Sarah Klavas, Deputy Secretary for Wisconsin Tourism
Want an example of why the Midwest is called “the heartland”? Meet Sarah Klavas. Sarah is a balanced assemblage of family, work ethic, service, and leadership.
Sarah grew up in Iowa, graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with degrees in marketing and communications and then moved to Wisconsin in 1980. She’s made public service her life’s calling, working for state government for 30 years. So, she knows what makes Wisconsin tick, which makes her an asset to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism on many levels.
In 2007, Sarah enrolled in the Certified Public Manager program at UW Madison. She achieved the status of Certified Public Manager and won national recognition for her thesis “Success Planning for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism”.
She currently serves as the agency’s Deputy Secretary, an appointment by Secretary Klett that came in 2014. But get ready for the list of other Tourism positions she’s held in the last 22 years: Marketing & Communications Director, Industry Relations Director, Director of the Wisconsin Welcome Center System, Director of the Wisconsin Film Office, and Wisconsin’s first statewide Brand Manager. Sarah currently serves on the Frank Lloyd Wright Taliesin Board of Trustees and Governor Walker’s Management and Policy Cabinets.
Sarah has been part of the tourism industry’s economic growth trajectory during her years with the Department: from $5.6 billion in 1995 to $20 billion in 2016.
Sarah didn’t always work in state government. She brought 15 years of marketing experience in the private sector with her when she joined state service. She’s skilled at getting the private sector and public sector to partner for the good of all, plus she’s credited with developing the agency’s award winning Customer Service Series that has been presented to 16,000 people in Wisconsin’s hospitality industry.
Sarah and her husband Robert have two grown sons and a black lab named Maggie May. When she’s not working, she’s doing what other Wisconsinites love to do, namely cheering wildly for the UW Badgers and Green Bay Packers. She swims laps in her spare time and if you ask her, she’ll tell you her personal connection to the day the music died.