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?
Greg Edwards, 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.
Kim Grzywacz, Vice President
- Kim Grzywacz, CTIS, left her elementary teaching career 9 years ago to become a partner in marriage and business with her husband, John, at CIT Signature Transportation. To learn 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 was recognized in 2019 with the Women In Buses award.
- As a small, family business the ROI of any association is important in budget discussions. iTIP will consolidate our membership fees into one organization while giving us access to entities we were not previously engaged with on a regular basis.
- 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.
Kevin Bourke, Treasurer
- Kevin Bourke, President/CEO of the Ames Convention & Visitors Bureau 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 the Ames CVB, 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 creates 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.
Nicki Brus, Secretary
- 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 also an Iowa Jaycee, serving on both local and state boards, providing leadership skills and community service opportunities to Young Professionals of the region. She is a Certified Non-Profit Professional (CNP) and since being employed with VQC 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.
Rebecca Peters, Past President
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Lindsey James serves as the Executive Director of Visit Mason City. With over 20 years combined experience in marketing, administration, sales, and event coordination, her passion lies in promoting Mason City and the state of Iowa as a great place to live, work, and play. She has been recognized as an Outstanding Young North Iowan, a recipient of Main Street Iowa’s Leadership Award, and JCI Iowa’s Outstanding Young Iowan. She is a member of the Mason City Noon Lions, Mason City Jaycees, and Past President of the Iowa Group Travel Association.
- As a firm believer in the benefits of collaboration, I wholeheartedly support iTIP’s mission and vision. I see iTIP as an exciting opportunity for our industry to join together – from the smallest, volunteer-led organizations to the big-city DMOs, and everyone in between – to promote and grow tourism in the state of Iowa and create a positive impact on our state’s economy and quality of life for all Iowans.
- Regardless of size, geography, or the type of organization we represent, we’re stronger together. iTIP offers a variety of opportunities for members to get involved in the industry, connect with peers, learn and grow as a tourism professionals, actively participate in advocacy and marketing efforts, and so much more.
- 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.
- Through her work at Travel Dubuque, Eastern Iowa Tourism Association, and the Dubuque Chamber of Commerce & CVB, Senator Carrie Koelker has over 20 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 provides her with the knowledge and experience to benefit statewide economic development and tourism efforts.
- I enjoy serving with a diverse leadership that has a common passion for Iowa’s people and places. 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 together to build a private and public partnership for the future of our industry. Iowa is a great place to be!
- We have the ability to make a difference on a united front. Uniting together to promote Iowa’s people, places, and opportunities!
- 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.
- Keith Rahe is President & CEO of Travel Dubuque. His responsibilities include program development and implementation. Rahe is a graduate of Iowa State University and has a tremendous amount of experience in the tourism field including the Field of Dreams, it’s world famous Ghost Players and the National Farm Toy Museum in Dyersville, IA as well as the many events that these two attractions have hosted over the last 30 years. Rahe has extensive experience with event coordination in the United States and across the world including Ghost Players tours, America’s River Festival, Team of Dreams, the Dubuque Grand Excursion, and RAGBRAI to name a few.
- Josh has served as President/CEO of Think Iowa City since 2000. In this capacity he oversees the destination marketing & community betterment efforts for the greater Iowa City/Coralville area. He has been recognized twice by the Upper Midwest CVB Association for Bureau Innovation, recognized every year since 2004 by the Corridor Business Journal as one of the 25 most influential corridor leaders, and by the Iowa City Press Citizen as the Person of the Decade.
- I have been excited to join my peers (and in many cases mentors) from around our great state to advance this industry for the benefit of all. The community and economic benefits that tourism brings to our state enhances the quality of life we all enjoy.
- John Valliere currently has served as the Head PGA Golf Professional at Glynns Creek Golf Course at Scott County Park in Long Grove since 1991. 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. 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 and all it has to offer.
- 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.
- 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!
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.