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David Whitaker Named CEO of Choose Chicago

Hil Anderson
, Senior Editor
June 7, 2016
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David Whitaker, CEO of Choose ChicagoChicago, IL – Choose Chicago has hired David Whitaker, who has been serving as Chief Marketing Officer, Brand USA, to take over as CEO, effective July 6. Whitaker replaces Don Welsh, who left Choose Chicago to become President and CEO of Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) in January.

At Brand USA, the nation’s official destination marketing organization based in Washington D.C., Whitaker oversaw the integrated marketing campaigns in 14 international markets, as well as Brand USA’s international trade offices. Prior to that, Whitaker spent eight years as President and CEO of Tourism Toronto and 17 years at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, most recently serving as Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer.

“David is an industry veteran who has successfully increased domestic and international visitation to two major North American cities,” said Desiree Rogers, Chair of the Choose Chicago Board of Directors. “He is the kind of leader we need to exceed Mayor (Rahm) Emanuel’s goal of 55 million visitors by 2020 and to propel Chicago’s position as a leading U.S. destination for international travelers.”

Choose Chicago promotes overall tourism in the Windy City and is a key contact for trade show organizers. The agency, however, has been squeezed in recent years by wrangling over the state budget. An impasse at the capital last year froze the state’s annual subsidy and led to the elimination of about 25% of Choose Chicago’s staff and a cutback in advertising, as well.

Whitaker told the Chicago Tribune that convincing the Illinois legislature to maintain funding outside of the general budget is a top priority. “The state's got a lot of important decisions to make, and tourism can be one of those central rallying opportunities," he said.

Reach David Whitaker at (202) 536-2060 or dwhitaker@thebrandusa.com, or Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Press Office at (312) 744-3334

 

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