Colorado Tourism Inclusivity in Travel Advisory Group

The Colorado Tourism Office has convened the Inclusivity in Travel Advisory Group to consider ways that Colorado can share a warmer welcome for all travelers, regardless of race or ethnicity, sexual orientation or ability.

This group of nearly 30 tourism leaders is chaired by two members of the Colorado Tourism Board, Wanda James of Denver and Laura Valdez of Fort Collins. Destination D.C. CEO Elliott Ferguson, who as chair of the U.S. Travel Association Board of Directors has been leading a national conversation about equity in the travel industry, is serving as honorary chair.

Through two facilitated three-hour sessions, this advisory group has been challenged to identify barriers to attracting more diverse audiences of travelers and recommend strategies for breaking those barriers down. Recommendations are expected to be shared with the Colorado tourism industry in February.

See below for the group's charter for action, a full list of members, a glossary of preferred terms and CTO research showing breakouts of Colorado travelers by race and ethnicity. You're welcome to view a recording of Session One, held on Dec. 17, 2020; and Session Two, held on Feb. 26, 2021.

Read the Group's Report & Recommendations >>

DEI Educational Resources >>

Words Matter Guide >>

A Charter for Action


To provide the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) with recommendations to develop and promote travel experiences centering on the interests and preferences of diverse travel audiences and to identify strategies creating and supporting a welcoming and safe environment for diverse travelers, in keeping with Governor Polis’ goal of promoting equity, diversity and inclusion throughout Colorado.


  • Identify a strategy for inviting diverse travelers to explore Colorado, whether through development of travel experiences that speak to specific diverse audiences, direct promotion to these audiences, or addressing structural issues that discourage diverse travelers’ interest in visiting Colorado.
  • Identify barriers to attracting diverse travelers to Colorado and potential opportunities for breaking them down.
  • Identify strategies to showcase the distinctive attributes of Colorado for various diverse audiences in ways that reinforce and are integrated into the Colorado brand and hold appeal for other domestic and international travelers as well.


Colorado Tourism Office

  • Incorporate Advisory Group recommendations into a cohesive strategy for attracting diverse travel audiences to Colorado.
  • Invite Colorado destinations, tourism industry verticals and aligned state and federal partners to join in support of strategies to develop appealing experiences for diverse travelers and address structural obstacles.
  • Support and assimilate research to gain a deeper understanding of opportunities to inspire diverse audiences’ interest in visiting Colorado
  • Ensure that Advisory Group recommendations are incorporated into development of the Colorado Tourism Roadmap to Recovery
  • Track and report outcomes of Advisory Group recommendations.

Advisory Group Members

  • Support CTO in developing recommendations for a cohesive strategy for increasing Colorado’s appeal for diverse travelers.
  • Provide CTO and all practitioners of Colorado tourism with a deeper understanding of diverse travelers’ interests and requirements
  • Recommend a positioning statement (or statements) to showcase the distinctive attributes of Colorado for various diverse audiences in ways that can reinforce and be integrated into the Colorado brand.
  • Advise the CTO on optimal ways of expressing these messages.
  • Educate elected leaders, tourism stakeholders and community members about agreed-upon positioning and importance of education and promotion in support of this initiative.

Advisory Group


Wanda James, Founder, Simply Pure, Bio
Laura Valdez, Co-Executive Director, Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, Bio

Honorary Chair

Elliott Ferguson, President & CEO, Destination D.C.; Chair, U.S. Travel Association Board of Directors, Bio


Annie Kao, Founder, Ascent Inclusion Consulting Inc., Bio


  • Taishya Adams, Policy Director, Outdoor Afro; Commissioner, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Bio
  • Andrea Albo, Senior VP of Culture and Strategy, Denver International Airport, Bio
  • Luis Benitez, VP Government Affairs and Global Impact, VF Corporation
  • Josh Blanchard, Summit County Commissioner. Bio
  • Patricia Cameron, Founder, Blackpackers, Bio
  • Thomas Davidson, Former Summit County Commissioner, Bio
  • Navin C. Dimond, CEO and Chairman, Stonebridge Companies
  • Dr. Gerilyn Davis, Chief Inclusion Officer, Inclusion on the Slopes, Bio
  • Crystal Egli, Co-Founder, Inclusive Journeys, Bio
  • Chelsea Elder, Executive Director, Adaptive Adventures, Bio
  • Christian Hardigree, Dean, School of Hospitality, Events and Tourism, Metropolitan State University-Denver, Bio
  • Leslie Herod, State Representative
  • Eric Hiraga, Director, Denver Office of Economic Development, Bio
  • Sonya Jaquez Lewis, State Senator Elect
  • Dzidra Junior, Vice President of Business Development, YMCA of the Rockies, Bio
  • Magda King, General Manager, Antlers at Vail, Bio
  • Bryan Martin, Executive Director, Outdoor Lab Foundation, Bio
  • Andrea Moore, Executive Director, The Wayfaring Band Inc., Bio
  • Mar Naibi, Partner & Product Development Manager, Pure Adventures, Bio
  • Dawn Nudell Richardson, Owner/Manager, Rising Sun Distillery, Bio
  • Kathryn Redhorse, Executive Director, Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs
  • Sonia Riggs, President & CEO, Colorado Restaurant Association
  • Meera Rosser, Founder, The Casino Culture Coach
  • Gary Schluter, Founder, Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours LLC., Bio
  • Janice Sinden, President & CEO, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Bio
  • Marissa Volpe, Chief of Equity and Engagement, History Colorado, Bio
  • Dana Watts, Executive Director, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, Bio
  • Helanius Wilkins, Professor of Dance, University of Colorado Boulder, Bio

Working Glossary of Key Terms

A non-exhaustive list of evolving terminology and language common in DEI discourse

Ableism: Attitudes (conscious or unconscious) that devalue or limit the potential of persons based on differences in physical, mental, and/or emotional ability or disability.

Ally: A person of one social identity group who stands up in support of members of another (often under-represented) group.  An Accomplice/Co-Conspirator is an Ally who moves beyond language and emotion to take action, in solidarity with the other group.

Antiracism: In contrast to being passively “not racist,” (like being “neutrally colorblind,”) an Antiracist takes action to support policies/ideas that counter the production and normalization of racial inequalities (Prof. Ibram X. Kendi, 2019). 

BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (POC)

Cisgender: A person whose gender identity or expression align with those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth.

DEI: Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (also referred to as EDI, D&I, or JEDI with Justice added)

Diversity: Valued differences. For purposes of this CTO project, Diversity includes different races and ethnicities, LGBTQ, and people with disabilities.

Equity: Developing a fair system for providing a wide range of opportunities.

Inclusion: A foundational mindset and set of behaviors supporting a welcoming culture.  Balances a desire to belong with a desire to be unique (Prof. Stefanie K. Johnson, 2020).

Intersectionality: Lens for seeing how various forms of inequality operate and exacerbate each other, not just as a sum of the parts (Prof. Kimberlé Crenshaw, 1989), e.g., Black Woman.

LGBTQ: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer

Microaggression: An intentional or unintentional slight that communicates negative or diminishing messages; often based on stereotypes that assume characteristics of an identity group.

Race: A social construct of categories of peoples. As only one example, the U.S. Census defines White, Hispanic or Latino (or Latina/x); Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native (or Indigenous), Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.

Tokenism: Presence on a superficial level, without meaningful participation.

Unconscious/Implicit Bias: A mental association or pairing, stored without awareness as a socialized, informational shortcut; often based on stereotypes of identity groups.