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Washington State Launches
New Executive Director Search
April 7, 2005
by Christina Kelly, Avalon Staff Editor/Writer

The Washington Wine Commission is launching a new search for an executive director to lead local, national and international programs to promote Washington state wine.

The previous director, Jane Baxter-Lynn, who held the position for nearly six months, resigned last month for personal reasons. In the interim, former executive director Steve Burns is filling in until a new director is selected.

Washington state is the second largest wine producer in the United States (behind California). The executive director, along with the existing staff, oversees a $1.5 million budget, incorporating programs in marketing, public relations, public affairs, member relations, export outreach and a new global branding campaign.

“The executive director position is one of the most high-profile, sought-after careers in the wine industry,” said Ted Baseler, chairman of the Washington Wine Commission. “We have already received an unprecedented level of interest in the position and encourage qualified candidates to continue to apply.”

Qualified candidates should be an enthusiastic and long-committed spokesperson for the wine industry, representing the interests of the more than 300 wineries and 350 grape growers within Washington. The executive director also leads the Washington Wine Institute in advocating the interests of the Washington wine industry on regional and national public affairs and legislative issues, so some legislative experience is warranted. The ideal candidate should be a leader and consensus builder, suggesting innovative programs and activities for the industry locally, nationally and internationally. A strong background in marketing, public relations and public affairs is desired.

Extensive travel is required, since Taste Washington travels to European and Asian countries.

“We need someone who knows the Washington wine industry well,” said Barrister winemaker Greg Lipsker, from Spokane. “We want to be represented in the eastern half of the state too—it is where most of the fruit is grown.”

A search committee, led by Washington Wine Commissioner Mark Levine, will conduct interviews in May with hopes to fill the position by July 1.

About Christina Kelly

For more than 20 years, Christina Kelly worked as a newspaper reporter on the West Coast, covering education, public safety, government, business, environmental issues, entertainment and minority affairs.

During the same time, the Washington native began her lifelong interest in wine. After two decades in the news reporting business, Christina decided it was time to concentrate on her passion — the wine industry. She is our indispensable staff writer and columnist.

This intelligent, charming powerhouse graces the Northwest wine industry with her insights, tastings and conversations with those in an industry that has exploded in the past few years. Her column may tell us a funny story that relates to wine, introduce us to a dedicated winemaker with a vision, or provide us with consumer information to make good choices in a field crowded with great wines. Christina's column is one you'll want to read.




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