Three industry veterans inducted into Tourism Hall of Leadership

SEATTLE (October 18, 2022) – State of Washington Tourism inaugurated a new award program last week at its conference, conferring recognitions for Outstanding Marketing Campaign, Rising Star in Tourism, and Destination Stewardship. Three industry veterans were also inducted into the new Tourism Hall of Leadership.

The awards and inductions were announced at the State of Washington Tourism Conference on October 11-12 at the Hilton Seattle Airport & Conference Center. Approximately 325 industry professionals from across the state attended. The conference opened with a message from Governor Jay Inslee and featured a keynote address by public television host and travel guidebook author Rick Steves.

The award for Outstanding Marketing Program or Campaign was presented to Union Gap Tourism for its #SmallTownTourismChat campaign. Eric Patrick, the marketing and tourism director, accepted on behalf of the organization. The campaign is described as a fast and furious 30-minute chat about tourism in small towns that has quickly attracted the attention of additional communities, travel writers and local stakeholders. The campaign was also noted for its collaborations around the state and across the country.

The award for Rising Star in Tourism was presented to Christy Garrard, director of business development for Visit Issaquah. The award is presented to a new industry professional or volunteer who has made outstanding contributions to the tourism efforts of a business, business segment, nonprofit organization or community. Nominees must be currently employed in the State of Washington’s tourism industry, with tenures of less than five years.  Garrard was recognized for her community building and impactful contributions during her short tenure with the organization.

The Destination Stewardship Award was presented to Columbia Gorge Tourism Alliance for its internationally recognized model for sustainable tourism in Clark, Skamania and Klickitat Counties, as well as in neighboring Oregon counties. The program deploys tourism stakeholders as action teams that create and sustain welcoming systems for visitors and locals in the areas of outdoor recreation, car-free transportation, “welcomability,” culture, culinary and agritourism and visitor dispersal.

State of Washington Tourism also inaugurated a new Tourism Hall of Leadership and inducted three industry veterans.

Sandy Ward, CEO of Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism, was inducted in conjunction with a presentation from long-time colleagues John Cooper of Yakima Valley Tourism and Leslie Womack of the Mayflower Park Hotel. Ward, who retires in December, has led three destination marketing organizations in Washington during her career and played a leadership role in advocating for a new funding model for the statewide tourism program. Ward was not present at the ceremony but accepted the induction via a video message.

Dr. Terry Umbreit, who led the Washington State University School of Hospitality Business Management for 25 years, was lauded into the Tourism Hall of Leadership by WSU alum Anthony Anton, president and CEO of the Washington Hospitality Association, and Dipra Jha, the WSU School of Hospitality and Business Management’s associate professor and assistant director. Dr. Umbreit was present at the ceremony and accepted the induction.

Ryan Malane, who passed away in June, was posthumously inducted into the Tourism Hall of Leadership by Marsha Massey, executive director of the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau. Malane was co-owner and vice president of marketing for Blackball Ferry Line in Port Angeles. His wife, Cynthia Malane, accepted the induction at the event.


About State of Washington Tourism

State of Washington Tourism (the recently rebranded Washington Tourism Alliance) is a 501(c)(6) organization established by industry stakeholders with the sole mission of developing and sustaining Washington State destination tourism marketing. SWT procures and administers funds for state destination tourism marketing activities and creates and implements the strategic statewide destination marketing plan. Visit the destination website at or the tourism industry site at



Tracy Rabsky
Public Relations, GreenRubino for State of Washington Tourism
P: 206-452-8185

Althea Conyers Achem
Public Relations, GreenRubino for State of Washington Tourism
P: 620-245-7692