If you have any questions, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help:

Nebraska Tourism Commission

301 Centennial Mall South

PO Box 98907

Lincoln, NE 68509-8907


Phone: (402) 471-3796

For local convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs), or chambers of commerce, and visitor centers please go here.

Nebraska Tourism Staff:

John Ricks, Executive Director

(402) 471-1558 or

Bryce Arens, Administrative Assistant

(402) 471-3796 or

Bryce assists the director with organization of schedules, operational needs, inquiries from visitors via telephone and follows legislative bills related to tourism. He also works with the Tourism Think Tank, or 3T Program, a group of University of Nebraska-Lincoln students in the Hospitality, Restaurant and Tourism Management Program, to establish ideas to incorporate the college demographic into commission operations.

Micheal Collins, Tourism Development Consultant

(402) 471-3795 or

Micheal oversees the Nebraska Travel Counselor program and supervises 30–40 seasonal summer staff in various rest areas along Interstate 80. He is also the group travel manager for the state and is looking forward to expanding the group tour market in Nebraska and drawing more bus tours to the state.

Micheal received his bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in urban studies from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1995. In 1997, he received his master’s degree in planning from the School of Planning at the University of Tennessee. His first job in Nebraska was with the Panhandle Area Development District in Scottsbluff, where one of his primary duties was serving as coordinator of the Nebraska Panhandle Tourism Coalition (now Western Nebraska Tourism Coalition).

When he moved to Scottsbluff in 1997, Micheal planned on living in Nebraska for no more than two years. He found that he really liked living in the state, however, so he applied for a position with the Nebraska Tourism Commission in 2000. He remained in Scottsbluff until relocating to Lincoln in 2002, where he now owns his own home and lives with his cats, Seamus and Stella, and dogs, Sasha and Charlie.

Alexander Duryea, Tourism Development Consultant

(402) 471-3797 or

As the Commission's Eco-Tourism Specialist, Alex works with Nebraska businesses providing services for outdoor event coordination, promotional assistance to Nebraska outfitter businesses, and guided eco-tours for groups and writers wanting to experience the great outdoors of Nebraska. Anything outdoor recreation and eco-tourism related is his specialty, please contact Alex if your organization needs assistance. Alex grew up in Omaha, NE and has had a passion for outdoor recreation his whole life. As an avid cyclist, he enjoys all different flavors of cycling. Alex graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and currently resides in Lincoln.

Jenn Gjerde, Public Information Officer II

(402) 471-3768 or

As Marketing Manager for the Nebraska Tourism Commission, Jenn oversees the development of marketing, public relations and advertising strategies, seasonal marketing plans, coordinates the creative development, tracks the marketing budget and reports campaign goals and metrics. The former TV news reporter previously worked for TV stations in North Platte and Lincoln. Her experiences across Nebraska have helped her gain a great appreciation for the state, which she is excited to now be promoting.

Jenn graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Journalism degree. While in college she was an active member of the University’s club rowing team. She also worked for Husker Vision, where she spent football game days on the field and worked behind the scenes at many other sporting events. She currently lives in the capital city with her husband, son and their adorable pug. Gjerde is a lifelong Girl Scout, currently serving on their Homestead Community Advisory Board and volunteers with the Alzheimer's Association.​

Heather Hogue, Deputy Director/Grant Administrator

(402) 471-3774 or

Heather oversees the Commission’s grant opportunities including the Marketing Grant and Community Impact Grant programs, funding assistance programs that encourage Nebraska communities to work together to promote their destinations and events. Heather manages administrative and program operations for the Commission in relation to state government policies, implements procedures regarding the Commission website and database, supervises the internship program, performs program support for the agency director, and investigates agency programs to increase efficiency and effectiveness.

Heather grew up on a family farm outside of Minden, Nebraska and joined the hospitality industry in the 1980s as a teenager learning the ropes at Harold Warp Pioneer Village. She is a graduate of the Lincoln School of Commerce Travel and Tourism Program and accepted a position with the Commission in 2000. Prior to joining the Commission, Heather’s career path included working as a customer service representative at Walt Disney World, booking travel packages as an accredited IATA travel agent, and serving as a travel agency Quality Control Operator. Heather lives in Lincoln with her husband, Mike and their daughter, Maggie.

Kourtney Kaisershot, Marketing Intern

(402) 471-3784

Kourtney assists with marketing for the Commission. She also helps the staff with other projects incuding writing and editing press releases. Originally from Normal, IL, Kourtney is a senior Advertising and Public Relations major at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. She also has two minors in Business and Spanish. She feels very fortunate to have this internship because it allows her to travel across the state and see all of the wonderful things Nebraska has to offer.

Karen Kollars, Tourism Development Consultant

(308) 249-3220 or

Karen works as the Commission's Agri-Tourism Consultant, assisting tourism entities and helps encourage more rural residents to reach out to travelers wanting to take vacations that involve immersing themselves in ranching or farming experiences. Karen also plans and oversees the Commission's annual Agri/Eco-Tourism Conference and fall Travel Conference, great educational and networking opportunities for Nebraska’s tourism industry partners. She is a graduate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organizational Management. She formerly worked for the Cheyenne County Chamber of Commerce as the executive director and handled tourism and main street responsibilities. Karen has more than 15 years of experience working in the tourism industry.

Karen is actively involved in local, state and national groups. She serves on the advisory councils for the UNL Department of Agricultural Leadership Education & Communication, MarketPlace Nebraska, and the Nebraska Outfitters and Guides Association. She is actively involved with the North American Direct Farmers Market Association, a networking association for farm direct marketing and agri-tourism, as well as the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety’s Agri-Tourism Digital Dissemination Project. Karen also serves as a board member of the Partnership for Rural Nebraska and chairperson for the Western Nebraska Development Network. Karen is a native of Nebraska and has her office in Kearney.

Brenna McFadden, Public Relations Intern

(402) 471-3791

Brenna helps with editing and writing press releases and articles about events and attractions in Nebraska. She also assists with marketing, delivering travel guides throughout the state, and any other projects the staff needs help with. 

Originally from Kearney, Nebraska, she is now living in Lincoln and will be a senior at UNL this upcoming school year. She is majoring in Advertising and Public Relations with minors in Religious Studies, Global Studies and Art. She has spent a summer in Arkansas as a saleswoman for Southwestern Advantage and a summer in Florida as a front desk attendant at the Four-Diamond Ponte Vedra Lodge and Club. Brenna has grown up exploring different parts of Nebraska and is excited to have the opportunity of engaging with people and promoting tourism in her home state. 

Shelley Reed, Accountant II

(402) 471-3776 or

Shelley serves as the primary finance agent for the Nebraska Tourism Commission, managing the agency’s accounting operations, policies, and processes. Shelley consults with agency administrators regarding financial matters and performs a wide variety of accounting and related financial tasks including reconciliations of accounts of incoming and outgoing monies, and processing of accounting batches. Shelley also serves as a liaison with members of the public including coordination and interaction with employees and clients of the Commission. In addition to Shelley’s 18+ years of state accounting experience and another 10 years of business manager experience at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she holds an Associate’s Degree in Business and a Professional degree from Kaplan University in Clerical Accounting.

Erin Wirth, Tourism Development Consultant

(402) 471-3789 or

Erin has been part of the Nebraska Tourism team since 2016. Before joining Nebraska Tourism, Erin worked for Gateway Mall, Fiserv, and the University of Nebraska in program development and marketing. She was named one of "Lincoln's 20 Under 40: Young Professionals Making a Difference" due to her professional acheivements and community involvement. Erin has held leadership positions in several non-profit organizations that work to improve the lives of Nebraskans, and has won 11 awards for excellence in marketing and public relations from the American Marketing Association and the Public Relations Society of America. Erin lives in Lincoln with her husband, Rob, and their two dogs, Lucy and Molly. She is currently working on completing her MBA in Innovation and is an Accredited Financial Counselor.