Nominations are now being accepted for the Leon County Division of Tourism Development (Visit Tallahassee) 2017 Thomas A. Waits Distinguished Leadership Awards, recognizing individuals and organizations whose leadership made a significant impact in the tourism industry in Tallahassee-Leon County. This award recognizes excellence in tourism marketing, community initiatives, innovation, developing creative partnerships and/or green/sustainability efforts on behalf of and for the betterment of the tourism and hospitality industry.

The Thomas A. Waits Distinguished Leadership Awards annually honor one individual and one organization for excellence in leadership through outstanding initiative, impact of their work and the inspiration of others.

Recipients of the 2016 awards were Christopher Heacox, director of Opening Nights Performing Arts, for the individual, and the Proof Brewing Co. for the organization.

History of the Thomas A. Waits Distinguished Leadership Awards

In 2001, the “Hospitality Award” was established; recognizing individuals who helped pioneer tourism development efforts in Leon County and helped found the Tallahassee Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (TACVB). In 2003, the award was officially named “The Thomas A. Waits Hospitality Award” – affectionately known as “The Tommy.” It pays tribute to a man who dedicated his career to economic development through tourism. In 2010, the program expanded for also recognizing one organization that reflects the ideals and visionary leadership of tourism excellence.

Nomination Process

Nomination forms will be accepted through September 8, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. EST. Forms and supporting documents can be accepted via mail, fax or electronically, however they must be received by the deadline.

Selection Process

Nomination forms and supporting documentation are reviewed by the Awards Committee, a panel of tourism and community leaders in Tallahassee and past “Tommy” recipients. The Committee selects the winners. Current Awards Committee members are ineligible for the awards.

Thomas A. Waits Distinguished Leadership Awards Celebration

Please join us for the recognition of this year's “Tommy” recipients during Visit Tallahassee’s 2017-18 Marketing Roll-out (date TBD).


Individuals and Organizations

Individuals and organizations in the tourism and hospitality industry in Tallahassee and Leon County may be nominated. (Organizations include attractions, nonprofits, lodging –hotels or motels--, restaurants, sports venues, meetings and events, groups, etc.)

Previous “Tommy” Awards Winners

Previous “Tommy” Awards Winners are ineligible. See a list of past individual winners below.

Multiple Nominations

You may nominate more than one individual or organization, but no more than three.

Past “Tommy Award” Recipients


2016 – Christopher Heacox, director of Opening Nights Performing Arts
2015 – Ricky Bell, director of Student Activities for Leon County Schools
2014 – Bo Schmitz, General Manager of Four Points By Sheraton Tallahassee Downtown
2013 – Lee Daniel, Executive Director of Leon County Division of Tourism Development
2012 – Dr. Mark Bonn, Professor and Director of Distance Learning Programs at Florida State / University’s Dedman School of Hospitality
2011 – Marc Bauer, General Manager of Hotel Duval
2010 – Russell Daws, Executive Director of Tallahassee Museum
2009 – Sharon Ligget, President of Tallahassee Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
2008 – Bill Hagen, Chair of the Tallahassee Sports Council
2007 – Donna Ross, President/CEO of Florida Attractions Association
2006 – Patricia Grosvenor, Director of Sales at Park Plaza Hotel
2005 – Mickey Brady, General Manager of Cabot Lodge North Monroe
2004 – Chucha Barber, Executive Director of Brogan Museum of Art & Science
2003 – Pace Allen, General Manager of Collegiate Village Inn
2002 – Althemese Barnes, Executive Director of Riley House Museum


2016 – Proof Brewing Co.
2015 – Council on Culture and Arts
2014 – Tallahassee Museum
2013 – The Challenger Learning Center
2012 – Hotel Duval
2011 – Augustus B. Turnbull III Florida State Conference Center
2010 – Mary Brogan Museum of Art & Science

Nomination Form

1. How many years has the individual/the organization been involved in the Tallahassee tourism/hospitality industry.

2. List outstanding achievements or contributions made by the individual/the organization to the industry.

3. List PRIMARY and SECONDARY efforts the individual/organization made to local tourism development and marketing. You may include up to three supporting documents along with the Nomination form.

Submitted By:

Submissions MUST be received by Friday, September 8, 2017.