January Planner of the Month: Christle Johnson

Christle Johnson, meetings
Christle Johnson, GBTA president, now in her second term

The president of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) since September 2015, Christle Johnson, CCTE, CLP, CTP, president of travel & business services at Johnson Downie LLC, epitomizes the industry’s many unsung heroes—the hundreds of leaders and volunteers who put their time and effort into helping our associations better serve their members each year.

During her two terms as president, GBTA has acquired WINiT, a career development network aimed at increasing visibility and advancement for women in the travel, meetings, events and exhibition industries—a move that cemented the association’s support of women in the travel industry. They have since created an Advisory Board help expand WINiT’s mission globally and integrated WINiT programming into the GBTA Conference in Berlin in partnership with VDR—Europe’s largest business travel conference.

The organization also gave a dedicated voice to women at its last annual convention, held in August in San Diego, with a center stage session called Successful Women Leading in Business Travel, featuring  three senior leaders focusing on the challenges in their careers: Jodi Allen, CMO, Hertz; Melissa Maher, SVP, Global Partners, Expedia; and Traci Mercer, SVP, Lodging, Ground & Sea, Sabre.

The association has also committed to creating high-quality education and training by commissioning a Blue Ribbon Panel to determine what content is most relevant to members and how to deliver it globally, and will invest $60 million into education over the next five years. In addition, a new joint venture with the Institute of Travel Management (ITM) will kick off with an event, focused on Strategic Meetings Management, at the Royal Horseguards Hotel, London later January 31 in London.

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Barbara Scofidio is editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In 25 years of covering the industry, her articles have spanned topics ranging from social media to strategic meetings management. She is currently the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee and was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of Site, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. A familiar face at industry events, Barbara often leads panel discussions or speaks on topics close to her heart, such as green meetings or how the industry can help combat human trafficking. She is also on the board of ECPAT USA, the human trafficking organization. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.