President & CEO
David Gilbert took over the top spot at Destination Cleveland, the region’s convention and visitors bureau, in 2011. He simultaneously serves as president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, which pursues amateur athletic events.
Gilbert earned his bachelor’s degree in Marketing from The Ohio State University and an M.B.A. from Cleveland State University.
Earlier in his career, Gilbert helped plan and market Cleveland’s lakefront district as executive director of North Coast Harbor, Inc. He also worked as director of corporate development for The Cleveland Play House. During an earlier stint at the visitors bureau, Gilbert developed two new, full-service visitor information centers and a nationally recognized welfare-to-work, hospitality career training program.
He serves on numerous boards, including for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Greater Cleveland Film Commission.
When not busy extolling the virtues of Cleveland, Gilbert likes to travel, train for marathons and hang out with his family.
Vice President of Destination Development & Community Affairs
Hannah Belsito leads a team focused on improving visitors’ experiences through wayfinding and connectivity efforts, programs that engage the hospitality community and residents and a variety of other development initiatives.
Belsito holds a master’s degree in Urban Planning, Design & Development with a specialization in historic preservation from Cleveland State University, and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from John Carroll University. Belsito has over 10 years of experience in civic engagement. Prior to joining Destination Cleveland, she was Program Director of The Cleveland Leadership Center’s Cleveland Bridge Builders program and worked for two programs of The Cleveland Foundation.
She’s lived in the Cleveland area for nearly 15 years and is a member of Lakewood’s Planning Commission.
Senior Vice President of Convention Sales & Services
Michael Burns oversees a sales team charged with bringing meetings and conventions to Cleveland.
Even though he joined Destination Cleveland in March 2012, Burns comes to the organization with three decades of experience. He’s got guru status when it comes to the hospitality industry.
Burns spent 22 years with Conferon (now Experient), a nationally known meeting planning company, as well as several years as executive vice president with DMI Hotels.
Born in Chicago, Burns moved to the Cleveland area in 1984. He’s an active member of the Professional Convention Management Association.
Vice President of Finance & Administration
Leslie Graf is responsible for keeping tabs on all financial aspects of the organization. She also oversees Destination Cleveland’s finance, human resources and information technology staff, and oversees the administration of a 30-member board of trustees.
Before joining Destination Cleveland in 2007, Graf worked as an audit manager, specializing in the not-for-profit industry, and as a litigation consultant for Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Cohen and Company and Deloitte and Touche.
A lifelong Clevelander, except for a period when she lived in Atlanta and Roanoke, Graf earned her bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Cleveland State University.
Vice President of Marketing
What makes Cleveland special? And how can the Destination Cleveland best spread the word? Colette Jones thinks about these things on a daily basis.
She came to Destination Cleveland after working as a marketing consultant for small, local businesses, and in sales and brand management for large corporations such as KeyBank, ConAgra Foods and the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.
Born in Shaker Heights, Jones earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from Miami University in Oxford, OH, and an M.B.A. in Marketing from The Ohio State University. She’s an active member of The Historic Gateway Board and the Advisory Board for Campus International School, a Cleveland Metropolitan School District Innovative School.
Director of Partnerships
Jennifer Valencic joined Destination Cleveland in 2013 and is charged with overseeing a team in charge of recruiting partners and spotting synergistic opportunities.
Before joining the organization, she was a Program Manager for Junior Achievement of Greater Cleveland for over 5 years.
Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Communications from Ohio University.