Julie Coker Graham

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President & CEO Of The Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau

On January 1, Julie Coker Graham became the new president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB). She assumed the role following the retirement of former President and CEO Jack Ferguson on December 31.

Julie joined the PHLCVB in 2010 as Senior Vice President of the Convention Division and was promoted to Executive Vice President of the PHLCVB in June 2014 as part of a strategic succession plan. The move allowed her to continue leading the organization's convention sales efforts while expanding her responsibilities to include overseeing all of the PHLCVB's departments and operational duties. A 21-year Hyatt Hotel Corporation veteran, Coker Graham will be the only female African-American president & CEO to lead a major CVB in the top 50 U.S. markets.

"Julie Coker Graham is a talented, experienced and respected professional, and her hard work and dedication to Philadelphia during her tenure at the PHLCVB has been pivotal to the city's continued recognition as a first-choice destination for all visitors," said PHLCVB Chairman Nick DeBenedictis. "I have great confidence that she is the right leader to build upon the successes of Jack Ferguson and maintain the PHLCVB's reputation as one of the most recognizable destination marketing organizations in the country."

As the primary sales and marketing agency for the expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center, the PHLCVB in 2014 boasted its strongest convention booking year in a decade. Since the signing of the Customer Satisfaction Agreement at the Convention Center in May, definite bookings of citywide conventions for future years are 47 percent higher than over the same period in 2013.

Coker Graham will work to continue this momentum with new and innovative sales and marketing initiatives. The PHLCVB is also the official tourism promotion agency for Philadelphia globally and, under Coker Graham's leadership, will continue efforts to further promote travel to Philadelphia, which moved from the 21st to the 15th in overseas visitation rankings.

"It is a great honor to be assuming the position of PHLCVB President & CEO. On the heels of a visit by Pope Francis in September that drew nearly 1 million national and international visitors, Philadelphia's star continues to rise across the globe. It is an extremely exciting time to be taking the reins," Coker Graham said. "As we look ahead to a year that includes the City of Philadelphia hosting the 2016 Democratic National Convention and tens of thousands of delegates and leaders from around the world, I look forward to sharing Philadelphia's story."

In addition to the DNC, in 2016 Philadelphia will host the American Institute of Architects convention, the African Methodist Episcopal Church Bicentennial, the American Association for Clinical Chemistry meeting, the American Chemical Society meeting and the Copa America soccer tournament, among many other conventions and events in 2016.