In the news: Hilina D. Ajakaiye
Hilina D. Ajakaiye, executive vice president of Meet Boston, has received a trailblazer award from the Boston Area Church League.
The League, a youth outreach program that uses baseball to promote educational excellence and equal opportunity, recognized Ajakaiye for her executive role at what was formerly known as the Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Ajakaiye, an Ethiopian immigrant, oversees human resources, partnership development, finance, leisure destination services and operations at Meet Boston. She leads initiatives in community engagement, workforce development, accessibility, and diversity, equity and inclusion.
She spearheads a partnership with Tourism Diversity Matters that is seeking to diversify the workforce of the travel and hospitality industry, particularly in the upper management and leadership ranks. The partnership is recognized by the U.S. Travel Association as the leading model of destination marketing organizations.
In addition, Ajakaiye is leading a transition from Meet Boston’s traditional membership structure to a partnership model. She has developed a private foundation that will allow the organization to pursue charitable work and community partnerships.
After arriving in the United States in 1987, Ajakaiye rapidly mastered English, earning a high school diploma and associate degree at 17. She received her bachelor’s degree in communications and English from UMass Dartmouth, before pursuing further studies at New York University, Cornell University and Northeastern University, where she earned an MBA in international marketing management.
Ajakaiye joined nonprofit Meet Boston in 2020 from Ahold Delhaize, the Dutch-Belgian multinational that owns Stop and Shop. There she managed an operating budget of $805 million in annual revenue.
She is the founder of R.I.S.E. Women’s Leadership Conference, for which Rhode Island Monthly named her “Rhode Islander of the Year” in 2019.
Ajakaiye serves on the Network of Executive Women, as a board director of Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Progreso Latino, and a trustee of Boston Arts Academy.