Bruce Baltin is Senior Vice President and Executive in Charge of the PKF Consulting USA, LLC practice in Los Angeles, overseeing West Coast Asset Advisory Services. With more than 40 years experience in the industry, he conducts hospitality industry analysis, market studies, and asset advisory services, and oversees consulting with municipalities and private-sector clients. Mr. Baltin is a graduate of the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University and began his career as an Operations Analyst with the Sheraton Corporation. He has been a lecturer in Hotel Administration at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He is a member of the Urban Land Institute and is on the Executive Advisory Council-Center for The Collins School of Hospitality Management at California Polytechnic Institute, Pomona. He is also a member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC) and is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California.
Caroline Beteta, President & CEO - Visit California
Under her leadership, Visit California grew into a global marketing franchise bringing in nearly $4 billion annually to the state's economy, and increasing the state's share of domestic market by 3 percent. Caroline was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to the Corporation for Travel Promotion, created to promote the USA as a travel destination. She recently served as National Chair of the US Travel Association and guided the merger of the Travel Industry Association with the Travel Business Roundtable. She previously served as the Vice President of E. Del Smith and Company, a Washington, D.C.-based public affairs firm. Caroline has also worked as a legislative aide to former California Governor Deukmejian and two members of the California Legislature. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from the University of California, Los Angeles; a Master of Public Affairs degree from the University of Southern California; and graduated from the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Marketing Management Program.
Rajesh Chandnani, Vice President of Strategy - WATG | Wimberly Interiors
As Vice President of Strategy for WATG, Chandnani is responsible for guiding the company’s global outreach activities, implementing strategic initiatives, and positioning the firm as a leader in innovation. He has a wide range of industry expertise focusing on consumer trends, travel and tourism, branding strategies and hospitality real estate. Chandnani also collaborates with the firm’s clients, and provides strategic consulting for proposed developments, including visioning and conceptualization, competitive positioning, branding and operator selection. He has specialized in commercial real estate since 1994. Prior to joining WATG in 2001, Chandnani was associate director with CB Richard Ellis Hotels, where he spent six years in a variety of capacities including asset management, investment sales, financings and portfolio due diligence. He was previously with PKF Consulting in Los Angeles, and has also taught classes on strategic planning, financial management, real estate finance, hotel development, tourism and design at UCLA, USC, Cornell University and Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne. Mr. Chandnani is a member of the Advisory Board of the Center for Hospitality Research, vice chair of the Urban Land Institute’s Hotel Development Council and has spoken at several industry conferences around the globe. He is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.
Roger J. Dow, President & CEO - U.S. Travel Association
Since 2005, Dow has led the organization that works to increase travel to and within the U.S. Dow helped lead the movement to create the Travel Promotion Act that established Brand USA, the first-ever nation-wide marketing organization charged with increasing international travel to the U.S. Prior to 2005, Dow spent 34 years at Marriott International, starting as a summer lifeguard and rising to Senior Vice President of Global and Field Sales, where he led Marriott’s 10,000-person worldwide sales organization. He developed Marriott Rewards, the world’s leading frequent traveler program, and his many awards include the 2013 Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Albert E. Koehl Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Seton Hall University and has co-authored two books on business practices. He has served on numerous Boards, including ASAE, PCMA, MPI Foundation (Chairman), the Travel Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Committee of 100. He served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam, where he received the Bronze Star.
Yvonne La Penotiere, Chief Marketing Officer - Brand USA
As Chief Marketing Officer for Brand USA, the public-private partnership responsible for launching the United States’ first-ever nationally coordinated tourism marketing effort, Yvonne La Penotiere leads the overall marketing effort to promote the United States as a premier travel destination. Yvonne’s experience includes marketing for such brands as Lipton, Nabisco, Pillsbury, Schwan and The Carlson Companies (now Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group). During her nine years with Carlson, Yvonne served as Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Country Inns & Suites, Executive Vice President of Brand Marketing, President of The Americas, and Chief Branding Officer for Carlson Hotels Worldwide, leading the company’s global branding efforts across 994 hotels in 70 countries. Prior to Brand USA, Yvonne was Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer for Comuniquest. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Salisbury University and an MBA from Rutgers University.
Patrick McClenahan, President & CEO - 2015 Special Olympics World Games
Patrick McClenahan is President and Chief Executive Officer of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games. He accepted the position after serving as the Chairman of the LA Bid Committee that recently won the international competition to bring the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games to Los Angeles. During the past 25 years, Patrick McClenahan has established a reputation as a strategic, results-oriented leader serving in senior level media executive positions at Prime Ticket, Fox Sports, KCAL, and CBS. As President and General Manager of the two CBS-owned televisions stations in Los Angeles, CBS2 and KCAL9, McClenahan led the largest local broadcast operation in the country. He managed a staff of over 400 employees, a senior leadership team of 15 executives, and five trade unions in producing 11 hours of live news per day and over 100 live local sporting events per year.
Marco leads Google’s Travel business in the West. Working closely with Google’s key hospitality and OTA partners, Marco has helped them leverage the power of new online channels for acquiring and retaining customers. He has been at Google for 7 years and has been on the leading edge of digital innovations in search, display, mobile, and video. Marco helps identify strategic shifts in online user behavior and works with partners to craft the best strategy to address potential opportunities. Marco lives in Mountain View, CA with his wife and three year old son.
Junior Tauvaa, Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships - Meeting Professionals International (MPI)
Junior Tauvaa is Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for Meeting Professionals International (MPI). In this role, he is responsible for creating business value and solutions that connect buyers and suppliers within the global meeting and event industry marketplace. Tauvaa also manages the creation and execution of strategic plans that increase revenue and profitability from advertising, sponsorships sales, MPI Foundation investments and strategic partnerships. He previously served as the association’s Vice President of Membership and Chapter Business Management, and led the expansion of MPI’s chapter footprint into Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia, increasing membership and the overall community by more than 10 percent globally. Prior to joining MPI in 2007, Tauvaa spent 11 years at the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board (LA Tourism), holding several leadership positions in marketing, research and sales. Tauvaa was instrumental in the repositioning of Los Angeles as a premier meetings and events destination and implemented sales initiatives to increase citywide conventions and meetings for Los Angeles. Tauvaa earned an MBA from California State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from California Polytechnic University. He has held volunteer leadership positions with Destination Marketing Association International, Convention Industry Council and the American Society of Association Executives as well as several technology companies.
Ernest Wooden Jr., President & CEO - Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board
Ernest (Ernie) Wooden, Jr. has spent his entire career in the hospitality industry, including more than a decade in senior leadership positions in both global brand management and operations with Hilton Hotels Corporation. As Executive Vice President, Global Brand Management for Hilton, he led all worldwide branding initiatives for the well-known hotel corporation, working with 3,000 properties in 80 countries. His operations roles at Hilton included overseeing territories in Mexico, the Caribbean and across the U.S. He has also worked with such top hospitality brands as Sheraton Hotels and Resorts, Omni Hotels & Resorts, Doubletree by Hilton and Promus Hotel Corporation. Wooden brings deep global hospitality branding and operations experience LA’s tourism industry, and is known in the industry for building relationships and driving business results. A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Wooden holds both a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in management science from Thomas Edison State College and is currently completing his doctorate from the International School of Management in Paris, France.