Experience Grand Rapids has named its first VP of multicultural business development.
EXGR, a marketing organization promoting Grand Rapids and Kent County as a convention and visitor destination, said this month it hired Angela Nelson for the newly created position.
EXGR selected Nelson from a pool of 1,000 candidates after a nationwide search conducted by Management Business Solutions.
Nelson will be responsible for three key objectives: developing and overseeing a Supplier Diversity Program; working with the EXGR sales and marketing teams to promote West Michigan as a welcoming, multicultural destination for leisure and meeting and convention business; and developing strategic partnerships at the local and state levels to attract diverse talent to the region, with the goal of creating management opportunities for minorities in the hospitality industry.
Previously, Nelson worked for Amway as an assistant brand manager, leading the new independent business owner, or IBO, experience on the Opportunity Brand Marketing team at Amway North America.
Nelson was responsible for developing and implementing brand strategy and marketing plans that increase relevance and engage a younger audience for the IBO role with Amway.
She has served in various leadership positions on community committees and boards: the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce ATHENA Committee; YWCA Tribute! Committee; Baxter Community Center Major Gifts Committee; Historically Black Colleges and Universities Tour Experience Board; and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
She is passionate about social justice issues and has co-chaired PROACTIVE, an "election protection" coalition, for the past six years as well.
Nelson holds a bachelor’s degree in management information systems, with a minor in computer information systems from Grand Valley State University and an M.B.A. in integrative management from the Michigan State University Eli Broad College of Business.
She is a native of Flint.
EXGR created the VP of multicultural business development position in response to a need it saw for greater diversity within the West Michigan hospitality industry.
The new position is directly related to EXGR’s commitment to embracing inclusion with the establishment of its Diversity Advisory Committee, or DAC, in 2015.
"This hire is mission-driven," said Doug Small, president and CEO, Experience Grand Rapids. “It’s about growing our local economy through leisure and business travel, but it’s also about being more intentional in the way we do that. Whether it’s in the vendors we use, the groups we attract to the region or the talent we seek, we have made a commitment to be more welcoming and inclusive in our approach.”
Joe Jones, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Urban League and a member of the DAC, said EXGR’s vision for the position includes someone who can “cultivate new convention bookings and create local minority business opportunities, while embracing diversity.”
“Angela will help connect visitors to local businesses and develop partnerships that will create new career pathways for minorities in the hospitality industry,” Jones said.
EXGR hopes Nelson will be able to add another element to EXGR’s existing momentum.
Small added that the “biggest benefactor of diversity is innovation.”
“The best ideas come when diverse individuals collaborate,” Small said. “That’s what we’re trying to accomplish here.”