Innovators & Influencers —  a destination marketing organization (DMO) deserving of a spotlight and applause. This special edition of Innovators & Influencers features Experience Columbus and its Diversity Apprenticeship Program.

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The destination marketing organization (DMO) launched a Diversity Apprenticeship Program in collaboration with Tourism Diversity Matters. The program provides a six-month paid, hands-on opportunity in leadership training positions for those who identify as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color (BIPOC). The city of Columbus and Franklin County fully funded the program for two years. Apprentices are guaranteed a full-time manager-level position at a participating partner location at the end of the apprenticeship.   

The program has had 17 people in three cohorts participate in the 600-hour program to date. Experience Columbus won a Social Impact Award from PR News in 2022 for its recruiting program. 

Featured in this video are two staff members at Experience Columbus. Shannon Jones is the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion programming. Alicia Norman is an event specialist and former member of the apprenticeship program.