by Lisa A. Grimaldi | January 25, 2016

Destination Marketing Association International has named Don Welsh, CEO of Choose Chicago, as its new president and CEO. Welsh has more than 35 years of experience in the industry. Prior to his role in Chicago, he served as CEO of the Seattle Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association. 

The search for DMAI's new leader was conducted by Searchwide, which was hired by the board following the departure of former president and CEO Michael Gehrisch last September; since that time, DMAI's COO Charles Jeffers has served as interim CEO. 

"After a thorough search process that included a stellar group of candidates, we are thrilled that Don has accepted this position," said Bob Lander, chairman of the DMAI board of directors and CEO of the Austin (Texas) Convention & Visitors Bureau. "We are confident that he will lead DMAI in becoming the premier destination management organization both in the U.S. and globally."

"I am incredibly proud of what the Choose Chicago team and Chicago's visitor industry have accomplished in just five years. Chicago is experiencing an unprecedented travel boom that promises to deliver immense economic benefits," said Welsh. "While this is a bittersweet day for me and my family, I remain 100 percent confident in the Choose Chicago leadership team to continue to move this industry forward. Opportunities such as this don't come along often, and I am incredibly grateful. I share Bob's vision to elevate DMAI to the next level, and I look forward to working alongside my global counterparts in one of the fastest growing segments within the global economy."