RTO 9 is governed by a permanent industry-led Board of Directors who have extensive experience in the tourism sector. We look to our Board for strategic guidance, policy development, fiscal approval, and active engagement.
Cheri Kemp-Long has worked in tourism, business development, and community economic development for over forty years. Her experience and training includes all facets of tourism marketing and operations, training and development, business management, and public sector policy and contribution management. Thirty-one years of her work was while living in Canada’s northern Territories (Nunavut, NWT, and Yukon); during that time Cheri served as President of the Iqaluit and Baffin Regional Chambers of Commerce, Chair of the Conference Committee of the Nunavut Trade Show and Conference, Co-chair of the Conference Committee of the Northern Lights Conference and Trade Show, a major trade show, conference and cultural event held in Ottawa that features Nunavut, Labrador and Nunavik, Executive member of the Nunavut Economic Developers Association Board, and Member and executive member of the Economic Developers Association of Canada culminating her time with them as National President in 2013. Cheri and her husband retired from their respective government jobs in 2015 and moved to Ontario where they have enjoyed sailing on the St Lawrence and Lake Ontario for years; now in Merrickville, they are boating on the Rideau. Time is also spent volunteering locally, doing some business consulting in Nunavut, and keeping in touch with family and friends still resident there.
Cale is a people person who’s spent his career business-building with some of the world’s most exciting creators and brands. Currently, he is the Vice President of Black Bear Ridge Golf + Resort in Belleville, a burgeoning four-season resort, anchored by one of Canada’s 59 Top Public Golf Courses.
He brings deep experience directing sales, partnerships, and operations at successful manufacturing, e-commerce, and retail companies. Cale has managed product development, sales, and partnerships with 100’s of SME’s and several Fortune 500 brands including; NIKE, Microsoft, Red Bull, and Hudson’s Bay Co. He’s developed omni-channel commerce partnerships with respected global organizations, as well next-generation entrepreneurs in the creator, influencer and social enterprise space. In 2018, Cale co-founded the Leslieville Residents Association in Toronto’s lower east side.
Kevin Lajoie is the Tourism Coordinator at Cornwall Tourism, a division of the City of Cornwall’s Economic Development Department. In this role, Kevin oversees Cornwall’s tourism efforts in the areas of marketing, visitor services and tourism product development. Kevin brings with him extensive experience in communications, marketing and community development. Prior to his current role as Tourism Coordinator, Kevin oversaw the City of Cornwall’s corporate and external communication efforts. He also previously worked as a journalist for the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder and as a Coordinator with Heart of the City, an organization dedicated to the revitalization of Cornwall’s traditional commercial areas. As a proud Cornwall resident and ambassador, Kevin is also heavily involved in his community through various causes and initiatives. He has previously served on the local United Way campaign and is currently a Director of the Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame.
Brett has been an active member of the Canadian theatre sector for over twenty years. Celebrated as both an actor and a director, he has worked with a variety of theatre companies including the Stratford Festival, Vancouver’s Arts Club, Montreal’s Segal Centre, Toronto’s Canadian Stage, and many more. He has worked in an administrative capacity for a number of theatre companies, including Buddies in Bad Times, Actors Repertory Company, and Theatre Kingston where he founded the Storefront Fringe Festival and co-founded the Kick & Push Festival. For the last 4 years, he has led the Thousand Islands Playhouse in Gananoque, ON as Managing Artistic Director. He has sat on the Boards of the Kingston Arts Council, Arts Advisory of the City of Kingston, Tourism Kingston, and currently serves on the TIAP Board and is a member of the Economic Development Committee of the Town of Gananoque.
Megan Knott, Executive Director of Tourism Kingston, has more than a decade of experience in leadership and development, strategic marketing, media and public relations, and business and fiscal management. Her proven capabilities in stakeholder engagement and idea generation have led to the development, implementation, and continuation of many revenue-generating partnerships and projects for organizations such as Tourism Kingston, Kingston Accommodation Partners, and St. Lawrence Parks Commission, building their capacity and profile. An active member of the Kingston community, Megan has participated on several boards of directors, including Regional Tourism Organization 9, Kingston Economic Development Corporation, Downtown Kingston!, and the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce. Under Megan’s leadership, the Visit Kingston brand has been recognized with 12 national and international awards.
Rob Plumley is the Community Development Officer for Lennox and Addington County. Working in the Community & Development Services Department for Lennox & Addington, Rob is very involved in destination marketing duties on behalf of the county and its tourism stakeholders. He has developed and promotes a number of successful products, including the L&A Dark Sky Viewing Area, the L&A County Trails road cycling system and the L&A County Geocaching Experience. In addition, Rob has sat on the executive committees of several major sporting events to take place in the county in recent years. Tourism is a major economic driver in Lennox & Addington County and having a strong, influential RTO will benefit all tourism stakeholders in the region.
Krista LeClair was appointed Executive Director at Kingston Accommodation Partners in December 2019 following nine- years in the charitable sector at Easter Seals Ontario. Krista has held Board positions as an Executive at the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce, President of the Association of Fundraising Professionals South Eastern Ontario, and Director for the Rotary Club of Kingston. Krista is now serving on the Ontario Hotel Council through ORHMA, on the Policy Advisory Committee through TIAO and on the Program Advisory Committee for the Tourism program at SLC. Krista is a community tourism development professional with a focus on sector associations, advocacy and government relations, revenue management, and stakeholder and partnership relations. Krista has experience in the areas of fundraising and event planning, leadership, media, and public relations, and budgeting.
With over 25 years of experience in the tourism industry, 15 of which have been in leadership roles in hotels and with a Destination Marketing Organization, Loren brings his creative, energetic, enthusiastic, and inspiring leadership skills to RTO 9. Loren has had numerous successes in re-imagining businesses and process improvement. With 20 years of on-air TV presence including a regular segment on CTV’s Canada AM and Your Morning as well as 20 years of spokesperson, moderator, and panelist experience, Loren brings many perspectives to the RTO9 board position.
Eleanor is the Executive Director of Prince Edward County’s new Destination Marketing and Management Organization, Visit The County. With over twelve years of experience supporting the industry at the municipal, regional, and provincial levels of tourism, her passion lies in driving community-led tourism planning. In her former role with a Regional Tourism Organization, Eleanor focused on a regionally-aligned approach to strategy, tourism wayfinding planning, and award-winning experience development.
Destination development has been a journey from the boardroom to the classroom, from field-professional to Professor, allowing Eleanor to shape Ontario’s tourism growth by mentoring graduates as future leaders in regenerative destination development, responsible tourism marketing, and niche product development. Eleanor’s approach to tourism begins with a welcoming host community that embraces ownership of the visitor economy for its sociocultural benefit, economic sustainability and vibrant quality of life.
Liam’s in his eighth season with the Kick & Push Festival and brings his array of talent to the RTO 9 Board of Directors. Liam is the founding and current artistic director of the Single Thread Theatre Company. He was a founding member of the Kingston Theatre Alliance and currently serves on the board of anARC theatre. Recent directing credits include: Unless, a site-specific immersive experience produced in Bangkok, Thailand, and Collider, a live VR performance, which was co-produced by foldA, and the rEvolver festival in June 2021. His next project is PXR2023: a national conference on live performance within extended reality.
A returning RTO 9 board member and with a full spectrum of 28 years of experience in all aspects of tourism, Michelle is a knowledgeable and keen representative for Eastern Ontario stakeholders. Her career background prior also includes a strong business acumen that she acquired in her capacity as a business owner and President of Sales for 14 years. Currently, she also serves as a Director for the 1000 Islands Regional Tourism Development Corporation Board. Her genuine enthusiasm and interest in people have been key ingredients to her success, and she looks forward to sharing her lifetime of experience with others every day and in every way.
Karen Best has more than 20 years of experience working within Canadian destination marketing organizations. As the Director of Membership for Ottawa Tourism, Karen was responsible for increasing membership by 40% in three years by planning and executing a membership recruitment strategy that involved leading a committee to generate new ideas, targeting new market sectors, and developing a value proposition for members.
With exceptional planning, organizational and people skills, she is focused on building consensus and generating results that benefit all parties. Her impressive track record of creating, managing, and enhancing special events has involved cultivating a wide range of contacts across multiple disciplines throughout eastern Ontario and beyond. Karen has a wide range of Board governance, human resource, administrative, and financial management experience in the private, public, and non-profit sectors.
A lifelong volunteer, Karen’s experience has spanned educational institutions, sporting organizations, support for military families and economic development opportunities.
Karina Belanger is the Tourism Coordinator, serving The United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry (SDG Tourism). With a focus on enhancing the region’s appeal as a premier visitor destination, Karina oversees the development, implementation, and management of various programs and services, for both visitors and tourism stakeholders.
Her notable achievements include spearheading a successful video series and visitor guide that showcases the beauty and attractions of SDG Counties, effectively raising awareness and interest among potential visitors. Furthermore, Karina is responsible for the operations of the Historic SDG Jail, which provides engaging guided tours and special events throughout the year, ensuring a memorable visitor experience.
Prior to her role as the Tourism Coordinator, Karina was the Administrative Assistant for the Economic Development and Communications team. Karina holds a major in marketing from Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business and a college diploma in Business Administration, a testament to her commitment to professional growth. Karina’s academic achievements, combined with her passion for the tourism industry, have been pivotal in shaping her career.
Advisor to Board
Mia Robertson brings a wealth of professional and personal experiences to the RTO 9 Board. She is originally from Cornwall, Ontario and now resides in Kingston. Mia is the Regional Development Advisor (RDA) with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport where her assigned regional tourism region is South Eastern Ontario – RTO9. She attributes her professional and personal growth to the involvement and work within various tourism sectors from heritage, economic development, parks, recreation, environment and conservation, transportation, special events and municipal relations.
Prior to joining the Regional Service Branch, Mia worked for the St. Lawrence Parks Commission (SLPC), an agency of MTCS. From 2012 to 2015, she provided guest relations support for SLPC assets and attractions in Eastern Ontario along the St. Lawrence River corridor. In 2015, Mia progressed to working in the CEO & General Manager’s office as Executive Administrative Assistant and Ministry Liaison.
Mia attributes her passion for tourism to dedicated professionals who have guided her during her career, as well as her formal education. She has an advanced diploma in Business Administration Marketing and a diploma in Human Resources from St Lawrence College, as well as her Bachelor of Business Administration from Laurentian University.