Martha Sheridan '13

President & CEO
Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau

Award Profile

Courageous Thinking and Action
In her role as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau (PWCVB), Martha Sheridan has championed the hospitality industry as a significant economic driver. Martha joined with other tourism leaders statewide to develop “Tourism Works,” an informational campaign that touts the many ways the industry benefits Rhode Island and its taxpayers. She is a frequent spokesperson on the hospitality business’s place in economic development and works with civic, economic and political leaders on pertinent initiatives. In her seven years at the helm of the PWCVB, she has steered the organization through the economic downturn of 2008-2009 and its lingering effects on the meeting and convention industry. The PWCVB emerged from the economic crisis stronger than ever, with hotel occupancy reaching its highest levels since 2004.

Vision and Innovation
A big picture thinker, Martha has collaborated with the PWCVB Board of Directors to develop a strategic plan for the Bureau. Using that document as a guide, the PWCVB has made several significant strides forward. The Rhode Island Sports Commission (RISC) was created in 2010 as a division of the PWCVB that focuses on bringing sporting events and related meetings to the state. RISC has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception, bringing in large events such as the U.S. Youth Soccer Region 1 Championships which is projected to draw nearly 15,000 young athletes and their families to Southern Rhode Island this summer. Most recently, Martha has spearheaded the development of a cohesive marketing and promotion effort among the historic and cultural sites of Providence’s East Side, working with them to develop an engaging product for visitors.

Inspiring Leadership
As the leader of an energetic staff that includes many young people, Martha serves as a role model for her team. She believes that ongoing education and professional development is essential to a successful organization and encourages her staff to seize such opportunities. Two PWCVB staff members have been accepted to the Destination Marketing Association International’s (DMAI) “30 Under 30” program, which develops young talent. DMAI is the world’s largest resource for official destination marketing organizations, encompassing 3,500 professionals from 600 destination marketing organizations in more than 20 countries. Martha has been actively involved in the organization for many years and will become its president in July, bringing national recognition to both the PWCVB and the state of Rhode Island.

Community Mindedness
Martha is a community leader serving on many boards and committees. She has assisted with planning events as diverse as Providence’s 375th Birthday Celebration and the America’s Cup World Series Celebration Gala. Her commitment to community service is evident in the development of the PWCVB’s “Creative Contributions” program, in which meeting and convention delegates visiting the area are paired with local nonprofits to develop and execute service projects. This innovative program allows visitors to experience the destination in a new way and provides local community-based organizations with much-needed assistance.

JA Mission Moment
As part of her commitment to promoting the hospitality and destination marketing industries, Martha has encouraged young people to pursue a career in this field. The PWCVB is a supporter of JA Job Shadow days, internships and other initiatives that demonstrate the wide array of tourism jobs that are available. Martha has consulted with the Academy for Career Exploration to develop their hospitality curriculum, suggesting that students be afforded the
opportunity to experience the industry firsthand. Together, they developed a familiarization tour of hotels and meeting venues for sophomores. Students were able to interact with hospitality career professionals and receive behind-the-scenes tours of several places. She firmly believes that creating this direct connection between the hospitality industry and the curriculum empowers students to make meaningful choices about their future career options.