A Portland transplant with career roots in strategic planning, business management and corporate finance will be the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance’s next executive director.

Robert Hansen begins in his new role Monday. He succeeds Ashley Mahan, who left her position as chief operating officer of the nonprofit membership organization early this month to pursue other opportunities. Her intent to leave had been announced first in March, activating the search for the new top administrator for the alliance.

“Robert’s nearly four decades of business and nonprofit experience made him the clear choice for this position,” said Wine Alliance board President Muriel Kenyon in the announcement. “He leads with purpose and knows how to bring groups together by focusing on common goals and long-term results.”

Hansen came to Walla Walla with his wife, Janie, last November from Portland, where his career in the business community included financial management positions with Ricoh USA/IKON Office Solutions and with Brown & Brown Insurance NW. He also previously worked in public accounting.

Throughout his career, the announcement detailed, Hansen also held a number of leadership positions for nonprofits. That work included 17 years on the board of the Portland Rose Festival Foundation.

In his role at the Wine Alliance, he will lead the organization’s strategic development, financial management, membership recruitment and community outreach, in step with the board of directors.

The Wine Alliance is the Valley’s lead resource for consumers, media and trade on the local wine industry. It serves members as a marketing organization for the Walla Walla Valley American Viticultural Area, which spans Southeastern Washington and Northeastern Oregon.

“Walla Walla is a world-class wine region with an incredible group of dedicated growers, winemakers and business leaders,” Hansen said in a prepared statement. “The wines are legendary, the vineyards exceptional, the scenery unforgettable and the accompanying hospitality amenities vibrant and dynamic. This is an exciting time to be in Walla Walla, and I look forward to continuing to bring the work of our winemakers and growers to the forefront of the wine world.”


Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at 509-526-8321, or on Twitter at

Vicki covers business and economic development, including tourism, the Port of Walla Walla and the Strictly Business column, as well as features. She has been reporting for the Union-Bulletin since late 2001.

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