February 18, 2022 – Executive recruitment firm SearchWide Global has assisted in the recruitment of Sophia Hyder Hock as chief diversity officer of Destinations International. Senior vice president Kellie Henderson led the assignment. “Since implementing equity, diversity and inclusion as a strategic goal for the association in 2017, Destinations International has been working to lead and engage diversity initiatives and opportunities within our industry,” said Don Welsh, president and CEO of Destinations International. “Sophia will lead the organization’s overall strategic plan as we continue to push our industry forward on these important initiatives.”

In this new role, Ms. Hock will provide leadership, coordination and strategic direction for the design and implementation of an overall strategy within the association, across member organizations and the broader tourism industry. She will play an essential role by collaborating with senior management to lead and engage strategic planning and programming development initiatives and opportunities to engage structural change for the benefit of member communities. With this position, Ms. Hock will be focused on five core priorities: self-awareness and personal investment, education and awareness, community engagement, workforce/talent development, and branding and promotion.

Ms. Hock has spent 20 years developing strategy, training, facilitation and coaching services on topics pertaining to diversity and social inclusion, gender empowerment, community engagement and outreach, emotional intelligence and cultural awareness for clients in the international development and travel industries. Ms. Hock was previously the founder and CEO of Papilia, an organization dedicated to developing tailored equity, diversity and inclusion strategies for the travel industry to attract new audiences while respecting cultural heritage and diverse perspectives.

Ms. Hock has experience and success working with international and domestic teams and managing multi-million-dollar bids for participatory governance, economic growth, agriculture, health, and conflict mitigation efforts in Asia, Latin America, Middle East, and Africa for bilateral and multilateral donors.

“Destinations International is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion,” said Al Hutchinson, president and CEO of Visit Baltimore. “Having someone in this role on the association’s executive leadership team ensures that every initiative has a strategic EDI lens. Additionally, Sophia brings an entrepreneur skillset, international expertise and a passion and desire to expand the EDI footprint in our industry.”

“I’m thrilled to join the Destinations International team,” said Ms. Hock. “I appreciate the foundational work that has taken place over the past few years at Destinations International. I look forward to creating sustainable EDI initiatives to hold the industry accountable in a thoughtful and participatory manner.”

As the global trade association for official destination organizations and convention and visitor bureaus, Destinations International protects and advances the success of destination marketing worldwide. Destinations International’s membership includes over 600 official destination organizations with more than 6,000 members in over 15 countries that command more than $2 billion in annual budgets.

Experienced Recruiters

SearchWide Global, based in St. Paul, MN, is a full-service executive recruitment firm primarily for companies in the travel, tourism, hospitality, convention, trade association, venue management and experiential marketing industries. The firm specializes in C-level and director-level executive searches for companies ranging in size from Fortune 500 corporations to mid-sized public and private companies and associations.

SearchWide Global Finds CEO for Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau
SearchWide Global placed Martha Sheridan as president and CEO of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. Mike Gamble, president and chief executive officer of SearchWide Global, led the assignment along with vice president, Kellie Henderson. In coming to Boston, Ms. Sheridan became just the second woman, currently, to lead a first-tier market Convention & Visitors Bureau in the U.S.

Ms. Henderson works in all sectors of hospitality, travel and tourism. She has experience recognizing clients’ needs, identifying best-in-class talent. She also leads SearchWide Global’s industry-wide diversity initiative. She serves on the Destinations International Foundation board of trustees is involved in several other industry organizations. Previously, Ms. Henderson worked in the destination marketing organization and hotel industry.

Related: SearchWide Global Assists the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau in CEO Search

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here