Destinations International Names Ekstrom to Professional Development Committee

Destinations International, the association representing destination organizations and convention and visitor bureaus worldwide, has named The Tourism Academy | tourismacademy.org CEO & Chief Strategist, Stephen Ekstrom, to its Professional Development Committee.

As tasked by their Board of Directors, The Professional Development Committee shall create, provide and advance professional development programs that are accessible, offer value and are relevant to the needs of our industry. The committee shall seek to improve the knowledge and skills of members through the recommendation, design and evaluation of all professional development programming, as well as provide continuous analysis, support and oversight to ensure quality, relevance and accessibility.

Ekstrom brings a unique perspective to the committee, being a full-time traveler, the only member who works exclusively in the training, professional development and online learning space, and only member to bring a third party perspective being that he is not actively employed by a DMO or CVB. 

Ekstrom's qualifications for the appointment are vast. A frequent keynote speaker, contributor to several trade publications, podcast host, and certified nerd whisperer. Learn more about his keynote talks. 

This appointment marks the second consecutive term for Ekstrom on the committee, thereby practicing the Tourism Academy's mission to help improve the quality, efficacy & efficiency of tourism industry education. 

Other members of the committee include:

  • Emily Cassell, CDME, Director, Arlington Convention and Visitors Service (Co-Chair)
  • Julie Pingston, CDME, President and CEO, Greater Lansing CVB (Co-Chair)
  • Amy Zientek, CDME, Director of Sales, Visit Lubbock
  • Andrew Schmidt, CDME, President and CEO, Visit Greenville, NC
  • Audry Brinkman, Exec Assistant & Office Manager, Visit Mesa
  • Beth Erickson, CDME, President and CEO, Visit Loudoun
  • Brandy Evans, CDME, VP, Marketing, Visit Wichita
  • Cassandra Klein (Vasquez), Director of Membership Development, Hospitality Tennessee
  • Cheryl Kilday, President and CEO, Destination North Myrtle Beach
  • Chris Phillips, CFO, Little Rock CVB
  • Dave Herrell, President and CEO, Visit Quad Cities
  • Greg Star, Co-Founder, Carvertise
  • Jay Cloutier, Director of Sales, Visit Albany
  • Jennifer Chance, CDME, VP Finance & Operations, Visit Jackson
  • Jennifer Walker, CMO, Visit Dallas
  • Jeremiah Cook, Tourism Manager, Visit College Station
  • John Hixon, Managing Director of Sales, Visit Indy
  • John Mayner, CDME, Director, Shenandoah CVB
  • John Pricher, CDME, Director, Discover Crystal River
  • Jonathan Freeze, CDME, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Justin Farmer, SVP, Business Strategy, MMGY Global
  • Kaitlyn Parham, Director of Digital Marketing, Cobb Travel and Tourism
  • Karen Raymore, CDME, Executive Director, Hocking Hills Tourism Association
  • Kathryn Shea Duncan, Director of Social Media, Visit Lake Charles
  • Kristin McGrath, Executive Director, Pasadena CVB
  • Lauren Bourgoing, VP, Miles Partnership
  • Leslie Johnson, VP, Sales & Event Experiences, Visit Milwaukee
  • Liz Dane, Regional Director, Mid-Atlantic, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater
  • Melissa Williams, Director of Marketing, Visit Colorado Springs
  • Mina Robertson, Account Director, Miles Partnership
  • Misty Bond, Sr. Director, Sales & Marketing, Destination Irvine
  • Patrick Tuttle, CDME, Director, Visit Joplin
  • Sally Slater, Director of Convention Sales & Sports Marketing, Fayetteville Area CVB, NC
  • Sandy Christensen, SVP, Finance & Business Operations, Meet Minneapolis
  • Scott Craighead, VP, Sales, Services & Sports, Visit Albuquerque
  • Stacie Granum, Chief Strategy Officer, Visit Rapid City
  • Stephen Ekstrom, Chief Strategist, The Tourism Academy
  • Susan Smith, CDME, CEO, Visit Bastrop
  • Todd O’Leary, CDME, VP, Marketing & Communications, Sonoma County Tourism
  • Trina Flack, VP, Sales Catch Des Moines
  • Wes Rhea, CDME, CEO, Visit Stockton
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