Hilina Ajakaiye: Ethiopian-born DEI champion growing Greater Boston tourism industry


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Hilina D. Ajakaiye, Executive Vice President of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau (Photo: R.I.S.E)

Hilina Ajakaiye brings more than 15 years of sales, marketing and operations expertise as well as an international perspective to her position at the GBCVB. A native of Ethiopia, she immigrated to the United States in 1987, perfected English as a second language, and simultaneously graduated with her high school diploma and an associate degree at age 17.  She went on to pursue her undergraduate studies at the University of Massachusetts and later earned her MBA in International Marketing Management from Northeastern University in 2017.

Responsible for growing Boston’s market share of visitors, Ajakaiye has specific oversight of the day-to-day operations across a variety of functions including: human resources, membership development, finance, leisure destination services (including two Visitor Information Centers), marketing and operations, operating budgets, financial practices and revenue generation.

Previously, Ajakaiye worked for more than 15 years for Ahold Delhaize, an international grocery retail company servicing more than 54 million shoppers weekly. She was promoted throughout her tenure, during which she led 150+ direct reports across 22 stores with 3,600+ employees and received national recognition for her success in leading multiple teams and overseeing an operating budget of $805 million in annual revenue. 

Ajakaiye is passionate about initiatives and causes to advance young women and women empowerment overall, especially in underserved communities. She has been called on to serve on The Network of Executive Women (NEW), as board director for Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Progreso Latino, as a board trustee for the Woodward School for Girls, and currently as co-chair for the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee for Destination International.

Ajakaiye is an inductee into the Big Brothers, Big Sisters “People We Admire” program and is a graduate of The Partnership, Inc.’s Leadership Program in Boston and of Leadership Rhode Island. She was named 2019 “Rhode Islander of the Year” by Rhode Island Monthly for her work as the Founder of the R.I.S.E. Women’s Leadership Conference.

Hilina Ajakaiye enjoys traveling and spending time with her two children and husband. 

Also Read: Navvi Arudem is redefining the African gaming culture


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