Walking down the street in 1979 in Italy, I heard a young boy singing the famous Sister Sledge tune “We Are Family”—it had just been released that spring.

Even though English wasn’t his first language, he shared the joy in the song, and somehow all of us hearing him suddenly were part of a new family and we all smiled at each other. It felt like a moment where we all connected. The kind of thing you remember from a trip, even 40+ years later.

Fast forward to 2023. We are all interconnected across every possible channel and platform. We consume content and connect digitally in ways that have almost no geographic boundaries, and while that’s great, sometimes it feels like we lose something.

That’s why it meant so much to me this week to connect face to face with so many of my “work family” from across the years and around the globe. Attending the Destinations International 2023 Annual Convention, REIMAGINE, in Dallas, Texas was truly an epic week for the destination organizations that drive economic impact worldwide through travel and tourism. Thank you, Destinations International, and congrats to the entire team on a great event!

Yes, great educational sessions—and I was so excited to share the stage with Hilina D. Ajakaiye from Meet Boston and Judy Cullen from Visit Salt Lake to talk about partnership programs. Yes, amazing events—including GREAT music. And yes, a stellar city, Dallas, who really hit it out of the park. But what filled my heart and refreshed my personal and professional outlook most was the chance to connect and reconnect in person with so many longtime and new friends.

We all have our own families that we are born into, and families that we join with ours as our lives progress, but for me, my work family is a key part of this picture. So glad to have this week with so many amazing people.

We ARE family!