Member Biography

Kelly Craighead

Title: President and CEO

Organization: Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)

Committee Position: Member

Kelly Craighead is President and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), representing an expansive community of the world's most prestigious ocean, river, and specialty cruise lines; a highly trained and certified travel agent community; and a widespread network of stakeholders, including ports & destinations, ship development, suppliers, and business services.

As President and CEO, Kelly is responsible for leading the organization’s work as the leading authority and voice of the industry across the association’s five operating regions, including North America, Europe, Australasia, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Ireland. An important part of her leadership is directing the development and execution of the organization’s advocacy strategy and initiatives, which are designed to support the broad international business coalition that comprises the global cruise industry.

Under her leadership, CLIA and its members are paving the way in responsible tourism practices, significantly increasing the industry’s collective investment in research, development, and education, as well as executing advocacy and promotional efforts that add and create value for the cruise community and its partners.

Additionally, she serves as Vice Chairman and Executive Director of the Cruise Industry Charitable Foundation (CICF), a non-profit 501(c)(3) public charity founded in 1998 that serves to improve the quality of life in communities served by the cruise industry. CICF focuses its efforts in four key areas that include civic and community development, educational assistance and training programs, public health programs, and environmental preservation initiatives.

Kelly joined CLIA in January 2019, bringing with her over 20 years of executive leadership experience from both the public and private sectors, including most recently as the first-ever Deputy Assistant Secretary for Travel and Tourism at the United States Department of Commerce.

During her time with the U.S. Department of Commerce, Kelly acted as the senior government representative for travel and tourism matters on behalf of the United States. In addition to coordinating federal government tourism policies and programs, Kelly led initiatives that generated more than $250 billion USD annually from international visitors to the United States. She also represented the United States as the key point of contact for foreign tourism ministers regarding critical travel and tourism policy matters.

Earlier in her career, Kelly held leadership positions in the White House and traveled extensively within the United States and abroad supporting official government business and developing a wide network of international partners in government, media and business. Prior to her appointment as President and CEO of CLIA, Kelly founded Vertimas Consulting, where she supported a variety of private sector clients, including the World Travel and Tourism Council, with counsel and executive leadership support, including strategic planning and business development. A passionate and active member of the travel and tourism community, Kelly has been a member of Visit Florida’s board of directors since July 1, 2020, and in 2017 was named “Outstanding Woman in Travel and Tourism Leadership” by Women in Travel and Tourism Industries (WITTI).