Hello Laura,

We're bringing together some of the travel industry's most senior women executives for networking, lunch, and a discussion on what the industry can do next to promote women in leadership.

Join us in Washington, D.C. April 18 or online!

Our Panelists include:

Anne Madison, Cruise Lines International Association

Tori Emerson Barnes, U.S. Travel Association

Maribel Rodriguez, WTTC

Melissa Cherry, Miles Partnership

Lan Elliott, Castell@Colleage, Acacia Hospitality

Delegate Charniele Herring, Virginia House of Delegates

Rori Ferensic, Destinations International

Event: Lunch Forum April 18th

Topic: "What's Next for Women's Leadership in Travel and Tourism"

Location: Washington, DC


  • 11:00-11:45 Networking
  • 11:45-2:00 Forum and Lunch
Register to attend in person
Register to attend online (free)


Anne Madison

Senior Vice President, Global Marketing & Strategic Communications, Cruise Lines International Association

Anne Madison oversees global marketing and strategic communications, including digital marketing, branding, crisis communications, research and analytics for CLIA and also supports strategy and business planning. Over the course of her career, Anne has led a number of areas, including strategic planning, business development, B2B and B2C marketing, research, media relations, public affairs, issues management, crisis communications, investor relations, human resources, information technology, and events.

Prior to her work with CLIA, Anne was chief strategy and communications officer for Brand USA, the nation’s destination marketing organization for the United States where she established the strategic foundation on which Brand USA continues to successfully pursue its mission. She also developed award-winning communications strategies to build strong and positive engagement with internal and external stakeholders worldwide.

Lan Elliott

Co-Chair Castell@College, an AHLA Foundation Project and Principal, Acacia Hospitality

Lan Elliott has been a leader in hospitality for over 25+ years as a hotel real estate & transactions executive. Lan is co-founder of Acacia Hospitality LLC, a hotel investment company which owns interests in five city-center convention hotels. Prior to Acacia, Lan spent over 10 years at Host Hotels & Resorts, where she closed on transactions totaling over $7 billion. She held previous executive roles at IHG, W Hotels, and KPMG.

Lan serves as Co-Chair of the non-profit Castell@College, an AHLA Foundation Project, for which she is a recipient of the 2022 Industry Recognition Award from the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education. She also serves as a Board Member, Principal, and Interview Host of DEI Advisors, a recently-formed non-profit dedicated to empowering personal success in the hospitality industry. Lan is currently a member of the Urban Land Institute’s Hotel Development Council and serves on the Executive Advisory Board of the University of Denver’s Fritz Knoebe

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Tori Emerson Barnes

Executive Vice President, Global Marketing &

Strategic Communications, U.S. Travel Association

Tori Barnes directs the association’s public affairs and external facing strategy and engagement including government and political affairs, media and industry communications, marketing and research teams.`

Barnes is highly regarded on Capitol Hill, 

throughout critical constituencies in 

Washington,D.C. and across the travel 

industry for managing a portfolio of domestic, business and 

international travel issues focused on transportation and infrastructure, security and travel facilitation, tax policy, sustainable travel practices, Brand USA, national parks and public lands, among others.  

The Hill has named Barnes one of 

Washington’s top lobbyists for four 

consecutive years. In 2021the National Institute for Lobbying & Ethics recognized Barnes as a Top Lobbyist. She was also recognized as one of the Top 50 Women in Travel by the Global 

Business Travel Association’s WINiT and 

selected as a Leading Lobbyist by Association Trends in 2020.


Prior to joining U.S. Travel in November, 

2017, Barnes was an integral member of 

General Motors’ federal affairs team for more than 

14 years, where her efforts led to the 

enactment of the electric vehicle tax credit for consumers, among other policy wins.   

She has also served as a congressional liaison for the Republican National Committee, and as director of fundraising and events for the 

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s National Capitol Chapter.

Melissa Cherry

Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer/ Senior Vice President, Miles Partnership

Melissa Cherry joined Miles Partnership to lead the development of the company's diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) consulting practice to serve current and potential clients, develop the internal DEI processes and best practices, and drive thought leadership to advance the evolution of equitable and inclusive marketing strategies across the travel and tourism industry. Ms. Cherry previously served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Marketing Officer of Destinations International. Melissa hails from Chicago, where she served as Senior Vice President, Marketing and Cultural Tourism for Choose Chicago as well as Vice President of the Chicago History Museum.

Maribel Rodriguez

SVP Membership & Commercial

World Travel and Tourism Council

Maribel Rodriguez has built an extensive network within the Travel and Tourism industry public and private sector, accumulating over 20 years of sales, marketing, communication, and commercial experience in Europe and Latin America in the airline and hospitality industry. She was an Executive Commercial Director and Board Member for Travelodge Hotels Spain from 2008 to 2014. 

Prior she spent 11 years in the aviation industry, gaining extensive experience in all aspects of commercial aviation managing among others the introduction of low-cost airline operations into the Southern European market for Virgin Express, Go-Fly, EasyJet, and Ryanair. She also worked for British Airways for Spain, Portugal, and France. Maribel has an Executive MBA from ICADE Business School, a Degree in Industrial Psychology from the University of Salamanca, and holds a Senior Executive Program for Travel & Tourism at IESE & JSF. She speaks fluent English, Portuguese, and a good level of French and Dutch.

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Charniele Herring

Virginia House of Delegates

Charniele Herring has represented the people of Alexandria in the Virginia House of Delegates for over a decade. An outspoken advocate for women, criminal justice reform, and the environment, Charniele continues to advocate for reform to ensure that Virginia is a great place to live, work, and raise a family. She is the former Virginia House Majority Leader, the first woman and African American to serve in the role, and currently serves as the Virginia House Democratic Caucus Chair. In her professional life she runs her own mediation practice, Herring Resolutions.

Rori Ferensic

Senior Vice President of Professional Development, Destinations International

Rori Ferensic is a seasoned association professional, currently serving as the Senior Vice President of Professional Development at Destinations International, the global trade association for convention and visitors bureaus and tourism boards. Rori provides leadership in strategic planning for the association, the development and execution of Destinations International’s suite

of education and certification programming and curates content for all of DI’s live events.

Prior to joining Destinations International, Rori was the Director of Education and Credentialing at the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA), the national trade association representing the $25 billion US convenience services industry.

Previously, Rori held senior level positions at several trade and professional associations, where she spent time developing,

growing and managing association-based certification and education programs, initiating and managing partnerships and alliances, negotiating partnership contracts and strategizing for new product development and organizational growth. When she isn’t checking off destinations on her travel bucket list, Rori serves the community as a volunteer, is an avid reader, and an Orange Theory fanatic.

Download the press release here!

Witti’s mission is to enhance the success of women in the travel and tourism industry. Specifically, the organization aims to increase the number of women in the industry's most senior leadership roles as it 

--raises awareness of the issue through speaking engagements, panel discussions, and forums at tourism conferences and events;

--increases connectivity among women by providing spaces for women's engagement and exchange;

--celebrates women's successes through our Women in Travel Leadership Awards;

--convenes the industry and its associations and government agencies to address the need for comprehensive changes to workforce development and leadership development in travel and tourism.

Witti was founded by Laura Mandala, Managing Director of Mandala Research and former VP of Research with the U.S. Travel Association. Laura has been an advocate for women throughout her career and served under two Virginia Governors on the Virginia State Council on Women, an organization she worked to save from elimination by state budget reductions. During her 13-year tenure on the Alexandria Commission for Women, Laura served as Chair and initiated its legislative committee, and court observation program.

Witti holds meetings and events in conjunction with national and international tourism associations across the globe. Contact us to organize a witti event at your next gathering or begin a chapter in your city. Join us here! www.womenintravelandtourism.com