Young Professional 2022: Karisa M. Saywers

Karisa Saywers

Karisa M. Saywers

Director of Marketing
Visit Tri-Cities

Favorite book?
Anything written by my friend and local author, Alexis Bass.

Favorite thing
to do in Tri-Cities?


First thing you check on your phone?


Age: 38

Current city of residence: Kennewick

How long have you worked there? 8 years

Briefly describe your company:

Visit Tri-Cities is the destination marketing organization for the Tri-Cities, defined as Benton and Franklin counties. Our job is to attract visitors to the area, creating economic development within our community and making the Tri-Cities a great place to live, work and play.

Vision: Inspire wanderlust for a bold yet casual, geeky but cool, magical experience in wide-open spaces.

Mission: We make the Tri-Cities bigger, bolder, brighter, better and cooler through tourism.

Education: Please list your degrees and professional certifications.

Bachelor of Arts, communications, Washington State University. Go Cougs!

Briefly describe your job and how you got into it:

As the director of marketing for Visit Tri-Cities, I oversee a team of three and am responsible for developing, implementing and evaluating external communications programs and marketing campaigns to promote the Tri-Cities as a destination for meetings and conferences, sports events and leisure travel.

I oversee the media outreach program, including the development and implementation of media strategies that target travel and lifestyle writers/publications, local and regional media outlets.

In short, I have the pleasure of creating and executing compelling marketing campaigns and programs to attract visitors to the area while supporting local tourism-related businesses through visitor spending. In 2021, visitor spending exceeded $481 million and generated

$51 million in state and local taxes.

Prior to joining Visit Tri-Cities, I worked as a marketing coordinator for a family-owned and -operated winery in Prosser.

The winery was a member of Visit Tri-Cities and participated in programs including the annual meeting. I attended the 2013 meeting and learned Visit Tri-Cities would be hiring a marketing manager the following year.

It was my goal to secure that position and I did. In 2018, I was promoted to the director job and have continued to grow with the organization.

How long have you lived in the Tri-Cities? 18 years

How did you earn your first dollar?

My first money-making endeavor was a lemonade stand with my brother when we were 6 or 7. We couldn’t have made more than $10, but I do remember discussing our big plans to spend our money on a new Big Wheels or something along those lines.

What professional lessons, if any, have you learned during the pandemic?

People (the workforce) are adaptable and resilient.

From adjusting to new working environments and embracing technology to learning new skill sets and working outside of the scope of job descriptions, organizations and their employees found creative ways to adapt, maintain or even thrive.

What was your dream job as a child?

There were a variety of careers that I admired but the most prevalent dream was to be a veterinarian.

I love animals and loved the idea of helping animals. However, once I was a little older, I learned that while veterinarians could save lives, there is also a component of being unable to rescue someone’s beloved pet or executing end-of-life plans.

I knew I didn’t have the fortitude to become a veterinarian, and I admire everyone in that profession for that very reason.

Tell us about your community involvement/community service:

The mission of Visit Tri-Cities is to drive tourism to our destination and one of the ways we do that is by supporting community assets and organizations. My role at Visit Tri-Cities provides me the opportunity to support local organizations/events in a variety of ways, whether it is providing a media list and/or a media introduction for a charity or strategies to increase recognition and attendance.

Throughout my tenure at Visit Tri-Cities, I have also volunteered my time to support amazing tourism-related events like Cool Desert Nights, the Tri-Cities Geocoin Challenge, River of Fire Festival and most recently Tri-Cities Cancer Center’s Dine Out event.

How do you achieve work-life balance?

I manage work-life balance some days better than others.

I am not a morning person, ask anyone, but I could work well into the evening if it wasn’t for other commitments. Luckily, the very nature of my job is to share all the wonderful assets of the Tri-Cities, so it is easy to mix work and leisure time when needed.

I try to reserve my lunch hour for a mid-day recharge, which might include lunch with friends and/or co-workers or walking my dog. Being in the tourism industry, I am a huge advocate of planning getaways or vacations as a way to recharge.

List any awards/honors you have received:

Visit Tri-Cities was honored with a Best Idea Program Outstanding Achievement Award by the Destination Marketing Association of the West (DMA West) in 2021. Visit Tri-Cities was recognized for its Pandemic Response Campaign that took place from September 2020 through July 2021.

I was responsible for the campaign and developed, created and deployed 38 high-quality public service announcements to amplify messaging from local leadership and the Benton-Franklin Health District, as well as created unique messaging to mitigate the adverse economic and public health impacts of Covid-19 as well as vaccine information. The public service announcements were developed in English and Spanish and distributed throughout the Tri-Cities region. Visit Tri-Cities was one of only four destination marketing organizations to receive outstanding achievement awards.

Do you have family? Pets?

I have wonderful parents and siblings, and, fortunately for me, they all live in the Tri-Cities. Then I have family spread throughout the West Coast.

Diesel is my chow/lab mix who has been my canine sidekick for the last 14 years.

What brought you to the Tri-Cities? Did you grow up here?

My family moved to the Tri-Cities when I was in seventh grade. I didn’t think I would make it my home after I graduated from WSU. However, I found my way back and made a career out of living in and enjoying the Tri-Cities.