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Skyline Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Leadership Team

Tourism Nova Scotia is led by Michele Saran, Chief Executive Officer.

As CEO, Michele is responsible for leading the implementation of Tourism Nova Scotia’s strategy to attract more first-time visitors to the province. This will help Nova Scotia meet the Ivany report goal of doubling tourism revenues to $4 billion by 2024. She also is responsible for the day to day operations of the organization, including Tourism Nova Scotia’s three areas of business: Marketing, Sector Development, and Corporate Services.

As a Crown Corporation, Tourism Nova Scotia is governed by a private sector-led board of directors, some of whom are operators in the tourism industry. The Crown is also accountable to the Department of Business.

Michele Saran, CEO
Michele Saran
CEO
Tourism Nova Scotia
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Michele Saran became the first permanent CEO of Tourism Nova Scotia in May 2016.  As CEO, Michele is focused on establishing strong relationships with industry stakeholders and leading the implementation of an export-focused tourism growth strategy.   Her commitment to understanding global best practices; research-based decision-making; and leveraging national, regional and local partnership opportunities is producing positive results for Tourism Nova Scotia.

Michele has more than 18 years of sales and leadership experience in the tourism industry.   Prior to joining Tourism Nova Scotia, she served 7 years as the Executive Director of Business Events Canada (BEC), a unit of Destination Canada, where she oversaw the development of a new brand and led her team in implementing a strategy that aligned with Canada’s private-sector trade and investment growth priorities. Michele also oversaw the expansion of BEC’s target markets from a US-only focus to include the UK, Germany, France and Belgium.  Prior to that, she was Director of Incentive Sales Development for 11 years where she helped drive international tourism to Canada and private-sector growth by aligning her unit with global trade and commerce strategies.

Michele holds a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Ryerson University in Toronto. Her background includes sales positions with Tourism Toronto, Schenker International and several major hotel chains.

Michael Johnson, COO
Michael Johnson
Chief Operating Officer
Tourism Nova Scotia
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Michael joined Tourism Nova Scotia as Chief Operating Officer in January 2016, and is responsible for day-to-day administration and business operations for the organization including, provincial visitor information centres, Tourism Nova Scotia’s customer contact centre and literature distribution services.

Prior to joining the TNS team, Michael was a civil servant with the Province of Nova Scotia for more 35 years where he held senior roles with six government departments including, Agriculture, Public Service Commission, Immigration, Energy, Economic and Rural Development and Tourism and Business.

Joann Fitzgerald
Joann Fitzgerald
Chief Marketing Officer
Tourism Nova Scotia
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Joann joined Tourism Nova Scotia in January 2017 as Chief Marketing Officer. In this role she is responsible for destination marketing and sales strategies designed to promote Nova Scotia as a leisure travel destination.

Joann is a marketing professional with over 16 years of marketing experience. She completed her MBA at Dalhousie University and has worked for a range of recognized brands including Unilever, Pepsi-QTG, Kruger Products, Sobeys and Cadbury. After a stint in Toronto, she returned to her home province of Newfoundland where she helped guide the marketing of the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University. In 2013, she moved back to Nova Scotia to work with Johnson Insurance, leading the marketing for Atlantic Canada as their Atlantic Head of Marketing.

Darlene MacDonald
Darlene MacDonald
Director, Sector Development
Tourism Nova Scotia
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As Tourism Nova Scotia’s Director of Sector Development, Darlene is responsible for tourism experience development and sector development initiatives aimed at improving Nova Scotia’s competitiveness as a tourism destination.

With over two decades of tourism experience, Darlene has extensive experience working with organizations, businesses and communities to ensure the growth, market-readiness and sustainability of Nova Scotia’s tourism products and experiences.

Darlene began her career with Industry Canada in the regional tourism office responsible for implementing federal–provincial tourism development agreements and leading sector development initiatives. In 1995, she joined the provincial tourism department as a tourism development officer and later advanced her career by working in other branches of government with a focus on tourism product development. Darlene has a degree in Science from Dalhousie University (1988), and a degree in Tourism & Hospitality Management (1992) from Mount Saint Vincent University.

Kelli MacDonald
Kelli MacDonald
Director, Communications
Tourism Nova Scotia
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Kelli has led Tourism Nova Scotia’s communications team since 2016 and is responsible for managing and directing internal and external corporate communications activities.

Kelli joined the provincial tourism organization in 2013 and worked for three years as the manager of industry partnerships. Prior to this, she spent 10 years as marketing manager with Nova Scotia Business Inc. where much of her work was focused on marketing to support export development initiatives and the attraction of new businesses to Nova Scotia. Early in her career she spent 7 years working in marketing communications roles with Maritime Life Assurance Company, Blue Cross and the Central Regional Health Board.

Kelli holds a Bachelor of Public Relations Degree (1998) from Mount Saint University.

Christine Dean
Christine Dean
Human Resources Lead
Tourism Nova Scotia
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Christine joined Tourism Nova Scotia in 2015 as the head of human resources. She has 25 years of progressive HR experience working with the Province of Nova Scotia. Christine has held numerous leadership roles in the areas of payroll administration and human resource client service delivery. She has led significant transitional, restructuring and recruitment initiatives for departments across government.

Christine has a business diploma and Human Resources studies through Saint Mary’s University as well as continuing education courses through the Public Service Commission and other providers. Early in her career she held positions in the finance industry and supported trade development for Nova Scotia entrepreneurs in the craft industry.