Greg Ortale Resigns as President and CEO of Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau

May 7, 2014

After more than 42 years in the hospitality industry and 14-plus years at the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau, its president and CEO Greg Ortale submitted his resignation May 1.

Ortale said it seemed like the right time, especially since Houston First Corp., which oversees the city's convention center and other venues and is the majority funder of the GHCVB, is in discussions to possibly absorb it.

“This was totally my decision,” he added. “The No. 1 reason I decided to step down was it seemed like the right time. The changes that are going to go on here are significant … even though they are not a foregone conclusion.”

Ortale said that in the past year, he lost two of his best friends, as well as his brother the year before, and he wanted to spend more time with his family.

“I want to go do what I want to do,” he added. “It is a very emancipating feeling.”

He will stay in his post for 90 days and then enjoy learning the rules of youth soccer, which his grandson is starting in, Ortale said.

It was exactly 42 years to the day that Ortale spent in the hospitality industry. “I started my career May 1, 1972, and stepped down May 1, 2014,” he added.

Besides two stints at the GHCVB, the latest being as the head of it for six-and-a-half years, he also had the top job at the bureau in Minneapolis for 20 years.

“On behalf of the executive committee and board, I would like to thank Greg for his many contributions to the GHCVB, including initiatives like the partnership program and his vision for developing and investing in our own tradeshows as seen most recently with Medical World Americas,” said Sonia Garza-Monarchi, GHCVB’s board chairperson, in a statement.

She added, “It is a legacy to be proud of, one that will long benefit the city and hospitality community. I am sure you join me in wishing Greg well as he spends time with family after spending more than 40 years in our wonderful industry.”

The statement also said that the board is working with staff at the GHCVB to ensure work will continue uninterrupted.

Another statement released from the GHCVB said: “Earlier this year, the GHCVB and Houston First announced that they would enter discussions regarding a strategic alignment of two organizations. The strategic alignment is intended to take advantage of the respective core competencies and experienced employee teams, while benefiting from the operational synergies from the two organizations.”

The decision to combine the two entities is still in discussion and is pending approval by the two boards.

In the meantime, Ortale said he is “taking a long time off. I have no plans whatsoever and if I never do anything again, it’s O.K. If something intrigues me, I may do it.”

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