Longtime Idaho tourism chief Karen Ballard is out of a job as part of a reorganization at the state Department of Commerce. Ballard, who’s served as administrator of the state Division of Tourism for the past six years, has been with the department working on tourism for more than 20 years; both her position and that of Damien Bard, administrator of international tourism, are being eliminated in the reorganization. “We are eligible to reapply for some other positions that are going to be here,” Ballard said. “It’s a streamlining of Commerce that’s going to have a few less people, but actually redistribute some of the salaries to be more equitable. … So they’ll be creating a new position for manager of tourism, and we’re hoping that one of my staff will be able to fill that position.”
Ballard said she won’t be reapplying for the manager post. “That is a reclassify and a downgrade of what my current position is,” she said. With a chuckle, she said, “Basically, they’re splitting my job up into two different directions, which makes me feel better for the amount of work my job was, with it needing to be split.”
Asked about her plans, Ballard said, “Well, I’m open to opportunities that might come my way.”
She said she was advised of the reorganization on Wednesday. “Now, we did know that (Commerce Director) Jeff (Sayer) was working on a reorganization,” Ballard said, “and we actually helped him with some of these ideas that he came up with. I had not anticipated that it would be the elimination of my job, but I understand what he’s trying to do, and it could be very productive for him.”
Prior to joining Commerce, Ballard worked in the hospitality industry in the Sun Valley area, including work for Elkhorn Resort.