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Who we are
Our powerful team of Changemakers from around the world offers a breadth of consulting expertise and experience from sustainability, tourism, events and communications. We are united with one purpose: to inspire and enable regeneration through events and tourism.

Changemakers

Guy Bigwood, FIEMA
Chief Changemaker
Guy Bigwood, FIEMA
Chief Changemaker
For the last 15 years, Guy has been delivering award-winning consulting services focused on helping cities, governments, corporations and associations step up, scale up and speed up their sustainability programmes and regenerative practices. Guy’s pioneering work has been recognised with 22 sustainability awards including the Events Industry Council Pacesetter Award, and recognition as a Fellow of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment.

He is a recognised expert and visionary on creating sustainable destinations through multi stakeholder collaboration and co-creation. In 2015 Guy launched the Global Destinations Sustainability Index to accelerate the development and performance of sustainable business tourism destinations.

From 2006 to 2018, Guy was the Sustainability Director of MCI, the world’s largest association management, communications and events agency. He launched a CSR program across the corporation’s 60 offices, developing a business strategy that positioned MCI to be an award winning sustainability champion, and the organiser of over 1000 events about sustainable development, Smart Cities and energy.

Guy is a passionate and outstanding communicator, who has delivered over 440 keynote presentations and facilitated workshops engaging over 40,000 participants in more than 40 countries. He teaches Regenerative Leadership at Esade Business School, and is a visiting lecturer at various universities around the world.

Previously, Guy was the Managing Director of MCI in Spain, on the management board of MCI Group, President of the Green Meeting Industry Council and worked for HP as a Technology Consultant for 11 years.

When not working, you can find Guy cycling or climbing in the Pyrenees, planting vegetables in his organic garden in Barcelona, cooking up a feast for friends or dancing Swing.

Rebecca Johnson
Senior Changemaker
Rebecca Johnson
Senior Changemaker
Rebecca’s passion for process and results driven sustainability strategies in tourism and events organisations has led her on a fast and furious journey in recent years, fine tuning her sustainability knowledge and experiences to become an expert in her field.

With a full bundle of qualifications under her belt (ISO 20121, ISO 14001, GSTC, Travelife Auditor, GRI, Biosphere, Sustainable Event Alliance accreditation) and experience in providing sustainability trainings, Rebecca is well equipped to guide the full range of destination stakeholders in their mission to develop and implement a sustainability strategy.

As a multilingual Brit (Spanish, French, German, Catalan) Rebecca has been living in Barcelona for 16 years and working in events for 20. She has thrived in the international Event Management sector, where her roles in Trade Fair Management, Event Production, Meetings, Incentives and Congresses have all allowed her endless opportunities to learn, grow and meet people from different cultures and backgrounds.

Rebecca supports the GDS-Index with a mission to drive the sustainability performance of destinations, while developing and implementing strategic consulting solutions for DMOs, CVBs, venues and events.

In her spare time Rebecca enjoys recharging batteries with good food, good company and the great outdoors.

Claudia van't Hullenaar
Senior Changemaker
Claudia van't Hullenaar
Senior Changemaker
With over 23 years of interdisciplinary and cross functional business experience, including eleven years in the private sector (IT), the business events industry, in live communication agencies, tourism and destinations, Claudia brings a unique skill-set to her vision of a caring and healthy future. She combines a broad suite of business and sustainability knowledge, practical experience, dedicated personal growth and professional development in the fields of conscious, regenerative thinking and leadership, corporate sustainability, sustainable tourism, sustainable events and destinations.

• Claudia, founder of Sustained Impact, helps businesses in both for profit and nonprofits companies, organizations and destinations advance the transformation to conscious and regenerative businesses to create a thriving world and value for everyone.

• Claudia designs and facilitates awareness-based organizational strategies, programs and workshops where she incorporates a conscious leadership, regenerative thinking and Design Thinking approach.

• Claudia is a senior consultant with the Global Destination Sustainability Movement (GDS Movement) to help enable the co-creation of regenerative strategies, skillsets and mindsets that will support destinations of the future.

• Further areas of expertise include event design (CED), management and marketing, meeting design, marketing communications and measurement (ROI Methodology).

• She has been a long-time dedicated advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals, and volunteers as a Climate Reality Leader and Mentor.  Claudia returns for a second term to serve as a member of the Events Industry Council (EIC) Sustainability and Social Impact Committee.

• Claudia is passionate about human transformation, co-creation, empowering others, entrepreneurial thinking, and is a graduate of Robert Holden’s Conscious Leadership Program Success Intelligence.

• Peruvian-Austrian, raised in three different continents, she lives, works and play in English, Spanish and German. Claudia loves nature, people, food and travel.

Noah Joubert
Changemaker
Noah Joubert
Changemaker
Noah was raised in Ecovillages, and through this has had the privilege of being immersed in the practice of sustainable living from a young age. He has grown into the Tourism and Events industry through the GDS-Movement, and is now leading IT Developments, Data Analytics, and Customer Support.

Having graduated from The University of St Andrews with a MA in Sustainable Development, he worked for the GDS-Index, and now the GDS-Movement, since 2019.

He has spearheaded our marketing and sales arm, managed the development of our online data platform (OMNI), and is the main contact for benchmarking queries. From helping to run workshops, and co-facilitating our online webinar series (Feeling the Pulse), to speaking and representing the GDS-Movement at international events (e.g. of the UNWTO and UNFCCC), Noah is core to both internal management and external outreach.

If you are a destination that wants to participate in the GDS-Index, or wants to be part of the GDS-Movement, get in touch with Noah. Chances are he will be able to help you with any of your questions.

In his personal life he is passionate about nurturing the people around him with good food, and himself by practising yoga and listening to Jazz.

Vittoria Lapomarda
Changemaker
Vittoria Lapomarda
Changemaker
Born and raised in Italy, Vittoria has always been a sustainability advocate on a social side, by participating to several volunteering projects abroad, and on an environmental side, with the implementation and promotion of low waste consumption habits.

Her studies have been shaped by AIESEC, a youth global movement that develops leadership through cross-cultural experiences. With AIESEC, she not only had the chance to lead their local office in Bari (Italy), but she also volunteered in countries like Bahrain, Malaysia and Nepal, where she learnt how important it is to embrace differences and see the world under different perspectives in order to truly make a positive impact. 

During her European Master in Business and Marketing, which took place in four countries – Italy, France, Germany and Spain, she realized how hard it is to build a sustainable lifestyle while traveling and decided to dedicate her professional development to sustainability and align it with her personal values. 

In her spare time she likes to alternate boxing classes with hot yoga sessions, bike around Amsterdam’s canals while listening to audio books and spoil her friends with a good Italian meal.

Alejandra Hernández Zita
Latin American Changemaker
Alejandra Hernández Zita
Latin American Changemaker
She has 18 years of experience in the tourism sector, working in DMC agencies in Cancún, Riviera Maya and Los Cabos, and for a large hotel chains at Hilton, Fiesta Inn, Fiesta Americana and JW Marriott.

Alejandra is a pioneer of sustainable events in the Latin America region.

• She is currently working on her Master Degree thesis on Sustainable Tourism at UCI, the University of International Cooperation of Costa Rica.

• Over 18 years experience in the tourism sector, working in DMC agencies in Cancun, Riviera Maya and Los Cabos. Additional experience in ecotourism with Tour Operators and in the hospitality industry for large hotel chains like Hilton, JW Marriott, and Fiesta Americana.

• Since 2017, she has trained more than 300 people in the region as an instructor of the first Sustainable Events Certificate Course (CES) in Spanish.

• Sustainability Consultant for the GDS-Movement. Recent sustainability projects include the ICCA Annual Congress in Houston.

• Certified Sustainable Events Professional (SEPC) by the Events Industry Council.

• Following the call of her indigenous roots, she began to study Herbal medicine & Phytotherapy (science-oriented traditional medicine). Her continuing education also includes: Environmental Education, Regenerative Tourism, and Spiritual healing.

• She is an active member of MPI Mexican Caribbean Chapter Board as a Sustainability Director.

Eduardo Chaillo
Latin American Changemaker
Eduardo Chaillo
Latin American Changemaker
Eduardo is CEO of the consultancy company Global Meetings and Tourism Specialists LLC, serving as bridge builder between the Mexico-Latin American industry members and the Global Meetings community.Through his company, he has been appointed as Global General Manager for Latin America at Maritz Global Events, one of the most important meeting and incentive industry players in the international field.

• Chaillo worked for 12 years at the Mexico Tourism Board. He started his tourism career as Secretary of Tourism in the State of Zacatecas, Mexico.

• Chaillo has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM) and studies of master’s degree in finance at the Monterrey Technological Institute (ITESM). He got his CIC’s global Certification as a Meeting Professional (CMP) in 2004, MPI’s CMM on Meeting Management in 2006, and CASE (Certified Association Sales Executive) from PCMA in 2013.

• He served for 6 years in the ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association) Board of Directors representing North America; PCMA’s Board of Trustees; 5-years on the CMP Board of Directors within the CIC; and 3-years at the DMAI (Destination Marketing Association International) Board of Directors. Currently he serves as a member to the Grupo Hotelero Santa Fe BOD (public company), the Expo Guadalajara technical committee, as well as in the COCAL and MPI México Board of Directors.

• Eduardo was given the JMIC’s Profile and Power Award, was recognized by Successful Meetings Magazine as one of the 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry, and he was inducted to the CIC’s Hall of Leaders 2013 class. Mas Expos magazine has selected him as one of the 15 most influential leaders in the Latin American meetings market in their 2015 list and obtained the Latino Leader award from Fiexpo Trade Show this same year. The MPI Mexico Chapter recognized him with the HEEL Award for the Leader of the Industry in Mexico. Finally, he received the 2019 Supplier Life Time Achievement Visionary Award from PCMA Foundation.

Alexis Kereluk
North American Changemaker
Alexis Kereluk
North American Changemaker
After working in tourism and events for over 10 years, Alexis set out to bring change to the industry by making positive social and environmental impacts the foundation of events and tourism.

Her ethos comes from a place of personal experience. Although she graduated from Simon Fraser University, she found her best education has been her life experiences of global travel and working abroad in Africa, Colombia and the Philippines. Tourism is a very powerful tool to help solve global inequality and enact environmental change. But can be detrimental to communities and the environment if not managed properly.

Therefore, she co-founded ConnectSeven Group – a project management firm focused on social and sustainable tourism projects including sustainable tourism development, social procurement, environmental analysis, sustainable event production and destination development.

She graduated from Simon Fraser University with honours from the Bachelor of Business Administration program with majors in Finance and Management Science. She is based in Vancouver, BC, Canada and is the North American GDSM Changemaker.

When not working, you can find her sailing, at the dog park or on trying to pull together a last minute international trip.

Emma C. Parston
North American Changemaker
Emma C. Parston
North American Changemaker
Emma was raised between Canada, England and the United States and has experienced first hand the difference that a community's values have on an individual's growth and opportunities. This has instilled in her a passion for improving destination's sustainable development and goals via education and buy-in.

Emma is the co-founder of ConnectSeven Group – a project management firm primarily working with social and sustainable development projects that enact global positive change. They focus on social enterprise supply chain integration, environmental analysis, sustainable event production, destination development, and producing large conventions enacting social and sustainable change. They work with the likes of the United Nations, TED, Buy Social Canada and Destination Canada, and integrate the Sustainable Development Goals into everything they do. The close alignment between ConnectSeven and the GDSM, have made Emma a great representative for the Movement in North America.

With over 15 years experience in the event world, previously Emma was the Director of Operations for MCI Canada and worked with the global Sustainability Director to implement sustainable policies into their North American events and operations. She was also a key member of the TED production team, and was a lead project manager on the Dalia Lama’s Canadian tour. She has been on the board of MPI and ILEA and was recognized as top 40 under 40 in North America by CollaborateMeetings.

Emma lives on beautiful Vancouver Island, and in the rare moments she has to herself you can find her doing yoga or on her paddle board – followed by a local craft beer or glass of wine.

Janet Cheung
Chief Financial Changemaker
Janet Cheung
Chief Financial Changemaker
Janet is passionate about helping people be and feel well. She is a holistic health practitioner, acupuncturist and Reiki master. Qualified in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Janet splits her time as the CFO of the GDSM, as a therapist helping individuals and as a consultant helping event professionals to be more balanced and healthy people.

Over the last 16 years, Janet has developed a holistic approach to wellness that combines the wisdom and practices of western and oriental techniques; Entitled “Inner Sense”, this approach not only has helped her patients stay healthy but has been developed into a way to work with employees and participants at events. The simple mantra being healthy people make healthy organisations.

In another life, Janet was a chartered accountant and worked for 15 years for PWC. In the GDSM, she oversees finance, administration, and talent management.

She lives in the hills near Barcelona, and when not working can be found in her organic garden or enjoying nature in the mountains.

Deon Robbertze
Creative Changemaker
Deon Robbertze
Creative Changemaker
Deon has worked with business, government, NGOs and international bodies like the UN. With over 20 years’ experience working in the communications industry, he is a skilled communicator, creative thinker and strategist.

He strongly believes that creative communication will act as the critical link in behaviour change to increase awareness and inspire action for a sustainable future. He is a passionate believer in regeneration and innovation that can empower a resilient, adaptable Future that can deliver Enough. For all. Forever. Deon finds inspiration in cooking with chillies and time in Nature with the Love of his life, Fran and their four rather busy teenagers.

Ed Gillespie
Resident Futurist
Ed Gillespie
Resident Futurist
+44 7957 562035
Ed Gillespie is a keynote speaker, writer, communications specialist, serial entrepreneur and futurist.

He is the author of ‘Only Planet – a flight-free adventure around the world’ a book about his circumnavigation of the globe without getting on a plane. Ed’s core talent is to take the complex, interconnected, interdependent nature of the many urgent challenges the world faces, from climate change to disruptive innovation, and make common sense of them for non-specialist audiences in a pandemic world.

He started his career as a marine biologist and has worked and lived all over the globe, including in Jamaica, the Orkney Islands, Australia and New Caledonia.

Professionally Ed is known for his own unique brand of authentic ‘insultancy’ – being strategically and playfully cheeky to clients, with judicious wit and wisdom to inspire them to greater heights and aspirations.

As well as the Resident Futurist at the GDS-Movement, Ed is a facilitator with the Forward Institute for responsible leadership, a Director of Greenpeace UK, a Trustee of Energy Revolution, and a founder investor and former Chair of pioneering online rail ticketing business ‘Loco2’ now rebranded as Rail Europe.

Ed co-hosts Itunes chart-topping podcast ‘Jon Richardson and the Futurenauts’ and ‘The Great Humbling’. He is a regular media contributor from the BBC to the Guardian (for whom he wrote a regular column during his flight-free navigation of the world – ‘The Slow Traveller’) to Conde Naste (read his latest piece on ‘How to embrace a travel mind set while staying at home’).

Melissa Baird
Communications Changemaker
Melissa Baird
Communications Changemaker
Melissa is a communications specialist whose career has spanned publishing, advertising, brand, and marketing development. She has worked with global NGO’s, local government, major brands and was head of strategy at specialised advertising agency Ogilvy Earth. She has worked with the GDS-Index since 2015, and is now working with the GDSM.

She is also an experienced event creator and content curator specialised in conceptualising and presenting at transformation events about sustainability and regeneration. Examples of her work include co-creating Sustainable Brands Cape Town 2016, event host and presenter at Sustainability Week South Africa and being MC at the inaugural Sustainable Brands Oceans event in Porto, Portugal in 2019.

During her career Melissa was the editor of Green Home magazine, The Green Economy Journal and is the founding publisher of South Africa’s first conscious lifestyle publication and website – Life in Balance.

Melissa is a published poet, inspiring presenter and lecturer, editor of business books, academic papers, opinion pieces and an expert in crafting sustainability strategies and narratives relating to social, environmental, and economic regeneration.

Advisory Board

The advisory board consists of tourism and events industry leaders. Their role is to provide constructive criticism and new ideas for development of GDSM strategy, initiatives and alliances within the tourism and events industry.

Adrien Genier
CEO, Geneva Tourism
Adrien Genier
CEO, Geneva Tourism
Annleyg Lamhauge
Mice Manager, Visit Faroe Island
Annleyg Lamhauge
Mice Manager, Visit Faroe Island
Arve Lindgren
Director of Conventions & Events, Bergen
Arve Lindgren
Director of Conventions & Events, Bergen
Dennis Speet
Chief Operating Officer , ICCA
Dennis Speet
Chief Operating Officer , ICCA
Flavie Baudot
Head, European Cities Marketing
Flavie Baudot
Head, European Cities Marketing
Idoia Rodés Torróntegui
President, MCI Benelux
Idoia Rodés Torróntegui
President, MCI Benelux
Melissa Riley
Vice President, Convention Sales and Services, Destination DC
Melissa Riley
Vice President, Convention Sales and Services, Destination DC
Peter Lee
CEO, Goyang CVB
Peter Lee
CEO, Goyang CVB
Roger Lehner
Head of Sustainability Team, IMEX
Roger Lehner
Head of Sustainability Team, IMEX

Technical Advisory Committee

The technical advisory committee consists of destination sustainability experts. Their role is to provide constructive criticism and new ideas on the development of the benchmarking criteria, reporting indicators and other technical developments.

Gwendal Castellan
Sustainable Destination Development Management, Tourism Vancouver
Gwendal Castellan
Sustainable Destination Development Management, Tourism Vancouver
Katarina Torstensson
Sustainability Strategist & Destination Development, Göteborg & Co
Katarina Torstensson
Sustainability Strategist & Destination Development, Göteborg & Co
Katie Shammas
Sustainability Engagement Manager, City of Sydney
Katie Shammas
Sustainability Engagement Manager, City of Sydney
Mikkel Sander
Program Manager, Tuborgfondet
Mikkel Sander
Program Manager, Tuborgfondet
Nadine Seleem
Junior Professional, Global Protected Areas Programme, IUCN
Nadine Seleem
Junior Professional, Global Protected Areas Programme, IUCN
Tina H. Zakonjšek
General Manager, Zavod Novi Turizem
Tina H. Zakonjšek
General Manager, Zavod Novi Turizem