GBTA Honors Outstanding Members

Alexandria, VA (August 27, 2018) – The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) – the voice of the global business travel industry – awarded three distinguished members during GBTA Convention 2018 in San Diego.

  • Direct Member of the Year—Stephen Gheerow, Travel Services Manager, Ford Foundation
  • Direct Member of the Year—Connie Smith, Manager of Global Services, McCain Foods
  • Allied Member of the Year—Dorothy Dowling, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Best Western® Hotels & Resorts

The Direct Member of the Year award recognizes a buyer member whose unwavering dedication and effort have had significant benefits for GBTA and the business travel industry. This year the award was given to two attendees by GBTA President Christle Johnson.

Stephen Gheerow was awarded the 2018 Direct Member of the Year award. “He has put in the time, the care and the attention to make sure his peers and colleagues get exactly what they expect from a GBTA event: highly relevant, top-notch education and priceless networking,” said Johnson. “Under his leadership, his chapter has become a powerhouse and an example of what local engagement can bring when it’s operating at the highest levels.”

Watch the full presentation.

Connie Smith was also awarded the Direct Member of the Year award. Johnson said, “Connie has been a tireless advocate for both GBTA and the broader business travel industry.”  Johnson told a story of when Smith was going to take the Global Leadership Professional® examination. The night before, flights were canceled due to extreme weather. Smith decided she would take a small charter aircraft. She did and arrived in time to take her exam. Johnson concluded, “She is one of the most determined people I have ever encountered.”

Watch the full presentation.

Dorothy Dowling was the recipient of the GBTA Allied Member of the Year Award. This award recognizes an Allied Member whose dedication, enthusiasm and hard work have generated significant benefits for the Association and the industry. Scott Solombrino, GBTA Allied Leadership Council President, presented the award. “She is known throughout the industry as someone who can get the job done—no matter how tall an order that might be—and is an executive who genuinely cares about people, regardless of their title,” said Solombrino. “She is a lifelong learner and is someone who values listening to others. She has worked tirelessly behind the scenes for GBTA as a Board member, strategic adviser and team player. She represents the very best of our industry.”

Watch the full presentation.


About the Global Business Travel Association
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) is the world’s premier business travel and meetings trade organization headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area with operations on six continents. GBTA’s 9,000-plus members manage more than $345 billion of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually. GBTA and the GBTA Foundation deliver world-class education, events, research, advocacy and media to a growing global network of more than 28,000 travel professionals and 125,000 active contacts. To learn how business travel drives lasting business growth, visit