ANN ARBOR, MICH (February 21, 2020) – Destination Ann Arbor and Washtenaw Community College are joint recipients of the Tourism Industry Coalition of Michigan 2020 Governor’s Award for Innovative Tourism Collaboration, as a result of their collaboration on a scholarship program for students in the Advanced Certificate in Management program at WCC. Created by the Michigan Travel Commission in conjunction with the Governor’s Office, the Governor’s Awards for Innovative Tourism elevate the innovative, effective, creative collaborations in the tourism industry in Michigan.  

The award, given annually to tourism organizations that foster collaboration and innovation on a specific project, was presented to Destination Ann Arbor President & CEO Mary Kerr, and Washtenaw Community College President & CEO Dr. Rose B. Bellanca, on Wednesday, February 19 at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  

Intended to reward and incentivize the growth of the hospitality workforce in Washtenaw County, the scholarship program was designed by WCC and Destination Ann Arbor as part of a workforce development initiative. With a vibrant visitor economy, Washtenaw County’s restaurants, hotels, retailers, and transportation services rely on employees with skills in culinary arts, guest relations, housekeeping, wellness, and talent management.  

WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca, who accepted the award with Mary Kerr, said “The college will continue to ensure that the community has access to a highly skilled workforce.” 

The winning scholarship program now enrolls 14 students and includes a tuition scholarship, waiver of books and materials fees, a suite of “wrap-around” services such as subsidized childcare and transportation vouchers, and a dedicated “success coach” to offer academic support. Additionally, the program facilitates an apprenticeship with the American Hotel & Lodging Association or the National Restaurant Association during an awarded student’s time studying at WCC. Currently enrolled recipients of the scholarship are employed at local businesses including the Hilton Garden Inn, the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, Golden Limousine International, and others. 

Mary Kerr said, “We couldn’t be more excited to accept this award alongside Washtenaw Community College. Workforce development is the number one obstacle facing our billion-dollar hospitality community in the Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor area. We knew when we launched our workforce development program that we’d have to get creative to meet the demands of our thriving visitor economy, and we’re tremendously proud to partner with Washtenaw Community College on this scholarship program that presents positive outcomes for everyone involved.” 

For more information about Destination Ann Arbor’s workforce development program, visit  

For more information about Washtenaw Community College, visit  


Destination Ann Arbor is a 501 (c)6 not-for-profit organization whose mission is to provide sustainable tourism to elevate economic vitality and quality of life.