Choose Chicago president and CEO Lynn Osmond will step down from her post at the end of January to focus on a family health matter, just 20 months after taking the helm of the city's convention and visitors bureau.
“It has been gratifying to serve as CEO of Choose Chicago for nearly two years, but, right now, I have to put my family first,” Osmond said. “I know this is the right decision for me, my family, and for the organization at this time as we gear up for a very busy year with the 2024 Democratic National Convention coming to town.”
The organization has clearly been busy for the past year as well: Chicago secured and hosted a slew of major events, from the aforementioned DNC to the city's first NASCAR race. Travel recovered from the pandemic lull, drawing a projected 54.5 million visitors to the city in 2023 and raking in record summer hotel revenue and collections. More than 2.4 million room nights were booked in 2023, exceeding the organization's ambitious goal by more than 20 percent and the 2022 figure by more than 700,000 room nights.
Rich Gamble, who currently serves on the Choose Chicago board of directors as chair of the nominating committee and as a member of the executive committee, will assume the role of interim CEO. Gamble is a strategic leader with three decades of experience, most recently as a consultant with Realized Value Collaborative. Prior to that, he served as COO and executive vice president for six years at the Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo, and before that he spent 16 years with the Chicago Tribune as vice president and general manager of Chicagoland Publishing.
"I am pleased to be able to provide support to the organization during this time of transition," said Gamble. "Choose Chicago has an extraordinarily strong team with deep experience. The organization is well poised to continue to build on the momentum established in 2023."
More details on the search process for a new CEO will be released later this month.
The Choose Chicago board thanked Osmond for her service to the city. "Under Lynn's leadership, the organization has made great strides and is well positioned for the future," said board chair Glenn Eden.
That immediate future is likely to set records, according to Dustin Arnheim, senior vice president of sales and services at Choose Chicago. More than 1.2 million room nights are confirmed for 2024 specifically for major citywide events, the strongest year ever for events with more than 3,000 on-peak room nights.
"While we are proud of our 2023 accomplishments — including a year-over-year room-night increase of more than 40 percent — we are even more excited for 2024," Arnheim said during a press conference this week at PCMA Convening Leaders in San Diego. The CVB announced that in addition to the citywide room-night record, the Radiological Society of North America has committed to holding its annual meeting in Chicago through 2032.