, Denver
Kale Mortensen, Welcome Center Manager, Alamosa Convention & Visitors Bureau, Alamosa
Lisa Neujahr, Marketing & Communications Director, YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park
Katharina Papenbrock, Executive Director, Ouray Chamber Resort Association, Ouray
Alexander Pedigo, Retail Owner Services Manager, Copper Mountain Resort, Copper Mountain
Kristine Rodine, Tourism Marketing Manager, Morgan County, Fort Morgan
Scott Rodgers, Guest Experience Manager, Eldorado Resorts, Black Hawk
Nikki Wall, Museum Director, Old Town Museum, Burlington
Rick Wallner, Supervisory Park Ranger, National Parks Service, La Junta
Laura Waniuk, Event Liaison Specialist, Town of Vail, Vail
Melissa Williams, Marketing Manager, Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, Colorado Springs
CTO Participant: Amber King, Director of U.S. Marketing, Colorado Tourism Office, Denver