Nancy Gard McGehee, head of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Managementin the Pamplin College of Business, has been recognized as one of the “Top Women in Travel” by Women in Travel and Tourism International (WITTI).

McGehee was honored as an “Outstanding Woman in Travel Research,” one of only three award recipients in that category.

“The awards are the first of their kind in which women are honoring their peers for outstanding contributions to the travel and tourism industry,” a WITTI release noted.

“It’s important to highlight the very significant contributions of women working in travel and tourism today,” said Laura Mandala, founder of the Washington, D.C.-based WITTI and CEO of Mandala Research. “These champions of travel and tourism are not only advancing their companies and the industry, but are also mentoring and recruiting the next generation of travel professionals.”

McGehee was nominated by a colleague in the industry. More than 80 nominations were received for the 12 award categories. The winners were chosen by a panel of their peers.

A faculty member at Virginia Tech since 2001, McGehee conducts research on rural tourism development and volunteer tourism management. She is among the top 5-10 percent of scholars worldwide in these two areas, based on citations of her work.

Her two decades of research in rural tourism development have included work in sustainable enterprise and innovation in tourism. She is particularly interested in the role of social capital as a catalyst for the cultivation and success of other forms of capital in rural tourism development.

McGehee is an advocate for the use of social movement theory as a foundation for fostering tourism that is economically sustainable for host communities. Her research has taken her to such countries as Croatia, Mexico, New Zealand, Haiti, Australia, and Portugal.

She was recognized for her accomplishments with the university’s 2014 Alumni Award for Excellence in International Research.

McGehee received a Ph.D. and a master’s degree from Virginia Tech, a master’s degree from North Carolina State University, and a bachelor’s degree from Marshall University.