In this case, we're referring to the letters after the names of GRCVB staff on our business cards, in email signatures or in publications. Those letters refer to advanced credentials and training programs in the hospitality, events and tourism industries. That means these staff members have been working hard to continue their education and professional development in their respective areas, and most will have to continue to maintain their education to remain credentialed.

Editor's note: By the way, as you are reading through this summary, please note the longevity of employment of these staffers. The Bureau has a way of attracting and keeping its talent, and the consistency and long-term commitment by these professionals is of great value, we believe, to the destination.

Jonathan Freeze, CDME
Jonathan is vice president of marketing and communications at GRCVB and has been at the Bureau for almost 15 years. He earned the CDME credential (Certified Destination Management Executive) in 2014.
The CDME is the CVB industry’s highest individual educational achievement and is offered through Destinations International. The four-year CDME program focuses on vision, leadership, productivity and effectively implementing business strategies. CDME recipients are experienced professionals with at least three years of Bureau or other industry-related experience.

Malinda Harrell, CMP Fellow, CASE
Malinda is director of sales at GRCVB and has been at the Bureau since 2005. She has completed two comprehensive credential programs. One is the CMP Fellows Programme through the Events Industry Council. CMP Fellows are tenured Certified Meeting Professionals (CMPs) who have made significant advancements in their careers and have contributed to the industry through service and education. 

Malinda also has a CASE designation (Certified Association Sales Executive), a certificate program offered through PCMA. To earn the CASE certificate, Malinda completed a course of study that focused on the association market; the program allows students to enhance their selling skills, learn new strategies and become a member of an elite group of sales professionals.

Stephen Jackson, CMP
Loretta Yingling, CMP

Stephen is associate director of sales and Loretta is national sales manager on the Sales team at GRCVB, and both have been at the Bureau since 2005.

Stephen and Loretta have earned their CMP credential (Certified Meeting Professional) from the Events Industry Council. The CMP is widely recognized as the standard for meeting planners and high-achieving suppliers throughout the industry.

Those who complete the program have to pass an exam that demonstrates a comprehensive body of knowledge in the meetings management profession and show support and promotion of industry standards and practices. Stephen completed his CMP in 2011 and Loretta in 2009.

Paula McChristian, CGFM
Paula is currently director of finance and human resources at the Bureau and has been handling our finances and more since 2007. Paula has earned the CGFM credential (Certified Government Financial Manager) from AGA, an organization for financial managers in government organizations.

The CGFM is available to those who complete the training program and who subscribe to AGA's Code of Ethics. Recipients must have a bachelor's degree, pass three comprehensive CGFM examinations and have at least two years of professional-level experience in government financial management.

Jason Philbeck, STS
Jason is associate director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance and has grown in his sports sales and marketing role since joining our organization in 2006. In 2014, Jason earned the STS credential (Sports Tourism Strategist) from Sports Tourism Learning Institute, part of Sports ETA.

The STS is Sports ETA’s leading-edge industry designation and signifies a commitment to continued learning. The STS is a designation of leadership in the sports events and tourism industry. 

Certified Guest Service Professionals
Several members of the marketing and destination services teams have completed the CGSP® certification (Certified Guest Service Professional) from the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute. The CGSP® is the highest acknowledgment of award-winning guest service for those who are employed in the hospitality and tourism sector.

Those at GRCVB who have earned the CGSP® include:
Marketing manager Andrew H. Baker, CGSP®
Destination services manager Dana Canby, CGSP®
Destination services coordinator Katie P. Clark, CGSP®
Content marketing manager Carly Delengowski, CGSP®
Sports and event services manager Gray Henderson, CGSP®
Director of destination services Tammy Jeffries, CGSP®
Destination services manager Christina Laskorunsky, CGSP®
Visitor Information Center manager Kessa Stevens, CGSP®

Several other staff members have completed certificate programs that are not noted here, and a few more are in the process of earning new credentials. We'll let you know when those have been completed.