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 and destinations, ship development, suppliers, and business services.

As President and CEO, Craighead 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.

Craighead 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, Craighead 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, Craighead 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, Craighead 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, Craighead 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, Craighead 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). In July 2022, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) appointed her an Ambassador for Sustainable Tourism. The prestigious honor recognizes Craighead for her management and leadership in advancing global sustainable development solutions by the cruise sector for travel and tourism.