WTA Leadership

WTA Board of Directors

David Blandford – Senior Vice President, Public Affairs Visit Seattle  Executive Committee, WTA Board Co-Chair

 David Blandford is Senior Vice President, Public Affairs Visitor Seattle, where he oversees public policy, industry advocacy, government relations, crisis communications and strategic communications. He previously served as Vice President, Communications for several years where he led the public relations department and directs many aspects of organizational communications. His career in tourism began with statewide travel promotion, running press trips throughout Washington and working closely with the state tourism office on destination PR programs. Blandford currently serves on the Communications Committee of the U.S. Travel Association and previously was President of the Puget Sound Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and served on the board of directors of the Society of American Travel Writers.

Shiloh Burgess– Executive Director, Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, Executive Committee, WTA Board Co-Chair

Shiloh Burgess is the Executive Director of the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce (WVCC) whose mission is to champion the Valley’s quality of life and economic vitality through collaborative leadership and sound business advocacy.  Prior to joining the Chamber in 2013, Shiloh served as the executive legislative assistant for Retired State Senator Linda Evans Parlette for ten years. She was recognized in 2010 by the Wenatchee Business World as one of the best and brightest leaders under the age of 35, and then in 2013 as the Wenatchee Valley Business Women of the Year. Shiloh currently serves as Co-Chair for the Washington State Tourism Alliance (WTA). Prior to this, she served as the WTA’s Vice Chair (2018), and the Legislative Chair (2016-18). During her time as Legislative Chair, Shiloh was instrumental in securing the legislation and supporting budget appropriation to re-establish a statewide tourism marketing program.  Shiloh is also a past board member of the Association of Washington Business, and former member of their executive board. In 2014, Shiloh was appointed to serve as a member of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on State Parks and Outdoor Recreation in 2014. She has also served as a member of the Governor’s Outdoor Recreation Policy Advisory Committee since 2015.

Andy Olson – Vice President, Columbia Hospitality                                        Executive Committee, Past Chair

 Andrew Olsen has over forty years of varied experience in the hospitality and leisure industries.  His background includes property and asset management, market research and financial analysis, expert testimony, and receiverships and trusteeships. Mr. Olsen has been an Adjunct faculty member at the Washington State University School of Hospitality Business Management.  He is currently on the Advisory Board for Washington State University’s School of Hospitality Business Management, a Board member of the Lynnwood Public Facilities District in Lynnwood, and Immediate Past Chair of the Washington Tourism Alliance. Mr. Olsen is a member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants and the Cornell Hotel Society.  He is also past chair of the Board of Directors of the Washington Lodging Association. Mr. Olsen received his B.S. degree from the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University.

 

Skip Thompson – Director of Airline Marketing Services, Boeing          Executive Committee, Secretary

 As Director of Airline Marketing Services, Skip Thompson is responsible for building a preference for Boeing products with airline customers, global airline alliances, the travel trade and the premium passenger segment.  Focused on airline and leasing customers in Europe, Thompson leads the marketing consultation with Boeing’s airline customers to drive innovative marketing solutions and to maximize customer revenues and yields. Prior to his current role, Skip was a Sales Director for Boeing in the Middle East & Africa region.   In this role, Skip worked extensively with Boeing airline customers at all levels including aircraft acquisition, marketing, scheduling, finance and other strategic areas.  Before to his sales role, Skip led a new team within Boeing which was created to cooperate with new startup airlines around the globe and assist them toward launching service. Skip has his undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University in Economics and International Politics.  He currently resides in Seattle, Washington.

Julie Eisenhauer – Shareholder, Audit & Assurance,                        Clark Nuber      Executive Committee, Treasurer

Julie Eisenhauer has a passion for the hospitality and tourism industry. As a shareholder in Clark Nuber’s audit practice, Julie provides audit assurance and advisory services to privately owned companies in the hospitality and real estate industries.   She is a trusted advisor to her clients, advising them on best practices for strengthening their internal controls and operational processes and keeping them abreast on changes in financial reporting standards and regulations.  Julie is actively involved in the hospitality industry, participating on committees, attending events and presenting on topics specific to the industry.  She currently serves as a board member on the Bellevue Downtown Association and is a committee member on the Washington Hospitality Association Editorial Committee.  Julie received her B.S degree in accounting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

 

Kevin Clark – CEO & President of Argosy Cruises

 Kevin Clark has served on the Washington Tourism Alliance board since 2011 representing the State’s Attractions industry.  Kevin and his wife Cary own and operate Argosy Cruises, which operates a fleet of vessels providing daily tours of Elliott Bay and surrounding Lakes, private charters, ferry service and community special events.   Since 2009 their company has operated on behalf of the Washington State Parks Commission ferry service to Blake Island State Park and the island’s dining and cultural center, Tillicum Village. Kevin’s focus has been the promotion of a statewide tourism nationally and internationally as an effective tool to for economic growth. He has been an active member of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Visit Seattle, Puget Sound Economic Development Council and various industry/civic groups.

John Cooper – President & CEO, Visit Yakima Valley

John Cooper graduated from the University of Oregon and is a graduate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute of Organization Management at U.C.L.A.  He has been with the Yakima Valley Tourism since June 2007.  Prior to that, he was CEO of Bellingham/Whatcom County Tourism. Past professional jobs include being Executive Director of the Southern Oregon Visitors Association and the Corvallis Convention and Visitors Bureau. Cooper has served on a number of industry and community boards including the Yakima Rotary and Downtown Association of Yakima boards plus is a past-president of the Western Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus.  In recognition of his work, over the years John was named Executive of the Year by the Washington Society of Association Executives, Tourism Professional of the Year by the Washington State Tourism office and Tourism Concierge by the WA Wine Commission. Outside work John loves to travel, hiking the trails of the Cascades and is an artist for chalk art festivals in the region.

Andi Day – Executive Director, Long Beach Peninsula Visitor’s Bureau

Andi Day is the Executive Director of Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau serving Pacific County in the very southwest corner of Washington State. Andi’s extensive and diverse experience in small business, nonprofit management and marketing have been a great fit for the Long Beach Peninsula area.  She has implemented new marketing technology, and together with the board of directors, promotes an overall strategy based on sustainable tourism, maximizing positive results from limited resources. She brings this same approach into regional and state tourism marketing through her involvement and service on the board of Washington State Destination Marketing Organizations and Washington Tourism Alliance.

Dan Moore – Founder, Pandion Consulting

Dan Moore has served on the Washington Tourism Alliance board since 2011 representing Adventure Travel and Outdoor Recreation. He applied to join the board because he firsthand experienced the benefit of statewide tourism marketing while COO of regional adventure tour company Evergreen Escapes. The elimination of Washington State Tourism inspired Dan to get involved. In 2014 Dan opened Pandion Consulting & Facilitation, a travel industry consultancy. Pandion’s mission is to raise the standards, quality, and sustainability of the travel industry. Pandion specializes in rural tourism development and helping communities tap into adventure and experiential tourism markets – growing tourism sectors. Dan is a member of the faculty for Adventure EDU, the education and consulting arm of the Adventure Travel Trade Association. He also teaches Ecotourism, Adventure Travel, and Guide Training at Peninsula College in Washington State. He is a founding chair of the Governing Board of the International Adventure Travel Guide Qualifications and Performance Standard.

Mary Kay Nelson – Marketing Director, White Pass Scenic Byway program and South Cascade Loop

Mary Kay Nelson has served as a professional in tourism marketing and non-profit organizational management for over 20 years in Washington State.  Nelson began her extensive career in tourism by building strategic partnerships with businesses and other non-profit organizations as well as governmental agencies.  She started the Lewis County Visitor and Convention Bureau and created a regional marketing effort for the Southwest Washington Region. Since then, Nelson has gone on to become active in Washington Scenic Byways program successfully creating the White Pass Scenic Byway program and South Cascade Loop, where she continues to serve as the Marketing Director. Nelson served 12 years with the Federally appointed Resource Advisory Committee for the Department of Agriculture and the Gifford Pinchot Forest Service. She was active in the Mt. St Helens Advisory Board and assisted in the anniversary memorial commemoration for Mt. St. Helens.  In 2005, the Visit Rainier organization was created with Mary Kay serving as the founding Executive Director. She served Visit Rainier for 11 years working with the National Park Service, Pierce and Lewis Counties. Nelson also serves on the Board of Directors for the Chehalis Centralia Railroad and Museum, a tourist excursion train located halfway between Seattle and Portland serving thousands of tourists each year.  Nelson is a lifelong outdoorsman and loves hiking in the Mt Rainier area taking pride in knowing the native wildflowers and trees of the Pacific Northwest.

 

Michael Novakovich – President and CEO, Visit Tri-Cities

Michael Novakovich is President and CEO of Visit Tri-Cities. He grew up supporting tourism related businesses, starting work for his family’s graphic communications company at the ripe old age of 10. While new to the DMO world, he is a tireless advocate for tourism and a champion of community. He holds an MBA from Washington State University with a graduate certificate in Marketing. He also graduated summa cum laude with a degree in business administration from WSU. Michael has over 25 years of professional leadership and management experience with a focus on strategy and marketing, continually leading teams to international, national and regional award recognition for marketing initiatives and strategic endeavors. He has served as an adjunct professor of marketing for Heritage University. Michael and his wife Shannon own a business consultancy called NovaWerx, which focuses on leadership development​, strategy, marketing, public relations, human resources and customer service. He and Shannon have called the Tri-Cities home for many years and are the proud parents of two boxers named Marciano and Primo, who they refer to as, “The Boys.”

Ron Peck – Director of Tourism, Port of Seattle

A Washingtonian, Ron’s career started with Alaska Airlines.  From 1977 until 1996 he served in a variety of sales and marketing positions.  From 1996 until 2001 he was Director of marketing and sales for Princess Tours.  After a short stint at Alyeska Ski Resort, in 2002 he became President of the Alaska Travel Industry Association (ATIA).  For 10.5 years he successfully led the organization through periods of challenge, recovery and growth.  He oversaw a marketing budget that reached $16 million.  While at ATIA he served on the US Travel Association Board of Directors, was tourism co-chair for the Taiwan Alaska Trade Investment Corporation Council, served on the Alaska Medallion Air Safety Foundation and was a member of the National Parks Conservation Association, Alaska. In 2013 he accepted the Executive Director position for Visit Walla Walla. In 2016 Ron took on the position of Director of Tourism Development for the Port of Seattle.

Christina Pivarnik – Marketing Director, City of Port Townsend

Christina Pivarnik has owned her marketing and communications business for 28 years, working with over 50 firms on the local, regional, national and international level, specializing in tourism. She has been the contracted Director of Marketing for the City of Port Townsend for 10 years and on contract with the Port of Seattle’s International Tourism Development since 2014. She has served on the board of the Washington Tourism Alliance, since July 2011. Pivarnik is a member of the Olympic Peninsula Tourism Commission and a founding board member of the Olympic Culinary Loop, serving as president in 2016 and 2017. She was on the board for EDC Team Jefferson for 12 years and is a past president for the Port Townsend Chamber of Commerce (now the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce). She was the co-owner of Christina James Winery with her husband for 9 years and also works as a freelance travel writer.

Peter Schrappen – Vice President & Director of Government Affairs, Northwest Marine Trade Association

When Peter is not daydreaming about previous places he’s visited, you can find him at the Northwest Marine Trade Association. He serves as the Vice President and Director of Government Affairs for this trade association, which represents the state’s $4 billion boating industry. He’s a big believer in associations and recently became a Certified Association Executive. Before his time at NMTA, he spent time working for and then lobbying the state legislature. He serves on several boards and commissions, including board chair of the Big Tent Coalition (which represents the state’s $28 billion outdoor recreation economy) and the Washington Maritime Federation, which speaks for the Evergreen State’s $38 billion overall-maritime business community. When it comes to traveling, he loves visiting Yellowstone and the San Juan Islands.

Shaun Tucker – General Manager, Alderbrook Resort

Shaun always thought he would have a career as a mathematics educator, but his real passion pointed him in the direction of the hospitality industry. Born in Bellingham, Washington and raised in a small town just a few miles north, Shaun began his career in the restaurant business at the early age of 14.  After graduating high school, he attended the University of Washington and then transferred to Arizona State University.  While attending college, he worked at the critically acclaimed Royal Palms Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, where he fell in love with destination properties. Since 1999, Shaun has worked for several properties around the northwest including, the Semiahmoo Resort, Willows Lodge, Bellevue Club, Cave B Inn and the Alderbrook Lodge. In June 2008, he returned to Willows Lodge as General Manager.  After almost 4 years, Shaun rejoined Alderbrook Resort & Spa as the General Manager. New challenges are the fuel that keeps him going.  Taking care of people and seeing the positive reactions he gets from customers are deeply gratifying to Shaun. Tucker, his wife and 2 kids reside in Olympia, WA.

Sandy Ward – President & CEO, Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism

Sandy Ward is a 30+ year veteran of the travel, tourism and hospitality industry.  She most recently served as the sales and marketing director for the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour for the past 12 years. She was previously appointed by Washington’s Governor Christine Gregiore to serve as a member of the Washington State Tourism Commission. She has also served as a director on the board for the National Council of Attractions, which is part of the US Travel Association (formerly known as TIA). She is a member of the Puget Sound Attractions Council, and of the WTA (Washington Tourism Alliance) long-term funding and advocacy committee. Ward has also held positions as executive director of the Kitsap Peninsula Visitor and Convention Bureau and the founding executive director of the Ogden, Utah Convention and Visitor Bureau and the four-county Golden Spike Empire Travel Region in Utah.

Steve Warner – President & CEO, Washington Wine Commission

Steve Warner was appointed as President & CEO of the Washington State Wine Commission in February 2012. Steve came to the Commission from Merck & Co., Inc., where he was the Managing Director based in Bucharest, Romania. Prior to that, he held General Manager and marketing positions in global and regional marketing in the Asia Pacific region and led teams while living in Seoul, South Korea; Bangkok, Thailand; and several domestic markets. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in biology, Steve holds a Master of Business Administration degree in international business and finance from Rutgers University. Born and raised in eastern Washington State, Steve graduated from West Seattle High School before serving in the United States military’s Special Operations Command, first as a Sergeant in Para rescue and then as a Lieutenant Commander in U.S. Navy Special Operations.

Ron Williams – Executive Director, Visit Walla Walla

Ron Williams is an enthusiastic newcomer to the world of destination marketing, with just two years under his belt at Visit Walla Walla. But with a strong background in project management, hospitality management and nonprofit arts management, he is well-versed in the skills required for the job. With a degree from Occidental College in Los Angeles, Ron worked in theater and film management for many years, in Los Angeles, Orlando (Disney), New York, and eventually Rome, Italy.  As an independent contractor, he made a living along the way working in restaurants, resorts, Wall Street firms, editing rooms, dubbing studios and as on camera talent in film and television. On the set of a film shooting in Greece, he met his life partner, Raffaele Exiana. They both lived and worked in Rome, and eventually moved back to the states, settling in Seattle. There they ran an architectural design and construction firm for a decade.  Sunshine, wine and real estate development brought them to Walla Walla, where Ron transitioned to managing a large winery (Waterbrook), then a resort in the Columbia Gorge, then a nonprofit theater company. With a nudge from the outgoing director of Visit Walla Walla, Ron applied for the job, and was chosen to lead the DMO. He finds destination marketing an exciting and dynamic business, where every day presents new challenges and opportunities. He is happy to be managing a destination at the center of the universe: Walla Walla, WA!

WTA Staff

Mike Moe – Managing Director

Mike is a Washingtonian through-and-through. Born in Spokane, he grew up on Tiger Mountain, 30 minutes east of Seattle. After high school, Mike fell in love with the tourism industry, working on steamboat cruise boats up and down the Mississippi River. His tourism career has taken him around the world. Among his many jobs, he was a  photographer, a maitre’ d, and an overland tour guide in South America. In 2012, he was the second employee to join the WTA. After 6 years of working to help pass tourism marketing legislation, Mike can’t wait to play a part in showcasing Washington to the world.  He now lives in Seattle with his wife Shannon, son Kieran, and dog Pacha.

Diana Thibado – Director of Operations

Diana joined the WTA in 2014 as the Operations Manager. Growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, she dreamed of finding somewhere green and close to the coast to settle down. She attended Auburn University and graduated with a B.A. in Communication. While in Alabama, Diana had the opportunity to work for a growing therapeutic horseback riding farm and discovered her love of nonprofit work. After college she lived in Washington DC and received a J.D. from American University’s Washington College of Law. Diana moved to Washington State in 2009, finally finding the cool climate and stunning views she’d been seeking. She is a member of the Washington State Bar Association and lives in Seattle with her husband Jason and their son Sebastian. As someone who first came to the state as a visitor and made it her home, Diana loves exploring the PNW and sharing the beauty of Washington with others.