August 11, 2023 – Executive recruitment firm SearchWide Global has assisted in the recruitment of Herschel Herndon as chief diversity officer for the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) in Boston. Executive recruiter Donna Thornton led the assignment. “We are thrilled to welcome Herschel and have him join the leadership team at the MCCA,” said David Gibbons, executive director of the MCCA. “After a comprehensive search process, it was clear that Herschel’s leadership capabilities, experience, and knowledge of the DEI landscape makes him the perfect person to lead our efforts in truly making the MCCA an employer of choice.”
SearchWide was looking for candidates with a demonstrated ability to create and execute effective organizational strategies and transformations, as well as prior service building a diversity function and strategizing for organizations with diversity initiatives. Mr. Herndon fit the bill. He is a well-respected diversity and inclusion thought leader with over 20 years of experience in a number of different industries. Mr. Herschel most recently served as chief diversity officer for Thrivent, a Fortune 500 not-for-profit financial services organization, and since 2012 has led a consulting firm offering strategic guidance focused on global diversity and inclusion, market development, and community engagement.
In his new position, Mr. Herschel will play a critical role in shaping and sustaining efforts that advance a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture across the MCCA, while making diversity a priority for the organization in developing its workforce, working environment, regional convention industry partnerships, and procurement strategies. He is also responsible for overseeing policy development, oversight, outreach, assessment, and education and training programs as assigned and providing content knowledge and leadership, and ensuring all initiatives are aligned with organizational diversity/inclusion strategy.
“I’m very excited to join the MCCA and look forward to strengthening DEI capabilities at the authority and building bridges in the stakeholder community,” said Mr. Herndon. “By creating value through active listening, thorough dialogue, and collaborative engagement, I am confident that we can have a lasting impact.”
The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority owns and oversees the operations of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, the Lawn on D, the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, the MassMutual Center in Springfield, MA and the Boston Common Parking Garage. The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority’s mission is to generate significant regional economic activity by attracting conventions, tradeshows, and other events to its world-class facilities while maximizing the investment return for the residents and businesses in Massachusetts.
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 Recruits Chief Sales Officer for VisitPittsburgh
Following a nationwide search that began in May, executive recruitment firm SearchWide Global has placed Andrew Ortale as the new chief sales officer for VisitPittsburgh, the tourism promotion agency for Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County. Senior vice president Kellie Henderson led the assignment. Mr. Ortale’s appointment marks a return to Pittsburgh for the seasoned industry veteran, who previously served as the national sales director for VisitPittsburgh from 2000 to 2003 before taking on a senior sales position with Visit Orlando.
Ms. Thornton has more than 20 years of experience in sales and business development, including serving several years as a senior sales manager for a convention and sports authority. She assists with director and C-level searches and business development initiatives for SearchWide Global. Ms. Thornton received her bachelor’s degree from Dillard University, where she studied English.
Recently Called In
SearchWide was recently retained by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) to lead its search for a new president and chief executive officer. Executive vice president Mark Gnatovic is leading the assignment.
The incoming leader will be expected to provide executive leadership and inspire growth and innovation and position the organization for greatness. This individual must drive IAEE’s mission to globally promote the unique value of exhibitions and events and serve as the principal resource for those who plan, produce, and service the industry. The CEO will also provide organizational leadership and strategic counsel to the board and serve as the association’s representative with industry coalitions, partner organizations, and strategic alliances. “This dynamic leader with a proven track record of success will ultimately have the opportunity to significantly impact the industry and shape the future of IAEE,” the search firm said.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media