Behind the Scenes with Sandy Ward

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  • CEO & President, Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism since Feb. 2, 2017.
  • Hails from Ogden, Utah
    “It’s kind of a federal government town. My dad was a design draftsman for the Minuteman missile project and my mother was an auditor at the Internal Revenue Service.”
  • Graduate of UCLA Institutes for Organization Management, a master’s level leadership development program
  • 12 years as Director of Sales & Marketing at The Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour, a premier visitor attraction that she grew from 84,000 visitors a year to 350,000 from 185 countries annually when she left for Bellingham.“The tour had operated for a really long time before they built the Future of Flight, I got in on the ground level when that building was just dirt and started the marketing and sales program, the ticketing system, hired all the staff.”
  • Before that, 9 years as founding Executive Director of the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau.
  • One of Five Founders of the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA).
  • Governor-appointed member, Washington State Tourism Commission.
  • Served on nine tourism boards and commissions.
  • Four recognitions from the state tourism industry for Best Tour Planners Guide (2), Best Niche Marketing Campaign, and Best of the Best Industry Award.
  • Three other awards: Woman of the Year, Utah Business Magazine; Professional Manager of the Year, YWCA of Northern Utah; Tourism Professional of the Year, Washington State Tourism.
  • Certified hospitality and customer service Master Trainer.“I’ve helped develop customer service training programs to thousands of front-line staff, volunteers, and supervisors in our industry, both in my home-state Utah and in Washington.”
  • Avid cyclist
    “I’ve ridden tens of thousands of miles on road biking through California and Oregon. I can’t get on my bike anymore after having complications from hip replacement surgery after moving to Bellingham.”
  • Best discoveries about this area that you didn’t expect or know about?
    “Oysters. Drayton Harbor Oysters in Blaine and Taylor Shellfish on the way up Chuckanut Drive. Bonus locations—what a great surprise. I love oysters. I used to go to the Cliff House up by the University just to get some of the best oysters. And, I had never been to Artist Point. Going up there was like, wow! And stopping at Picture Lake.”
  • Why choose Bellingham to leave cushy position in Seattle?
    The main reason I was really interested in taking this position is that I actually lived in Bellingham in the early 1990s when other positions took me south. I always wanted to get back. Just the beauty, the water, the fresh air, no traffic. It suits me. I love it.”