2013 Forty Under 40: Chris T. Gahl

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“One thing that’s been instilled in me is servant-leadership. What I hope to do is continue mentoring other younger leaders, making sure they stay in our community.”

Age: 35

Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Visit Indy

Chris Gahl is passionate about his hometown. As vice president of marketing and communication for Visit Indy, he turns his enthusiasm loose on meeting planners and travel professionals, showing them the best Indianapolis has to offer, which was on display for millions in 2012 during Super Bowl XLVI.

At the height of the Super Bowl hoopla, he and his staff of nine worked with the national and international media as they threw their spotlight on the city.

“To think that we not only won the bid, but successfully hosted a Super Bowl” is extremely rewarding, said Gahl, who studied communications at Butler University.

He also led the city’s bid to host the Society of American Travel Writers annual convention. Landing the gathering, which has met in some of the world’s most desirable destinations, from New Zealand to Switzerland, was another publicity coup. More than 250 travel journalists descended on the city in September, checking out the local flavors that will be featured in print and broadcast stories for months to come.

Gahl also spearheaded the year-long research into rebranding the former Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, which has been around since 1923, as Visit Indy.

“We’re marketing it as that hospitable yet hip place to visit,” said Gahl, who honed his tourism skills for five years in Hawaii, where he became part owner of a boutique travel agency. The islands will always have a strong connection for him, but when he and his wife, Catherine, decided to start a family, they returned to Indianapolis in 2005.

The city’s tourism agency appealed to his desire to promote the city he loved. He also serves on several boards, including Heartland Truly Moving Pictures, and ones for Butler’s alumni and College of Communication.

“It’s been incredibly rewarding to see our city grow,” said Gahl, who also instills a love of the islands to his sons, Kanoa and Kai.•



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