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AMLA takes new approach in tackling workforce demands for the tourism industry

The Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association (AMLA) announces the hiring of Craig Johnston as director of workforce development training and advocacy.

Johnston has over 25 years of experience working as a senior leader in various areas of corporate and community leadership, leadership coaching, corporate training and development and quality management, and was most recently the president and CEO of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce.

The newly-created position will focus on setting and achieving the AMLA’s long-term vision to help develop the workforce within the tourism industry. Johnston will be responsible for the development and implementation of various training programs and certifications to help improve the overall competencies, effectiveness and behavioral results that directly impact the tourism industry in North Alabama. He assumes his new responsibilities March 4, 2022.

Johnston will work collaboratively with President/CEO Tami Reist in setting and achieving the organization’s long-term vision of workforce development within the 16 northernmost counties in the state of Alabama. Duties include planning, formulating and recommending to the President/CEO training programs or coaching opportunities that will further the objectives of AMLA, developing and implementing various training programs and certifications using various methodologies individually and through partnerships with other organizations, local universities or colleges and various Alabama workforce development teams and implementing and maintaining effective analysis methods to monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of all training or coaching programs presented or developed.

“One of my long-term goals has been to establish a credited training program for the North Alabama hospitality industry,” said Reist. “Customer service expectations are at an all-time high and the Covid-19 pandemic has made it extremely difficult to find and retain good workers. Creating this position will allow us to keep workforce development in the forefront and offer our members another service. Craig has a long track record of executive management experience and corporate recruiting with a proven ability to inspire results by engaging people, leading change, valuing diversity and shaping organizational culture. He has been a certified trainer for many years and with his knowledge of the tourism industry, I know he will be a perfect fit to lead in this effort. Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association is excited for Craig to join our team.”

Johnston comes to AMLA from the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce where he was responsible for directing and managing the association of over 250 businesses and business professionals with a focus on building new partnerships and the generation of new economic development and growth throughout Lawrence County. During this time, he also served as a leadership development consultant for the Entrepreneurial Center of North Alabama, and prior as the training and development manager/quality manager for Harte Hanks, Inc. where he managed training and quality assurance teams for a $35M+ account in Austin and Texarkana sites and oversaw a group of 16 trainers and 12 quality control agents and over 2,600 contact center agents. He currently serves as leadership, learning and development consultant/owner for Consult1, his own consulting company.

“Putting my focus, experience, talents and skills into an effort that bears such relevance and significance in today’s ever-changing world of business is most important,” said Johnston. “The tourism industry has grown exponentially during the Covid-19 pandemic, forcing changes to the way companies do business, deliver services and experiences and meet the needs of their daily customers. While challenges to hire have in fact risen, the tourism industry is made up of so many varied types of businesses full of energetic, strong-willed, resilient people who truly love what they do. What we hope to do is enhance their lives, and careers, by bringing them the additional training needed to help them build stronger skills, accomplish more and ultimately achieve the success they want in the industry. When you drive the success of an individual upward, the business generally moves with them. I am excited about this opportunity to serve this great organization and the communities we serve.”

Johnston is also Senior Pastor of Life Center Fellowship church in Moulton, which he founded in 2020, and currently resides in Town Creek, Ala. He can be reached by email at craig@northalabama.orgor via phone at 256-445-2011.

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