SOMERSET, KY — Eastern Kentucky PRIDE, Inc., announced today that Kristen R. Branscum (right), who is the Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism, has joined its Board of Directors. She will volunteer her time and expertise to direct PRIDE, a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental cleanup and education in 42 counties of southern and eastern Kentucky.
“We are pleased to welcome Kristen to the Board of Directors,” said Tammie Wilson, PRIDE President/Chief Executive Officer.
“Kristen is from this region, and she brings hands-on experience promoting tourism and economic development here, so she understands the vital link between a clean environment, attracting tourists and growing jobs,” Wilson said.
“As someone who has had the honor to grow up in southcentral Kentucky and work in eastern Kentucky, I have no doubt in my mind that together, we can develop a regional economic engine through tourism,” said Branscum, who is a native of Russell Springs.
“Tourism is economic development and eastern Kentucky has the natural assets and rich cultural heritage to catapult the region into a premier international destination,” Branscum explained.
“Tourism gives us the opportunity to tell our Kentucky story with the world and to show visitors what makes our home so special to us,” Branscum added. “I cannot think of another sector that develops this sense of pride, attracts visitors and new businesses, all while improving the quality of life for Kentuckians.”
Branscum, who is a graduate of Auburn University, was named Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism in January 2016. As Commissioner, she and her staff are responsible for marketing and promoting Kentucky as a travel destination domestically and internationally.
Prior to being named Commissioner, Branscum worked for eight years in the Kentucky Department of Agriculture in various leadership roles. In 2014, she was the department’s marketing lead in the creation of the Appalachia Proud program, which is a branding program that designates products produced by farmers and agribusinesses in Kentucky’s easternmost counties.
When Branscum was the state’s Tourism Development Director from 2004 until 2008, she assisted in the creation of the Kentucky Recreational Trails Authority and served as its first chair. She was intimately involved with trail development in Eastern Kentucky and was the first state-level employee dedicated to the development and promotion of Adventure Tourism.
The PRIDE Board of Directors meets bimonthly to establish guidelines for PRIDE programs and approve the organization’s budget. Ten board members are volunteers who bring particular expertise to fulfilling the PRIDE mission. One staff member, the President/Chief Executive Officer, also serves on the board.
PRIDE, which stands for “Personal Responsibility In a Desirable Environment,” was founded in 1997 by Congressman Hal Rogers (KY-5) and the late James Bickford, who was the Kentucky Secretary for Natural Resources and Environmental Protection. The PRIDE mission is to contribute to the economic and cultural growth of southern and eastern Kentucky by improving water quality, cleaning up solid waste problems and advancing environmental education, in order to improve living conditions for its residents while enhancing the potential for tourism industry growth in the region.
To learn more about PRIDE, look for Eastern Kentucky PRIDE on Facebook or visit www.kypride.org.