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PayPal Buyer Denise Truso Elected GBTA Board President

PayPal travel manager Denise Truso has been elected to a two-year term as president of the Global Business Travel Association’s board of directors, the association announced during its annual business meeting Tuesday. Truso has been acting as board president since the former elected official Bhart Sarin abruptly left the office in April. 

In her campaign statements, Truso concentrated on the health of the organization and vowed to bring financial and decision-making transparency to the forefront in regular open-to-members townhall meetings with the GBTA board of directors. She also promised to build upon the organization’s recent push toward globalization and inclusiveness. UBS global head of travel Mark Cuschieri ran uncontested for the vice president role on the GBTA board, and was also elected to a two-year term. 

GBTA voters, which now include both buyer and supplier members, turned to some existing board representatives—or interim representatives—when given the option. Current allied director at-large Will Pinnell, who is VP of digital and product strategy for BCD Travel, renewed his seat on the board for a final term. Pinnell played a leadership role in crafting the bylaw revisions to re-introduce term limits.

Voters also gave the go-ahead to American Airlines chief customer officer Alison Taylor, who was appointed to the board in December to fill the vacant vice president role on the organization’s Allied Leadership Council, and who now will hold an allied director at-large role. New to the board in the third open allied director at-large seat this cycle is PredictX vice president of customer success Maria Chevalier, whose campaign promises leaned into professional development issues as well as diversity, equity and inclusion in the managed travel industry. The allied at-large director with the most votes will choose either a two-year or three-year term. There is one two-year term available and two three-year terms among the at-large seats in this cycle. According to a GBTA spokesperson, the allied at-large winners have been informed and those decisions are being made. 

BNY Mellon managing director and head of corporate services, travel and events Mick Lee landed the only direct-member board seat available in this election cycle. Lee is the founder of WinIt, an association she sold to GBTA in 2018 and for which she continues to serve as vice chair. Her campaign platforms focused on driving up to the C-suite the value of business travel as a business enabler and return-to-travel strategies. She also emphasized the importance of GBTA’s role in forming recruitment programs to attract workers back to the travel industry as a whole. Voters chose Lee over the re-election candidate Facebook’s Erin Wilk. Lee will serve a two-year term. 

GBTA’s newly expanded board included direct member regional seats for both Canada and Europe. The Canadian seat, which was uncontested, went to Rogers Communications category manager for travel and events Sharlene Ketwaroo-Nanoo, who is a founding member of the organization’s new DE&I committee and whose campaign focused on hope for a more inclusive future for GBTA. LEO Pharma manager of global travel and meetings Jens Liltorp prevailed in the Europe race for the regional seat. His platform urged GBTA to break down the current siloes between the U.S. and other regions to create a more globalized information exchange and dialog among GBTA community members. Ketwaroo-Nanoo will serve a two-year term; Liltorp will serve a three-year term.

Rosemary Maloney, global travel and expense lead for Sprinklr, was elected president of the Chapter Presidents’ Council. 

Some members were disappointed with the results—saying they lacked enough change at the top to drive a meaningful shift in the organization’s direction. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a longtime member and former board director reached out to BTN. 

“It is pleasing to see that there is more global representation on the board; however, with the events that happened last year, it is disappointing to see that there is not change at the helm,” which the member called to task as complicit in GBTA’s prior organizational failures. “I believed that change would drive GBTA to the next level; based on these results, I am not sure that is really possible.”

GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang, however, emphasized during the organization’s business meeting that 29 percent of eligible members voted in the online elections, which is a banner turnout for GBTA. In a statement, she praised the revamp of GBTA bylaws that expanded voting rights to suppliers, rather than only buyers, and which renewed term limits for board members and expanded the organization’s global representation. 

“In this election, for the first time ever, both buyer and supplier members could vote for all seats. For the first time, we have global voting representation and officers placed on the new board,” Neufang said. “These are amazing firsts that bode well for the future of our association, and the members and constituencies whom GBTA serves,” she said.

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