Jan Simon, WLA’s president and CEO, is retiring on March 31.

Jan Simon, WLA’s president and CEO, is retiring on March 31.

(March 16, 2015) After more than 15 years at the helm of the Washington Lodging Association, President & CEO Jan Simon Aridj will retire on March 31, 2015. Under her talented leadership, WLA has doubled the number of rooms in membership, greatly expanded its member programs and services, and delivered critical legislative and regulatory victories for Washington’s lodging industry.

“Jan has been an amazing leader and will be greatly missed. She has been passionate in her defense of our interests, brilliant in her ability to achieve results and generous as a mentor and friend,” says Meghan Wiley, chair of WLA’s Board of Directors.

Among Jan’s many accomplishments is her success in developing and implementing programs and products that have increased the value of membership and the financial stability of the Association. This includes transforming the failing Washington State Visitors’ Guide into the state’s premier tourism publication and launching the Workers’ Comp Safety & Savings Program. Also known as “Retro” because participants earn retroactive premium refunds, the Workers’ Comp Program has returned over $8 million to WLA members since 2006 and helps them lower the cost of doing business through diligent claims management, safety training and risk prevention.

During Jan’s tenure, WLA received a landmark grant from the State Department of Ecology to establish the Greening Washington’s Lodging Industry Program and became one of the first lodging associations in the country to host anti-trafficking training to educate lodging owners and operators on best practices for making properties inhospitable to sex trafficking and related crimes.

On the legislative and regulatory front, Jan has led effective lobbying efforts and mobilized WLA’s grassroots action network to successfully advocate for the industry’s interest. Achievements include ensuring that lodging taxes continue to be used as intended to promote tourism and overnight travel, ending Department of Health inspections of rented guestrooms and making sure the state’s building code does not require carbon monoxide monitors in rooms where there is no risk of exposure.

“We’ve been able to accomplish so much together, and it has all been possible thanks to the leadership and truly engaged participation of immensely talented directors and officers and thanks to WLA’s tremendous members and professional partners,” Jan recently told members. “It has truly been a privilege to work with such smart, generous and dedicated professionals and industry stewards.”

Prior to joining WLA, Jan served as executive director of the 1,000-member Washington State Chiropractic Association; regional manager for Landmark Education, a worldwide training and development company; marketing director of Crossroads Mall in Bellevue; and owner and publisher of City Kids magazine. Jan has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Columbia College in Chicago.

Her retirement was first shared with WLA members in November at WLA’s Annual Convention & Trade Show, where she was celebrated by a distinguished group of WLA past chairs. She was given a Star of the Industry Award for her many accomplishments on behalf of the industry and for her significant contribution to the growth and effectiveness of the Association.

Jan is planning to experience the other side of the hospitality industry with a trip to the Czech Republic and Poland this spring. Upon her return she will begin training to walk the nearly 800-mile Camino de Santiago trail in Spain in 2016.

WLA’s Board has retained Stan Bowman, a skilled executive and policy advocate with more than 20 years’ experience in association management and public affairs, to lead WLA as president and CEO upon Jan’s retirement.


Read about the celebration of Jan’s accomplishments and contributions at the Stars of Industry Awards Dinner.

Learn more about the establishment of a new hospitality association.

Learn more about Stan Bowman, WLA’s incoming president and CEO.