Laura Bids Farewell

Aug 04 2014

Following almost a decade of working with an incredible membership I have come to deeply admire, I have decided to leave WAA and take on new adventures closer to my home in Southern California. Over the years, and through a maze of cities and hotels, I have gotten to know many of you and have become very attached to WAA as a group of professionals I have grown to deeply respect.  Your interests, concerns, challenges and visions have seeped into my consciousness and truly helped me every year to build an environment for your networking to be rekindled and refreshed as your seasons unfold.  

Since moving to CA in 2012, I have worked closely with Tim on the best way to transition myself out of WAA and move another Conference Manager into the Portland office to take on the position.  During this phase, I have started my own company called Ricker Meeting & Event Services and have a number of clients that I am currently working with. I am extremely happy to announce the Laguna Beach Music Festival, an annual celebration of classical and contemporary music, has hired me as their Festival Director.  

Prior to working at WAA, I was the Event Director at the Oregon Symphony, so this return to classical music and presenting to the public is something I am thrilled about.  As well, many of you whom I have worked with over the years are involved with the Laguna Beach Music Festival and I look forward to continuing these relationships throughout the years.  I am also working as a Traveling Technical Director for EEG (Enterprise Events Group) as well as two other companies for contract and site selection work.

My path ahead looks promising and I owe much of that excitement to the inspiring board members, dedicated committee members and supportive staff I have worked with over the years.  Of course, I owe much of my accomplishments and success at WAA to Tim – who gave me a chance to interview in 2005 after he had already cut off accepting applications. His leadership and professional friendship has been a wonderful guidance to my career at WAA and I look forward to staying in touch with Tim in the coming years.  

As I move onto new horizons, I’m happy to spend the next month working side-by-side with my replacement Jennifier Stewart.  Jennifier has moved with her family from New York City to join her extended family in Oregon.  Jennifier will be making her debut at WAA this coming September and I know all of you will welcome her to the WAA family – just as you did me in 2006.  I will be onsite in Seattle helping Jennifier, and staff, build the structure of the conference and then hand the baton to Jennifier at the Opening Reception on Tuesday night.  She will continue through the week with Tim, Michael and Tiffany as I make my exit early Wednesday morning to allow her the full appreciation of the conference and getting to know all of you on her own.   

While I value the age of digital communication and social media, the foundation of what I love to do, is seeing people come together face-to-face enjoying music and the performing arts. My investment in the performing arts has been strengthened each year by the many professionals that I communicate with and the numerous venues and vendors I partner with.  I hope that should you have any contractual needs for which you think I might be appropriate, you’ll contact me to explore these options. I have much to be thankful for over the course of these nine years and deeply thank Tim Wilson, the WAA Board members from 2006 through current, the many memories I have with members and of course, the WAA staff of whom my role at WAA would not have been possible without.  

Many thanks for a wonderful journey and please stay in touch!

Laura Ricker
Ricker Meeting & Event Services