About Us

Tourism Diversity Matters (TDM), founded as the collaborative leader of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives and concepts that can address the blind spots of ethnic disparities and provide decision-makers in the tourism and events industry access, resources, and tactics to develop more effective Diversity & Inclusion strategies that will engage and retain a diverse workforce.

At TDM, we focus on four primary pillars of activity to benefit the Tourism Industry: Apprenticeships, Workforce Development, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Research and Data.

TDM’s goal is to sustain and expand our platform by affiliating with fellow industry partners and notable research institutions, creating solutions that can be implemented, contributing to organizational success.

Executive Committee

Elliott Ferguson​

Chairman of the Board President and CEO, Destination DC​
Elliott Ferguson serves as President and CEO of Destination DC, the official destination marketing organization for Washington DC. He is immediate past Chairman of the Board of the US Travel Association and a 30-year veteran of the travel and hospitality industry. Ferguson leads Destination DC’s efforts to generate economic opportunity for the District through meetings and tourism, overseeing the organization’s convention and tourism sales, marketing, finance, and business development operations.
Brian Stevens

Brian Stevens​

CEO, ConferenceDirect​
Brian Stevens is the founding partner and CEO of ConferenceDirect, a full-service meetings solutions company. With close to a half of a century worth of knowledge and expertise in the travel and hospitality industry; he is an influential leader, volunteer, and fundraiser. Stevens is actively involved on the boards of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), and he served as the chairman of ASAE’s and PCMA’s Foundation. In 2000, Stevens was inducted into the Convention Industry Council’s Hall of Leaders, and was named Chair of MPI Global, in 2017.
Dr. Brandi Baldwin

Dr. Brandi Baldwin​

CEO, Millennial Ventures Holdings​
Dr. Brandi Baldwin is the CEO of Millennial Ventures Holdings. She is a professor turned entrepreneur and author tackling the world's most relevant business challenges: diversity and inclusion, motivating millennials to level-up their leadership, and advocating for equity in all levels of business. Dr. Brandi’s noteworthy accomplishments include being one of Philadelphia's Most Influential African Americans and receiving Philadelphia Business Journal's 40 Under 40 award, to name a few. She earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies from Temple University and holds a Master’s degree in Adult & Organizational Development.
Aproova Gandhi Marriott

Apoorva N. Gandhi​

Vice President, Multicultural Affairs and Business Councils Marriott International, Inc.​
Apoorva Gandhi is the Vice President of Multicultural Affairs and Business Councils for Marriott International, where he is responsible for developing a global strategy that builds loyalty from diverse customer segments for Marriott’s portfolio of brands. Gandhi has over 30+ years of expertise in leadership and strategic program management. He is a member of the J.W. Marriott, Jr., Diversity Award committee, Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity and Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Society. Mr. Gandhi is a graduate alumni of the University of Maryland, School of Business and Management.

Carrie Freeman Parsons​

Chair, Freeman​
Carrie is Chair of Freeman, the leading provider of brand experiences for live events. Unwilling to claim success based solely on the bottom line, Carrie is dedicated to leading a socially responsible organization. She has held leadership positions with industry organizations such as PCMA, IAEE, VisitDallas, and CEIR. A believer in the power of business to elevate humanity, Carrie also serves on the Board for Conscious Capitalism, Inc.

Leah Smiley​

President, Society for Diversity, Inc.​
Leah Smiley, CDE, is the Founder and President of the Society for Diversity, Inc. She has 15 years of experience in Diversity and Inclusion, and 25+ years of experience as a Master of Training and Organizational Development. Smiley has facilitated hundreds of presentations for 10,000+ professionals/executives globally. Her work has been featured on numerous media outlets; USA Today, Huffington Post, and more. Smiley holds a Political Science degree from Hampton University and a Certified Diversity Executive (CDE)® designation from the Institute for Diversity Certification (IDC)®.
Cid Wilson

Cid Wilson

President and Chief Executive Officer, Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility’s (HACR)
Cid Wilson is the President and CEO of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility’s (HACR). He brings 20+ years of corporate finance and Wall Street equity research experience. His leadership in the corporate sector includes previous service on the Ethnic Advisory Board for PepsiCo, Inc., and the Consumer Advisory Board for Verizon Communications. Cid is a former board member for the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the former national president of the Dominican American National Roundtable (DANR), and a Gold Life Member of the NAACP.
Mike Gamble 2021

Mike Gamble​

Ex-Officio and CEO​, Tourism Diversity Matters
Mike Gamble is the Founder of Tourism Diversity Matters and Co-founder of SearchWide Global, a full service executive search firm. Prior to TDM and SearchWide Global, he was SVP of Sales and Marketing for the Philadelphia CVB and held various leadership roles with Marriott International. He’s served on the foundation boards of Destinations International, PCMA, MPI and currently on the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities.

Board of Directors

Michelle Mason

Michelle Mason

FASAE, CAE, CQIA​

President and CEO at Association Forum​
Michelle Mason serves as President and CEO of Association Forum. For over 25 years, she has advanced the professional practice of association management. Prior, she served as Managing Director of Strategy and Innovation at the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and Vice President of Strategic and Future Focused Research Programs at ASAE. Michelle currently serves on the Boards of Choose Chicago, DI’s Foundation, and Goodwill of Southeastern Wisconsin. Michelle is a Chicago Business Journal Women of Influence Honoree 2019, Chicago Defender Women of Excellence Honoree 2019, and the CEO Update Professional Society CEO of the Year 2020.
Roger Dow

Roger Dow​

President and CEO, US Travel Association​
Roger Dow is the President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, the national trade association that represents all segments of America’s $2.6 trillion travel industry. Since joining the U.S. Travel Association in 2005, Dow has led the transformation of the formerly fragmented organization into a united advocacy force now recognized as one of the most effective industry associations in the country.

Gregg Caren​

President and CEO, Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB)​
Gregg Caren is the president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) where he oversees the organization’s efforts to promote and sell Philadelphia as a premier destination for meetings, conventions, sporting events and overseas travelers. Previously, he served as the Executive Vice President, Sales and Strategic Business Development for ASM Global (formerly SMG), operator of over 350 venues worldwide, including the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Al Hutchinson

Al Hutchinson​

President and CEO, Visit Baltimore​
Al Hutchinson is the President and CEO of Visit Baltimore. Hutchinson has 28+ years of experience in the destinations marketing industry and has been recognized as one of the Daily Record’s 2019 Most Admired CEOs in Maryland. Hutchinson currently serves on the Board of Directors for Destination International’s Foundation, US Travel Association, the Sports and Entertainment Corporation of Maryland, the Greater Baltimore Committee’s Tourism etc., to name a few. Hutchinson’s Alma Mater is the University of Alabama.
Telesa Via

Telesa Via​

VP, Sales, Kimpton Hotels and Restuarants​
Telesa Via is the Vice President of Sales at Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. Over two decades, Telesa has built a successful career overseeing hospitality sales, marketing, and public relations operations. She is a member of the Professional Conference Management Association (PCMA) and the International Association of Exhibition Executives (IAEE), among others. In recognition of her accomplishments, Telesa was awarded the Bill Kimpton Award in 2014 and the Washington Business Journal Top Minority Business Leaders Award in 2015. Telesa earned her BA in Communications from the University of Virginia and she is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
Ray Bloom

Ray Bloom​

Chairman, IMEX​
Ray Bloom is the chairman and founder of the IMEX Group. He founded and developed what has become the world’s leading tradeshow in the global meetings and travel sector. Ray is actively involved in numerous industry associations. He currently serves on the MPI European Council. Ray’s recent honors include receiving the EN Pioneer Award (2019) and being inducted into the ICJ Hall of Fame (2019).

Christine Duffy

President, Carnival Cruise Line​
Christine Duffy is President of Carnival Cruise Line. She serves on the board of directors of Herschend Family Entertainment and Aimbridge Hospitality. Christine is also the incoming chair of the U.S. Travel Association. Prior to joining Carnival, she served as President and CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association, as well as CEO of Maritz, a leader in the meeting and incentive travel sector.
Melissa Cherry

Melissa Cherry​

Chief Operating Officer, Destinations International​
Melissa Cherry serves as the Chief Operating Officer at Destinations International and is responsible for the development and execution of the overall Marketing and Communications, Information Technology, Meetings and Education Strategies to promote and elevate the Association's mission. Prior to Destinations International, Cherry was Senior Vice-President for Marketing and Cultural Tourism at Choose Chicago. Cherry's 20 plus years of experience in the industry includes prior positions at the Chicago History Museum and the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board.
Sherrif Karamat

Sherrif Karamat

CAE​

President and Chief Executive Officer, PCMA
Sherrif Karamat, CAE, is the President and CEO of PCMA. Karamat’s goal is to drive global economic and social transformation through business events creating the largest business events platform in the world for participants to engage. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Destinations International and also a Director of the Events Industry Council (EIC) and serves as the President of the PCMA Foundation and Publisher of Convene Magazine. Karamat holds an MBA from York University in Toronto Canada.
Brad Mayne

Brad Mayne​

President and CEO, International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM)​
Brad Mayne is the President and CEO of the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) and the IAVM Foundation. Under Mayne’s leadership, IAVM’s membership has grown 10% yearly, and revenues by 35.5%. IAVM has created diversity, equity and inclusion, safety and security and economic impact initiatives that strengthens the industries served with partners IAEE, ESCA, DI, SISO etc. Mayne has served on the Board of Directors of DMOs, Super Bowl XLVIII, Cotton Bowl Classic, and area Chambers of Commerce. Brad’s leadership experience spans across venues including MetLife Stadium, American Airlines Center and Ogden Entertainment.
Amy Calvert

Amy Calvert​

CEO, Events Industry Council (EIC)​
Amy Calvert is the Chief Executive Officer of the Events Industry Council (EIC). Amy provides strategic oversight for EIC’s programmes, including the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) programme, the EIC Centre for Sustainable Events, the Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) Commission, and EIC Hall of Leaders. As EIC’s CEO, Ms. Calvert represents the business events industry and the 26 million jobs and 1.5 Trillion USD in global GDP that the industry supports. She is a strong advocate for equitable, sustainable and responsible practices in our industry and for the communities we serve.
Paul Van Deventer

Paul M. Van Deventer​

President and CEO, Meeting Professionals International (MPI)​
Paul is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Meeting Professionals International (MPI). He serves on the board of the Events Industry Council (EIC), as past-Chair; the Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMB), as past Vice-Chair; the board of directors for the U.S. Travel Association; the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC); and the California State University Hospitality and Tourism Alliance Council.

Cathy Breden

CAE, CMP, CEM

​Executive Vice President & COO, International Association of Exhibitions & Events® (IAEE) Chair-Elect, Events Industry Council (EIC)​
Cathy Breden is the Executive Vice President & COO, International Association of Exhibitions & Events® (IAEE) and the CEO, Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR). She is also chair-elect of the Events Industry Council (EIC) board of directors, and an adjunct faculty member at the Dallas Community College District-Richland College. Cathy is a Certified Association Executive (CAE), Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) and Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM). She is a graduate of Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA.
Mark Cooper

Mark Cooper​

CEO, IACC & Chairman, Events Industry Council (EIC)​ ​
Mark Cooper is the Chief Executive Officer of IACC and the 2021 Chair of the Events Industry Council (EIC). Cooper has over 30 years of experience in the global meetings industry. He has assumed leadership roles with respected conference venue operators and global third-party agencies across four continents: including Dolce Hotels & Resorts and ConferenceDirect.
Lynette Montoya

Lynette Montoya​

President & CEO, Latino Hotel Association
Lynette Montoya is the President & CEO of the Latino Hotel Association and has been actively involved in the hotel industry for 20+ years. She is the founder and Executive Director of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Lynette serves on the Advisory Council of the California State University Hospitality and Tourism Management Education Alliance, and as a board member of Architecture 2030. Currently, she is also a member of the Big Brothers Big Sisters gala committee.

Debra Blair​

Associate Professor, Temple University School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management ​
Debra Blair is the Director of Organizational Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Temple University. She has 25+ years of industry experience designing and implementing inclusive sport, tourism and leisure programs and events. Debra has worked with numerous organizations, providing capacity building trainings around LGBTQ Awareness, Unconscious Bias, Disability Inclusion, etc. She has served on the Board of Directors for numerous local, regional, and national committees, such as the National Equality Forum, Philadelphia LGBT Affairs, etc. Debra holds an Ed.D. in Health Education at Temple University.
Carl Winston

Carl Winston​

Director of the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality & Tourism Management San Diego State University​
Carl Winston is the founding Director of the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at San Diego State University and founding Managing Director of the China Hospitality Education Initiative (CHEI). Carl has 35+ years of experience in the hospitality and tourism industry. Prior to academia, he was the Chief Operating Officer for Trigild Corporation and Executive Vice President of Operations for Jeepers!, to name a few. Carl holds a BA in Sociology from the University of California San Diego and a MPS in Hotel Administration from Cornell University.
Valerie Gavin

Valerie Gavin

Vice President, Hotel Sales & Marketing, Accor
Valerie Gavin is the Vice President of Hotel Sales & Marketing, and she oversees hotel sales and marketing for the 100+ Accor properties in the North American region. Valerie possesses over 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry, and has held various sales positions with Hilton and Walt Disney Resorts prior to joining Accor in 2002. Throughout her career with Accor, Valerie’s roles has progressed from property level and Regional Director of Sales and Marketing to Vice President of Sales. The integration of FRHI (Fairmont Raffles Hotels International) Hotels & Resorts in 2016 has led to her current role.
John Page

John Page

CTA

ASM Global- Greater Columbus Convention Center
John Page is the General Manager for ASM Global’s Greater Columbus Convention Center. Page is a 20+ year industry veteran and has been serving in his current position since 2013. He has professional memberships with PCMA, IAEE and NCBMP. Most recently, Page was honored among the A-List of Midwest Convention Center Executives, named one of the Most Admired Chief Operating Officers in Columbus and recognized as a Central Ohio Champion of Diversity. He is a two-time graduate of The Ohio State University.

Staff

Greg DeShields

CDE, CHE

Executive Director​
Greg Deshields is the Executive Director of Tourism Diversity Matters and he is a Qualified Tourism/Hospitality and Academic Professional Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE), proficient in developing and implementing plans, strategies, and initiatives specifically designed to raise destinations image for diverse, multicultural travel. DeShields is also an Experienced Certified Diversity Executive (CDE), with demonstrated cultural competence. Prepared to strategically position an organization to remove systemic barriers to inclusion, lead culture change, and transform the brand.

Deedra Mills​

Apprenticeship Program Coordinator
Deedra Mills has vast tourism and hospitality experience, ranging from Aviation to Hotels. She holds an Aviation Science degree from UMES and an MBA from Morgan State University. An original participant, she is now SearchWide Global’s Apprenticeship Program Coordinator managing the day-to-day logistics and operations.

Kellie Henderson​

Advisor​
Kellie Henderson serves as an important advisor to TDM. She is a Senior Vice President for SearchWide Global and heads up their DE&I practice. She works in all sectors of hospitality, travel and tourism. She is an expert at recognizing clients’ needs, identifying best-in-class talent, and leads SearchWide Global's industrywide diversity initiative. She proudly serves on the Destinations International Foundation Board of Trustees and is very involved in several other industry organizations. Previously, Kellie worked in the DMO and hotel industry.