February 26, 2015

After 32 years of dedicated service to Atlanta's hospitality community, Kathleen Bertrand, senior vice president of community and governmental affairs at the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB), is retiring. 

Bertrand has held several leadership positions at ACVB and her tenure has been marked by decades of successes. She has played a major role in steering ACVB’s involvement in community and government issues. Bertrand was also the driving force behind the development of ACVB’s diversity marketing program, which positioned Atlanta as the top destination for African-American travelers.  

“I’ve had a ride of a lifetime with ACVB and I’m so grateful for the outstanding support I’ve received through the years. There’s no doubt that I love this city, this industry and the people, both across the country and here in Atlanta, that I’ve had the opportunity to meet and to work with along the way on behalf of Atlanta,” said Bertrand. “But now, after 32 years, I am excited about exploring other roads in life, through my continued work with BronzeLens Film Festival, as well as through my music performances, travel, more family time, and writing.”   

Her work at ACVB includes several lasting legacies for Atlanta’s hospitality industry. Bertrand was responsible for the creation of the Atlanta Heritage Guide, ACVB’s first-ever African-American visitor-oriented publication. ACVB has published 25 issues of the Atlanta Heritage Guide over 23 consecutive years and the guide now lives online on Atlanta.net. For nearly 10 years, she spearheaded the groundbreaking “Diversity in the Hospitality Industry Summit,” which fostered nationwide hospitality industry discussion on issues regarding diversity and inclusion. She is also a co-founder of HIP Atlanta, a non-profit dedicated to the growth of diverse leadership in Atlanta’s hospitality industry. 

“While Kathleen will certainly be remembered for her extensive contributions to ACVB's community and diversity efforts, I will always cherish her leadership and counsel during my tenure as the organization's board chair and later as CEO,” said William Pate, ACVB president & CEO. “Kathleen has been a champion for our city and she will be greatly missed. I wish Kathleen continued success in this next phase of her life.”

Perhaps her crowning achievement came in 2009 when she helped found the BronzeLens Film Festival with the mission of bringing national and worldwide attention to Atlanta as a center for film and film production for people of color. In just five years, the festival has grown to be one of the most anticipated film events in the country, drawing national attention from acclaimed producers, directors, screenwriters, actors and major media outlets. 

Bertrand joined ACVB in 1983 as a membership account executive. In just seven years, she rose through the ranks to vice president of membership and community affairs. Under her leadership, ACVB membership grew by an impressive 70 percent. In 2007, Bertrand assumed the title of senior vice president of community and governmental affairs.  

“Kathleen has been a tremendous asset to the ACVB,” said Spurgeon Richardson, ACVB president-emeritus. “I had the pleasure of working with Kathleen throughout the majority of her career and witnessing her success first-hand. I congratulate Kathleen on a prosperous career and wish her the best in this next chapter.” 

She is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including recognition by Successful Meetings as one of the “25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry in 2013,” Black Meetings & Tourism Magazine as one of the “Most Influential African-Americans in Hospitality and Tourism,” and by the Atlanta Business League as one of “Atlanta’s Top 100 Black Women of Influence,” to name just a few. 

One successful career would be enough for most. However, Bertrand is also a well-known jazz recording artist and writer. She has five CDs to her credit and has performed for dignitaries including mayors and presidents, and at events ranging from worldwide jazz festivals to the Olympic Games. She plans to release another CD this year. 

Bertrand’s last day at ACVB will be June 30. She will continue her work with the BronzeLens Film Festival and is also looking forward to taking time to explore her other creative and philanthropic interests.  

Established in 1913, ACVB is a private, nonprofit organization created to favorably impact the Atlanta economy through conventions and tourism.