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Williams to take helm at BestCities as organisation pushes legacy

Paul Levee is stepping down as managing director of BestCities Alliance, the international network of convention bureaux focused on the legacy of meetings that has been under his stewardship for the last five years.

He will be replaced in the New Year by Lesley Williams, former head of business tourism at Convention Edinburgh, who has been serving as BestCities’ market development director since 2017.

Vallee, who previously worked for Tourism Vancouver, will continue to work for convention bureaux consultancy firm GainingEdge, which, amongst other things, manages BestCities, but now on a full-time basis.

Williams has been in the business tourism and events industry for 25 years and has in-depth knowledge of the field and understanding of the alliance.

She will head up the existing management team, made up of Nigel Brown, director of marketing and partnerships, Jane Cunningham, director of international associations, Caryn Wong, alliance operations and strategic advisor Karen Bolinger, former CEO of the Melbourne Convention Bureau

Her appointment comes at an important time for BestCities as the alliance seeks to grow its reputation in helping associations and destinations build legacies, and building its international footprint through partnerships and knowledge creation.

Williams said: “I, along with the BestCities team, am energised by this opportunity to evolve the alliance’s strategic plan and continue delivering its core purpose – to harness the power of collaboration and community to create positive impact through business events. I look forward to taking up the position of managing director at BestCities, and continuing the work of Paul in bringing value and impact to the industry, and creating my own legacy within the alliance.”

Vallee said: “Heading into the 20th anniversary of BestCities feels like the right time to hand over the reigns to my friend and colleague Lesley, as we evolve our strategic plan and look to the future of our industry.  After five prosperous years with the alliance, I’ll be pursuing new opportunities with GainingEdge including helping further develop our association consulting, education and training, and advancing the meetings industry is a strategic tool to drive the innovation and knowledge economy.”