Sonya Bradley, the chief marketing officer for Visit Sacramento for the past 15 years, is moving into a newly created role: Chief of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). This new position is being inaugurated to promote taking action and creating change on DEI issues within the organization, the tourism industry in the Sacramento region and across the country.
Bradley, a 25-year veteran of the travel and tourism industry, was instrumental in creating the position. In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, she led the Visit Sacramento team to reexamine its actions around equity and inclusion and to look deeply at its own role in the community. Her passion on the issue springs from her own experience.
“Tourism has been fulfilling both professionally and personally and I've had tremendous opportunities in this industry,” said Bradley. “Yet, I still see a relatively small number of people who look like me in the industry. This is Visit Sacramento's chance to change that. Because this moment in time since last summer is too big to ignore or end up on the back burner because a box has been checked.”
Bradley’s role will go far beyond checking a box and extend to all departments within Visit Sacramento. In its announcement of the position, Visit Sacramento said Bradley’s work will include:
- Working alongside the marketing and sales departments to create campaign content and imagery that is truly reflective of the diverse communities within Sacramento, and seek out meetings and conventions with a majority of diverse attendees
- Collaborating with local tourism, hospitality and related businesses to examine their DEI practices and identify areas for growth/make recommendations to diversify their workforce and expand their reach in the community to enhance the visitor experience.
- Actively monitoring for opportunities to bring the impact of tourism – hotel and attraction development, hospitality jobs, visitor spending – to neighborhoods, businesses and individuals that may not have fully benefited from tourism before
- Sharing and collaborating on best practices and exploring how tourism organizations can better incorporate DEI into daily operations with peers around the country.
“At Visit Sacramento, we often say that tourism isn't about the tourist, it's about making Sacramento a better place for the people who live here,” says Visit Sacramento President & CEO Mike Testa. “Tourism employs thousands of people in our city and brings millions of dollars here each year. But if not everyone in Sacramento is represented in what we're doing, then we aren't going far enough. This new position is the next step in making sure that tourism really is a positive force for our entire community.”
Bradley has already begun establishing steering committees to inform her work, made up of local leaders and experts who can speak to the challenges and experiences of people of color, the LGBTQ+ community and other historically underrepresented groups in Sacramento. She currently serves as the chair for the CalTravel (California Travel Association) DEI committee established last year.