The Executive Committee of the Board of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) today Monday that Julie Coker Graham will be promoted to Executive Vice President of the official tourist promotion agency for Philadelphia globally, effective July 1, 2014.
PHLCVB President & CEO Jack Ferguson has mentored Coker Graham since she began in September 2010 and will continue to work closely with her to expand her responsibilities, including overseeing all of the organization’s departments and operational duties. This is part of a succession plan for Ferguson’s retirement in January 2016.
“Since Julie joined our team four years ago, she has proven to be an excellent leader, who is trusted and respected in the hospitality industry and in the Philadelphia community in general,” said Nick DeBenedictis, PHLCVB Chairman. “She always puts the customer first and has fostered important relationships with the hotel and hospitality community, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Independence Visitor Center, Visit Philadelphia, and the many members and stakeholders that we interact with daily to sell and market Philadelphia around the globe.”
With the positive changes underway at the Pennsylvania Convention Center under new management by SMG, Coker Graham will continue in her current role heading the PHLCVB’s sales and services efforts. Most recently she and her team helped secure two citywide pieces of business for the Center and Philadelphia. She is part of the bid team for the 2016 Democratic National Convention and also serves on the Philadelphia Hospitality and Tourism Task Force.
“The PHLCVB is known as the best team in the industry and I’m excited to play an even greater role in the organization to help maximize our City’s opportunities to attract conventions, meetings, group tours and overseas visitors to the City. I thank Jack who has been a great mentor since day one, Nick and the entire team at thePHLCVB for their encouragement and support,” said Coker Graham. “The convention and tourism industry is highly competitive and means big business for our City, filling our hotels, restaurants and attractions, while keeping 100,000 people from every background and neighborhood working.”
“Julie is a well-respected leader and collaborator in the community, and our leadership and members are extremely supportive of this decision. She has clearly proven that she always has our customer’s and Philadelphia’s best interests in mind,” said Greg Stafford, president of the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association.
Coker Graham has overseen a staff of 25 convention sales and services professionals at PHLCVB since September 2010, who are responsible for selling the expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center and Philadelphia’s hotel package to customers across the country.
She joined the PHLCVB after serving as General Manager at Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing, where she oversaw all operational aspects of the 350-room hotel, which is the only hotel in the city located on Philadelphia’s revitalized waterfront area. Among her responsibilities were: directing all hotel and employee operations such as managing the assets and providing monthly profit and loss statements, maintaining legal compliance, assessing financial or product issues, and outlining sales and marketing strategies, while providing guidance, mentorship, and leadership to the employees and managers of the hotel.
A 20-year Hyatt veteran, she began her career there in 1989 as a corporate management trainee at Hyatt Regency Columbus and held various positions at the hotel until 1992. She also held full-time positions, including assistant front office manager, front office manager, hotel assistant manager and assistant executive housekeeper at Hyatt Regency O’Hare. In 1994, she was promoted to her first room executive position at Hyatt Deerfield (Chicago) and held the same position at Hyatt Regency Cincinnati before being appointed to join the opening team and lead the rooms division at Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in March 1998. In 1998, she was promoted to General Manager at Hyatt on Printer’s Row in downtown Chicago. From there, she was promoted to General Manager at The Lodge, a Hyatt property in Oak Brook, a suburb of Chicago.
Coker Graham is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, where she received a bachelor of science in Hospitality Management and graduated Magna Cum Laude. She was a nominee for General Manager of the year for Hyatt Hotels Corporation 2004 and 2006. She was also the recipient of the 2011 John Wanamaker Award (Individual Award) given by the YMCA of Philadelphia and Vicinity. She is a past secretary and board member of the Illinois Hospitality and Lodging Association (IHLA) and past board member of the Oak Brook, Illinois Economic Development Committee. She served as Chairman of the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s Women in Lodging Networking Group (WIL), she was 1st Vice Chair for the Greater Philadelphia Hospitality and Lodging Association (GPHA), she served as a board member with Greater Philadelphia Marketing Corporation, Girls, Inc and a board member with Boys Scouts of America Cradle of Liberty Council, where she will be honored in 2015 with the Cradle of Liberty Good Scout Award. She is a member of the Philadelphia Chapter of Links, Incorporated.