Sponsored By:

Osg Partner Lockup K


Program Details: 

The mission of the Ohio Tourism Leadership Academy is to provide education, resources and networks needed to develop travel professionals for the state of Ohio. Throughout the course, participants network and learn alongside other tourism professionals within the class as well as guest speakers from around the state. 

This program is perfectly tailored for those new to the travel industry, as well as for those wanting to dig deeper. Discover challenges and opportunities unique to the travel industry, and be inspired to execute your value and vision in your career.

Connect to peers in the industry who are currently leading the way, as they introduce you to industry issues and opportunities in such a way that solutions can be envisioned. Gain a basic understanding of the roles and responsibilities of becoming a leader in your organization, community and the state. Build a network of industry colleagues. 

Class members have included those from attractions, museums, theme parks, DMOs, local government, state agencies, federal legislators, community development offices, restaurants, hotels and more. 

Tuition for 2022:

Ohio Travel Association Members: $700
Non-Members: $850

What You Can Expect:

The program consists of the first three sessions January through March held virtually via Zoom; the last three sessions April through June will be held in-person (tentatively) at locations in Central Ohio.  Virtual sessions are generally 1.5 hours while in-person sessions are typically 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. once a month. Optional Zoom chats will also be held January through March for a chance to dive deeper into topics. Here's what you can expect:

  • An elite and prestigious program built around pertinent topics you need to know
  • Topics and education that you'll take with you into your career that you'll remember for years to come
  • Mentoring and an instant network of professionals who want you to succeed
  • Uncovering tourism inside and out
  • Networking with peers and decision-makers in the tourism industry


The following is a tentative schedule. Please mark your calendars. We will avoid altering the dates, but the subject and speakers may change based on need.

Zoom Meetings - For our first three months, we’ll have a virtual meeting from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and optional coffee chats from 9 to 10 a.m.


January — A Guide to the Tourism Economy - Wednesday, Jan. 12

  • Meet your classmates!
  • Overview of the program
  • Economics of the travel economy
  • Marketing travel in Ohio


Wednesday, Jan. 19 (optional)

  • Coffee Chat - Conversation on leadership


February — Legislative Advocacy - Tuesday, Feb. 15

  • Hear from a colleague on how statewide law changes were made
  • Advocating for Ohio travel
  • Advocacy 101


Wednesday, Feb. 23 (optional)

  • Coffee Chat – Working collaboratively with local governments


March — Partnerships and Consensus Building - Wednesday, March 9

  • Arts in Ohio
  • How to build consensus, rally support and manage relationships


Wednesday, March 16 (optional)

  • Coffee Chat – Why different perspectives are vital


April — Outdoor Recreation and Natural Wonders - Wednesday, April 6

Held in-person (tentatively) in central Ohio

  • Ohio’s opportunities in outdoor recreation
  • Working with ODNR
  • Understanding outdoor recreationist markets


May — Getting Around and Getting the Word Out - Wednesday, May 11

Held in-person (tentatively) in central Ohio

  • All roads lead to tourism. Hear about signage and designation programs that benefit tourism
  • Crisis communications and working with the media


June — History in the Making - Wednesday, June 15

Held in-person (tentatively) in central Ohio

  • Partnering with history and heritage
  • Working with Ohio History Connection
  • Rallying others around an idea

If you have any questions about the program, please contact Melinda Huntley at mhuntley@ohiotravel.org.

Ohio Tourism Leadership Academy Classes of 2020 & 2021!

OTLA Classes of 2020 and 2021

2020/2021 Graduates

Jill Jentes Banicki, OSU - Sea Grant

Rachel Bechtol, Coshocton County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Kim Conrad, City of Grove City

Laura Felberg, Visit Canton

Emily Lloyd, Butler County Visitors Bureau

Jeremy Naylor, COSI

Margaret Price, Great Lakes Publishing (now with Ashtabula County Convention & Visitors Bureau)

C. Dava Range, Destination Cleveland

Brooke Robinson, Belmont County Tourism Council

Neil Stein, Lake County Visitors Bureau

Alexander Trujillo, Explore Licking County

2021 Graduates

Ryan Berry, Darke County Visitors Bureau

Dayna Brownfield, TourismOhio

Shannon Carter, Holmes County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau

Jesse Dotson, TourismOhio

Mercedes Graham, Travelhost

Sarah Herrick, The Orchard Bar & Table

Marty Conley, Lawrence County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Katelyn Gainer, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

Meredith Gilbert, Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Bryce Riggs, Tiffin Area Chamber of Commerce

Emily Schofield, Ohio History Connection

Kevin Seymour, COSI

Mallory Skrobot, Ohio History Connection

Amy Spoutz, Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Kitty Stevens, Ohio Magazine

Olivia Toth, Knox County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Zach Warmouth, Experience Columbus

Mackenzie Wittmer, National Aviation Heritage Area

Questions about OTLA? Contact Melinda Huntley at mhuntley@ohiotravel.org

Otla And Membership

Otla 3