Few men know Rhode Island -- especially the Blackstone River Valley -- as well as Robert Billington. But unlike most people who simply hold memories of the places where they were born and raised, Robert has made promoting his home his life’s work.
As the founder and president of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, Robert has transformed the mill towns of the Valley, once the center of the Industrial Revolution, into vibrant centers of commerce, tourism and the arts. He worked with the National Parks Service to develop the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, oversaw the building of a 12,000-square foot visitor center, and encouraged the rehabilitation of main streets throughout the region. Billington's efforts have had a notable impact on tourism and job growth throughout the area, and he is an internationally-recognized expert in community development.
Robert has spoken in countries the world over about tourism development, and has hosted leaders such as the president of Taiwan, and former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) at the Tourism Council’s home in Pawtucket. While his work has taken him around the globe, he remains the happiest when returning home to his neighbors and friends throughout northern Rhode Island.
Robert has maintained a long, prosperous relationship with JWU, having earned bachelors degrees in management and marketing, an MBA, and his doctorate in educational leadership at the Providence Campus. Additionally, he has served as a professor in the graduate program, and worked to develop an experiential learning laboratory for tourism development.