president and CEO of Destination Marketing Association International, last month stepped down from the post he held for 15 years.
"We are thankful and appreciative of the leadership and significant contributions Michael has made during his tenure, which have made a positive impact on the growth and respect of the destination marketing industry internationally. We wish him the best as he moves on to a new chapter in his life," said Bob Lander, chairman of the DMAI board of directors, and president and CEO of the Austin (Texas) Convention and Visitors Bureau, in a statement announcing Gehrisch's sudden departure.
During his tenure, Gehrisch repositioned the organization, formerly the International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus, under its current name; also, he led the establishment of the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program and helmed the growth of the Destination & Travel Foundation.
In the official DMAI release announcing his departure, Gehrisch said, "This was a perfect time to turn over the leadership of the organization, leaving my successor with a healthy, prospering and influential position in the marketplace. Fifteen years in one organization is long enough for any association executive…My time leading DMAI has been one of the biggest highlights of my career."
The news came less than a week after Gehrisch had announced the resignation of Karen Gonzales, DMAI's executive vice president of sales and business development, who, he said, left to pursue a new career opportunity. Gonzalez had been with DMAI since 2007.
Addressing DMAI's future leadership plans, Lander said the DMAI board, Destination & Travel Foundation trustees and industry leaders will jointly craft a plan to determine the search process for a new CEO. "We want to have productive talks with key DMO stakeholders on the future of our association, so that we enhance our relevancy to larger members and determine how we can best serve the interests of all DMOs," he said.