Former U.S. tourism official to oversee group that underwent significant changes in recent years
Nov. 28, 2018
By Walt Williams
Cruise Lines International Association has tapped the nation’s former top tourism promotion official as its next CEO.
Kelly Craighead will join the $26 million-revenue cruise lines industry association Jan. 1, the group announced Wednesday. She succeeds Cindy D’Aoust, who announced in July she was leaving to focus on family priorities.
“Her extensive experience in the hospitality and travel industries, combined with her leadership skills and passion for results, are second to none,” CLIA Global Chairman Arnold Donald said in a statement about Craighead’s hiring.
Craighead previously was deputy assistant secretary for travel and tourism in the U.S. Department of Commerce. She was the first executive director of the National Travel and Tourism Office, which created by President Barack Obama in 2012 to increase foreign travel to the U.S. She also was deputy assistant the president during the Clinton administration, advising on domestic and international activities including the “Save America’s Treasures” initiative for preserving and protecting historic buildings, arts and published works.
Craighead also is the former managing director of the Democracy Alliance, a network of donors who support politically progressive causes and candidates. She has a bachelor’s degree in recreation administration from California State University, Chico.
Recruitment firm Russell Reynolds Associates assisted in the search.
The incoming CEO will join an organization that has undergone significant changes in recent years. D’Aoust was the third CEO to lead CLIA since 2015. She was hired the previous year to oversee the consolidation of the group’s Virginia and Florida offices into a single location in Washington, D.C. Since then, she has spent most of her time at CLIA leading the organization, having run the group as interim CEO for more than a year before being offered the job.
D’Aoust received $796,977 in compensation in 2016, according to tax records.