Press Release – 1.24.12


WASHINGTON STATE– The Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA) announced the addition of four new members to its board of directors: Kim Bennett, President & CEO of the Vancouver USA Regional Tourism Office; Cara Egan, Director of Public Relations at the Seattle Art Museum; Jennifer Leavitt, Vice President of Marketing for Kemper Development Company; and George Sharp, Executive Driector of the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau.

The newly appointed directors will join 18 other stakeholders in tourism marketing and industry advocacy who are concerned with a sustainable state tourism marketing program. WTA board members represent key tourism industry segments that include: lodging; destination marketing; attractions; restaurants and transportation.

Kim Bennett replaces the destination marketing position on the WTA board that was vacated by Tammy Blount earlier in this month. Bennett has led destination marketing programs in Vancouver, WA for more than a decade; she was hired to lead and help create the Southwest Washington Convention & Visitors Bureau in 1999. The organization became the Vancouver USA Regional Tourism Office, of which Bennett is President & CEO today.

Cara Egan assumes the arts and cultural position on the WTA board. Egan has served as Director of Public Relations at the Seattle Art Museum for more than ten years and has been responsible for communicatons around SAM’s downtown Seattle expansion, the opening of the Olympic Sculpture Park and major exhibitions of works by Picasso, Gaugin and more.

Jennifer Leavitt assumes the retail position on the WTA board. At Kemper Development Company, she manages a team of seven marketing professionals and combined budgets of more than $5 million associated with The Bellevue Collection, which includes Bellevue Square, Bellevue Place and Lincoln Square.

George Sharp replaces Frank Finneran’s at-large position on the WTA board. As Executive Director of the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater VCB, Sharp oversees implementation of marketing, public relations and product development to increase tourism revenue in Thurston County.

Prior to his current position,  Sharp was Marketing Manager for the International Trade and Economic Development Division of the Department of Commerce.

The WTA was formed in March 2011 in anticipation of the June 30 closure of the Washington State Tourism office. On July 1, the WTA became Washington State’s official tourism marketing organization and assumed ownership and operation of tourism office assets in order to preserve Washington’s tourism market share. Assets include the state tourism photo and video libraries, customer and client data bases, visitor collateral and the state tourism web site,

About the Washington Tourism Alliance

The WTA is a 501[c]6 organization with a mission to advocate, promote, develop and sustain the economic well being of the Washington tourism industry. The WTA was  established by industry stakeholders with the sole mission of sustaining Washington State destination tourism marketing. The WTA procures and administers funds for state destination tourism marketing activities and creates and implements a strategic statewide destination marketing plan. Visit to learn more.

Media Contact:

David Blandford
(206) 461-5806/