The Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau (CCTB) has named Donald P. Welsh its new president and CEO, it announced this month.
Welsh, who previously served as CEO of the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association (ICVA), replaces Tim Roby, who departed the CCTB at the end of December to accept a position with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide as senior vice president of sales, North America.
"Our state leaders made sweeping reforms setting the stage for a new way of doing business in Chicago and Illinois," said CCTB Chairman Bruce V. Rauner. "The bureau was tasked with taking the tools they gave us to move the needle. First, we put a new board of business and civic leaders in place. A city known for making no small plans, we then set out to find the best CEO to lead us into the future. I'm pleased to say — we've found the right person. Don is exactly what we need to take the bureau to a whole new level and sharpen Chicago's competitive edge."
During his tenure at ICVA — prior to which he served as CEO of the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau — Welsh helped raise the profile of Indianapolis as a major meetings destination with over $3 billion in new tourism-related developments. He played a critical role, for instance, in opening the city's new airport, its new stadium and the newly expanded Indiana Convention Center, which is connected to the new Marriott Place hotel campus.
"When you consider the sheer impact of the industry and the demands of the person responsible for maintaining and growing it, the choice was right," Rauner continued. "Don has been remarkably successful and brings a highly valued skill set of Bureau experience coupled with branding and marketing acumen. He shares in our bold vision of taking our industry to new heights and we know he has the energy and ability to do it. This is a city of champions, and we got one."
Welsh will officially assume his role as CCTB CEO in February. According to media reports, ICVA already has launched a search to replace him. In the meantime, CEO duties will be shared by three senior ICVA executives: Executive Vice President James Wallis, Senior Vice President of Marketing Warren Wilkinson and Vice President of Sales Michelle Travis.