October 18, 2021 – 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.
“Andy is well-known and highly respected with the business events sector. He has a strong passion for strategic selling and an outstanding rapport with clients and team members,” said Jerad Bachar, VisitPittsburgh president and CEO. “He has strong skills in strategic thinking, innovation, measuring output and leadership. I am confident he will serve as an excellent leader for VisitPittsburgh, and I look forward to welcoming him and his family back to Pittsburgh.”
“I would like to thank SearchWide Global for leading the national search, as well as the members of the search committee who gave of their time to help identify the right candidate,” said Mr. Bachar.
“I am thrilled and grateful to return to Pittsburgh and rejoin the hardworking staff at VisitPittsburgh,” Mr. Ortale said. “A lot has changed since I left in 2003, but the city remains one of innovation and opportunity. From the tech sector, to education, health, business and more, there is so much growth happening in Pittsburgh today. I look forward to leaning into these opportunities and working with the hospitality community to help rebuild the Pittsburgh travel economy.”
Mr. Ortale returns to Pittsburgh with more than 20 years of domestic and international event experience. Most recently, he served as vice president, events, and business development, for ASIS International since 2017. Prior to that, he served as vice president, industry services, for the American Gaming Association and executive vice president for National Trade Productions. He also held leadership positions with The Expo Group (vice president sales – eastern division, and Spargo & Associates (vice president, industry & client relations). A three-year member of the VisitDallas customer advisory board, Mr. Ortale also is actively involved with: International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR).
Established in 1935, VisitPittsburgh is dedicated to generating convention, trade show and leisure travel business for the Pittsburgh region. The organization creates, plans, and implements sales, marketing and public relations programs that attract conventions, tradeshows, media, and leisure travelers into the Greater Pittsburgh area, thereby ensuring the area of certain economic benefits. The non-profit achieves its goals through the combined efforts of its sales, marketing and public relations staff who actively solicit convention and tradeshow business, media coverage and leisure travel for the Greater Pittsburgh area along with additional professional internal staff who support and promote these efforts.
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.
In the spring of 2020, SearchWide Global placed Jerad Bachar as president and CEO of VisitPittsburgh following a nationwide search. Mr. Bachar had been serving as interim CEO. “Jerad’s domestic and international tourism experience, as well as his familiarity with the Pittsburgh tourism sector and VisitPittsburgh, were major factors in our decision,” said Bryan Iams, chairman of the VisitPittsburgh’s board of directors. “And his exceptional leadership as interim CEO during these unprecedented times really made him stand out among our candidates.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media