Member Biography

Thomas Waits

Title: Former CEO - State Lodging Assn.

Organization: Retired

Committee Position: Member

Term: 09/05/2012 to 06/30/2025

Thomas Waits is a sixth generation Floridian, born in Palatka, Florida. He was raised in Jacksonville, Florida and graduated from Robert E. Lee High School. He was an Eagle Scout and provided scout leadership service for ten years. As a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, he served as S/Sgt. during the Korean War from1951-52. He has lived in Tallahassee, Florida since 1952, upon enrollment at FSU, where he graduated in 1956 with a BS from the College of Business majoring in accounting. He was active in a fraternity, student government, the circus, cheerleading - where he was the Head Cheerleader - And Gold Key leadership honorary society.

Waits served as Special Auditor & Assistant Supervisor in the Florida Alcoholic Beverage Licensing & Cigarette Tax Division of the State Beverage Department for the State of Florida from 1956-1960.

Waits has been an association management professional since March 1960. With 13 years in the administration of Florida State University, he served as Assistant Director of Alumni Affairs and over 10 years as the Director of Alumni Affairs. In this position, he served as CEO for the Alumni Association and concurrently, for several years as CEO for Seminole Boosters, Inc. from 1960-1973.

He spent over five years on the executive staff of the Florida Chamber of Commerce from 1973-1979. Waits also served for 26 years as President/CEO for Florida Hotel & Motel Association from February 1979 to December 2004. He retired in January of 2005.

Past Tourism Industry-related Affiliations:
Commissioner, 1996 - 2004 , Vice Chair 2003 - 2004, Florida Commission on Tourism
Board of Directors, 2003 - 2004 Board Chair, Treasurer, Audit Committee Chair, VISIT FLORIDA
Industry Advisory Council, Chair 2000, Member 1979 - 2005, Division of Hotels & Restaurants, State of Florida
Past President, Member for 26 years, International Society of Hotel Association Executives
Founder, Chair 2001 - 2004, Member for 19 years, Leon County Tourist Development Council
Past President, Tallahassee Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
Founding Trustee, Past President, Florida Society of Association Executives Foundation
Board of Directors, President 2003, Florida Society of Association Executives
Board of Governors, Founding Member, Executive Committee, University Center Club, Florida State University
Immediate Past Chair of the Board, FSU Emeritus Alumni Society Board of Directors Member since 1964, Secretary, Paul Harris Fellow, Tallahassee Rotary Club since 1964
Past President, FSU College of Business Alumni Association
Member, Southern Scholarship Foundation Board of Directors
Founder, Board Member, Lake Seminole Association
Board of Directors, RiverWay South Association
Board of Governors, Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (River Basin) Stakeholders Association

Waits has received many recognitions including:
2002: "Florida Tourism Hall of Fame"
2000: "Florida's Association Executive of the Year" Florida Society of Association Executives
2002: "Florida State University Alumni Circle of Gold"
2003: "Thomas A. Waits Hospitality Award" established by Tallahassee CVB to recognize persons and organizations for exemplary contributions to local tourism
2004: Honored by Tourism and lodging industries via establishment of Thomas A. Waits Scholarship Fund through FSU Foundation for Dedman School of Hospitality Management at Florida State University
2004: Lifetime Achievement Award by Florida Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus
2004: Designated "President Emeritus for Life" by Florida Hotel & Motel Association2005: Volusia County Hotel Motel Association "Humanitarian of the Year" Award.

Waits is married to Susan and has three children and five grandchildren.