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Caroline Beteta serves as President & CEO of the industry-led Visit California, a nonprofit organization created to market California as a premier travel destination and to increase the state’s share of tourism-related revenues.
Caroline simultaneously serves as the Director of Tourism in California’s Governor’s Office of Business & Economic Development (GO-Biz). In her dual capacity, she is responsible for implementing Visit California’s $126 million global marketing program and serves as the lead spokesperson for California’s $132.4 billion travel industry. Caroline has shepherded the growth of Visit California into a global marketing franchise whose brand advertising alone generated incremental visitor spending of more than $13.1 billion in fiscal year 2017-18.
Caroline has served as Chair of the Board and Vice Chair of Operations for Brand USA, where she provided strategic direction for the $200 million global program. During a two-year term as National Chair of the U.S. Travel Association, she guided the successful merger of the Travel Industry Association with the Travel Business Roundtable. Caroline serves on the Executive Committee of the World Travel and Tourism Council — Visit California was the first destination marketing organization invited to join the WTTC.
Caroline has received numerous awards for her creative work and leadership in the travel industry, including induction into the U.S. Travel Association’s Hall of Leaders.
Caroline holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of California, Los Angeles and a master’s degree in Public Administration/Intergovernmental Affairs from the University of Southern California. She also completed the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Marketing Management Program.
For more about Visit California, visit industry.visitcalifornia.com
Aaron Bolzle is Executive Director of Tulsa Remote, a unique talent recruitment initiative of George Kaiser Family Foundation which has seen 10,000+ applications from over 150 countries and all 50 states. A Tulsa native, Aaron attended public school in Tulsa and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. He attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston and graduated with honors. Aaron worked in digital marketing and production for Universal Music Group in NYC during one of the most transformative times in the digital music revolution and then spent eight years in California working for Apple at iTunes. After nearly 15 years away, Aaron returned to his hometown of Tulsa with a desire to make a positive impact in the city he was born. A year after returning, he launched Tulsa Remote.
Sage first visited China in 1987, and has been studying and speaking the language and culture ever since. He has worked in China as a researcher, investor, entrepreneur, journalist and advisor, with a specialization in travel, digital, mobile and strategy. Sage co-founded China Luxury Advisors to assist luxury brands and retailers in developing China-related strategies, ranging from market entry, to social media, to attracting, converting, and retaining Chinese tourists. Sage contributed the weekly “Sage Brennan’s This Week in China” column to Dow Jones’ MarketWatch for two years, and remains a frequent commentator on China-related media and technology issues in print media and on programs such as CNBC’s Asia Squawk Box, Wall Street Journal, Women’s Wear Daily and others. Sage is a founder and curator of the Shanghai chapter of MobileMonday, with over 3,000 participants, and co-founded the TEDxShanghai chapter. He is also a regular speaker on China at conferences such as SouthXSouthwest, AdTech and others. A native of Boston, Sage holds both an MBA and an undergraduate degree in International Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and harbors a lifelong passion for Mandarin and China.
Chuck Davison serves as President & CEO of Visit SLO CAL and brings 27 years of travel and tourism experience to San Luis Obispo County. Chuck led the research, groundwork, approval and implementation process for San Luis Obispo County’s first countywide Tourism Marketing District. Under Chuck’s leadership, the organization has developed and launched the new SLO CAL® brand, expanded into international markets and increased air service development, and launched the development of SLO CAL’s first countywide destination management strategy, positioning the organization for success in the years to come.
Brent DeRaad has served for seven years as President & CEO of Visit Tucson.
DeRaad and the 40-member Visit Tucson staff are charged with marketing, promoting and selling metro Tucson and southern Arizona as a leisure and meetings destination. Visitors spent $2.3 billion in the region in 2017.
Major initiatives undertaken during his tenure at Visit Tucson include: a destination branding initiative; taking Tucson through Destination International’s DestinationNEXT process; creating and implementing an organizational strategic plan; and working with Resonance Consultancy to develop a tourism master plan for Tucson and southern Arizona, which will be completed in spring 2019.
DeRaad, who serves currently as chairman of the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association, came to Tucson from the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. He spent 10 years there, including the final six as the organization’s executive vice president.
Guðrið Højgaard is the Director of Visit Faroe Islands, the official tourist board of the Faroe Islands. With an MBA in International Marketing and Communication from Copenhagen Business School, Guðrið Højgaard has vast experience in the tourism industry, having worked as marketing director for Visit Stockholm and marketing manager for Visit Denmark in Sweden.
In 2012 she moved back to her native islands after 20 years abroad and took up the position of Director of Visit Faroe Islands where her main task is, quite simply, to put the Faroe Islands on the world map as a must-see tourist destination. In recognition of her achievements so far in leading her small team to develop a successful new marketing strategy for Faroese tourism, Guðrið Højgaard received the 2016 Public Leader of the Year award. Also
Visit Faroe Islands has won several international marketing awards like Golden Lions in Cannes, Clio Awards, Epica Awards and World Media Awards.
In 2019 Guðrið is on the Politico 28 list over people likely to be “shaping, shaking and stirring Europe in 2019”, the first ever tourism director on the list.
From 2018 Guðrið is also director for the internal tourism development on the islands.
Mr. Hunden and his Chicago-based firm offer extensive experience in the economics of placemaking, primarily via transformative real estate projects. He has provided economic development, market and financial feasibility, impact, developer selection and planning expertise for more than 600 projects and studies over the past 20+ years, totaling more than $4 billion in developed real estate. The firm completes approximately 60 assignments per year with its 12-person professional staff. Hunden’s background in economic, real estate and tourism development combine to make him a unique resource for communities looking to develop their destinations and projects in a viable, transformative and sustainable way.
Kian Kamas serves as Chief of Economic Development for Mayor G.T. Bynum and the City of Tulsa. In this role she is responsible for directly managing a team of ten staff who focus on managing and developing tools and programs crucial to successful economic development, and supporting existing industry, new businesses, and developers seeking to invest in Tulsa. In addition to this, she is responsible for oversight of the Development Services Department and the Executive Directors of the Tulsa Parking Authority and Downtown Coordinating Council. Prior to joining the Mayor’s team in August 2017, Ms. Kamas served as Vice President of Economic Development for the Tulsa Regional Chamber where she led new business attraction efforts for the region. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Oklahoma, a Master’s Degree in Comparative Public Policy from the University of Edinburgh, and completed the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute. Ms. Kamas is a founding member of the Tulsa Honor Academy Board of Directors and served as Chair for two terms; she also serves on the Tulsa City County Board of Health and recently completed two terms as Chair. She is a self-admitted Tulsa fanatic and prides herself in cooking up crazy ideas and convincing other members of the Mayor’s team to join her in their implementation.
Kelly has more than 20 years of public relations, marketing and brand development experience, including work for some of the world’s leading consumer and business-to-business brands.
Hired by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation in 2012 to build a new business climate marketing capability for the state, Kelly has worked with statewide economic development partners to expand perceptions of Wisconsin to include an understanding of and preference for the unmatched opportunities the state offers for business, career and personal success.
Kelly holds a bachelor’s degree in English and linguistics and a master’s degree in English with a linguistics concentration from UW−Milwaukee; as well as a master’s degree from Oklahoma City University in mass communications.
Claus Lønborg has been managing director for Copenhagen Capacity since 2011. Copenhagen Capacity is the official inward investment agency for the “Greater Copenhagen” metropolitan region. They advise foreign companies and investors on establishing, expanding and retaining their activities in the region. Further to this consultancy role, Copenhagen Capacity is also active in developing the regional attractiveness for foreign investors through a number of projects and activities ranging from cluster development to talent attraction.
Prior to his job with Copenhagen Capacity, Claus spent 4½ years in Shanghai, setting up and leading an innovation center to advice Danish companies on research and high tech collaboration with Chinese companies, organisations and universities and to provide general establishment services for knowledge based Danish enterprises.
Most of Claus’ career is however from the private sector, where he had held international sales and marketing positions Rockwool, Arla Foods, Maersk and IBM. Through these jobs, Claus has built his international experience from activities and responsibility areas spanning across America, Europa and Asia.
Claus holds a masters degree in International marketing and has supplemented his education with training programs from IMD, INSEAD. He is married and has 4 children.
Andrew Nelson is director of editorial projects for National Geographic Travel and has worked or collaborated with NGT for 15 years. His most recent story, a feature on Laos, appeared in the October-November issue. His team's multi-platform production with partner Tourism New Zealand was named one of the "10 Best Branded Partnerships in 2017" by Ad Age. Nelson is also twice winner of the Lowell Thomas Award and his work has appeared in outlets such as Salon, the New York Times and San Francisco Magazine. He is also an educator and served as a visiting professor at Loyola University New Orleans teaching social media, journalism and travel writing. Nelson feels passionately about instilling young writers with an appreciation of travel, culture and place.
As a co-founder of the 1990s award-winning computer gaming company CyberFlix, he built the first digitally navigable model of the Titanic. Mac Home Journal named Titanic: Adventure Out of Time “Game of the Year." He also served as a senior producer for Britannica.com in San Francisco, however Andrew's most satisfying accomplishment was restoring an old adobe near Marfa, Texas, in the Big Bend of the Rio Grande. A graduate of Syracuse University, he received a masters from the University of Missouri's School of Journalism. He lives in Washington, DC.
Kristian’s role at the New Orleans Visitor & Convention Bureau enables him to focus on the strategic direction and messaging of the New Orleans tourism industry. He creates and oversees the implementation of public relations and communications strategies to brand New Orleans as the nation's premier business and leisure destination and is responsible for positioning the NOCVB as one of the top CVBs in the country. He supports the president and CEO as a spokesperson for the tourism industry on all levels, supervises the day-to-day operations and management of the communications staff and manage activities of outside CVB partners.
Prior to joining the NOCVB I 2015, Kristian was with the New Orleans-based Peter A. Mayer Advertising, Louisiana's largest full-service advertising, public relations and marketing agency, He and his team serviced approximately 20 accounts per month ranging all categories including Emerald Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, GE Capital, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Louisiana, Hancock/Whitney Bank, The National World War II Museum and the Louisiana Office of Tourism, among others.
He has held numerous leadership positions in the city and region, including serving on the Host Committee for Super Bowl XLVII, serving on the city's team of BP oil spill communications specialists, and working with key city and state officials on Louisiana's recovery efforts post-Hurricane Katrina and Rita. Sonnier began his career as a public relations manager at the Resort at Squaw Creek in California.
Tourism is a $6.47 billion industry for New Orleans, employing more than 80,000 people and attracting 9.28 million visitors annually.
Jason Thorne is a professional planner who leads the Planning and Economic Development Department at the City of Hamilton, Canada. He oversees a team of 800 staff working across multiple portfolios including planning, building, development engineering, transportation planning, parking, arts, culture and economic development. Best known historically as Canada’s industrial powerhouse, Jason and his team have helped to guide an urban renaissance in Hamilton that has gained national and international attention.
Born and raised in Hamilton, Jason has been working in planning and community development his entire career. As a Manager with the Ontario Growth Secretariat, Jason was one of the key architects of the Province of Ontario’s Places To Grow initiative. Recognized with national planning awards from both the Canadian Institute of Planners and the American Planning Association, the Places To Grow initiative transformed the regional planning framework for the Toronto-centred Greater Golden Horseshoe Region.
As Director of Policy and Planning for Metrolinx, Jason was one of the lead authors of the Big Move, the regional transportation plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
Jason also worked as a planning consultant for communities across Canada and in Africa and Latin America as a Partner and Principal with the Toronto-based planning, architecture and design firm planningAlliance.
Jason has also worked for a wide range of non-governmental organizations including the Bay Area Restoration Council, Bruce Trail Association and Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment.
Jason is a passionate advocate of community-based planning, sustainable and inclusive development, and the creation of complete, vibrant cities. Most importantly, he is a proud Hamiltonian who is excited to be back working in his hometown.
Scott White is the President & CEO of the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau. The Greater Palm Springs CVB is the tourism sales and marketing organization for the Coachella Valley. Tourism attracts over 13 million visitors and generates over $7 billion annually to the local economy. In 2016, the CVB launched the Destination Development Plan with a goal to attract over 16 million visitors by 2026.
White came to the CVB in 2010 following four years as the Executive Director of the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau and eight years at the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau. He began his hospitality career in Monterey, California in the hotel industry, including nine years with Renaissance Hotels.
Scott serves on the Governing Board for the Desert Regional Medical Center, Past Chairman of the California Travel Association and serves on the Board of Trustees for the California Travel Political Action Committee. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Destinations International and serves on the Chairman’s Circle of the U.S. Travel Association.
He is a native of California and is married to Rachel. When not working, he likes to be outdoors golfing, hiking or at home in his personal oasis. Scott is in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and sponsors his little brother Joshua. His favorite quote: “In the midst of chaos lies creativity.”
Ernest Wooden Jr. took the helm of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board (L.A. Tourism) in January 2013 to oversee the global brand marketing and meetings and convention sales strategy.
As President & Chief Executive Officer of L.A. Tourism, Wooden is responsible for ensuring the achievement of the mission of the city’s official tourism marketing organization, which is to advance the prosperity of the Los Angeles visitor economy and the livelihoods which depend on it. This mission is fulfilled by marketing and promoting Los Angeles as the premier site for leisure travel, meetings and conventions to the principle segments of both the domestic and international consumer and travel trade. In addition to the staff at the primary office in Los Angeles, Wooden directs the activities of L.A. Tourism’s international offices in London, Sydney, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu as well as representatives in Japan, Germany, France, South Korea, Scandinavia, India and the Middle East. His additional responsibilities include oversight of the exclusive contract to market international air service and promote route development for Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) as well as the Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission (LASEC).
Under Wooden’s leadership, Los Angeles has enjoyed record-breaking visitation, welcoming 50 million visitors from around the globe in 2018. As a global gateway for the United States, Los Angeles enjoys the second highest share of overseas visitors to the country. Tourism is a leading industry in Los Angeles, supporting 547,000 jobs within the Leisure & Hospitality sector, contributing more than $24 billion in visitor spending to the local economy and generating $35 billion in local economic impact.