Kathy McKillip, Director
(402) 471-1558 or
Director of the Nebraska Tourism Commission, Kathy McKillip oversees the Commission’s activities including the marketing of Nebraska attractions and events, developing and managing a budget of state and federal revenue sources, monitoring national trends in travel and tourism, preparing legislation related to tourism, providing a cohesive approach to the Commission’s vision and participating in strategic policy planning.
McKillip, a fifth-generation Nebraskan, has traveled the country and the state extensively working with rural communities and site attractions and cultivating regional growth and metro-area development.
McKillip has spent more than 17 years in the field of community capacity building and has an extensive background in planning, economic development, community and rural development, public participation, population trends, marketing initiatives and community connections as they relate to demographic and cultural shifts.
McKillip attended Nebraska City High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University, a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a master’s in science organizational management with an economic emphasis from Peru State College. She is an active volunteer within the community of Lincoln and serves as a board member on the Lincoln City Library Board of Trustees.
Micheal Collins, Southeastern Region Tourism Consultant
(402) 471-3795 or
Micheal oversees the Nebraska Vacation Guide program and supervises 30–35 vacation guides each season in staffed rest areas along Interstate 80 and one along Interstate 29. He plans and oversees the annual Nebraska Travel Conference, which is a great educational and networking opportunity for Nebraska’s tourism industry partners. His goal with each conference is to give delegates excellent speakers and sessions that will help them be successful in their jobs. He also has recently become 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 cat, Seamus, and dog, Sasha. Micheal has been an active member of the Star City Pride committee and has helped to make the annual Star City Pride festival a growing success that attracts a diverse crowd from Lincoln, Omaha and surrounding communities each summer.
Kenny Edwards, Director's Intern
(402) 471-3784 or
Heather Hogue, Tourism Consultant
(402) 471-3796 or
Heather oversees the Tourism Marketing Grant program, a funding assistance program that encourages communities to work together to promote their area as a destination to tourists. Heather is responsible for updating the tourism database and website listings by coordinating information from all lodging properties, event planners, attraction facilities and tourism entities in order to provide that information to the traveling public. She also supervises the tourism interns, assigning projects as needed to ensure the office continues to function smoothly. Heather manages an information booth at the annual Nebraska State Fair and registration for the yearly Nebraska Travel Conference. She supervises the fulfillment operations for the Commission, working as the liaison between our call center and fulfillment operations center. If you are seeking an individual Nebraska highway map or a pallet full of copies of the Nebraska Travel Guide, Heather and our fulfillment team are here for you!
Heather joined the hospitality industry more than 20 years ago as a teenager learning the ropes at Pioneer Village in Minden, her hometown. Heather also worked as a customer service representative at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and as a travel agent. After years of traveling and experiencing all landscapes, Heather chose to return to Nebraska and now calls Lincoln home.
Karen Kollars, Western Tourism Consultant
(308) 249-3220 or
Karen works closely with 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. 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 Sidney.
Megan Lehl, Tourism Intern
Megan is from Scottsbluff, NE and is currently a junior at the University of Nebraska studying Hospitality, Restaurant, and Tourism Management with a minor in Leadership studies. She performs a variety of tasks around the office with the tourism staff.
Megan enjoys being involved on campus and in the community with her sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, University Ambassadors, HSMAI, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She loves dogs, trying new restaurants, baking, and traveling. Megan hopes to meet her prince charming and someday work overseas.
Shannon Peterson, Media Relations Coordinator/Public Information Officer
(402) 471-3797 or
Shannon is responsible for promoting Nebraska and its tourism opportunities to all forms of media: newspapers, television and radio stations, bloggers and travel writers. She also writes news releases, articles, advertorials and a blog featuring story ideas. Shannon coordinates travel writer visits, creating itineraries and partnering with community tourism leaders. She also coordinates all of the Commission’s social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.
Shannon has more than 15 years of experience in the news industry. She worked as a reporter for daily newspapers in Minnesota and Iowa and for The Associated Press. She spent 10 years as an online editor for Omaha.com, the World-Herald’s website. She earned a fellowship to the weeklong Multimedia Reporting and Convergence Workshop through Knight Digital Media Center at the University of California Berkeley and earned several Omaha World-Herald newsroom peer-recognition awards for excellence. She previously worked as the communications director for the Dairy Council of Central States, where she developed education exhibits, promotional campaigns and special events for Dairy World at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. Prior to joining the Nebraska Division of Travel and Tourism, she was the Web manager for Midland Lutheran College in Fremont, Neb. She graduated with a journalism degree from Creighton University.
Shannon enjoys traveling with her family in Nebraska and around the country, particularly to national parks. She often writes about her travels as a freelance writer for Home & Away magazine. She is active in the PTA at her children’s schools, is the vice president of her neighborhood association and serves on the citizen’s patrol. She is a member of the North Omaha Neighborhood Alliance. She and her husband spend their free time chauffeuring their teenage son to activities, chasing their baby daughter and herding their clowder of cats.
Tom Tabor, Northeastern Region Tourism Consultant
402) 471-7755 or
Tom joined the Commission in 2004 as the first eco-tourism development consultant for the state. A native Nebraskan, Tom’s previous work experience includes the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, where he worked as a horticulturist/forester in the Parks Division for 14 years. After leaving Game and Parks, he went to work for Information Technology, Inc., for one year as a computer programmer before moving on to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Office of Sponsored Programs, where he worked as a grant coordinator for five years.
Tom is a certified forestry technician through the University of Minnesota, North Central School and Experiment Station in Grand Rapids, Minn. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics with a minor in biology from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and has completed course work toward a master’s degree in community and regional planning with an emphasis in environmental planning. Tom is also a past board member of the Great Plains Trails Network.
Tom currently serves on several professionally associated boards as a state eco-tourism development representative. These boards include Ag Leadership, the Education and Communication Advisory Board, the Nebraska Birding Partnership Steering Committee, the Nebraska Birding Trails Workgroup Steering Committee, the Nebraska Recreational Trails Program Advisory Board, the State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan Advisory Board, and the Nebraska Outfitters and Guides Association Advisory Board.
Tom is the coordinator of the Greener Nebraska certification program, which works to promote and develop sustainable hospitality businesses. He is the co-coordinator of the annual Agri/Eco-Tourism Workshop that began in 2006. He enjoys working one-on-one with ranchers and farmers in entrepreneurial endeavors related to nature-based tourism and building capacity in this area.
Tom enjoys being involved in a conservation-oriented work focus and promoting and developing eco/nature-based tourism opportunities throughout the state. He will be promoting a variety of outdoor activities such as wildlife watching, camping, canoeing/kayaking, trails, hunting/fishing, and hiking and biking experiences for the state of Nebraska. In his spare time, you will find Tom biking, kayaking, hiking, running, camping, golfing and strumming his ukulele. You may also find him corralling a wealth of grandkids!
Brett Waggoner, Tourism Intern
(402) 471-3791 or
Brett is from North Platte, Nebraska, and is currently a junior marketing major with a Spanish minor. He takes on various projects to ensure that the office continues to run smoothly.
Brett is an avid golfer and he loves baseball. However, he recently had to transition from baseball to slow-pitch softball due to lack of talent. This Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity member has volunteered with the Special Olympics as the swim coach and was also a head coach for the Ernie Naranjo Buddy Ball League, the first baseball league in Nebraska for special-needs children.
Twyla Witt, Central Region Tourism Consultant
(308) 645-9566 or
Twyla is a native Nebraskan raised on a ranch in the Sandhills of north-central Nebraska. She now works from an office in Thedford. She works closely with the nine state-designated scenic byways and their grassroots organizations. Twyla enjoys working directly with the people along the byways and in her region, tourism development consulting including agri-tourism diversification ideas, marketing and promotion. She says that promoting Nebraska as a place to visit, work and play is very satisfying because she truly believes that Nebraska is a great destination. She has worked for the Commission for more than 15 years, most recently as the administrator of the Tourism Marketing & Advantage Grants and the fulfillment coordinator.
Twyla has more than 30 years of tourism experience including work as the former owner/manager of lodging properties in Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming, as a travel agent and as an account representative for Nebraska Logos selling the logo signage along I-80 in Nebraska. She worked for the U.S. Government Civil Service on Sembach Air Force Base in Germany while her husband was stationed there by the Air Force. She also completed the Basic Economic Development Course through the Texas A&M University system at San Antonio, Texas, in 2002.
Twyla graduated from the National College of Business in Rapid City, South Dakota, where she also completed an international business course with classes in Great Britain, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Italy.
Twyla is a member of the National Byway Foundation, Nebraska State Historical Society, Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union, Inc., Sandhills Discovery Foundation, Arbor Day Foundation, Lincoln Highway Association, the Sandhills Cattle Association, American Legion Auxiliary and the Thedford Area Economic Development Group. She enjoys researching family genealogy, antiquing, learning more about Nebraska history, the Sandhills and reading.