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Meet Our Board Members

Visit Escanaba Board Members

Visit Escanaba board members accepted the 2023 Record Breaker Award at the Delta Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner. The Upper Peninsula State Fair honored Visit Escanaba for introducing the Northern Lights Music Fest.

Jarred Drown

Jarred Drown, president


Terrace Bay Hotel

“The economic growth of this region has been exciting over the past decade. I envision in the next 20 years, the Little Bay de Noc to become a higher-end hospitality and resort destination. VisitEscanaba’s marketing efforts are helping to make this happen by bringing more tourists and businesses to the area.”

Jarred started his career in the hotel industry in 2008 and moved to our area in 2012. He’s served on the board since 2013 and currently is president. His proven track record as a successful hotel owner and entrepreneur, as well as his membership on several nonprofit boards over the years, help to make him a forward-thinking, strategic leader. He strengthens his insights by visiting other high-end hotels in the region and serving on the Upper Peninsula Tourism and Recreation Association board of directors.

Jarred is passionate about water and wind sports, and the Bays de Noc are his playground. His enthusiasm for the area is contagious and he’s the first to encourage and help locals and visitors get outside and enjoy all its natural resources. Throughout the different seasons, you will find Jarred kite surfing, wing foiling and snowboarding. 

When visitors ask Jarred what they should do while in Delta County, he’s quick to recommend a visit to Fayette Historic State Park and Townsite in Garden and spending time on any of the beaches. The beaches, after all, are some of the best in the Upper Peninsula!

“I love being on the water and I want more people who share my enthusiasm to see what’s here. I want more businesses to discover this is a place for them to grow, too. There’s a lot of exciting potential.”

Jarred and his wife Jennifer have four children and five cats. They enjoy playing together — especially on the Bays.

Andrew Rasch

Andrew Rasch, vice president

Regional Manager

Goldthorpe Enterprises Inc DBA | Gladstone Motel 

“As a regional manager, I routinely interact with guests at our properties in multiple counties in the U.P. They share with me information about what they are looking to do to make the most of their time in Yooper Land. I share this bigger picture with the board to help find solutions to the challenges that create barriers to tourism.”

Andrew moved here in 2015 to manage the Quality Inn & Suites of Escanaba, He formally began work in hospitality and tourism in 2007. But Andrew grew up in the Michigan State Parks system living in various parks with his family, so he’s been interacting with tourists since age six.

He first joined the board in 2015 as a board member and eventually vice president until 2022. When his company sold the Quality Inn & Suites of Escanaba, he rejoined the board in January 2024, representing Gladstone Motel and resumed his position as vice president.

Andrew brings a wealth of tourism experience to the board, with his biggest strength being strategic planning. He has served as executive director of the Newberry Area Tourism Association since January 2022 and in January 2023 became a board member for the Manistique Area Tourism Council. Andrew tracks tourism trends through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Upper Peninsula Travel and Recreation Association, The Michigan Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus and travel professionals in Michigan. 

“Since joining the board, I have seen fantastic growth in Delta County. Consistent messaging is key to telling our area’s story to individuals looking for a vacation place and companies seeking new markets. Some of the new businesses that have come to our area recently learned about our community from our tourism efforts. The greater the economic growth of our area the more value for our visitors.”

Andrew’s multiple jobs take up most of his week, but he enjoys spending his free time with his partner Jennifer and their two children. When he can, he squeezes in reading, writing stories and learning new things — currently, it is Python programming language.

Tammy Thiel

Tammy Thiel, treasurer

Owner & Operator with Tom Thiel

Bay View Motel

“The most important thing we can do for visitors is to let them know what is going on and the things they can do while they are here.”

Tammy brings over 40 years of tourism experience to the board. For three decades, she served as a master chef, owning and operating a restaurant on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. When her husband Tom took an electrician job in Delta County, they fell in love with the area. They moved to Gladstone in 2012, taking up residence at the Bay View Motel, which they managed for two years before buying the property in 2014. 

Tammy has served on the Visit Escanaba board since 2020. The future of tourism excites her. She knows improvements to the beaches and efforts to improve area trails, especially those designed for side-by-side off-road vehicles (one of her passions), will attract people. She says the secret sauce is to treat tourists like “family.” That’s why Bay View serves chili to anglers in the winter and hosts a fish fry at the opening of walleye season in May. 

“Tom and I know it is important to run an impeccable motel but also to give back to the community. One of our passions is the Delta Animal Shelter. When the United Flyball League International Tournament comes to the Upper Peninsula State Fairgrounds in late July, we match every pet fee from our motel guests that weekend and donate it to the Shelter. Hosting events like Flyball is good for tourism and our homeless pets.”

Something community members might not know about Tammy is she served three years in the Canadian Navy and three years in the Canadian Coast Guard as an ocean graphic operator. She loves gardening and encourages guests to pick fresh produce while staying at the motel. Tammy and Tom have a son who is the motel manager, a daughter, three dogs and two cats.

Rick Chrisman

Rick Chrisman, director

President and CEO

Hiawatha Hotel

“I am excited to help make tourism an even stronger economic force in our area. We have a lot of waterfront and beautiful public beaches in Gladstone and Escanaba. We are also a hub for accessing some of the top tourist attractions in the U.P., including Kitch-iti-kipi, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and hundreds of waterfalls.”

Rick worked for 30 years for the State of Michigan in juvenile delinquency rehabilitation facilities. He had never been in the U.P. until he moved to Escanaba in the summer of 1996 to help open Bay Pines Center where he was a trades instructor. After retiring from the State, he sold real estate in the area. He and his wife Cathy bought the Hiawatha Hotel in 2014 and he’s served on the board since 2015. 

He sees his most important responsibility as a board member as “putting heads in beds” at local lodgings. As a realtor, he watched the ebb and flow of residents and businesses coming and leaving the area. He wants to help bring more people here and give them reasons to stay.

Rick sees the Upper Peninsula State Fairgrounds as a big draw for getting large numbers of people to see what’s here and to give them reasons to come back. 

“The fairgrounds offer more events than the State Fair. When the National Trappers Association Convention met here in 2023, we filled all the hotels for miles around. We have the facilities, the outdoor activities and attractions to bring more events like that to the area. I want to help unify VisitEscanaba, the Chamber and Fair boards efforts to make this an event destination and to make sure once visitors are here, they know what makes this a fun place to be.” 

Rick and Cathy have six adult children, 15 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. His pastimes include fishing and hunting and he adds with a grin, he’s always on the lookout for Big Foot.

Dave Lafave 

Dave LaFave, director


Sunset Lodge

“What makes me passionate about this area are its people and their heritage and culture. There are so many great stories and pictures about how our ancestors built this region. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and live like they did.”

Dave was born and raised in Escanaba. After college, he spent 25 years in Weston, Wisconsin, serving various roles for United Healthcare. But when he was offered an opportunity to manage the Sunset Lodge, he jumped at the career change. He happily returned to Escanaba to be closer to his daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren and he’s never looked back.

Dave joined the board in 2020 and has contributed his lifelong knowledge of the region, its attractions, activities and culture. He augments his insights by asking Sunset Lodge guests about what brings them to the area.

Dave takes seriously his board responsibilities of promoting tourism, the U.P. culture and events that bring more visitors to the area. He focuses on developing stronger relationships with local businesses, organizations, cities and other tourism associations. Besides his VisitEscanaba board directorship, Dave is a member of the Upper Peninsula Travel and Recreation Association and the Delta County Chamber of Commerce. He is also an avid supporter of many local school events. 

“I love everything about the outdoors in the Escanaba area — camping, fishing, hunting, swimming and pontooning. But much of my energy focuses on working with local organizations to ensure we have appropriate trail systems for UTV-side-by-side riders and snowmobilers because I use them, too.”

In addition to spending time with his family and watching his grandkids’ sporting events, Dave enjoys playing fetch with his chocolate labrador, Jersey. She wears a Tasmanian Devil collar that matches her wild and crazy personality. A fascinating fact about Dave’s deep tourism roots — his grandfather helped build the Mackinac Bridge. 

Robert Micheau

Robert Micheau


Visit Escanaba

“I see many successful people in the Escanaba area living good lives because of all you can do outdoors, our beautiful nature, craft beverages, retail choices and delicious dining. It’s exciting to bring more tourists, more businesses and commerce to our region.”

Robert knows the area well. He grew up here. But before kicking off his tourism career, he lived downstate for a few years and moved back to Escanaba in 2008 to work for over a decade in Economic Development with The Job Force Board and UPWard Talent Council. He and his wife Meghan ran a B&B for six years before accepting the CEO position at Visit Escanaba in 2017. Robert credits Delta County Chamber’s Delta Force Leadership Program for strengthening his executive skills and providing a network of regional mentors and advisors. 

Robert is the board’s key resource for tourism trends, challenges and opportunities. He is a member of the Michigan Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus, serves on the Advocacy Committee for the association and networks with tourism industry leaders to get their advice on marketing the area, implementing new initiatives and overcoming challenges. 

“The board’s chief responsibilities are to protect the heritage and communities of Delta County. For any activities we do, we need to be mindful of the people who live here and make sure tourism doesn’t negatively impact our communities. Our goal is to provide good times for tourists and residents.”

Where does he advise finding those good experiences? Robert directs tourists to the Upper Peninsula State Fair, Van Cleve and Ludington Parks where they can enjoy beautiful views all year round, bring a picnic, go fishing and enjoy the water. He recommends trying something new each time you visit, take a fall color tour and put Fayette Historic State Park on your bucket list. 

Robert and Meghan have two children. In his spare time, he enjoys cheering on his son’s football team and every chance he gets, being with his family along the Bays de Noc.

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