Indy tourism exec to lead Chicago convention bureau

By Kathy Bergen
Posted Jan. 3 at 6:27 p.m.

The Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau’s board today hired Indianapolis tourism executive Donald P. Welsh as its new president and chief executive officer.

Welsh was hired away from the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Assn., where he was chief executive.

His hiring comes shortly after the resignation of Tim Roby, a hospitality industry sales and marketing executive who took the top executive post at the bureau in 2006.

In Indianapolis, Welsh assisted with the opening of more than $3 billion in new tourism-related developments, including a new airport, new stadium, a doubling of the size of the Indiana Convention Center and the opening of the world’s largest JW Marriott, the Chicago bureau stated in its hiring announcement.

“Don is exactly what we need to take the bureau to a whole new level and sharpen Chicago’s competitive edge,” said Bruce Rauner, chairman of the Chicago convention bureau board.

Welsh, 54, who previously served as CEO of the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau for five years, will begin his transition to the Chicago post this month and officially step into the post in early February.

Roby’s resignation, announced early last month, was effective Dec. 22. He is joining Starwood Hotels & Resorts as senior vice president of sales for North America.

His exit came at a time of transition for the government-subsidized non-profit, which acts as the sales arm for the McCormick Place convention center. A state-mandated overhaul of convention center operations required a restructuring of the bureau’s board, and the resulting new board took office recently.

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