Choose Chicago Names First Female President and CEO

Lynn Osmond, currently president and CEO of the Chicago Architecture Center, takes on her new role at the convention and visitors bureau on May 9.

Chicago has chosen a new leader for its convention and visitors bureau.
Chicago has chosen a new leader for its convention and visitors bureau. Photo Credit: Iuliia Sokolovska for Adobe Stock

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Choose Chicago, the city's convention and visitors bureau, have announced that Lynn Osmond has been appointed as the CVB's president and CEO. On May 9, she will take over the post most recently held by David Whitaker, who left last year to run the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. Osmond, the first woman to lead the city's tourism agency, currently is president and CEO of the Chicago Architecture Center.

Lynn Osmond takes over as leader of Choose Chicago in May.

"Lynn Osmond's thorough experience leading the Chicago Architecture Center will be a great asset to Choose Chicago — and we're proud she is the first woman to take on the job," said Mayor Lightfoot in a statement. "As the city continues to see a rise in tourism, Osmond's intimate knowledge of this city will ensure that we will continue to safely encourage and delight those who come to Chicago for work or play."

City and state officials are welcoming the news, as Chicago's visitor numbers begin to increase following the drop caused by Covid.

"I'm proud to welcome Lynn Osmond's historic appointment at the helm of Choose Chicago as we welcome visitors from near and far back to the nation's third-largest city," said Gov. JB Pritzker. "Reinvigorating our tourism industry is a key component of my economic recovery plan... Our best resource in this work is local leaders who know the ins and outs of our state's greatest treasures, and when it comes to the Chicago tourism and hospitality community, there's no one better than Lynn to take the Windy City's global reputation to new heights."

The head of the search committee, Glenn Eden, agreed. "We're very grateful to have had an impressive pool of candidates who went after the position — and particularly pleased with how strongly Osmond stood out." Eden is the executive vice president of Weber Shandwick and chair of the CVB's board.

"The search committee was very excited about her experience in leading an impressive and local organization like the Chicago Architecture Center," Eden added. "Not only does Lynn bring deep knowledge of Chicago's tourism and hospitality community, as a former Choose Chicago board member, Lynn also knows our organization."

For her part, Osmond is excited to take the CVB helm. "This is a logical next step for me in a career with key leadership positions in nonprofits including theater, symphony orchestras and architecture," she said. "I love Chicago and believe we have a tremendous opportunity to build back meeting business and provide audiences with experiences that will have them returning many times over."

Under her leadership the Chicago Architecture Center grew from a $2.4 million operation in 1996, with an audience of 150,000, to a $25 million organization in 2019, with an audience of 700,000 — making it one of the top cultural attractions in the city and the largest architecture center of its kind in the world.