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2023 BizBash 15 Over 50: Greg DeShields

Greg DeShields, 64, is the executive director of Tourism Diversity Matters.

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Photo: Marikate Venuto

Greg DeShields, 64, is the executive director of Tourism Diversity Matters, a DEI resource that aims to educate, advocate, engage, and empower the tourism and event industry. Based in Cherry Hill, N.J., he's also board president of the Independence Business Alliance Philadelphia's LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce and past president of SkĂĄl Philadelphia. He serves on a number of other local boards, writes about DEI-related topics for Meetings Today, and is a volunteer for The Society of Diversity and Destinations International's Equity Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

A quote from his nomination: “Greg has long been one of the tourism and hospitality world’s biggest champions for DEI, always serving as a passionate and effective leader who is improving the industry for generations to come.”

How I got here: "I have always had the hospitality industry in my blood—although if I were not in hospitality, I would be a writer. My career began working at a hoagie shop in Philadelphia. Later, an academic counselor referred me to Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., which led me to a management training program with Hyatt Hotels.

My career took form after working through various hotels, but I wanted to do something else. I left the hotel industry and took a leap of faith to lead a nonprofit hotel training program, the Philadelphia Opportunities Industrialization Center's 'Opportunities Inn.' I then spent many happy years in higher education managing corporate relations for the Temple University School of Sport, Tourism, and Hospitality Management and Fox School of Business. 

But I always wanted to return to the tourism hospitality industry, and the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau was my next best decision, leading PHL Diversity. During the difficult days of COVID and the social awareness of 2020, my most fulfilling opportunity unfolded, developing and leading Tourism Diversity Matters (TDM), culminating all my professional experience and passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Tourism Diversity Matters is the collaborative leader of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and concepts that can address the gaps of ethnic disparities and provide decision-makers in the tourism and event industry access, resources, and tactics to develop more effective diversity and inclusion strategies."

Greatest career accomplishment: "Establishing a voice and reputation as a thought leader for diversity, equity, and inclusion."

A specific improvement I’ve made: "Developing the next generation of leaders. In 2007, after my mother Delores W. DeShields' passing, we endowed the Delores W. DeShields Scholarship at the Temple University School of Sport, Tourism, and Hospitality Management. We have issued over 20 scholarships, launching incredible careers!"

The most significant change I've observed in the industry: "A priority for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Momentum was industrywide, making significant strides—however, the current political climate is challenging the industry’s commitment."

What I do outside of work: "Travel, eat, and cars. I am car crazy!"

The career advice I'd give my younger self: "Know when to take the next step, and never stay too long!"

Connect with DeShields on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.  

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