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Posts tagged: Karen Ballard

Idaho commerce chief shakes up agency, lays off tourism, trade chiefs

Idaho’s longtime tourism chief and its head of international trade were both laid off Monday, as state Commerce Director Jeff Sayer launched a reorganization of his 53-person agency. Karen Ballard, the state’s tourism division chief for the past six years and a tourism staffer for the state for more than 20 years, is out of a job, as is Damien Bard, chief of the department’s Division of International Business. “Our reorganization is really us trimming back at the top levels of management, and streamlining our team so that we can be more responsive to the businesses of the state and changes that are occurring in economic development,” Sayer said.

Commerce will now have just three divisions: Administration, headed by Megan Ronk, former government relations, marketing and public relations officer; Business Expansion, including the international division, community development and more, headed by current team leader Gynii Gilliam; and Business Creation, including tourism along with sales and marketing, business attraction and national sales. The department is recruiting a leader for that division; you can read my full story here at

Reorganization eliminates job of Idaho’s tourism chief, Karen Ballard

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.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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