iTIP Board of Directors & Staff
3 Questions Asked:
- What is your “why” for serving on the iTIP board? Why is the organization important to you?
- Why should someone consider being a member of iTIP?
Kim Grzywacz, President
- Kim Grzywacz, CTIS, left her elementary teaching career 11 years ago to become a partner in marriage and business with her husband, John, at CIT Signature Transportation. To learn about the industry, Kim became very active and has served on the Motorcoach Marketing Council, Women in Buses Council, and Iowa Group Travel Association. She also serves on the American Bus Association Board of Directors. Her active involvement and leadership were recognized in 2019 with the Women In Buses Award.
- As a small, family business still rebuilding after the pandemic, carving time out of the work week to give back to the state of Iowa and the travel industry is non-negotiable. Building relationships, sharing best practices, and promoting our great state with one vision, one mission, and one voice, is an honor and privilege.
- Kim has learned that many voices speaking as one are heard better than many voices speaking on their own. Iowa has much to offer its travelers. iTIP will speak as one collective voice to grow tourism in Iowa. Be a part of that voice.
Dave Herrell, Vice President
- Dave Herrell serves as the President and CEO of Visit Quad Cities. Visit Quad Cities is the region’s official destination marketing and management organization (DMMO) charged with driving economic development opportunities through tourism. A proven executive with more than 20 years of experience, Herrell has a background in destination and brand marketing, administration, operations, strategic planning, business development, fundraising, communications, and non-profit management.
- Serving on the iTIP Board of Directors is a privilege. To be able to emotionally connect with my colleagues, peers, and friends that are passionate about making their destinations, our industry, and the State of Iowa simply better is highly rewarding. I firmly believe that tourism empowers people and communities and this organization and the leaders driving it share that common purpose. It is an honor to serve and represent an industry I care deeply about.
- Joining iTIP is a smart decision for any organization connected to travel, tourism, and the many sectors it is connected to. The value of benefits but more importantly the professional growth, development opportunities, and relationships formed are why Visit Quad Cities is involved and why we are committed to iTIP’s success and future. It is the organization that is leading Iowa’s tourism industry forward into the 21st century as the State of Iowa competes for more visitors, talent, jobs, and awareness.
Kevin Bourke, Treasurer
- Kevin Bourke, President/CEO of Discover Ames has been recruiting people to come to Ames for more than 35 years. The Iowa State University alum, coached Track & Cross Country at ISU for 17 years. Prior to joining Discover Ames, Bourke served as the COO for the Iowa Sports Foundation, aka Iowa Games. Bourke admits that his love of Cyclone athletics and passion for Ames is what drives him to get out of bed every day!
Serving on the iTIP board provides me a way to help strengthen the entire travel and tourism industry in Iowa. And as travel and tourism grows, all Iowan’s benefit.
Networking creates relationships, relationships create partnerships, and partnerships create growth. All of Iowa’s travel industry partners are seeking growth and what better way to accomplish it than through involvement in iTIP.
Ginger Williams, Secretary
- Ginger Williams has served as the Tourism Coordinator for the Charles City Area Chamber of Commerce since 2006. She also directs the Charles City tourism committee, comprised of area attractions and tourism entities, as well as leads the Charles City Whitewater committee. In addition to her role on the iTIP Board of Directors, she has held leadership positions on other statewide and regional boards such as Iowa Group Travel Association, Central Iowa Tourism Region, and Iowa Destination Marketing Alliance. Ginger is excited for the opportunity to find the benefits of all these organizations grouped together under one roof with iTIP.
- As a representative of a smaller organization, I have benefitted by being a part of this unified group that is working together to promote tourism. It’s great to know that I have connections and contacts from all over who support me, as I do them, as we join together to take Iowa tourism to the next level with iTIP. I look forward to welcoming new members as we continue in our efforts to reach our common goals.
- Regardless of your size, budget, or location, you can get involved with iTIP and let your voice be heard. You can take advantage of multiple member benefits with one simple membership. It’s a great opportunity!
Greg Edwards, Past President
- Greg Edwards has over 40 years of hospitality experience (hotels and destination marketing). He began as President & CEO of the Greater Des Moines Convention & Visitors Bureau in 2000, previously leading convention & visitors bureaus in Illinois and Kansas. He is the recipient of many industry awards, serves on many local/state board of directors and served as Chair of the Board of Directors for Destination Marketing Association International.
- Iowa Travel Industry Partners was a result of a statewide industry strategic plan of which one of the objectives was to IMPROVE COLLABORATION, PARTNERSHIPS & EXPERTISE AMONGST STAKEHOLDERS. This new organization will bring together a somewhat fragmented tourism industry by bringing ALL stakeholders together under ONE umbrella organization, speaking with ONE voice for all with ONE objective to grow the economic impact of our now $9 Billion industry.
- This concept has been a dream for the industry for 6 years now, but the COVID pandemic has highlighted the NEED even more for one industry, one mission, one voice. When the industry can come together as one, the power of what can be accomplished will be amazing.
- Nicki Brus has served as Business Growth and Service Manager for Visit Quad Cities since 2016. As a life-long Quad Citizen she has always had a passion for giving back to her community through service and leadership. In addition to her roles at Visit Quad Cities, she served on the Iowa Group Travel Association board for 4 years. Nicki is a Certified Non-Profit Professional (CNP) and has completed the Certified Tour Industry Professional Program (CTIS) from Purdue University in conjunction with The American Bus Association, as well as the Professional Guide Training from Iowa State University. In her free time, you can find Nicki volunteering in the community, kayaking, spending time with friends and family camping, attending live music events, or enjoying a good book or podcast.
- Serving on the Iowa Travel Industry Partners Board of Directors allows me to be a part of an organization committed to improving the overall well-being of the State of Iowa through tourism. I see this as an opportunity to unite our industry as one voice and promote our state as a place to live, work, and play.
- Joining iTIP would be a smart investment for any Iowa organization or attraction, no matter their size, mission, or physical location within the state of Iowa. Together we are truly better and that is the main mission of iTIP. We are joining together as one industry, with one united voice, to make Iowa be heard and known as a state worthy of increased visitors, increased thriving businesses, and increased residents. We know how great the industry is and its time we spread the word, loud and wide, for others to join the chorus.
- Jessica Dunker is president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association, a non-profit trade association which advocates on behalf of the state’s 6,000 restaurants and bars. In addition to working with state agencies and lawmakers to improve Iowa’s hospitality business climate, Dunker travels the state speaking to regional and local groups about the importance of the local culinary scenes’ role in building strong connected communities. She carries that notion into her work on the iTIP and other Board of Directors on which she serves.
- “When surveyed 60% of consumers say they would rather spend money on an experience such as a restaurant than on a physical item,” says Dunker. “In that way, tourism and food culture are one and the same.”
- Dunker encourages restaurants, bars and other hospitality ventures to consider joining iTIP to help promote themselves as destinations in and of themselves.
- As a South Dakota native, Mark Eckman’s tourism career has taken a scenic route through Iowa. Eckman started in the industry working frontline jobs in the Okoboji area during high school. After graduating from the University of Iowa, his journey led to the Villages of Van, Iowa Tourism Office, Ottumwa Area CVB, and eventually to the Council Bluffs CVB. Furthermore, he enjoyed serving in leadership positions with the Iowa Group Travel Association, Eastern Iowa Tourism Association, Iowa Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Commission, Central Iowa Tourism Region, and Iowa Destination Marketing Alliance.
- Despite the challenges, this moment can be truly transformational and lead Iowa to a place where the tourism industry can make an even bigger positive impact. But, we can’t be afraid of change and this opportunity to evolve. That’s what iTIP represents.
- The future is always full of possibilities. Join iTIP and be part of what’s next.
- Wes Ehrecke is President & CEO of the Iowa Gaming Association – a position he has held since 2000; representing the 19 commercial casinos in Iowa – who are collectively Iowa’s largest tourism attractions and strong philanthropic partners. He has led three organizations in the association management profession, has served on numerous boards, is a recipient of the Leadership for Iowa award along with being named a Fellow of the American Society of Association Executives.
- iTIP has the potential to become a unifying force for bringing together a larger number of organizations to showcase under the tourism and hospitality tent. The ‘why’ I want to serve is to help forge consensus to have the legislature, media and citizens in every corner of the state appreciate the importance of a stronger brand and image of Iowa; to constantly tout within and outside of our borders.
- Tourism is so important to this state with its significant economic impact and quality of life opportunities. Being part of a unified message via iTIP can best be advocated within several organizations and attractions focused on working together on programs and funding to benefit the state overall.
- Kristi Franz serves as the Executive Director of Explore Sioux City. She brings over 20 years of administration, hospitality, and tourism experience to the position. Prior to her current position, Kristi was the Tourism Manager for the City of Independence, MO. She has served in leadership positions for other regional and state-wide organizations such as the Missouri Travel Alliance, the Missouri Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus, the Whiteman Air Force Base Community Council, and the Johnson County Missouri Leadership Program. Leading the newly created Sioux City Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau is a dream job for her. Returning to her hometown after an ‘extended absence’, she is excited to share all the great things there are to do, see and experience in Siouxland.
- I am excited to serve on the iTIP board as it will allow me to bring my experience in the Missouri tourism industry to the Iowa tourism industry. I can provide a non-biased perspective and hope to see the Iowa tourism industry come together. Bringing organizations of all sizes together with a unified voice and mission will be critical in propelling Iowa to be on a level playing field with our neighboring states. This organization is important to me because it is trying to unify a long-divided tourism industry in Iowa and stop the duplication of efforts of multiple organizations. The Iowa tourism industry needs one clear voice, one clear mission, one organization to bring together all segments of the tourism industry together.
- iTIP was created to unify the Iowa tourism industry, it is a collaborative effort bringing attractions, businesses, communities, and tourism organizations of all sizes together. iTIP provides the industry opportunities to network, create relationships, mentoring, and develop partnerships with organizations across the state. When we come together as an industry with one shared vision, one shared mission, one shared voice, we can accomplish great things.
- Tavis Hall has served as Executive Director of Experience Waterloo since 2017, with previous experience as the Director of Main Street Waterloo and service in the U.S. House of Representatives as a District Representative in Northeast Iowa. As a lifelong Iowan and Waterloo resident, Tavis has been honored every day to promote a community he is proud to call home and proud to have been shaped by personally and professionally. Tavis approaches his position with Experience Waterloo, not through a narrow or traditional view of destination marketing focused on “heads in beds,” but rather, as a facilitator of destination marketing, community branding and resident pride. This industry is blessed to do amazing work and Tavis believes it is our duty to the communities that we love to dream big and do amazing work.
- I view the opportunity to serve on the iTIP board as an opportunity to help our industry modernize and evolve. As our state, nation and globe adapt to a world post-COVID, I recognize that tourism industry support must modernize and evolve in order to meet the new needs of the businesses, attractions and destinations segments of our industry.
- iTIP, through a 5-pronged scope of service for its members, maximizes efficiencies of state resources, capitalizes on industry partnerships and – all with the intent and result of offering added value to each and every member. By extending all benefits to all members at dues levels comparable to existing yet limited offerings, members will no longer be forced to choose between which organizations to belong. iTIP presents an opportunity for the travel industry to not only be united in voice, but also united in benefit and resources – maximizing the value for organizations, businesses and communities both large and small; rural and urban; from river to river.
- Through her work at Travel Dubuque, Eastern Iowa Tourism Association, and the Dubuque Chamber of Commerce & CVB, Senator Carrie Koelker has nearly 30 years of experience strengthening communities in Eastern Iowa. Senator Koelker takes pride in promoting Iowa’s people and places, whether it is small town hospitality or big city excitement or as an elected official under the Golden Dome. Tourism is her passion and that experience in economic development, rural Iowa, and creative partnerships provides her with the knowledge, passion, and experience to benefit Iowa!
- I enjoy serving with a diverse leadership that has a common passion for Iowa’s communities. Together, we recognize the need to build a strong foundation for our entire industry—rural and urban Iowa. I’m thrilled to be a part of a group that unites to build a private and public partnership for the future of our industry. Iowa is a great place to be!
- We make a significant difference on a united front.
- Rebecca Peters has been the Director of the Okoboji Tourism Committee since 2015. She coordinates the marketing campaign to attract visitors to the Iowa Great Lakes Area. Prior to her role at Okoboji Tourism, Rebecca was the Marketing Coordinator at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, IA. Rebecca has also served on the Travel Federation of Iowa, Iowa Group Travel Association, Iowa Great Lakes Rotary, Conservation Foundation of Dickinson County, and International Wine & Food Society Okoboji Branch boards.
- I’m excited to serve on the iTIP board with leaders from around the state who are all striving to unify and strengthen the travel industry. Iowa and our individual destinations and attractions all win when we work together.
- Travel related organizations should join iTIP to be part of statewide networking, mentoring, education, and advocacy efforts that will help to grow tourism in our state and individual organizations.
- Nick Pfeiffer is Vice President of Public Affairs at Think Iowa City. He joined the organization in 2017 as Vice President of Marketing and led marketing, social media, communications, and branding strategy for Think Iowa City for four years. He now focuses on placemaking, governmental affairs, and media communications for Johnson County. Pfeiffer produced the regional EMMY winning documentary “Cultivation: Writing and Wrestling in Iowa City.” Pfeiffer is Vice President of the iTIP Foundation Board of Trustees and serves on the iTIP Advocacy Committee. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Eastern Iowa Travel Association, Travel Federation of Iowa, and the Iowa City Downtown District, as well as on several committees for Travel Iowa.
- I love Iowa. I want more people to understand why Iowa is such a special place. I appreciate being able to network with peers that feel the same way so that we can, together, continue to make Iowa a great place to visit and live.
- We are all in this together. iTIP brings together like-minded leaders to strengthen our connections and understanding of the industry across the state. The broad knowledge of the individuals involved with iTIP is incredible and by being a member you can tap into that knowledge.
- Jennifer Pickar leads the Cedar Falls Tourism & Visitors Bureau. She has extensive knowledge of destination marketing, working at the Cedar Rapids Tourism Office for over 10 years, the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau for six years, and interning at the Ames Convention & Visitors Bureau during college.
- It is important for Iowa’s tourism and hospitality industry to come together as one strong organization. We can accomplish more by working together and centralizing efforts of numerous tourism entities.
- Now more than ever, tourism and hospitality businesses need to work together. iTIP offers the opportunity for the industry we love to have a louder, more influential voice. With iTIP, you can join one organization and have access to a wide variety of educational, marketing, and advocacy opportunities. iTIP is built to serve all sizes of tourism businesses, organizations, and communities.
- Julie Stow is Associate Executive Director of the Cedar Rapids Tourism Office with over 30 years experience in the fields of retail, economic development, tourism and hospitality. A native Californian, she found her way to Iowa in her role as Human Resource Director at Nordstrom for the opening of their Cedar Rapids Fulfillment Center. Her enthusiasm for the community led her to the Chamber of Commerce/Economic Alliance where she provided support to local businesses. She now uses her passion for the community to drive economic impact through tourism. She has been recognized as a Smart Women in Meetings Stellar Performer and Hall of Fame inductee, a 2022 40 Women to Watch in the Hospitality Industry and one of CBJ’s Most Influential Business Leaders. In her free time, she serves on the Visual Arts Commission for the City of Cedar Rapids and is on the board for The District.
iTIP is critical to the state’s tourism success and gives me the opportunity to connect with my peers, learn from the successes other communities in our state are experiencing and collaborate on initiatives.
We are always stronger together and iTIP membership gives us a larger voice in the impact of tourism. It brings great value with its networking and professional development opportunities and additional promotion of our organizations.
- John Valliere retired as as the Head PGA Golf Professional at Glynns Creek Golf Course at Scott County Park after 30 years. He has been involved in the golf industry in several roles since the age of 14. He has a long history with the Iowa PGA Section and served as the President in 2016-2017. He also currently serves on the Iowa Golf Council Board of Directors. John served on the Quad Cities Sports Commission for 20 years and was instrumental in recruiting national and international events to the QC area. John has received numerous Iowa PGA awards, including the prestigious Golf Professional of the Year, as well as being a two-time recipient of the Milt Hand Award from Visit Quad Cities. He is a lifelong Iowan and passionate about the State of Iowa.
- The golf industry plays a major role in tourism and John is proud to serve as a liaison between golf and tourism. Serving on the Iowa Travel Industry Partners Board of Directors is all about evolving into the future. The tourism industry needs to be united in the cause, by having one Mission and one Voice. iTIP will be all about growing travel in the state of Iowa, which in turn provides extreme economic benefit.
- Joining iTIP is about emerging and taking Iowa tourism and economic development to the next level. There will be more benefits under one united organization and a more recognized brand nationally and internationally. iTIP will have greater efficiencies and a more streamlined effort.
- Korey Woodbury of North Liberty, IA has serviced the hospitality industry in the Coralville/Iowa City area for the past eight years and is currently the General Manager of Hotel Millwright in the historic Amana Colonies.
- To bring a diverse point of view to a variety of topics and discussion to move Iowa tourism to the next level.
- First and foremost, to connect and network with some of the most influential people in the state of Iowa, Secondly, to change the narrative and perspective of the way Iowa is viewed. Iowa is a great state, help us show it off! Third, WHY NOT!?
Chelsea Lerud, Executive Director
- Chelsea Lerud began as the Interim Director of iTIP in August 2021 and was named the Executive Director in April 2022. Previously she served as the Executive Director of the Greater Burlington Convention & Visitors Bureau for 7 years. She holds a Master of Arts in Leisure, Youth & Human Services from the University of Northern Iowa. Chelsea is extremely passionate about Iowa’s tourism industry and is excited to help take the industry to the next level. In her free time, Chelsea and her family enjoy exploring all the gems of Iowa.
- I have chosen to be active with iTIP because I want to see the growth of Iowa’s tourism industry. Iowa has so much to offer the visitor and it is important for the entire industry to work together to promote Iowa the best way possible. It is time that the tourism industry is known as the economic generator it is.
- An organization should consider joining iTIP to have the ability to stay connected to the entire travel and tourism industry. Learning from peers is so important to help your own organization thrive.
David Adelman, Lobbyist
- David Adelman joined Cornerstone Government Affairs in 2010, bringing over 10 years of substantial experience in grassroots advocacy, developing and implementing strategic legislative campaigns, drafting and analyzing legislative language and reports and establishing, administering and advising political action committees. Before joining Cornerstone, David worked for a law firm in West Des Moines as well as the Department of Justice, in the Iowa Attorney’s General Office, clerked in the State Senate and worked in Washington, D.C. at the Democratic National Committee.
- David helps Cornerstone clients identify opportunities and establish a road map for success at a local, state and federal level.