WTA Leadership

WTA Board of Directors

Shiloh Burgess– Executive Director, Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, Executive Committee, WTA Board 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.

Andi Day – Executive Director, Long Beach Peninsula Visitor’s Bureau, Executive Committee, WTA Board Vice-Chair

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.

Ron Peck – Director of Tourism, Port of Seattle, Executive Committee, WTA Board Secretary

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.

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

 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.

Bridget Baeth – Principal & Senior Adviser, JayRay

Bridget Baeth is a Principal at JayRay, where she provides creative marketing and strategic communications to destinations and tourism organizations across Washington state, in addition to clients in government and nonprofit industries. With over 15 years of experience, most of her career has been in tourism. Prior to joining JayRay in 2013, Bridget led marketing and communications at Travel Tacoma + Pierce County. Bridget is a proud alum of Pacific Lutheran University (go Lutes!) and serves on the board for the Children’s Museum of Tacoma. When Bridget isn’t mastering the art of roasting marshmallows with her daughter, she is deep in DIY projects and is always planning her next travel adventure.

Krista Bentley – National Accounts Director, Expedia Group Media Solutions

Krista Bentley brings more than nine years of online advertising industry experience and over 20 years in the travel and hospitality industry to her role as director of strategic accounts for Expedia Group Media Solutions, where she focuses on building integrated digital media campaigns for travel brands in the United States and Canada. Krista has worked with notable brands such as Brand USA, Hawaii Tourism Authority, San Diego Tourism, Travel Alberta, Destination BC and more.  Krista previously served as a director with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in Hawaii and Vancouver, BC where she worked on growing transient, wholesale and online business.  Krista started her career in hospitality with Rocky Mountaineer as the Japanese speaking onboard attendant.  Currently living in Seattle, Krista likes to spend her free time traveling and exploring the world.

Tommy Farris – Owner, Olympic Hiking Company

After growing up on the Olympic Peninsula, Tommy Farris’ passion for the outdoors and entrepreneurship inspired him to launch the Olympic Hiking Company in 2016 based in his hometown of Port Angeles, WA. In what started as a college project at the University of Washington Foster School of Business, Tommy built Olympic Hiking Co. from the ground up, scaling his business into a commercially authorized guided hiking tour and shuttle company that operates throughout Olympic National Park. Each year, Olympic Hiking Co. facilitates group hiking tours, backpacker trailhead shuttles, custom private tours, and corporate events for over 1,000 individual clients and businesses. Tommy employs a team of experienced naturalist hiking guides and is an active participant with the Olympic Peninsula Tourism Commission and local chambers of commerce. His mission for tourism marketing is to help travelers connect with the wonderful array of outdoor recreation businesses across Washington State to experience authentic, memorable, and sustainable adventures in the outdoors.

Elizabeth McGree – Vice President, JEM Development Real Estate, Inc. 

Elizabeth “Liz” Morrier Mcgree comes from four generation of Yakima Valley hop farmers. She is Vice President of Morrier Ranch, the Morrier family’s 500+ acre hop farm that produces six distinct hop varieties which have won numerous industry quality awards. Additionally, as Vice President of JEM Development Real Estate, Inc, she leads a team that leases custom office spaces, and manages hotels. She oversaw the development of the Historic Maison, which has been recognized by the National Historic Registry. She is also extremely active in the community, sitting on boards for Heritage University, the Washington Hop Commission, and the Yakima Tourism Board.

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.”

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.

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.

Meg Winchester – CEO & President, Visit Spokane

Meg Winchester, CMP joined Visit Spokane in January 2019 as President and CEO.  Prior to coming to Spokane Meg was the Director at the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau since 2006. Meg oversaw a staff of 17 sales and marketing professionals welcoming over 7 million tourists to Galveston, Texas each year. Meg brought decades of convention sales and marketing experience to her role with Visit Spokane.  Before joining the GICVB, Meg worked with the Greater Houston CVB and the San Diego CVB sales teams.  During her career she has been involved throughout the tourism industry with partnerships and innovative collaborations with both clients and peers. Meg attained her Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation in 1998 and has been an active member of Destinations International and PCMA as well as industry associations throughout her career.  She is involved with many non-profit organizations and is a Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA). Meg graduated from Southwest Texas State University with a BA in Journalism.  She is a dedicated runner, outdoor enthusiast and avid traveler. 

WTA Staff

David Blandford – Executive Director

 David Blandford is Executive Director of the Washington Tourism Alliance. Previously as Senior Vice President, Public Affairs of Visitor Seattle, he oversaw public policy, industry advocacy, government relations, crisis communications and strategic 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.

Mike Moe – Director of Strategic Partnerships and Tourism Development

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, first working on steamboats 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. He joined the WTA in 2012 and after 7 years of working to help pass tourism marketing legislation, Mike loves playing a part in showcasing Washington to the world.  He now lives in Seattle with his wife Shannon, son Kieran, daughter Mazie, 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.

Michelle Thana – Director of Marketing

Michelle joined WTA in 2021. A relatively new Washingtonian, Michelle has lived in the Pacific Northwest her entire life and grew up in Portland, Oregon. Her career in tourism began at Travel Portland, where she spent nearly five years working on from consumer marketing. From there, she hopped the river to lead the marketing team at Visit Vancouver USA from 2019 – 2021. Michelle is excited to help tell Washington’s story on a larger stage and bring her experience in consumer marketing to the team at this exciting point for tourism in the state.