The Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) announced today the retirement of President and CEO Dan Lincoln. Lincoln, who restored national prominence to Cincinnati’s tourism and convention scene, will retire on Dec. 31. The CVB has engaged a national search firm to replace Lincoln. Current Chief Operating Officer Mike Laatsch will serve as Interim CEO until a successor is named.

“In his 11 years as president and CEO, Dan has led the CVB with a rare combination of long-term strategic vision, an uncanny ability to bring people together and an infectious passion for Cincinnati,” said Jim McGraw, Chair of the Board of Directors for the CVB. “His track record of innovation, impact and influence has left an indelible mark, and our organization is positioned for continued success.”

The CVB board engaged SearchWide, a national, executive search firm specializing in the travel and tourism industry, to lead the search.

Douglass McDonald will chair the search committee for the new CEO. Along with McDonald, Jim McGraw, Edgar Smith, Delores Hargrove-Young, Mike Bennett, Mario San Marco, Harry Black and Jeff Aluotto comprise the search committee.

A 34-year veteran of the tourism industry, Lincoln was named CEO in 2006 and is largely credited with recrafting the Bureau’s business strategy and defining the CVB as a destination marketing and management organization focused on building the region’s visitor economy.

“The impact of Dan’s contributions can’t be overstated. He’s built coalitions that leverage all the region’s assets - from government to the hotel and hospitality community to the Fortune 500 businesses that call Cincinnati home. Dan’s vision for a transformed and revitalized Cincinnati region is unparalleled, and many aspects of it have been realized,” said Hamilton County Commission President Todd Portune.

“The results speak for themselves,” said Mayor John Canley. "We’ve had tremendous growth in the tourism industry, and the city is more attractive to visitors and convention planners than ever before. Dan Lincoln’s influence will be felt for generations to come.”

During Lincoln’s tenure as president and CEO, Cincinnati has hosted more than 3.3 million convention delegates who spent more than $990 million in the Cincinnati region, including 2.5 million contracted hotel room nights, including the NAACP Convention in 2008 and 2016 and the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2015.

A champion of diversity, Cincinnati has attracted 19 of the top 25 multicultural organizations in the country under Lincoln’s leadership. He also spoke about Cincinnati’s role in hosting African American conventions at the inaugural State of Black Tourism national meeting.

Another highlight of Lincoln’s tenure is the World Choir Games held in 2012. Cincinnati was the first U.S. city to host the event, which attracted 15,000 participants from 64 countries, and garnered more than a billion positive social media impressions and generated $73.5 million in economic impact.

“It has been an indescribable honor to lead the CVB during the rebirth and renaissance of Cincinnati,” said Lincoln. “The most rewarding part is that it’s been a total team effort, from my incredible colleagues at the Bureau to the visionary government and business leaders I’ve had the privilege to work with as partners. Together, we’ve made so much progress revitalizing and reenergizing our region. I can’t wait to see the breakthroughs and milestones that are just around the next bend.”

Lincoln has decided to retire due to a medical issue. “My retirement will give me more time to focus on my family and my health,” Lincoln added. “While my condition has made it difficult for me to be as active as I would like, it will never rob me of my spirit or my love of my CVB family, industry colleagues or this great city that I feel passionate about.”

Delores Hargrove-Young, former chair of the CVB, added, “For over a decade, Dan demonstrated to our region what’s possible by putting Cincinnati on the regional, national and global map. He is a change agent, a thought leader in tourism and a passionate advocate of Cincinnati, who worked tirelessly to ensure our city was a destination of choice for conventions and tourists. He was also a driving force for diversity within the CVB and in attracting diverse organizations to the region for their meetings and events.”

Beyond trademark events, Lincoln also led a brand-new concept for the region called Source Cincinnati – an innovative program that serves as a single, strategic voice to tell Cincinnati’s story to national media. Source has generated more than a billion positive media impressions in national outlets ranging from USA Today and Fortune Magazine to U.S. News & World Report, The New York Times and Black Enterprise Magazine.

He championed the evolution of the Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network (RTN), a collaborative destination marketing organization that drives leisure travel to create ongoing economic impact for the region's businesses and communities. Since its creation, the RTN has grown the area’s market share for leisure travel.

“The 77,000 people who work in this business sector, and indeed our entire Cincinnati region, owe Dan an unparalleled debt of gratitude,” McGraw continued. “He leaves a legacy that will endure, underpinned by a standard of excellence and professionalism that positions Cincinnati USA for a great future. It has been my great honor to have worked with Dan.”

The Convention & Visitors Bureau will recognize Dan’s contributions at its annual meeting in March.

For more information on SearchWide, visit or contact Mike Gamble, CEO, at

To download a high-resolution head shot of Dan Lincoln, click here.