President & CEO
Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board
Ernest Wooden Jr. took the helm of Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board (L.A. Tourism) in January 2013 to oversee the global brand marketing and meetings and convention sales strategy for one of the most-visited and most-famous travel destinations in the world – Los Angeles.
As President & Chief Executive Officer of L.A. Tourism, Wooden is responsible for ensuring the achievement of the mission of the city’s official tourism marketing organization, which is to advance the prosperity of the Los Angeles visitor economy and the livelihoods which depend on it. This mission is fulfilled by marketing and promoting Los Angeles as the premier site for leisure travel, meetings and conventions to the principle segments of both the domestic and international travel trade and consumer. In addition to the staff at the primary office in Los Angeles, Wooden directs the activities of L.A. Tourism’s international offices in London, Sydney, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu as well as representatives in Japan, Germany, France, South Korea, Scandinavia, India and the Middle East. His additional responsibilities include oversight of the exclusive contract to market international air service and promote route development for Los Angeles World Airports as well as the Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission.
Under Wooden’s leadership at L.A. Tourism, Los Angeles has enjoyed record-breaking visitation, welcoming 50 million visitors from around the globe in 2018, achieving the destination’s ambitious tourism goal two years early. As a global gateway for the United States, Los Angeles enjoys the second highest share of overseas visitors to the country. Tourism is a leading industry in Los Angeles, supporting 534,000 jobs within the Leisure & Hospitality sector, contributing $24 billion in visitor spending to the local economy and generating $36.6 billion in local economic impact.
Wooden has dedicated his entire career serving the hospitality industry, including more than a decade in senior leadership positions in both global brand management and operations with Hilton Hotels Corporation. As Executive Vice President, Global Brands, he led all worldwide branding initiatives for Hilton, working with 3,000 properties in 80 countries. In addition, Wooden has held leadership positions with top hospitality brands such as Sheraton Hotels and Resorts, Omni Hotels & Resorts, Doubletree by Hilton and Promus Hotel Corporation. He has also worked internationally with hotel valuation, brand selection and investment analysis both as the Executive Vice President and Senior Managing Director at Alagem Capital Group, a privately owned, diversified investment group which owns the world-famous Beverly Hilton Hotel, amongst other high-profile properties, and as Chief Executive Officer of Creative Consulting, a company Wooden founded in 2010.
Wooden plays a significant role in industry affairs as a member of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB); the California Travel and Tourism Commission (Visit California); the Executive Committee of the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) as well as the organization’s Board of Directors. He is also dedicated to civic and community affairs, sitting on the Boards of the Los Angeles Organizing Committee for the 2028 Olympics and Paralympic Games; Sister Cities of Los Angeles; Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce; the Executive Committee of the Central City Association of Los Angeles; and the Thomas Edison State University MBA Advisory Board. In 2015, Wooden was named to the prestigious EBONY® Magazine’s Power 100 list, which salutes the remarkable achievements of the most influential African-Americans in the United States. He has also been a three-time honoree on Los Angeles Business Journal’s LA 500, a list of the 500 most influential people in business.
With a passion for global business management and understanding of diverse cultures, Wooden is currently pursuing a doctorate degree (Doctor of Business Administration) from the International School of Management, Paris, France. He has studied international business on three continents with immersion experiences in Paris, France and Shanghai, China.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Wooden holds both a bachelor’s degree in business administration (BSBA) and a master’s degree in management science (MMS) from Thomas Edison State University.