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Durso to leave hotel association for a 'new chapter in my life'

The Hotel Association of Washington, D.C., announced Tuesday that longtime president Emily Durso would step down at the end of November, leading to speculation that she's headed for a job in the administration of presumptive mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray.

In the news release about her impending departure and the appointment of vice president Solomon Keene as interim leader, Durso said, "No one could ever have a better job than representing the hotel industry in Washington D.C. It is with some sadness that I leave after all these years but with great enthusiasm and happiness that I look forward to a new chapter in my life."

But does that new chapter include a Gray administration? "I don't know," Durso said in an e-mail. "Only thing I really know is I am no longer HAWDC President after Nov 30."

Durso, who has headed the hotel association since 1990, said she will serve on Gray's transition and inaugural teams as a volunteer. The Gray campaign, which still has to get through next week's general election, has been reluctant to make any announcements about the transition, saying it would be premature.

"I want to serve on education but who knows, could be economic development," Durso said.

Durso is credited with leading the hotel association's involvement in establishing a hospitality charter school to prepare high school students for jobs in the industry and Destination D.C., as well as the construction of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Durso also encouraged the development of the convention center hotel, which, after several false starts, is slated to break ground on Nov. 10. The project brings into focus the city's effort to strengthen its position as a destination for large-scale conventions. During Destination D.C.'s annual marketing outlook in August, Gray vowed to establish a public-private investment fund to support the city's tourism efforts. Some speculate what role Durso would play, if the presumptive mayor were to follow through on that promise.

--Nikita Stewart and Danielle Douglas

By Nikita R Stewart  | October 26, 2010; 12:40 PM ET
Categories:  Nikita Stewart, Vincent C. Gray, vincent gray  | Tags:  Emily Durso; Vincent Gray; hotel association; destination dc; transition; administration  
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