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Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism Names Dan Kelleher as President & CEO

Jun 27, 2024

After a nationwide search, The Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST) has named Dan Kelleher as its next President and CEO, following the retirement of James McKenna, who served in the role for 42 years.

Most recently, Kelleher served as the Special Assistant for Economic Affairs at the New York State Adirondack Park Agency, where he assisted in the entitlements of more than $700 million in real estate development projects, established two programs to assist communities with economic development planning, and served on numerous local and regional economic and community development committees.  

In November of 2023, ROOST established a search committee comprising past and present Board members to lead the robust hiring process. Together with national search firm, SearchWide Global, 20 applications were received from across the country, with 8 interviewed for the position. This role is responsible for accomplishing the Destination Marketing and Management Organization’s (DMMO) efforts to market and communicate the attributes of the region, while ensuring measurable benefits to the communities served, including Essex County, Hamilton County, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake. 

Kelleher brings with him experience in both the public and private sector, serving in a variety of fields including market analysis, sales and marketing, business development, finance, government relations, and negotiation. In addition to his 12 years with the NYS Adirondack Park Agency, Kelleher previously served as the Business Development Manager for the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District. In this role, Kelleher helped attract over $43 million in private residential development that quadrupled the existing downtown housing stock and assisted in the recruitment of three high-growth technology firms.

In addition, Kelleher has founded two global enterprises based in the Adirondacks. As Co-Founder, Chief Financial Officer, and Board Member of Create Orthotics and Prosthetics, an angel-backed medical technology firm, Kelleher developed the sales and marketing strategies that led to distribution of the company’s software and hardware on six continents prior to being acquired by PVA Medical in 2019. The company’s technology is still in use across the world including at military hospitals in Ukraine. At Adirondack Field, an American-made apparel company, Kelleher has overseen product, positioning, and marketing strategies that have generated sales in 37 states (and use on all seven continents) and doubled revenue annually for the past three years.

Dan Kelleher, incoming president and CEO of ROOST, said: “I am exceptionally honored and humbled by the opportunity to lead this organization. I look forward to building upon ROOST’s already incredible work to further drive economic benefit for the residents and governments of Essex County, Hamilton County, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake. I am grateful for the opportunity to attract new residential, hospitality, and commercial development to the region while supporting the quality of life for those who already live here.” 

Active in the local community, Kelleher has volunteered his time as Chair of the Adirondack Health Foundation, Vice Chair of North Country Community College, Chair of Tendercare Tot Childcare Center, Treasurer of Barkeater Trails Alliance, and Board Member (Ex-Officio) of Adirondack Health.  

Kelleher has a Bachelor of Arts degree from SUNY Plattsburgh and a Master of Regional Planning degree with a Real Estate minor from Cornell University.  

Nick Politi, chair of ROOST’s Board of Directors, said: “The Board is grateful for the strong foundation built by James McKenna during his tenure. We are excited for our organization to continue this positive momentum under the leadership of Dan Kelleher. This decision positions ROOST for continued growth and success, working towards our mission ‘to enrich the lives of residents and visitors by creating a tourism economy that sustains itself over time – economically, socially and environmentally.’”

Sarah Wilson, search committee chair, said: “The search committee brought on the talent of a professional search firm to give national reach to the posting in order to find the best-fit candidate for our organization, and therefore, our communities. The committee was very impressed with the talent and enthusiasm of all applicants interviewed. Candidates were evaluated based on their ability to steer ROOST into its next chapter, build upon the foundation of previous leadership, and serve the needs of the region and its stakeholders. Dan Kelleher comes with a working knowledge of the Adirondack region and a strong business background, from which our communities will benefit.”

Chandler Ralph, vice chair of ROOST’s Board of Directors, said: “During the interview process, Dan presented market opportunities and strategies he believes can be capitalized upon to generate new visitation across the region. Dan’s commitment to growing and leveraging tourism’s impact to generate quality of life and service provision improvements for Adirondack residents is inspiring. We look forward to benefiting from his leadership.”

Kelleher reports to the Board of Directors of ROOST on all aspects of organizational operation. He will be responsible for leading the overall organization to meet and exceed the stated goals and objectives of the organization’s strategic plan. Kelleher will begin as President and CEO on July 15.