Little Rock, AR skyline

2023 EDI Summit

October 10-11, 2023 | Little Rock, AR, USA

[RE]new: The inaugural Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Summit: renewing our commitment to inclusion through a welcoming and belonging lens

The DI EDI Summit is the first of its kind, dedicated to providing destination organizations and travel industry professionals with ideas and solutions on how to increase economic value by creating spaces that authentically welcome people from all backgrounds and abilities. This interactive summit brings the innovative minds of our industry together to share practical insights and expertise related to implementation, address common challenges and how to find data-driven solutions, and discuss human-centric approaches that authentically capture the essence of your destination. From workforce development to marketing and sales strategies, you will learn what it takes to integrate realistic methods of inclusion across diverse budget sizes and geographies. This summit is designed to bring thought leaders in a variety of industry roles to:

  • Learn new ideas that inspire you to take realistic action
  • Discuss creative ways to solve inclusion-related issues
  • Refresh your purpose with this work
  • Build a stronger sense of community with your peers
  • Elevate your work to create meaningful impact for your organization, community, and visitors  

2023 Pricing

Member Rate   

Non-Member Rate   

Approved for up to 12 CDME CE credits

The 2023 EDI Summit is approved for up to 12 CDME continuing education (CE) credits. Learn about CDME recertification.

Schedule at a Glance

Tuesday, October 10

Networking Breakfast

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM


9:00 AM - 9:15 AM

Why and How to Invest in Accessibility Resources

9:15 AM - 9:45 AM

What does an accessible destination look like? People with disabilities and their companions face numerous difficulties when planning a trip, which can generate friction and less than stellar travel experiences for all. How can (and how should) destinations and hospitality providers speak to the more than 500 million travelers yearly who are ready to travel, but don’t have the resources they need to understand how a destination can be accessible to them? This session will provide the latest stats on, and needs for, travelers with disabilities, and help you, as a destination organization, understand what needs to be done to be a resource for travelers with accessibility needs.

Yoel Waisberg headshot

Yoel Waisberg

Founding Team & Head of Business Development

Wheel the World





Exploring Social Inclusion: Unveiling Global Research Insights

9:45 AM - 10:30 AM

In an ever-evolving global landscape, the significance of social inclusion cannot be overstated. This enlightening session delves deep into the results of DI's social inclusion research studies, as well as the results of other important EDI studies, unraveling crucial insights that foster a more equitable and inclusive society. Our distinguished panelists will shed light on the latest methodologies, data-driven approaches, and innovative frameworks utilized in EDI research to uncover issues, trends and solutions. Attendees will gain a comprehensive understanding of how research informs actionable strategies, policies, and initiatives that drive real-world change.

Sophia Hyder Hock headshot

Sophia Hyder Hock

Chief Diversity Officer

Destinations International

Daniel Wallace headshot

Daniel Wallace

VP, DEI & Corporate Communications

MMGY Global


Derek Price

Director, Business Development

Expedia Group Media Solutions



Networking Break

10:30 AM - 10:45 AM

Discovery Sessions

10:45 AM - 11:45 AM

What do we do with all this data?
How do you collect data in your community?
How can you drive tangible progress and transformation in your community to create a more inclusive environment?

Barbara Karasek


Paradise Advertising





Exploring Exemplary EDI Campaigns: Get Insights & Inspiration

11:45 AM - 12:15 PM

Let’s dive into strategic campaigns created to highlight Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in destination marketing. We’ll share a collection of recent campaigns run by Simpleview clients that showcase how forward-thinking DMOs have successfully integrated EDI principles into their marketing strategies.


Cara Frank

Chief of Staff



Hilina Ajakaiye

Executive Vice President

Meet Boston

Danielle Fitz-Hugh headshot

Danielle Fitz-Hugh

Vice President of Community Relations

Richmond Region Tourism



Networking Lunch

12:15 PM - 1:15 PM

EDI Lexicon: Words Matter

1:15 PM - 1:30 PM

Words matter and they need to be chosen carefully to carry an emotional connection to people’s values and the values of our global community. This session marks the inaugural release of words we have found that are used to ensure equity, diversity and inclusion through a welcoming lens.


Andreas Weissenborn

Vice President of Research & Advocacy

Destinations International


Sonya Bradley

Chief of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Visit Sacramento




Empowering Millennials and Gen Z: Driving Change through EDI Legislation and Economic Advantages

1:30 PM - 2:00 PM

In today's rapidly evolving world, the Millennials and Gen Z are at the forefront of pushing for meaningful change. This dynamic session will delve into the critical intersection of EDI legislation and its economic implications. Join us to explore how these two powerful forces can be harnessed to create a more inclusive, welcoming and belonging society.

Jessica Reyes

EDI Manager

Destinations International

Jordoun Eatman

VP of Engagement & Inclusion

Experience Grand Rapids

Sheridan Powell

Communications Specialist

Visit Colorado Springs



Re-Humanizing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Fostering Authentic Connections

2:00 PM - 2:30 PM

In an era where technology has connected us more than ever before, there is a growing need to rekindle the human element in the pursuit of EDI. In this fireside chat, we will delve into the heart of what it means to truly re-humanize EDI efforts, emphasizing authentic connections as the cornerstone of progress. Join us as we explore the multifaceted dimensions of re-humanizing EDI and its transformative impact on our workplaces and our communities. Through thought-provoking discussion and real-world examples, this session will help you uncover the power of empathy in fostering genuine understanding and compassion among diverse individuals. 

Sophia Hyder Hock headshot

Sophia Hyder Hock

Chief Diversity Officer

Destinations International

Najauna White headshot

Najauna White

Vice President, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Miles Partnership




Networking Break

2:30 PM - 2:45 PM

The Welcoming Index: Measuring DEI Initiatives

2:45 PM - 3:15 PM

In its ongoing series of research with MMGY Global on underserved travelers, Tripadvisor learned that many visitors miss out on the most important aspect of the destination experience: the hospitable welcome. After unrest in 2017, Charlottesville, VA made it a key priority to be a welcoming destination for visitors and community members. Through a multi-pronged approach, the destination has worked across its community to ensure Tourism for All with measuring success representing a key objective at the outset. This session will focus on the first report leveraging Tripadvisor traveler sentiments and it's new Welcoming Index to measure visitor experience.

Mallory Smith

Senior Digital Marketing Executive


Courtney Cacatian

Executive Director

Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau





Partnering with Indigenous Communities: Best Practices and Effective Communication

3:15 PM - 3:45 PM

Engaging with Indigenous groups requires a deep understanding of their unique cultural, social, and historical contexts. This session will provide practical insights and strategies to establish respectful and mutually beneficial collaborations. Participants will also gain valuable communication techniques to bridge cultural gaps, foster trust, and ensure meaningful engagement when working with Indigenous tribes.

Stephanie Clovechok


Discover Saskatoon






3:45 PM - 4:00 PM

Essential by Design: The Indispensable Role of Destination Organizations and Their Employees

4:00 PM - 4:15 PM

In the evolving landscape of community development, destination organizations stand as more than optional entities; they are the essential heartbeat of a community's growth and vibrancy. This thought-provoking session delves into the compelling argument that destination organizations, along with their dedicated employees, are absolutely necessary and profoundly important. Hear why destination organizations are indispensable in shaping a community's image, boosting economic growth, preserving cultural heritage, and fostering sustainable tourism, and understand how the people behind these organizations drive innovation, collaboration, and engagement, serving as the backbone of effective destination promotion.

Jack Johnson headshot

Jack Johnson

Chief Advocacy Officer

Destinations International





Beyond Economics: Destination Promotion as a Catalyst for Your Community's Vitality

4:15 PM - 5:00 PM

Destination promotion transcends the realm of traditional economic development. It is a catalyst that sparks community vitality, weaving together the social, environmental, and economic fabrics of a region. Be among the first to explore the initial findings of a landmark study, shedding light on how destination promotion serves as a multidimensional force for community building. This session kicks off with a presentation on some of the preliminary results of the study, which is aimed at elected officials, policy makers and key industry stakeholders, and is followed by a thought-provoking panel discussion of destination leaders featured in the report. Together they will review the study's findings, providing insights into the broader implications of destination promotion.

Welcoming Reception: Clinton Library

5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

Join us for the Destinations International's Fall Learning Week Welcome Reception at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library on October 10, 2023, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Hosted by the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, this reception will take place at the special events venue Great Hall. With soaring 40-foot ceilings and stunning glass walls, the Great Hall offers guests an unparalleled and unforgettable panoramic view of downtown Little Rock. Enjoy cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, and delicious cuisine catered by the Clinton Center’s on-site restaurant, 42 Bar and Table. Shuttle service available from the Marriott Hotel. Don’t miss it! 

Little Rock After Party

7:30 PM - 9:30 PM

Join us for the Little Rock After Party at the First Security Amphitheater located at the River Market. Presented by the Little Rock CVB, we are thrilled to announce that the DI House Band, one of the hottest bands in the music scene, will be gracing our stage with their sensational tunes. Complimentary drinks will be provided. Don’t miss out on this evening of live music and good vibes. 

Wednesday, October 11

Breakfast Panel Discussion
Building Bridges: Local Leaders in Social Inclusion

7:30 AM - 9:00 AM

Join us for a thought-provoking discussion featuring local leaders who are actively working towards social inclusion and equity in their community. One of the esteemed panelists will be a member of the Little Rock Nine, offering a firsthand account of their experiences and insights. Learn about the progress made since those historic times and the ongoing efforts to create a more inclusive society.

Breakfast served 7:30 AM - 9:00 AM
Panel discussion 8:00 AM - 8:45 AM

Journey of Courage: Little Rock Central High School Immersive Learning Experience

9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Step back in time and explore the pivotal moments of the American civil rights movement with our immersive half-day learning experience at Little Rock Central High School and National Historic Site. Join us for a profound journey, walking the hallowed halls of Little Rock Central High School, an icon of the civil rights movement, explore history, engage with local leaders, and be part of a transformative journey that honors the legacy of the Little Rock Nine and their unwavering commitment to justice and equity. Expert guides will lead you through the historic building, sharing stories that bring to life the struggles and triumphs faced by the courageous students of the Little Rock Nine.

Download the 2023 Agenda

Download a PDF copy of the 2023 agenda, including session titles, days and times. PDF agenda does not include session descriptions or speaker names.

Download 2023 Agenda

Destination & Travel

Little Rock Marriott
3 Statehouse Plaza
Little Rock, AR 72201

The hotel block is now closed. Please contact the hotel directly to make your reservations.

34.748422931009, -92.270818673449