Paul Sherlock Award

Sponsored by:Travelhost

Jack Hana Paul


The Paul Sherlock Legend in Ohio Travel Award is the Ohio travel industry’s highest honor, recognizing one individual each year who exemplifies professional, personal and career excellence. Each year, the recipient’s career achievement and tireless efforts toward Ohio travel are recognized during an award presentation at the Ohio Conference on Travel. The 2024 award winner will be announced at the Ohio Conference on Travel on Wednesday evening, Oct.3.

2024 Nominations Open in Early July

How is the Recipient Selected?

Nominees are evaluated based on their ability to meet the following six points of eligibility. A committee formed of the current Ohio Travel Association president, awards and recognition committee chair, Paul Sherlock Alumni coordinator, and four past Sherlock winners will review responses and request additional information (including support letters) for the top candidates. Nominees are retained for consideration the following year. Those nominating candidates will be contacted prior to the next deadline to see if changes or additions need made.  



  • Regarded as an exceptional and inspirational role model and/or tourism champion in Ohio
  • Outstanding contributions to creating innovation and growth of Ohio travel through development of new approaches, astute practices and creativity
  • Dedication to advancing travel in Ohio beyond that required by his or her professional position
  • Commitment to creating widespread support and understanding of the importance of the travel economy
  • Proven leadership at local, regional, state or national levels
  • History of distinguished service to Ohio's travel industry that spans no less than 10 years


Paul Sherlock Award Winners

2019 Paul Sherlock Recipient, Gregg Mervis, with Past Recipients

Who was Paul Sherlock?

Paul Sherlock was the first to recognize Ohio’s travel potential. A native of Perry County and a former journalist, Paul Sherlock began work with the Ohio Department of Development in 1945, where he handled travel issues and served as the assistant director for travel and tourism. He was named director in 1972.

He served under Governor James Rhodes on Ohio’s first travel advisory committee, the group that became the Ohio Travel Council and evolved into the Ohio Travel Association. Paul Sherlock was a major factor in the growth of Ohio’s festivals and the creation of the Ohio Festival and Events Association. He considered his work with Ohio’s festival groups to be one of his major accomplishments. Paul was single-minded in his devotion to Ohio and its potential as a travel destination.

Although he was a quiet person who liked best to operate behind the scenes and secure the limelight for others, he was a tireless promoter of Ohio. His knowledge of Ohio’s travel resources was legendary. He was also a mentor who recognized the importance of preparing the industry’s future leaders.

The Paul Sherlock Award was created in 1975 and is awarded annually to honor Paul's excellence in, and devotion to, Ohio's travel community. It is the highest level of recognition for the Ohio travel industry. The men and women who have received this award are respected leaders for their outstanding accomplishments within Ohio's travel industry. These leaders contribute to voluntary travel membership organizations, mentor and encourage new industry professionals, and participate in civic and community affairs. They exemplify the best in the industry by believing in and continually promoting Ohio as a destination.

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Paul Sherlock 4

Paul Sherlock Award Recipients


Charles Campbell

Ohio Festival and Event Association


William M. Piatt, Sr.

Piatt Castle


Frank Carrell

Cleveland Convention and Visitors Bureau


Pat Brown

Roscoe Village Foundation


John A. Baltes

Sea World of Ohio


Marilane Spencer

Bixler Tours


Dale Finley

Cleveland Convention and Visitors Bureau


Rachel Redinger

Trumpet in the Land


 Don Patterson

Akron/Summit County Convention and Visitors Bureau


 Robert S. Hart, Jr.

Hart Productions, Inc.


 Ned Harden

Circleville Pumpkin Show


 Lois E. Smith

Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau


 Corrine "Corky" Gutter

Akron/Summit County Convention and Visitors Bureau


 Peter Robinson

BB Riverboats


 Betty Wasick

Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens


 Sue Ellen Wilson

Lane Hotels


 Darrell Banks

San-Dar Smorgasbord


 Ted Ryan



 R.C. "Dick" Bell

Seneca Caverns


 Daniel Hostetler, III

Medina County Convention and Visitors Bureau


 Walter "Timmie" Thimmes

AAA South Central Ohio


 William "Bill" Hash

America Interstate Tours


 David Warther

Warther Carvings


 Joan Van Offeren

Lake Erie Shores and Islands


 Bill Schwartz

Hospitality Inc.


 John Hildebrandt

Cedar Point


 Robert "Chip" Hart, III

Hart Productions


 Pat Cano

Lorain County Visitors Bureau


 Vicky Branson

Ohio Historical Society


 Susan Hamo

Akron/Summit County Convention and Visitors Bureau


 Doniella Winchell

Ohio Wine Producers


 Diane Chesnut

Lake Erie Firelands Tourist Council


 Jonette Haberfield

A Taste of Ohio


 Kari Kauffman

Experience Columbus


 Diana Thompson

Miami County Convention and Visitors Bureau


 Amir Eylon

Office of TourismOhio


 Melinda Huntley

Ohio State University, Ohio Sea Grant Program


 Scott Dring

Dublin Convention and Visitors Bureau


 Pat Crow

Knox County Convention and Visitors Bureau


 Richard Nachazel

Destination Toledo


 Lee Tasseff

Destination Mansfield


 Debbie Robinson

Cambridge/Guernsey County Visitors & Convention Bureau


Senator Randy Gardner

Ohio Senate


Larry Fletcher

Lake Erie Shores & Islands


Gregg Mervis

Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau


Randie Adam

Cincinnati USA


Karen Raymore

Hocking Hills Tourism Association


Jack Hanna

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium


RUBY Award Logo

Sponsored by:

Ohio Magazine Logo


2022 RUBY Award Winners

The RUBY Awards, sponsored by Ohio Magazine, are the Ohio Travel Association's way of honoring those who have found the most innovative ways to market their destination or business. The RUBY Awards will be presented at the 2024 Ohio Conference on Travel at the Renaissance Downtown Toledo on Thursday, October 3, 2024. 

Submit Your Entries
Most Current Winners

Emerging Leader Award

Sponsored by:

Destination Mansfield

Tyler Minton Emerging Leader

 2024 Nominations Open in Early July

How is the Recipient Selected?

The Ohio Travel Industry Emerging Leader Award honors promising travel leaders with fewer than 10 years of professional experience in the industry.

Deserving individuals may self-nominate or be nominated by a colleague. A committee of the current and past OTA presidents review all nominations and select up to two finalists. Finalists are asked to create a short video detailing their accomplishments and vision for the Ohio travel industry. The winning nominee's video is shown at the Ohio Conference on Travel during the award ceremony. 
The Ohio Travel Industry Emerging Leader Award is open to all individuals currently working in the Ohio travel industry who meet the eligibility criteria:
  • Less than 10 years of professional experience in the travel industry and a minimum of five years in the Ohio travel industry
  • Current Ohio Travel Association member
  • Demonstrates commitment and passion for the industry
  • Completed some type of continuing education (ex: OTLA, CDME, etc.)
  • Been recognized for leadership and efforts beyond their job


Emerging Leader 1


How will the entries be judged?

Entries are judged by a panel of industry veterans representing the last five past-presidents of the Ohio Travel Association and the awards chairman. Entries are judged based on how well the nominee meets the five listed criteria.

Who is eligible to win the award?

Any individual with less than 10 years of professional experience in the travel industry and more than five years of experience in the Ohio travel industry is eligible to enter the Ohio Travel Industry Emerging Leader Award.

Where and when will the event be held?

The winner will receive their Emerging Leader Award at the Ohio Conference on Travel.

How do I increase the nominees chances of winning an award?

Emphasize the individual's innovative approach to advancing the Ohio travel industry as well as his or her accomplishments and goals. Provide as many specific examples of success as possible, and explain clearly and succinctly the goals the nominee has achieved. Competitive nominations are those who have done more than just a good job in their position; they demonstrate their willingness and desire to become involved regionally, statewide and nationally. 


When will nominees be accepted?

Applications will open in early July and will be accepted through Sept. 6, 2024.

Congratulations to the Emerging Leader Winners!


Allyson Bussey, Visit Canton/Stark County CVB


Roger Dudley, Experience Columbus


Sara Blatnik, Dublin CVB


Amanda Smith-Rasnick, Lake Erie Shores & Islands


Amanda Davis, Visit Grove City


Elizabeth Connor, National Aviation Heritage Area


Olivia Toth, Knox County Convention and Visitors Bureau


Garrett Martin, Explore Licking County 


Tyler Minton, Visit Cincy

Questions? Contact:

Ohio Travel Association
Melinda Huntley, Executive Director