Diversity and Inclusion

Tourism Diversity Matters Picks Up the Pieces

Hattie Hill headshot

Skift Take

Tourism Diversity Matters was roiled by a workplace bullying scandal at the end of February. In an effort to repair the damage, the nonprofit has appointed noted DEI expert Hattie Hill as its interim CEO.

Hattie Hill, a noted DEI expert and author, is the interim CEO of Tourism Diversity Matters (TDM). This nonprofit was founded to address systemic inequities within the travel and tourism industry.

TDM has eliminated the executive director role that was held by Greg DeShields who was dismissed in February after seven women signed an open letter accusing him of workplace bullying. 

Adam Burke, TDM’s board chair and the president and CEO of Los Angeles Tourism, says that during the search for an interim CEO, many commented on how someone like Hattie Hill could help. “Then we said, why are we saying like Hattie? We weren’t sure of the timing, but Hattie was at the top of our list because she’s done so much amazing work with many of our board members over the years.”

With a client portfolio that includes companies like IBM, McDonald’s, and Southwest Airlines, Hill, founder, president, and CEO of Hattie Hill Enterprises, spearheaded strategic consultancy initiatives across 80 countries for more than three decades. She has also previously led several organizations as interim CEO including Women’s Foodservice Forum, T.D. JAKES Foundation, and most recently, Texas Women’s Foundation.

Focusing on Tourism Diversity Matters Framework

As interim CEO, Hill will take over day-to-day CEO responsibilities including operations, programming, marketing, stakeholder relations, and business development. In addition, she will partner with TDM’s chair, board, and team members to establish a foundation for the organization’s governance framework, growth strategies, and search for a long-term CEO.

Although there is a chance this interim role can become permanent, Hill wouldn’t confirm that as she is now doing a full assessment of TDM. “I’m looking at its strategy, goals, and what type of leader they need to make this happen,” she says.

Hill is also arranging for a one-day, fly-in of all the industry’s DEI organizations. “I want to gather to talk about how we can build a coalition where we complement rather than compete with each other. I also want to figure out the appropriate swim lanes because now more than ever, this has to be about collective impact,” says Hill.

It will include organizations like the Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance, TravelAbility, Sage Inclusion, Destinations International, and Travel Unity. “We’re still putting together the list, but those are the types of organizations that are doing incredibly meaningful work in this space, and we think it’s important that we’re all supporting each other,” says Hill.

Internal Controls Implemented

Another focus is solid governance. TDM is turning to the Association Governance Institute (AGI) for help. Launched by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), AGI is focused on navigating the complexities of governance. Achieving mission-related goals and maintaining transparency and trust with stakeholders are at the heart of AGI. 

“They are working on a pro bono basis with our Governance Committee to make sure that we are putting in the right internal controls and best practices. We want to set Tourism Diversity Matters up for long-term success as a standalone organization,” says Burke.

TDM’s financials are now being managed by Julie Hart and CFO by Design. Miles Partnership is its agency of record for marketing.

“TDM’s mission has never been more vital than it is today. And these efforts can’t be performative — it’s truly a lifetime commitment. There is no finish line when it comes to equity and inclusion, and while this work is going to outlive all of us, we want to do everything in our power to make a meaningful difference every day,” says Burke.

TDM’s 2024 officers and committee chairs have been approved as well. They include:

  • Chair – Adam Burke, President & CEO, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board
  • Vice Chair – Leah Smiley, President, The Society for Diversity & Institute for Diversity Certification
  • Secretary – Lynette Montoya, President & CEO, Latino Hotel Association
  • Treasurer – Stacy Ritter, President & CEO, Visit Lauderdale
  • Governance Committee Chair – Sherrif Karamat, President & CEO, PCMA
  • Finance Committee Chair – Stacy Ritter, President & CEO, Visit Lauderdale
  • Search Committee Chair – Erika Broadwater, President & CEO, National Association of African Americans in Human Resources