Karen Ballard, Administrator, Tourism Division, Idaho Department of Commerce
Karen Ballard was promoted to administrator of Idaho State Tourism in November 2007. Her duties involve development and implementation of Idaho’s $3.5 million travel promotion and marketing program, as well as oversight of the $3 million regional grant program for non-profit tourism organizations.
Travelers contribute over $3.5 billion to Idaho’s economy, which is about 6 percent of the state GDP. Market share growth occurs ideally when marketing campaigns succeed. Karen and Her colleagues were honored to receive the 2012 U.S. Travel Association Mercury Award for Vitamin ID as the best overall marketing campaign in the nation.
Karen joined the Idaho Department of Commerce in 1992 for a newly-created tourism development position to promote the state internationally. By successfully tapping into trends, such as cultural, historic, international and rural tourism, the division facilitates attracting not only tourists but also bolstering small community service providers. Culinary tourism is a growing niche and it is a joy for Karen to be a patron o f the many fine establishments carving a name for Idaho cuisine, such as Chandlers.
A native of Washington, Ballard received her degree in legal studies from UC Berkeley before relocating to Idaho in 1982. Ballard began her tourism career with the Elkhorn Resort in Sun Valley where she met her future husband Brian when he asked to join her golf round. Despite having no game at the time, je saw potential in the swing and encouraged Karen to improve. They now enjoy regular friendly wagers on who will be the better golfer.
Chandlers nominated Karen as their 2013 tribute to women and industry in recognition for her dedication to her fine position both on an international level as well as national and local. We are proud to say “welcome” when Karen walks in the door!