Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau President and CEO John Monahan Steps Down

Skift Take

John Monahan, president and CEO of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, is stepping down effective Dec. 31, 2023, after serving as the organization’s top leader since 2003.

After serving as the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau’s president and CEO since 2003, John Monahan is stepping down effective Dec. 31, 2023.

Tom Mullen, HVCB’s senior vice president and chief operating officer, will serve as interim president and CEO until a permanent replacement is in place.

“John has successfully managed three main areas as HTA’s contractor, which includes strengthening The Hawaiian Islands brand in North America and beyond, advancing Global MCI group business through Meet Hawaii for the meetings, conventions, and incentives market, and overseeing the Island Chapters representing the island of Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Oahu, and Kauai,” Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) Interim President and CEO Daniel Nāho‘opi‘i said.

Monahan will continue to serve as an advisor to HVCB and will be transitioning alongside Mullen through January. A transition team is already searching for a new president and CEO.

“John has served HVCB admirably for over two decades, spending countless hours leading what is universally recognized as one of the preeminent convention and visitor bureaus in the world and helping to position the state of Hawaii as one of the most iconic and sustainable destinations on the planet,” Sean Dee, HVCB board chair and executive vice president/chief commercial officer for Outrigger Hospitality Group, says.

“I am leaving the organization in a good place with a lot of dedicated and talented people who care deeply for Hawaii, says Monahan. “Over the past four years, we have weathered incredible challenges as we navigated our way through the COVID-19 pandemic and, most recently, the long, drawn-out procurement processes.”

There is much rebuilding to be done in Hawaii, especially after the Maui wildfires leveled Lahaina.

In other staffing news, Lynn Whitehead has been named the new vice president of global MCI sales and marketing, replacing John Reyes who is retiring.

“Lynn has been an invaluable member of our MCI team since joining us two years ago and has leveraged her industry relationships to increase quality, high-impact citywide bookings,” says Monahan.

Prior to joining HVCB, Whitehead was with the San Diego Tourism Authority where she served as national sales director, eastern region focused on citywide conventions. There she managed sales of 13,000-plus hotel rooms and 2.6 million square feet of space for association clients in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Prior to SDTA, she served as director of national accounts for the San Diego Convention Center Corporation. 

“It is truly an honor to lead the Meet Hawaii team, and I look forward to continuing our focus on educating and inspiring meeting planners across the globe to bring their programs to the Hawaiian Islands,” said Whitehead. “I am motivated by the fact that we are entering 2024 with positive momentum and look forward to sharing the unique history, culture, and stories of Hawai‘i as we aim to close more business in the years ahead.”