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In Cleveland, we’ve got world-class experiences without the world-class ego. And for that, you’re welcome.
World-class experiences without the world-class ego.
Here in Cleveland, we’ve got beef cheek in our pierogi, truffles on our hot dogs and beer in our donuts. Balance.
Whether you’re into the thread count of your linens or just a place to crash for the night, we’ve got a hotel room with your name all over it.
You know those places only the locals know? Let our experts help you find them with free maps, itineraries and insider tips.
History hasn't always been easy on us. But pressure can create diamonds. Come check out our gems.
President & CEO
With a passion for all things Cleveland, David Gilbert joined Destination Cleveland in 2011, adding to his role as president and CEO of Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. From April 2015 through Dec. 2016, he led the Cleveland Host Committee for the 2016 Republican National Convention.
David’s focus includes identifying new ways for the organization to contribute to the economic growth of the industry and region through its visitor attraction and destination management efforts. He also works collaboratively with civic and public partners to design innovative initiatives that advance the region. Under David’s leadership, the city’s narrative and destination product have improved significantly, contributing to nine consecutive years of visitor growth at a pace greater than the U.S. visitation growth rate.
Earlier in his career, David 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 a first stint at Cleveland’s visitor bureau, David developed two new, full-service visitor information centers and a nationally recognized welfare-to-work hospitality career training program.
David also dedicates his time to several organizations as a Board member, including the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland and the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board of the Department of Commerce. Additionally, he serves as vice president of the board of the International Children’s Games, based in Lausanne, Switzerland. During his career, he has been recognized as one of Cleveland’s “30 Influencers of the Past 30 Years” by Crain’s Cleveland Business, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and the 2016 SME Cleveland Business Executive of the Year Award.
David holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from The Ohio State University and an MBA from Cleveland State University. When not busy enjoying Cleveland’s Metroparks on his bike, David travels, trains for marathons and hangs out with his family.
Chief Experience Officer
Hannah Belsito leads the team focused on applying community and consumer insights to develop authentic Cleveland experiences for visitors. She considers her work at Destination Cleveland to be a dream job, allowing her to combine her love of new experiences with the opportunity to work with people who are excited to share their hometown with the world.
Since joining Destination Cleveland in 2011, Hannah and her team’s effort to enhance and update Cleveland’s destination experience have included several notable projects, including the ideation, design, site selection and installation of the now-renowned Cleveland script signs. Additionally, she and her team helped develop three Rock the Clock End Zones in Downtown Cleveland during the 2021 NFL Draft, providing a safe place to gather for an event held during a global pandemic.
Hannah holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from John Carroll University and a master’s degree in urban planning, design & development from Cleveland State University. She brought experience across multiple sectors to Destination Cleveland, with previous stops including Cleveland Leadership Center, The Cleveland Foundation and Associated Estates Realty Corporation.
Hannah and her family live in Lakewood. They frequently take advantage of the city’s outdoor experiences, including flying kites at Edgewater Park or bike riding through the Metroparks and on the Ohio & Erie Canalway Towpath Trail. When not discovering new restaurants, Hannah enjoys reading, yoga and sleuthing on Cleveland’s historic homes.
Chief Marketing Officer
Colette Jones leads Destination Cleveland’s marketing and communications efforts. She loves knowing that her team’s work to promote Cleveland through integrated marketing and communications helps to grow and sustain Cleveland’s tourism economy, which has a direct positive impact on fellow community residents.
Colette has 25 years of marketing experience working as an independent consultant, in brand management and in sales with companies such as the Wm. Wrigley Jr., Co., ConAgra Foods and KeyBank. She has received recognition in multiple areas, including as an SME Cleveland Sales and Marketing Award recipient, a Marshall Memorial Fellow and an American Advertising Federation Industry - Cleveland Impact Award recipient as well as a recipient of multiple awards from industry associations.
At Destination Cleveland, Colette’s leadership of the 2014 effort to define and introduce the Cleveland visitor brand resulted, most notably, in the creation of the now-viral hashtag #ThisIsCLE and the Cleveland script signs, as well as two national industry awards for the brand. And in 2017, she and her team received two PRSA Silver Anvil Awards, recognizing their work leading marketing communications efforts for the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
A Shaker Heights native, Colette holds a bachelor’s degree in communications education from Miami University and an MBA in marketing from The Ohio State University. She sits on the LAND Studio Board of Trustees, Karamu House Board of Directors, Deaconess Foundation Board of Directors and U.S. Travel Association’s Destinations Council Advisory Board. Outside of work, Colette enjoys the Cleveland Museum of Art, biking Cleveland’s many trails and rooting for the Cleveland sports teams. At home, she spends her time gardening, playing piano, cooking with her partner, Malcolm and disciplining her dog, Steve.
Vice President of Convention Sales & Services
Gordon Taylor III leads the Convention Sales & Services team, which focuses on selling Cleveland as a meetings, conventions and events host city and provides meeting planners and event attendees with a first-class experience before and while they are here. Gordon and his team pride themselves on sharing the energy of the city and making everyone feel like they are part of the Cleveland community.
In 2019, Gordon brought to Destination Cleveland more than 20 years’ experience at leading hotel properties, including Hyatt Regency Austin, Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago and, most recently, the Waldorf Astoria Chicago and Conrad Chicago, which he helped to open in 2016. He names the friendships made and relationships he’s built as the highlights of his career, and he continually strives to build a culture where people can do their best work, feel supported and grow.
Gordon holds a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and rhetoric from Eastern Illinois University. A native of Macomb, Ill., and having lived all over the U.S., Gordon feels he belonged in Cleveland from the moment he arrived – saying there’s “no waiting period” to be a true Clevelander.
He enjoys grilling and cooking, letting other people do the cooking at new restaurants, playing sports with his children and traveling with his wife to see new cities and hotels. His long “to do” list of Cleveland experiences includes seeing The Cleveland Orchestra perform at Severance Hall and taking in a live show at Karamu House.
Vice President of Destination Engagement
Jen Valencic, who joined Destination Cleveland in 2013, develops and fosters connections with the local hospitality and business community. She oversees the team that manages the organization’s partner network and builds relationships with and engages the region’s hospitality and tourism businesses, attractions and service providers.
Previously, Jen served as Program Manager for Junior Achievement of Greater Cleveland, where she first developed deep relationships with Cleveland’s corporate community. The move to Destination Cleveland came naturally for Jen; allowing her to tap into a longtime passion for Cleveland and its resurgence. She takes pride in knowing the work Destination Cleveland is doing is changing perceptions of the city. In 2019, she helped lead the effort to host ABC’s “The Bachelor” for a Cleveland-based episode, which put the city in front of a global audience.
Jen holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications from Ohio University and, in 2014, was selected as one of Destination Marketing Association International’s “30 Under 30.” She gives back to the community as a member of the Northern Ohio Advisory Board of Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
Jen and her husband love exploring the Cleveland area through the eyes of their three children, whether it’s spending a day on the water or visiting the animals at the zoo. The family finds any excuse they can to visit Downtown Cleveland – the variety of cultures, cultural highlights and beautiful architecture make the West Side Market a favorite stop – and also appreciates that they are just a short drive from so many other cities and experiences, allowing them to make the most of special family moments both near and far from home.
Vice President of Human Resources
Born and raised in Cleveland, Rick Wilson boomeranged to the city in 2021 after a decade away. Like most natives, he has an immense amount of pride in the city. He felt privileged to join Destination Cleveland, where he is in the business of caring for the organization’s staff, including overseeing everything related to benefits, company policies, culture, learning and talent development.
Rick holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from John Carroll University and a master’s degree in labor relations and human resources from Cleveland State University. Prior to joining Destination Cleveland, he spent nearly 20 years in human resources at AT&T, where he was instrumental in multiple initiatives that advanced company culture and prioritized diversity, equity and inclusion. In 2019, Rick and his team’s efforts earned AT&T the top spot in DiversityInc’s Top 50 Ranking. His commitment to this work extends into his service in the community, having served in volunteer roles with several organizations that support the LGBTQ community, as chair of the board for Disability:IN North Texas and as a volunteer for the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland.
When he’s not spending time with his sisters, their children and his extended family, he enjoys experiencing all the things that make Cleveland a destination city, including its outdoor activities, culinary experiences and unique arts and culture scene. Rick also enjoys catching up on his favorite TV shows and discovering new ones with his fiancé and their dog, Barky.
Vice President of Finance
Steven Dieringer, who joined the organization in August 2019, keeps Destination Cleveland's financials in top form. He focuses on streamlining policies, procedures and reports related to the organization’s financial operations and takes pride in seeing how his team’s behind-the-scenes work for projects comes to life to benefit the community, from capital investments to enhance the destination experience to events such as the 2021 NFL Draft.
He enjoys educating and empowering others and enthusiastically accepts the challenge of using his knowledge to make the finance and accounting function more approachable for his colleagues. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Steven provided critical financial updates to Destination Cleveland leadership and helped to guide the organization through the significant financial impact by implementing procedures that allowed his team to carefully monitor cash flow, pursue emergency funding and recommend the return of programs in a sustainable manner.
Steven is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a master’s degree in accountancy from University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He has called Cleveland home for over a decade and enjoys making a mark on the community through his service on the Associate Board of Malachi House, which provides caregiving service and support to people with terminal illnesses.
Steven is a keen fan of the beauty of Cleveland summers. He spends the warmer months enjoying visits to Edgewater Park and Whiskey Island, taking in concerts at Nautica Pavilion, attending some of the city’s many festivals and experiencing Cleveland’s culinary scene – everything from hole-in-the-wall spots to high-end rooftop patios.
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