Destination marketing organization unveils inaugural Dr. Floyd Wilson, Jr. Destination Champion Award

Grand Rapids, Mich. – At its annual Toast the Town luncheon today, Experience Grand Rapids honored two local leaders for their powerful impact on the regional visitor economy and the community at large.

Kayem Dunn was the inaugural recipient of the Dr. Floyd Wilson, Jr. Destination Champion Award. She was honored for her exemplary role in developing the Grand Rapids/Kent County destination and for decades of service to the community, including serving as a member and past chair of the Experience Grand Rapids Board.

Dunn’s community engagement is extensive. She is on the Downtown Development Authority Board and was its first female chair. As vice chair of the DGRI Board of Directors, she was instrumental in bringing several organizations together under the DGRI umbrella, and she continues to serve on the board. Other current and past service includes member and chair of the Grand Rapids Downtown Market Board, board and executive committee member at the Grand Rapids Chamber, and member of the Grand River Network, Grand Rapids Urban League, Planned Parenthood - West Michigan, and Rotary Club of Grand Rapids boards.

Kayem Dunn was the inaugural recipient of the Dr. Floyd Wilson, Jr. Destination Champion Award.

Kayem Dunn was the inaugural recipient of the Dr. Floyd Wilson, Jr. Destination Champion Award.

Photo by Rich P Photography for Experience GR

“Kayem has been a strong leader and a wise voice for so many vital and visible initiatives in our community,” said Experience Grand Rapids President and CEO, Doug Small. “She was the natural choice to be the inaugural recipient of this very special award. Her passion for community is unparalleled. We are tremendously grateful for her leadership, creativity and generous spirit.”

EXGR initiated the award this year in honor of Wilson’s tremendous contributions to building Grand Rapids and Kent County as a visitor destination, including his service on the EXGR board and the boards of the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority, Gerald R Ford International Airport Authority and Samaritas. Wilson chaired the EXGR board during the pandemic, a time of unprecedented challenges in the hospitality and tourism industries.

He died in March of 2022, but his wife, Yolanda, and sons were on hand to present the award.

Kayem Dunn with the family of award namesake, Dr. Floyd Wilson, Jr

Kayem Dunn with the family of award namesake, Dr. Floyd Wilson, Jr

Photo by Rich P Photography for Experience GR

“Floyd cared deeply about our community and the people in it, and he never stopped trying to make things better,” said Small. “He was proud of what this destination and our organization accomplished, and, in turn, we are all very proud to pay tribute to Floyd with this namesake award.”

Small added a personal tribute in his luncheon remarks. “Floyd was my rock during the pandemic, providing invaluable advice and wisdom through all the challenges. I couldn’t have made it through that period without his kindness, guidance, solid friendship and unwavering support.”

Norina Cadili, General Manager of the JW Marriott

Joe Tomaselli Hotelier of the Year Award was presented to JW Marriott General Manager, Norina Cadili.

Photo by Rich P Photography

EXGR also awarded the Joe Tomaselli Hotelier of the Year Award to JW Marriott General Manager Norina Cadili. The award recognizes a hotelier who has enhanced the industry and made a lasting impact on Grand Rapids and Kent County. Nominations are made by their peers and the winner is selected by a jury of industry professionals and community leaders.

“Since joining the JW Marriott Grand Rapids staff 16 years ago, Norina has truly made her mark on her team and on Grand Rapids,” said Small. “She exemplifies the standard of excellence and commitment to community that are Joe Tomaselli’s legacies and that we honor with this award.”

Tomaselli served as the president of the Amway Hotel Corporation for 25 years and helped establish the region’s reputation as a first-class visitor destination. Cadili is the 11th recipient of the award, which was established in 2013. All but one honoree were present at the event.

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About Experience Grand Rapids

Established in 1927, Experience Grand Rapids (EXGR) leads the marketing of Grand Rapids/Kent County as a premier convention & visitor destination providing a significant positive impact to the West Michigan economy. Previously named the Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention & Visitors Bureau, EXGR represents the second largest city in Michigan with over one million residents.

CONTACT:  Amy LeFebre, Truscott Rossman | 616-450-4292 |   

Photos of the event by Rich P Photography