Black Meetings and Tourism

March / April 2015

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29 B M & T ••• March/April 2015 ••• As we do every year around this time, Black Meetings & tourism will again review the progress and success of those African-Americans who continue to make significant strides in our industry. This is our opportunity to acknowledge the hard work, dedication and contributions of our brothers and sis- ters who have managed to perform at the highest professional levels despite the challenging economic times we have all faced in recent years. As always, there are several faces that are gone from last year's list, as well as a few new or returning faces that have been added. Beverly Bryant has completed her stint as NCBMP president, replaced on this list by Kevin Johnson. Also off the list is Zita Steglich-Ross, who departed her post at Visit Orlando after 16 years to step out and launch her own boutique destination man- agement company, Steglich Ross Business Solutions. Also gone is Ahmeenah Young, who completed her 18-month consulting agreement with the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority after SMG assumed responsibility for management and operations in 2013. Brenda Bryant is also gone, passing the torch to Carolyn White, who was elected as TPOC president. New to the list is Shanitra R. Finley, the new Yazoo County CVB executive direc- tor, who replaced Tonja Ray-Smith. Also new is Linda Haithcox Taylor, executive director of the National Policy Alliance, Ricky Thigpen and Shun Hatten, who are both senior executives at the Jackson CVB, and Greg DeShields, who took over duties as executive director of The Multicultural Affairs Congress (PHLDiversity), a divi- sion of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau when Nicole Johnson- Reece departed. Putting together this list every year makes us, and I hope you, so very proud of those who we are recognizing. But as a result of the process involved it also becomes obvious that so much more needs to be done in the area of diversity and inclusion. As always, those listed here are to be commended for their achievements, their tenacity, and their determination to suc- ceed in an industry that has been slow to embrace the concept of inclusiveness. Overcoming the challenges they've had to face in order to reach the top of their pro- fession, they've earned the right to your respect, admiration and recognition. And most importantly, they deserve your con- sideration when it comes to booking busi- ness with them, for them or from them. BY GLORIA M. HERBERT

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