David Gilbert, he/him/his
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.
Hannah Belsito, she/her/hers
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.
Steven Dieringer, he/him/his
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.
Emily Lauer, she/her/hers
Vice President of PR/Communications
As a Cleveland native, Emily Lauer relishes the opportunity to promote her hometown. She is charged with developing and overseeing team implementation of Destination Cleveland’s PR strategies that contribute to measurably changing perceptions and strengthening the narrative of Cleveland among potential visitors, meeting planners and residents. She also leads B2B communication efforts to bolster understanding within the community of the organization’s work and travel and tourism’s economic impact.
Since joining Destination Cleveland in 2015, Emily has been instrumental in the PR and communications efforts surrounding Cleveland’s hosting of several large-scale national events. Among those was her leadership of the PRSA Silver Anvil Award-winning PR and communications efforts for the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee for the Republican National Convention, managing all inquiries from and outreach to regional, national and international media. She also led visiting media efforts for the community’s hosting of the 2021 NFL Draft and the 2022 NBA All-Star Game. Her counsel to senior leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic helped to preserve the organization’s community reputation, while her focus on internal communications contributed to team morale and engagement.
Prior to joining Destination Cleveland, she spent 18 years at two highly regarded marketing communications agencies in Cleveland. Her client work was recognized by the Public Relations Society of America with both Bronze and Silver Anvil awards. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, she is a longtime PRSA member and is Accredited in Public Relations by UAB.
Emily enjoys exploring Cleveland’s greenspaces and spends the warm weather months taking advantage of living just a short walk from the Lake Erie shore on the East side. When she’s not globetrotting, she enjoys catching live music at Cleveland’s many independently owned venues and seeking out unique culinary experiences throughout the city.
Marie Scalia, she/her/hers
Chief Marketing Officer
Marie Scalia has been part of the marketing team for Destination Cleveland since 2012. In her current role, she is responsible for overseeing the organization’s integrated marketing efforts, including development and management of the Cleveland brand, digital marketing, web development and major event campaigns. Marie strives to ensure that Destination Cleveland’s marketing work continually highlights how eclectic, diverse and amazing the Cleveland community is and loves being a part of work that has a direct positive impact on the community.
Marie holds a bachelor’s degree in interpersonal communications with a minor in marketing from Kent State University and an MBA from Cleveland State University. She came to Destination Cleveland after stops at Wyse Advertising, Diebold Inc. and KeyBank. Shortly after joining the organization, she was part of the work to define and introduce the Cleveland visitor brand, resulting, most notably, in the creation of the now-viral hashtag #ThisIsCLE and Cleveland script signs. She has also been instrumental in putting Cleveland in front of a global audience through her work to bring ABC’s “The Bachelor” to Cleveland for an episode in 2019 and as part of the local marketing efforts for the city’s hosting of the 2021 NFL Draft and 2022 NBA All-Star Game. In 2021, Marie was named a Distinguished Sales and Marketing Award recipient by SME Cleveland.
Her list of Cleveland favorites includes strolling the stalls at West Side Market, chowing down in Little Italy, experiencing the city’s culture at the Cleveland Museum of Art and connecting with nature along the lakefront.
Gordon Taylor, he/him/his
Chief Sales Officer
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.
Jennifer Valencic, she/her/hers
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.
Rick Wilson-Negron, he/him/his
Chief People & Operations Officer
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 husband and their dog, Barky.