One of the Tri-Cities’ biggest cheerleaders is going to lead a Kennewick-based nonprofit focused on empowering and supporting people with disabilities.
“Michael is a recognized community leader with a demonstrated passion for the Tri-Cities,” said Joel Ockey, chair of Columbia Industries’ board of directors, in a news release. “His business acumen running both nonprofit and for-profit businesses, along with his penchant for innovation, team development, business building, inclusiveness, collaboration and a commitment to culture are sure to lead Columbia Industries and our subsidiaries to greater outcomes and increased community impact.”
Novakovich has served as the president and CEO of Visit Tri-Cities since April 2018 and will remain in his role through July 1. He starts at CI on July 5.
The Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business featured Novakovich in its May 2018 leadership Q&A.
Longtime CI board member and former board chairman Eric Van Winkle has been leading Columbia Industries as interim CEO since December 2021.
CI funds its mission to serve people with special needs by operating a series of for-profit businesses. It owns and operates four Round Table Pizza restaurants, Paradise Bottled Water and a FedEx business in the Clarkston-Lewiston area on the Washington-Idaho border.
CI also offers document shredding services. It recently sold its document record keeping business.
Founded in 1963, Columbia Industries provides critical services that enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities and other life barriers. It offers employment services, emergency resources and life skills development services under its nonprofit structure.
Columbia Industries said it is poised for rapid growth and strategic expansion of its mission programs and business lines over the next five years.
Under Novakovich’s leadership, the organization said it plans to launch a housing program and expand its Opportunity Kitchen food service training program.
The Visit Tri-Cities Board of Directors will conduct a nationwide search for Novakovich’s replacement, with a hiring announcement expected sometime this summer, the agency said in a news release.
Novakovich was paid $179,665 in 2020, according to Visit Tri-Cities’ most recent report to the Internal Revenue Service. The organization reported $2.5 million in revenue, chiefly from contributions and grants, and $2 million in expenses. It employed 16 people.
Columbia industries reported $1.8 million in revenue and $2.1 million in expenses in the year that concluded June 30, 2019, its most recent publicly available tax filing. Then-CEO Brian McDermott received $152,873 in total compensation.
Prior to Visit Tri-Cities, Novakovich served on the executive team at the Tri-Cities Cancer Center and earlier in his career he helped lead his family’s Kennewick-based graphic communications business, Esprit Graphic Communications.
Novakovich has taught leadership development and marketing for Heritage University. Additionally, he and his wife Shannon own a business consultancy called NovaWerx, which focuses on leadership development, human resources and strategy. They have called the Tri-Cities home for many years.
Novakovich holds a master’s in business administration from Washington State University where he also graduated with a degree in business administration. Additionally, he holds a graduate certificate in marketing from WSU.
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