Local high school students were the first to graduate from the Dan Lincoln Institute for Hospitality Leadership (IHL) this week as part of a community-wide effort to develop a more highly skilled and diverse workforce for the Cincinnati region’s hospitality industry.

The IHL, which was led by the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau in 2016, launched its inaugural semester with select juniors and seniors at Dater High School this fall. Students met with educators and local industry leaders to follow an IHL-designed coursework that introduced them to the scope of potential career paths within the industry via educational and experiential  programs.

Students also participated in a national customer service certification program and earned the designation of Certified Tourism Ambassadors at Wednesday’s graduation. Following the graduation, students from the IHL will have the opportunity participate in a local hospitality internship program from January to April 2019.
“Travel to the Cincinnati region is at an all-time high, and with that, there is a need for a more robust workforce in the hospitality industry, which is a key job creator and economic driver locally. The Dan Lincoln Institute for Hospitality Leadership meets that need by addressing regional workforce trends and working to maximize the size and impact of the region’s economy,” said Julie Calvert, president and CEO of the Cincinnati USA CVB.

Development of the IHL was fueled by a growing tourism and hospitality industry in the Cincinnati region, which employs more than 80,000 people and generates more than $5 billion in visitor spending annually. Through a collaborative effort with local industry leaders, Cincinnati Public Schools and the Cincinnati Recreation Commission, the IHL is designed to move the industry forward and demonstrate the breadth, impact and cohesiveness of hospitality throughout Cincinnati.

“The Cincinnati region is investing in the future of the local hospitality industry and is allowing students to plan for their personal futures,” said Constance Cooper, chairwoman of the IHL. “By reaching these young leaders at an early age, the IHL encourages them to better understand their potential role in the industry so they can tailor their education and experiences to meet and exceed their professional goals.”

Ongoing funding and support for the IHL comes from the Cincinnati region’s largest tourism driver, the Cincinnati Music Festival, presented by P&G. For three years, the festival has partnered with the Cincinnati USA CVB to host the “Party with A Purpose” concert on Thursday night. As part of a partnership, $7 from every Thursday ticket sold is donated to the IHL. On behalf of the Cincinnati Music Festival, Fran Santangelo DiBattista presented a check for $14,000 to the IHL at Wednesday’s graduation ceremony, representing the continued investment in the program.

“Through the IHL, we are demonstrating the power and the collaborative spirit of Cincinnati’s hospitality industry and making a rewarding career attainable for all, regardless of race, socioeconomic status or background,” said Jason Dunn, vice president of multicultural sales and community development at the Cincinnati USA CVB. “There is so much more to come – so much potential for this program and these students.”

Click here to download high resolution photos of the IHL graduation ceremony.

About the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau
The  Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau is a sales, marketing and service organization whose primary responsibility is to positively impact Hamilton County's and the City of Cincinnati's economy through convention, trade show and visitor expenditures. The travel and tourism industry traditionally has been a $5.3 billion industry in Cincinnati USA, employing more than 80,000 people in a variety of fields and bringing 26.6 million visitors to the region annually. Visit www.cincyusa.com for more.