BISMARCK — North Dakota Commerce Commissioner Michelle Kommer, Tourism Director Sara Otte Coleman and Destination Marketing Association of North Dakota President Searle Swedlund presented six Governor’s Travel and Tourism Awards this week at the 2019 Travel Industry Conference in Minot. The awards are given annually to recognize the passion and dedication of North Dakotans who have contributed to the growth of travel and tourism in North Dakota.

The Sakakawea Award for a Behind the Scenes Tourism Employee was awarded to Dannielle Riley of the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau. A press release issued this week described why Riley was selected for the award.

"From ensuring that Travel Ambassadors in the visitor center are equipped and trained to serve daily visitors to initiating conversation and development of the 'I AM FARGO-MOORHEAD' training program for all front-line employees, Riley’s work often goes unnoticed by the outside world. Riley joined the CVB in 2015 as a Travel Ambassador in their visitor center. She was promoted to full-time status to manage the ambassador program and proposed the merger between her existing position with the visitor center manager position when that came open," according to a press release issued this week. "In her current role, Riley’s steadfast resolve to ensure a North of Normal and Legendary visitor experience is unparalleled. Her efforts have championed the need for an all-encompassing free training program for all front-line employees in the hospitality and tourism industry in the community."

Other winners include:

  • Heritage Award for a Front-line Tourism Employee: Lorena Starkey, Hyatt House Minot
  • Telegraph Award for Marketing Technology: Walleye Wars, Devils Lake Tourism
  • Trailblazer Award for Tourism Innovation: Searle Swedlund, Jamestown Tourism
  • Flint Firestarter Award for a Tourism Development Project: Makewell, Ashton Hauff
  • Legend Award for Travel & Tourism Industry Leadership: Suzie Kenner, Devils Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau