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Julie Coker

President and CEO

Julie Coker

Julie Coker is the President and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority (SDTA), where she oversees the organization’s efforts to promote San Diego as a top destination for meetings, conventions, overseas travelers and leisure visitors. The San Diego Tourism Authority is recognized as one of the best in the business and continues to set the standard for destination marketing organizations under Coker, who assumed the role in March 2020.

San Diego ranked as one of the top-performing U.S. destinations in 2022, ranking fourth in the nation in hotel occupancy at 72.6%. With Coker at the helm of SDTA, tourism jobs returned to pre-pandemic levels with more than 200,000 employed; San Diego County’s Transient Occupancy Tax generated more than $360 million for regional services; SDTA’s sales and marketing programs delivered a $30 to $1 return on investment, the highest in the organization’s history; and the retention rate among SDTA members was 93%.

Coker’s commitment to serving on boards gives her unique insight and notable influence in the tourism industry. In January 2023, she was appointed to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, joining 31 other leaders from the domestic travel and tourism industry in providing advice to the Secretary of Commerce on travel priorities. She also serves on the executive boards of the U.S. Travel Association and Visit California, the boards of Meeting Professionals International, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, the San Diego Lodging Association and Sharp Health Care.

Previously, Coker served as the President and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) where she oversaw the 2017 NFL Draft and the 2016 Democratic National Convention, which had a combined economic impact of $325 million for Philadelphia. Prior to that, she was PHLCVB’s Executive Vice President, Convention Division, and managed a staff of 25 sales and services professionals responsible for selling the expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center and hotel packages to customers across the country.

Prior to joining the PHLCVB, Coker was the general manager for the Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing, where she led all operational aspects of the 350-room hotel. A 21-year Hyatt veteran, she began her career in 1989 as a corporate management trainee at Hyatt Regency Columbus. Throughout her more than two decades with Hyatt, she rose through the ranks in a variety of positions, including assistant front office manager, front office manager, hotel assistant manager, assistant executive housekeeper, and general manager.

From January 2018 to 2020, she served as co-chair for the U.S. Travel’s Meetings Mean Business Coalition and secretary-treasurer for International Association of Exhibitions and Events Executive Committee. From 2016 to 2019, Coker co-chaired the Shared Spaces Initiative to combat homelessness with Philadelphia’s mayor, and in 2016, she served as the chair of Mayor Jim Kenney’s transition team for the Democratic National Convention.

Additionally, Coker is a member of the San Diego Chapter of The Links, Incorporated. In 2023, she received the Fearless Award from the San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce and was inducted into the All-Time Hall of Fame by Smart Women in Meetings. In 2021, she was named a Phenomenal Woman in Business in the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Phenomenal Women series. In both 2012 and 2019, the Philadelphia Business Journal named her among their Women of Distinction honorees. She was the 2017 United Negro College Fund Mayor’s Ball Honoree for Civic Leadership and was named one of the Network Journal’s 25 Most Influential Black Women in Business.

Coker is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management and graduated magna cum laude.

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