Hansen will oversee a continued effort to further align organizations, share administrative functions and expenses, and maximize efficiencies
(WALLA WALLA, Wash.) — Robert Hansen, executive director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, will be expanding his role and responsibilities by also serving as the new executive director for Visit Walla Walla, both organizations announced today. In addition, Visit Walla Walla will hire an administrative assistant who will split duties between the two organizations. Both measures were approved by the respective board of directors of Visit Walla Walla and the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance.
The moves are part of an ongoing cooperative effort between Visit Walla Walla and the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance to further align the two organizations and maximize efficiencies. On May 18, the two organizations announced an agreement to share specific administrative functions and expenses including managing payroll, accounts receivable/payable, banking, and financial reporting, which remains in place.
“This is an exciting opportunity for me personally, but more importantly it gives both organizations an economic and strategic advantage by sharing the resources at our disposal,” Hansen said. “It is critically important for Visit Walla Walla and the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance to work together in their shared goals of promoting this incredible region. Moving forward, we will have the combined power of both organizations closely aligned to complement each other, reduce duplication of effort, and maximize the dollars we spend marketing and promoting the Walla Walla Valley.”
Walla Walla’s two major marketing organizations will remain separate entities with differing missions and objectives, and be overseen by two independent boards of directors. This shared leadership model, while not unprecedented, is also not common in an industry where wine marketing and tourism promotion have historically functioned independently, even if they are often speaking to the same audience with similar messages.
“Moving to a single executive director model allows us to leverage more resources for marketing Walla Walla as a premier visitor destination and world-class wine region, which is an important goal for both organizations,” said Tabitha Crenshaw, Visit Walla Walla board chair and guest service manager of Spring Valley Vineyards. “Given Robert’s current role as executive director of the Wine Alliance and his close involvement with the Visit Walla Walla Board of Directors, it’s a natural fit.”
Hansen, who has served as the executive director at the Wine Alliance since August 2019, is ideally suited to take on the additional responsibilities. He brings nearly 40 years of strategic planning, business management, and corporate finance expertise to both organizations.
“Under Robert’s direction, the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance has continued to strengthen its position as an industry leader with regard to being a strong ally and staunch advocate for the membership it represents,” said Josh McDaniels, Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance board president and CEO & director of winemaking at Bledsoe Wine Estates. “With Robert at the helm of both organizations, we are confident that our winery membership and the tourism industry — two of the valley’s largest with regard to community-wide economic benefit — will work more closely, strategically, and successfully than ever before.”
About Visit Walla Walla:
Visit Walla Walla is a non-membership, nonprofit tourism organization committed to promoting year-round visitation through marketing, collaboration, expertise, and industry insight. As the voice for all sectors of hospitality in the Walla Walla Valley, Visit Walla Walla is dedicated to making the Walla Walla Valley a leading destination for leisure and group travelers, fostering economic growth, and improving quality of life for residents through tourism promotion. For more information visit www.wallawalla.org.
About the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance:
The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance is a nonprofit wine industry membership organization whose primary mission is to build an internationally acclaimed Walla Walla Valley wine brand among consumers, media, and trade by providing marketing programs on behalf of member wineries, vineyards, and partners. The Wine Alliance functions as the leading informational resource for consumers, media, and trade interested in learning more about the Valley’s wine industry.
About Walla Walla:
As the unofficial capital of Washington wine country, Walla Walla is home to more than 120 wineries, a nationally recognized culinary scene, access to an abundance of outdoor recreation, and an arts & entertainment scene that rivals cities many times its size. This community of just over 30,000 residents is known for many things, including its friendliness and hospitality, the quality of its wine, and of course the famous Walla Walla Sweet Onion. An easy and scenic four-hour drive from Seattle, Portland, or Boise, Walla Walla can also be accessed via Alaska Airlines daily non-stop flights from Seattle. For more information and to begin planning a trip to Walla Walla, visit www.wallawalla.org.