When you work in the tourism industry, diplomatic savvy comes in handy. Julie Pingston, CMP, CTA, gained hers in the field.

Pingston, senior vice president and chief operating office at the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau (GLCVB), started her career as a campaign intern for George Bush the elder. After he was elected, Pingston, newly graduated from Alma College, was appointed to the nowdefunct U.S. Travel and Tourism Association, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“I didn’t choose travel and tourism, it chose me,” says Pingston, who majored in political science and Spanish. “Our job was to market and promote the United States as a travel destination; I did marketing, organized national and international conferences and board meetings. It was a great experience, and it made me decide to stay in the meetings and conventions area when I moved.”

In 1993, Pingston, a Clawson native, decided to return to Michigan to be with her future husband. She took a job at the GLCVB as a convention services manager. The bureau had 11 employees; it now has 26.

“I’ve always said if I ever got bored I would choose to leave,” Pingston says. “Every day is different because we host so many different events and there’s such a variety of people we get to work with.”

Pingston also maintains a lengthy roster of industry and community involvement. She’s past president of the Events Service Professionals Association, an international organization for convention services managers.

“Of the many organizations I’ve associated with, that one helped me learn how to do the best possible job,” she says. “I gained a lot early in my career from my colleagues, then later as president. That organization has really meant a lot to me, and still does.”

Pingston is also president of the foundation for her local Rotary Club, and president of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing.

“I have a great passion for the arts. I’m not good at any of it, but I’m very committed to it,” she says, laughing.

“I definitely have become a Lansing person, even though I’m not from here originally,” she adds. “I want to always keep giving back and being involved in our community. I feel very invested in what goes on here.”

(Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau; lansing.org; 888.252.6746) 

Options for unconventional seasonal gatherings abound across the state. 

From cities teeming with bright lights to snowy small towns, Michigan is a winter wonderland. If you’re looking for a way to make your event or post-event outing more festive, consider these unique holiday offerings. 

Peacock Road Family Farm 

Laingsburg

 

After 36 years as director of the CVB, Peter Fitzsimons is retiring. By Shelley Levitt

In 1985, Peter Fitzsimons, a former hotel general manager, became the executive director of the newly formed Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau. He never left. In June, the 73-year-old Detroit native announced that he’d be stepping down from the role at the end of the year. 

MIM+E: When did you begin your career in hospitality?

 

League City CVB manager Stephanie Polk shares her career journey.

Originally from Kentwood, Louisiana, Stephanie Polk, TDM, CTE, first made her mark on the travel and tourism industry as director of marketing for the Beaumont Convention & Visitors Bureau. There, she helped to elevate the city as a destination for recreation travelers and business groups. Wowed by her accomplishments, in 2020, League City brought her on board to lead its marketing efforts. She shares with us highlights and advice from her experience in the industry.