30 Under 30
Class of 2021
30 Under 30 class of 2018

Investing in the future generation of destination experts, 30 individuals under the age of 30 are selected annually to gain valuable industry networking opportunities and increased thought leadership throughout the year. The 2021 class of 30 Under 30 honorees hails from a variety of destinations around the world and an expanse of job disciplines.

Select an honoree to learn more.

Meet the 2021 Class

Imran Ansari
Discover Long Island
Imran Ansari
Vice President, Discover Long Island

My name is Imran Ansari. I am Vice President of Community Engagement at Discover Long Island. Prior to joining Discover Long Island, I spent my career working in New York government and politics. Having recently worked for elected officials on the county, state, and federal levels, I am working towards ensuring that the tourism industry is well represented by our elected leaders.
Jasmine Armstrong
Visit Philadelphia
Jasmine Armstrong
Hotel Relations Manager, Visit Philadelphia

Jasmine Armstrong is a Philadelphia native. She joined the VISIT PHILADELPHIA staff in 2017 after graduating from Drexel University with a degree in Communications. Working at VISIT PHILADELPHIA is her first professional job post-graduation. She is a spirited young professional, raised in an entrepreneurial family which has prepared her for the work she does with the hotel community.
Derek Byrne
Visit KC
Derek Byrne
Social Media Manager, Visit KC

At Visit KC, Derek is responsible for the organization's social channels, as well as influencer partnerships and social promotions for large scale events such as the Big 12 Basketball Championships and Kansas City Restaurant Week. He has previously worked in communications roles at Texas A&M University and Development Counsellors International, a New York-based public relations agency representing domestic and international destinations. Outside of the office, Derek has served in a leadership role within the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce's young professional network, connecting KC's emerging leaders with service opportunities throughout the area.
Rodrigo Carreon
Visit Lake Norman
Rodrigo Carreon
Visitor Services & Marketing Coordinator, Visit Lake Norman

Rodrigo started his career in the tourism industry three years ago as a Marketing Intern for Visit Lake Norman while pursuing a Marketing degree at UNC Charlotte. After five months and before graduating, he accepted a full-time Visitor Services and Marketing Coordinator position during his sophomore year. Rodrigo excels in a multitude of roles ranging from overseeing all visitor center operations, curating website, blog, and newsletter content to managing all social media channels and all group sales markets. He always provides exemplary customer service in enhancing the visitor experience. Rodrigo embraces change and is the epitome of a lifelong learner.
Emily Deckert
Explore Waterloo Region
Emily Deckert
Sales and Marketing Manager, Explore Waterloo Region

From graduating from the University of Waterloo to buying a house in Waterloo Region's countryside, I've fallen in love with this destination and since working at Explore Waterloo Region, I've truly become a tourist in my own backyard. I started my career in the sports industry working for professional football & lacrosse teams, but the past 5 years have taught me so much about the tourism industry as a whole, and that sports is just a small part of it. This organization and my role itself have grown so much, I'm excited to see what is next!
Colleen Dorney
Dutchess Tourism, Inc.
Colleen Dorney
Director of Outreach & Operations, Dutchess Tourism, Inc.

Colleen Dorney is the Director of Outreach & Operations at Dutchess Tourism and is responsible for strengthening tourism partnerships and supporting the over 1,000 tourism-related businesses in Dutchess County. She also oversees film services, program development, and operations. A native of Dutchess County, Colleen joined the organization in 2016 and brought with her two years of nonprofit experience with AmeriCorps VISTA. She completed her Master of Public Administration in May 2019 from Marist College and holds her B.A. in History from Loyola University Maryland.
Zane Harrington
VisitDallas
Zane Harrington
Communications Manager, VisitDallas

A communications manager at VisitDallas, Zane Harrington promotes Dallas as an ideal leisure destination. He works to create, develop, and maintain public relations strategies and relationships with local clients, reporters, and partners. Zane serves as a main point-person for all media requests. A graduate of Baylor University with a BBA in Entertainment Marketing, he began his career as a CBS News press office intern in New York City, working with top publicists and CBS News executives, and returned to Dallas to become an account executive at A. Larry Ross Communications before joining VisitDallas.
DeShawn Hewgley
Nashville CVC
DeShawn Hewgley
Visitor Services Manager, Nashville CVC

DeShawn is the Visitor Services Manager at Visit Music City and will celebrate four years with the organization in 2021. She is responsible for training, developing, and empowering a team of Nashville Experts that consistently provide planning resources and exceptional service to Nashville visitors. She is a positive, intentional, and innovative professional who has found her passion in developing people to inspire visitors with the stories of Music City. Ultimately, DeShawn is a leader who combines her love of travel, people development and music to create memorable experiences for visitors that choose Nashville as their destination.
Mariah Hickman
New Orleans & Co.
Mariah Hickman
Marketing Manager, New Orleans & Co.

Mariah Hickman is a Minneapolis native who landed in New Orleans by way of Dillard University. Professional experience throughout her collegiate career includes internships in public relations, digital marketing, and destination marketing. Upon graduation, Hickman accepted a full-time position with the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation as a Marketing Coordinator. Over the years, Hickman has made endless editorial contributions to the expansion of NewOrleans.com, supported several experiential marketing initiatives, and spearheaded a community outreach series for local, minority business owners. In January 2020 she was promoted to Marketing Manager of New Orleans & Co. where she heads content creation and direction for all @VisitNewOrleans social platforms.
Lauren Huffer
VISIT DENVER
Lauren Huffer
Partnership Services Manager, VISIT DENVER

Lauren Huffer is the Partnership Services Manager at VISIT DENVER. Lauren has been working in the hospitality industry for 13 years, beginning with her first job. Upon graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Hospitality Management degree, she ventured into event planning. She joined the tourism sector of the industry 2 years ago when she began her role at VISIT DENVER, where she works with over 1,300 partners in the Denver community. She has experienced professional success in event planning and fundraising, and thrives most in customer facing roles where she can personally connect with others.
Alicia Leamer
Travel Juneau
Alicia Leamer
Visitor Information Services Manager, Travel Juneau

Alicia Leamer grew up in Juneau, AK where seasonal tourism is a natural first job. Luckily, she fell into an industry she loves. After spending five years living in Europe and earning a B.A. in International Business, she returned to the visitor industry to share her passion for travel and her extraordinary hometown with others. In her current position, she applies the skills and experiences gained working in both the tourism and business world to help visitors have the best possible experience in Juneau and to support her team of over 150 volunteers who staff the visitor centers.
Jason Letwin
Explore Edmonton
Jason Letwin
Research and Performance Manager, Explore Edmonton

Jason's love of research began while he was completing his Bachelor of Commerce degree; and, having spent time as a Marketing Research Assistant, he was able to refine his skills in both qualitative and quantitative analysis. During his career with Explore Edmonton, Jason has been able to use those skills to build a research program that not only contributes to day-to-day operations, but to the organizational strategies as well. Jason has a knack for seeing the story behind the data and hopes to continue developing the narrative for Explore Edmonton through evidence-based decision making.
Silei Li
Atlanta CVB
Silei Li
Manager, Advertising, Atlanta CVB

Highly motivated and multitasking professional with a Master of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Georgia and a Master of Science degree in Project Management from the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. Silei Li's journey with Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau starts with a 4-month digital marketing internship in July 2017. Later on, she was brought on as a China Market Manager to drive the organization's China market initiatives. Now, she is the Advertising Manager overseeing website personalization programs, improvement of the events calendar and content for all Chinese digital channels.
Shannon Lowery
Visit Savannah
Shannon Lowery
Content and Social Media Manager, Visit Savannah

Shannon manages both leisure and non-leisure social media efforts as the Content and Social Media Manager for Visit Savannah. She assists with editorial content for VisitSavannah.com and spearheads innovative content ideas and strategies. Some of her favorite projects include producing live broadcasts, hosting the podcast "Savannah, Georgia: Anything but Ordinary" and appearing in the popular "Hunter" video series. When she's not finessing Visit Savannah's social media strategy, you can usually find Shannon in historic Savannah walking one of her foster dogs or performing in local theatre productions. She's also a committee member and athlete for the Savannah Gaelic Athletic Association.
Bree Nidds
Discover Lehigh Valley
Bree Nidds
Vice President of Sales, Discover Lehigh Valley

Bree Nidds is Vice President of Sales at Discover Lehigh Valley where she oversees all strategies associated to meetings, conferences, festivals, and sporting events. Nidds has a proven history of leading regional sports tourism marketing efforts and was named a "20 in Their Twenties" by the Professional Convention Management Association. In her spare time, Nidds likes to write and has published work with the Trade Show News Network and Corporate Travel News.
Manuel Pimentel
Discover Puerto Rico
Manuel Pimentel
Multimedia Coordinator, Discover Puerto Rico

I began working in the tourism industry in 2017 when I worked for the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, creating multimedia content, including commercial ads and social media posts. My main roles would be video editing and filming, amongst photography and producing. I then continued working as a Multimedia Coordinator for Discover Puerto Rico shortly after it was founded because of my experience and growing interest for tourism.
Zeke Ramsell
San Francisco Travel
Zeke Ramsell
Manager, Convention Sales, San Francisco Travel

Zeke Ramsell joined San Francisco Travel in 2018 and has been in the hospitality industry for over 10 years. Having lived in the Bay Area for 18 years, he a passion for everything San Francisco. As a Convention Sales Manager, he manages CA groups and San Francisco markets, and is a great resource to meeting planners and anyone who is eager to return to San Francisco. In his spare time, Zeke loves exploring all the urban and rural hiking trails that the Bay Area has to offer.
Mara Rodas
Destination Toronto
Mara Rodas
Sales Coordinator, Destination Toronto

Mara is a team player who goes above and beyond expectations. She leads by example and consistently delivers strong outcomes. By bringing her "A-game" in data and analytics, and adding a creative flair to proposals, she is an integral member of Destination Toronto's sales team. A proud and passionate Toronto ambassador, Mara is inspired and energized by her vibrant and multicultural city. Apart from being a huge foodie, she also enjoys photography, music, pop culture, literature and science. She hopes to mentor and influence future generations so they too will become as enthralled with our industry as she is.
Lacee Rudd
Visit Panama City Beach
Lacee Rudd
Public Relations Manager, Visit Panama City Beach

Lacee Rudd joined Visit Panama City Beach as a Public Relations Manager in 2019, with over seven years of experience in marketing and management. She spearheads all public relations efforts for the Northwest Florida beachside community, including overseeing media relations and acting as the official spokesperson for Visit Panama City Beach. Rudd received her undergraduate degree in Professional Communication from Florida State University and her MBA from the University of West Florida. When she is not introducing influencers to the #RealFunBeach she loves to play with her husky, take the boat to Shell Island or read books on the beach.
Jé-Vonna Sampson
NYC & Company
Jé-Vonna Sampson
Manager, Borough Relations & Member Programs, NYC & Company

Jé-Vonna Sampson is a communications enthusiast with over 10 years in Community Engagement across industries, including nonprofit, academic, start-up, travel marketing. As NYC & Company’s Borough Relations & Member Programs Manager, her mission is to ensure the economic and social benefits of tourism in New York City are distributed throughout the five boroughs—with a particular emphasis on small businesses and communities anchored by marginalized folks. Her passion lies in ensuring her constituents maximize the resources afforded to them, and they are included when we tell the story of New York City. She is a leader, advocate and a continual asset to her team.
Maria Santos
Brand USA
Maria Santos
Manager, Global Marketing Programs, Brand USA

I'm a Venezuelan-American, bilingual marketing professional working as Manager for Global Marketing Programs at Brand USA. I work in support of the U.S.-based global marketing team responsible for negotiating in-kind media and creating international marketing programs. I negotiate, contract, and execute co-operative marketing campaigns focused in Europe and Latin America. Prior to Brand USA, I worked as an advertising specialist at Mercantil Commercebank, and previously worked as a marketing and product development analyst at Sabadell United Bank. I hold a BBA degree from the University of Miami and a master’s degree in integrated marketing and communications from Georgetown University.
Mary Sayewich
Ottawa Tourism
Mary Sayewich
Manager, Product Services, Ottawa Tourism

I am an events professional with 10 years of experience in the tourism industry. I spent four years building a robust Event Services department in a rapidly growing DMO and have expertise in managing host city event sponsorships and multi-stakeholder projects. Recently, I have shifted my focus towards implementing project management best practices in my organization, in hopes of building a more effective and agile work culture. I have a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto and hold a Project Management Professional (PMP) designation from the Project Management Institute.
Elizabeth Shanaman
Visit York County
Elizabeth Shanaman
VP Research & Market Analysis, Visit York County

Research in the travel industry has been the focus of Elizabeth’s career. Her time in destination management was launched with both an undergraduate and graduate degree in tourism management. She has eight years of tourism research experience, focusing on strategy development for destination management organizations. Prior to her role in York County, SC, she has held tourism research positions in Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Austria. In addition, this May will mark her fourth semester as an adjunct instructor of tourism economics at Temple University.
Caleb Sullivan
Jackson County TDA
Caleb Sullivan
Sales and Marketing Manager, Jackson County TDA

Caleb Sullivan is the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority's Sales & Marketing Manager. He's authored several critical projects for the DO including an Accessibility Guide to the County, a Crisis Communications Plan, a Sales Strategy, and countless other projects. He is a native of the County he serves, and that familiarity lends to his experience in not only fulfilling his duties but also promoting sustainable and inclusive tourism industry for his rural southeastern DO. In 2021 he will embark on both his Travel Marketing Professional Certification from Southeast Tourism Society and also Professional In Destination Management certifications from Destinations International.
Nate Swick
Visit Indy
Nate Swick
Communications Manager, Visit Indy

Nate Swick is the Communications Manager at Visit Indy. He joined the team as an intern in January of 2016 before moving into a full-time role following graduation. Prior to joining Visit Indy, Swick worked with the NCAA on Communications and Marketing for Women's Basketball Championships. He is an active member of PRSA and the Midwest Travel Journalists Association, and currently serves on Butler University's Career Services Advisory Board and Young Alumni Board. Swick holds a media relations role on the 2021 NCAA Men's Final Four LOC and 2022 College Football Playoff Host Committee. He resides in downtown Indy.
Chase Wharton
Visit Tri-Cities
Chase Wharton
Business Development Manager, Visit Tri-Cities

Chase Wharton connects with the local communities to understand their needs while also securing partnership funding for Visit Tri-Cities. Additionally, he is a strong asset to the VTC marketing team in content creation, specifically video production and editing. His past work experience in multiple resort settings and DMO convention sales tied with his leadership and teamwork expertise leads to constant success for his team. Chase is currently enrolled in a Master of Hospitality and Tourism program at Purdue University and will use his education to further his impact on the local communities he serves.
Chelsea Whitman
Visit Anaheim
Chelsea Whitman
Meeting Sales Manager, Visit Anaheim

As a Virginian and finding her love of service as an event coordinator one summer in the Outer Banks, Chelsea pursued her degree in Hospitality Management at James Madison University. Starting her career as a Hyatt Corporate Management Trainee, she has found her way into the destination marketing world where she has advanced her business development skills starting at Destination DC. Chelsea currently serves the eastern region for Visit Anaheim as a Meeting Sales Manager driving meetings and conferences to Orange County hotels.
Leonard Williams
Bermuda Tourism Authority
Leonard Williams
Experience Satisfaction Coordinator, Bermuda Tourism Authority

My name is Leonard Williams, I am the Experience Satisfaction Coordinator at the Bermuda Tourism Authority. I am well on my way to 5 years of experience in the travel and tourism industry and I have worked on large scale events such as the 35th Americans Cup, and have lead local initiatives such as World Tourism Day Bermuda. I have also worked in Ottawa, with Assent Compliance, and in New York City with NYC & Company. Outside of work I am a huge sports fan and make sure to find time for the gym daily and for golf weekly.
Jeffrey Yau
Philadelphia CVB
Jeffrey Yau
Senior International Tourism Sales Manager, Philadelphia CVB

Jeffrey is an avid traveler, a passion that started at a very young age. As the son of immigrant parents from Hong Kong, Jeffrey's Chinese heritage has provided him with a unique perspective that helps him succeed in his role. Jeffrey manages the Asia-Pacific, India, and Middle East regions for his destination, ensuring that his city's partners and stakeholders create a welcoming and inclusive foundation to support the region’s diverse visitors. An amateur aviation enthusiast, you will oftentimes find Jeffrey on a plane or strategizing his yearly chase of loyalty points.
Emily Zertuche
Visit Corpus Christi
Emily Zertuche
Vice President of Marketing, Visit Corpus Christi

Emily Zertuche leads the Visit Corpus Christi marketing department as the Vice President of Marketing, with responsibility for overseeing the creative marketing vision for the travel journey and stay to Corpus Christi, Texas. Having served over 6 years at Visit Corpus Christi, Emily has pioneered the launch of the Visit Corpus Christi content strategy, designed and launched websites for her community stakeholders, and produced over 150 visual story-telling videos for visitors and residents. Interests include exploring her home destination of Corpus Christi, Texas through unique culinary, breweries, biking and of, course, heading to the gulf beaches.