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Choose Chicago will need someone who will fight against the city's negative image as hard as Lynn Osmond.

Lynn Osmond is stepping down as Choose Chicago CEO and president. The move comes as Chicago prepares to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention later this year.

Osmond said on LinkedIn she needed to focus her “energies on a family health matter.”

Her last day will be January 31. Rich Gamble will then act as interim CEO, according to the tourism board.

“This has been a difficult decision but one that is right for me and my family, and for the organization at this time as we gear up for a very busy year with the [Democratic National Convention] coming to town,” she said.

She took up the role in May 2022. Before that, she was president and CEO of the Chicago Architecture Center.

During her term, Choose Chicago began investing $5.5 million to drive tourism to South Side and West Side Chicago neighborhoods, areas that have been overlooked due to concerns over public safety.

She combated negative media coverage of Chicago. The city was turned into a “punching bag” in urban crime, Osmond told Skift in June. “We’re doing as much as we can to change the narrative,” she said.

In April, an outbreak of violence and disorderly crowds broke out around Chicago’s Millennium Park. Osmond penned a letter reassuring industry partners that “steps are being taken to prevent further incidents.”

To bring Chicago’s suburbanites downtown, the tourism board launched a campaign promoting the city’s performing arts and theaters last year.

“These suburbs of Chicago don’t have the ballet, the performing arts, the opera,” said Osmond. “Those are major draws with which we can attract people downtown.”

Chicago welcomed 49 million visitors in 2022, 80% of its 2019 level. Last year, Chicago had a strong summer. The city had 3.2 million room nights, which was 93% of its 2019 level, according to Choose Chicago.


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Tags: chicago, tourism

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