by Michael J. Shapiro | December 08, 2017
Dan Lincoln, who has served as president and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau for the past 11 years, will retire at the end of this month, citing health reasons. The CVB has hired a national travel-industry executive-search firm to find Lincoln's replacement. Meanwhile, current COO Mike Laatsch will become interim CEO as of Jan. 1, serving in that capacity until a successor is named.
 
"In his 11 years as president and CEO, Dan has led the CVB with a rare combination of long-term strategic vision, an uncanny ability to bring people together and an infectious passion for Cincinnati," said Jim McGraw, chair of the board of directors for the CVB, who is a corporate partner at Keating Muething & Klekamp as well as president and CEO of KMK Consulting Co. "His track record of innovation, impact and influence has left an indelible mark, and our organization is positioned for continued success." 
 
Lincoln, who has 34 years in the travel industry on his résumé, became CEO of the CVB in 2006. He is largely credited with revamping the bureau's business strategy and better defining the CVB as a destination marketing and management organization focused on building the visitor economy.
 
"The impact of Dan's contributions can't be overstated," said Hamilton County commission president Todd Portune. "He's built coalitions that leverage all the region's assets - from government to the hotel and hospitality community to the Fortune 500 businesses that call Cincinnati home. Dan's vision for a transformed and revitalized Cincinnati region is unparalleled, and many aspects of it have been realized."
 
Cincinnati has hosted more than 3.3 million convention attendees during Lincoln's tenure, accounting for $990 million in spending for the region. Such high-profile events as the NAACP Convention in 2008 and 2016, as well as the 2012 World Choir Games and 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, contributed to more than 2.5 million contracted hotel room nights over the course of Lincoln's leadership.
 
The city has championed diversity and has attracted 19 of the top 25 multicultural organizations in the country to hold gatherings during Lincoln's watch. At the inaugural State of Black Tourism national meeting, Lincoln spoke about Cincinnati's role in hosting African-American conventions.
 
"It has been an indescribable honor to lead the CVB during the rebirth and renaissance of Cincinnati," said Lincoln. "The most rewarding part is that it's been a total team effort, from my incredible colleagues at the bureau to the visionary government and business leaders I've had the privilege to work with as partners. Together, we've made so much progress revitalizing and reenergizing our region. I can't wait to see the breakthroughs and milestones that are just around the next bend."  
 
Lincoln's decision to step down was precipitated by a medical issue. "My retirement will give me more time to focus on my family and my health," he added. "While my condition has made it difficult for me to be as active as I would like, it will never rob me of my spirit or my love of my CVB family, industry colleagues or this great city that I feel passionate about."