Oregon Travel Information Council

Oregon Travel Experience’s governing body is known as the Oregon Travel Information Council in Oregon Statute, Chapter 377.835.

Ten volunteer members are appointed by the governor and one position represents the Oregon Transportation Commission as called for by statute. These private citizens donate their time to determine rules and policies for OTE programs. Their mission is to create a great visitor experience by providing directions to destinations, connecting travelers with Oregon’s resources, and ensuring safe and convenient travel.

During 2012 legislation, the Governor’s Office appointed new members to the council, while rotating several long time members off. At their July 2012 OTIC meeting, the council elected new officers as well.

Chair Gwenn Baldwin

Gwenn Baldwin of Baldwin Consulting LLC in Portland, Oregon, was elected chair of the OTIC in July 2012. Baldwin has degrees in government relations and legal services, and psychology. Baldwin’s consulting business represents Oregon businesses, public agency and nonprofit clients. She directed communications strategy for former Oregon Governor Barbara Roberts. Baldwin became interested in OTE and its council while on her frequent road trips across the state. She is an avid hiker that depends on OTE signs to point her in the right direction for new discoveries and looks forward to engaging with OTE’s new leadership.

Vice Chair Robert “Bob” RussellImage of Bob Russell

Bob first joined OTIC in 2010 and was elected vice chair in the council’s July 2012 meeting. He is a graduate of the University of New Mexico with a bachelor’s in business. He also attended Lewis and Clark College’s public administration graduate school. Bob served as assistant commissioner (in the Transportation Program) at the Oregon Public Utility Commission, where he worked for 15 years. Bob also served as vice president at McCracken Motor Freight and is the current vice president of government affairs for the Oregon Trucking Associations. He served on the council’s executive committee during 2011.

Secretary Mary Olson

Mary Olson was elected secretary to the council in July 2012. She is one of the newly appointed members that are named in statute; as a representative of the Oregon Transportation Commission. Olson is also president of Norris, Olson & Associates in Portland, Oregon and is vice president for the Port of Portland Commission. She is a member of the Finance Committee for Northwest Electrical Light and Power Association and the corporate co-chairperson of US Bancorp United Way Campaign. Olson holds a BA degree from Oregon State University and attended the Northwest School of Banking.

Mike Drennan, OTIC CouncilPublic Member at Large Mike Drennan

Mike has lived in Oregon for almost 60 years and has a longstanding commitment to the travel and tourism industry. He has served as board chair for both the Corvallis Convention and Visitors Association and Travel Lane County. He is currently in his fifth term on the Executive Board for Travel Lane County.  Mike recently retired as senior vice president and relationship manager for Home Federal Bank in Eugene and has been in the banking industry since 1972. Mike has held numerous community leadership positions during his career and is currently serving his first term with the council as an at-large appointee. Mike has served with economic development agencies in Corvallis, Bend and Eugene, and is dedicated to promoting Oregon’s economic vitality through tourism, visitors and conventions.

Maria Ponzi Folgestrom

Maria is proprietor and director of sales and marketing for Ponzi Vineyards in Beaverton, Oregon. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism and has been marketing director of her winery, restaurant and wine bar since 1990. Maria has been a member of several wine industry boards and associations, including the Oregon Wine Board, and currently serves on the Oregon Pinot Camp Board. Maria believes her marketing background and commitment to Oregon’s travel and tourism industry dovetails perfectly with OTE’s projects and planning.

Charlotte Lehan

Charlotte Lehan was recently appointed to the council in July 2012. She is chair of the Clackamas County Commission. Lehan is well acquainted with OTE and has been a member of the OTE Oregon Heritage Tree Committee since 1998. Lehan earned a bachelors degree in human development and has completed post graduate work in urban geography. Lehan was a member of OTE’s Baldock Rest Area Coalition which helped resolve issues of longstanding homelessness at the rest area. She is also an avid historian and works with local heritage and historical associations to preserve Oregon history. Lehan served as Mayor for the City of Wilsonville for nine years. With over 20 years of experience as an elected official for both cities and counties, Lehan looks forward to helping guide OTE through its new responsibilities.

Danuta Pfeiffer

Danuta Pfeiffer was appointed to the council in July 2012. Pfeiffer owns and operates Pfeiffer Winery in Junction City, Oregon. She graduated from the University of Colorado with a bachelors degree in communications and journalism. Her background as a television and radio talk show host laid a foundation for her marketing skills, and more specifically, agri-tourism. Pfeiffer created Oregon Country Trails, a 350 member association, and the Territorial Wine Trail, a tourism loop integrating southern Willamette Valley wineries. Pfeiffer believes that her insight into the state’s tourism and value-added commodities will help OTE build a vision for its sign programs and rest areas.

David Porter, OTIC CouncilDavid Porter

David is currently Executive Director at Portland’s Leach Botanical Garden. Until 2009, he was instrumental in development at the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. He also served as Portland’s “downtown living room” at Pioneer Courthouse Square and at NW Service Center, a neighborhood-owned community center in Northwest Portland. Porter has also worked at a variety of occupations including freelance writer. He graduated from Portland State University earning a Bachelor of Science in political science in 1975. As a volunteer, Porter has served as an officer on the Oregon Museum Association Board. He is past-president of the Western Museum Association and the Oregon City West Linn Rotary Club. Porter is a native of Portland, Oregon. When he can, he plays soccer, paints and writes.

Ed Washington

Ed Washington comes to the Council with an expertise in community diversity. Washington obtained his bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and is employed with Portland State University (PSU). He looks forward to helping Oregon’s citizens and travelers find essential services on the highway, and making their motoring experience a memorable one. In his “leisure” time, Washington likes to read, golf, and garden. However, his volunteer work with Life Works Northwest keeps him fairly well occupied.

Kathy WatsonKathy M. Watson

Kathy Watson represents the Second Congressional District. Watson is an accomplished communications and public relations professional and served for several years as press secretary for Oregon’s Senate Majority Office. Her prior employment with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries as well as the Oregon Economic Development Department provided her with a broad view on fostering jobs and economic prosperity within communities across the state. In addition to her duties on the OTIC, Watson is currently a board member of the Hood River Chamber of Commerce. She is a professional chef and owner of Nora’s Table, a Hood River restaurant that uses sustainably produced and locally sourced ingredients.
“As a restaurant owner in a community that is very dependent on tourism, I get to talk to a lot of people who are visiting Oregon, many for the first time,” said Watson. “I know how important it is to be good guides and hosts to our visitors, and I think our rest areas can play a critical role in introducing people to the Oregon story.”