Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance hires Robert Hansen as executive director

By on July 31, 2019
Robert Hansen, a longtime member of the Portland business community with decades of volunteer work, takes over as executive director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance on Aug. 5, 2019. (Photo courtesy of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance.)

Robert Hansen, a longtime leader of the Portland Rose Festival Foundation, was named Tuesday as executive director for the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance.

He will be the third person to serve in that role since Duane Wollmuth, a beloved figure in the Walla Walla Valley, died unexpectedly on July 11, 2016.

“Robert will start this Monday, August 5th, and the board is thrilled to have him take the lead,” Muriel Kenyon, President of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, told Great Northwest via email.

Hansen has been living in Walla Walla since November when he moved from Portland. His résumé includes 38 years of strategic planning, business management and corporate finance. His work history includes Ricoh USA/IKON Office Solutions and Brown & Brown Insurance NW. He graduated in 1980 from Pacific Lutheran University near Tacoma with a degree in accounting.

“Walla Walla is a world-class wine region with an incredible group of dedicated growers, winemakers and business leaders,” Hansen said in a news release. “The wines are legendary, the vineyards exceptional, the scenery unforgettable and the accompanying hospitality amenities vibrant and dynamic.”

He replaces Ashley Riggs-Mahan, who was promoted on Nov. 28, 2017 to take over for Heather Unwin, former executive director of the Red Mountain American Viticultural Area Alliance.

Hansen spent 23 years as a board member of the Portland Rose Festival Foundation, including two years as President. Those decades spent assisting a nonprofit were particularly appealing to board, Kenyon said.

“Robert’s nearly four decades of business and nonprofit experience made him the clear choice for this position,” she said. “He leads with purpose and knows how to bring groups together by focusing on common goals and long-term results.”

Hansen’s interests include eight years as a volunteer for Cycle Oregon, a group that also includes his wife, Janie. Her background spans 16 years in marketing at Delta Air Lines and nearly two decades with the Port of Portland.

“This is an exciting time to be in Walla Walla, and I look forward to continuing to bring the work of our winemakers and growers to the forefront of the wine world,” he said.

The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, a non-profit industry membership organization, serves as an informational resource for consumers, media and trade.

About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the president and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for 15 years. He is a frequent wine judge along the West Coast.

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