Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau Names Julie Calvert President & CEO
The Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) has named Julie Calvert its new president and chief executive officer. Calvert is currently the founder and Executive Director of Source Cincinnati and returns to the CVB where she served as a senior executive from 2001-2016.
The announcement was made by CVB board chair Jim McGraw and comes after a months-long search by Minneapolis-based SearchWide, following the retirement of former CEO Dan Lincoln in December.
“This position has an opportunity to shape the vision of the Cincinnati destination for decades to come, and we had to get it absolutely right,” said McGraw. “With Julie, we get a leader with a proven track record of driving destination reputation and economic impact. We get a passionate advocate for our region who understands our business, government and civic landscapes and how to mobilize the decision-makers who guide them. Moreover, we get an expert strategist who appreciates the power of collaboration and creative problem-solving to move the Cincinnati region forward.”
Calvert has spent her career developing and executing strategies that drive awareness, build reputation, mobilize resources and spark economic vitality in the Cincinnati region. She founded Source Cincinnati in 2014 to connect the region with national media and elevate the “Cincinnati Story” into the global spotlight. Since its launch, Source, supported by the region’s business, civic and arts organizations, has produced hundreds of stories in outlets like the New York Times, USA Today, The Atlantic and Black Enterprise reaching more than a billion people and working to attract talent, visitors and investment to Cincinnati.
“Cincinnati has always had a great story to tell. But more than five years ago, it was Julie who had the vision to create an initiative dedicated to telling our story in a game-changing way,” said Scott Robertson, board chair, Source Cincinnati. “Source has elevated Cincinnati at the national and international levels in ways we can’t even measure. Now she takes that experience, passion and vision to the CVB, and our destination couldn’t be in better hands.”
Prior to that, Calvert served as vice president of communications and strategic development for the Cincinnati USA CVB. While there, she was the driving force behind the CVB’s national marketing, communications and reputation-building strategies and was instrumental in the Bureau’s years-long record-setting results in attracting and hosting some of the world’s most high-profile conventions and events. During her tenure, Calvert oversaw the CVB’s communications, media, membership, stakeholder communications, community relations and organizational development departments.
“Cincinnati has never had a stronger national and global reputation, and much of that is due to Julie’s incredible leadership at Source Cincinnati and the CVB,” said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. “Julie has always had an extraordinary vision for elevating Cincinnati as a world-class destination. As president of the CVB, she’ll have an even larger platform to drive more awareness and impact for our entire region.”
As president and CEO of the CVB, Calvert will lead the region’s destination marketing organization, maximizing the economic impact of the region’s convention and meetings industry and leading an award-winning team to attract high volume, high impact groups to Cincinnati. Calvert will work closely with local civic, corporate and hospitality industry partners to further establish and promote Cincinnati as a world-class meetings and tourism destination.
“I love Cincinnati, and I’ve had the privilege of spending my career promoting the people and organizations who make it such a special place,” said Calvert. “It’s an exciting time to lead the CVB, and I can’t wait to get started with our board and executive committee to cast the vision and map our most urgent priorities.”
“I’ve had the great pleasure of working closely with Julie for many years, and I never cease to be impressed with her leadership, strategic insight, attention to detail and genuine love of Cincinnati,” added Delores Hargrove Young, former board chair of the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Julie was a key advocate to the launching of CVB’s Supplier Diversity Program and supported the development of our multicultural marketing channel. There isn’t a person more perfectly suited to take the reins of the CVB.”
Calvert will lead the CVB at a time of active public dialogue about new destination assets, from construction of the new soccer stadium to expansion of the Duke Energy Convention Center and renovation of both a new headquarters hotel and U.S. Bank Arena.
“Cincinnati is at a critical time in our history as our destination wrestles with infrastructure issues to stay competitive in attracting conventions and leisure travelers,” added Mayor Cranley. “Julie understands all the destination issues we face as a region and is uniquely suited to lead us in overcoming the challenges and capitalizing on every opportunity.”
The Cincinnati region attracts more than 26 million annual visitors spending more than $5 billion a year across the region. Calvert has a strong track record of collaboration to build on those impact numbers. From meetNKY and other local CVBs to civic organizations like the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, REDI Cincinnati, Greater Cincinnati Development Authority and Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network, Calvert has deep relationships and experience across the region.
“With a running start, Julie’s focus will be on collaboration, transparency and driving results,” added McGraw. “And doing it with an inclusive, thoughtful leadership style that values all the voices that make Cincinnati strong.”
While downtown Cincinnati has experienced an incredible resurgence, the implications of a robust convention, travel and tourism industry extend beyond the urban core.
“On behalf of Hamilton County, which funds a good majority of the operations of the CVB, I offer our board's congratulations to Julie upon her selection as the new president and CEO of the Cincinnati USA CVB,” said Todd Portune, president of the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners. “Julie's experience in Ohio and understanding of the inner workings of the CVB will place her in good stead as she engages local and regional leaders. It's critical to gain their consensus and match the CVB's work with the County's agenda and our regional vision on jobs creation, big box project completion and the County's commitment to becoming the beacon of multiculturalism in the Midwest.”
Added Calvert: “With urgency, we’ll create the comprehensive, collaborative business plan for 2018. Our mission starts with driving convention business and working in lockstep with our regional hotel partners and the Duke Energy and Sharonville convention centers. From there, we’ll quickly define and align around the future state of our destination and develop a clear action plan to deliver against that vision. Working alongside our community partners, I’m ready to get to work.”
A visionary leader and strategic collaborator, Calvert is a graduate of Leadership Cincinnati Class 37, and was named one of the Cincinnati Business Courier’s Forty Under 40. She serves on the Hamilton County Commission on Women and Girls, the Board of the Cincinnati Music Festival, a former Cabinet Member for the ArtsWave Annual Community Campaign, and has volunteered in leadership roles with several other regional non-profit organizations. Calvert earned a bachelor’s degree from Miami University, and resides in Anderson Township with her husband Chris and two sons.
“In the final analysis, among a number of highly qualified, national candidates, we had the best one right here in our region. We couldn’t be more excited to name Julie to this critical leadership position,” said McGraw.
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About the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau
The Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau is a sales, marketing and service organization whose primary responsibility is to positively impact Hamilton County's and the City of Cincinnati's economy through convention, trade show and visitor expenditures. The travel and tourism industry traditionally has been a $5 billion industry in Cincinnati USA, employing 77,000 people in a variety of fields and bringing 26.1 million visitors to the region annually. Visit www.cincyusa.com for more.