It is hard to believe that I began my career in the hospitality industry more than 30 years ago at the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, Indiana. In 1989, I was selected to lead what is now known as the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority. During my first 12 years here, I was able to increase the organization's budget 10-fold and facilitate the construction of the Nation's Premiere Visitors Center.
Before returning to Lake County, I was the President and CEO of the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority. There I led an aggressive marketing program to support Southern New Jersey's $8 billion dollar tourism industry.
I am a "Hoosier" at heart, holding a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Economics and Public Policy from Indiana University. I have also completed the DMAI's professional certification program, earning the distinguished designation of Fellow Certified Destination Management Executive (FCDME).
I am a graduate of the 2007 inaugural class of Northwest Indiana's FBI Citizens Academy. I was named one of the "Champions of Diversity" by Indiana Minority Business Magazine. Also, under my leadership, the South Shore CVA was honored as one of the "Top 10 Best Places to Work in Indiana" of small to medium size companies two years in a row by the Indiana Chamber.
In July of 2000, Governor Frank O'Bannon honored me with the "Sagamore of the Wabash," and in January 2008, I was chosen as one of the "Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing" by the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI), one of the highest recognitions in the tourism industry.
I have served on the Board of Directors for the Travel Industry Association of America in addition to serving numerous local not-for-profit and community boards. I am currently the chairman of the Challenger Learning Center and the Indiana Parenting Institute. I am also a member of the NWI Forum, the Gary Parks Board and the Barden Foundation.
Once the waters of Lake Michigan heat up, you will likely spot me near Wells Street Beach on my waverunner.