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)