Chelsea A. Ruby, Tourism Secretary

Chelsea Ruby was appointed Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Tourism by West Virginia’s 36th Governor Jim Justice in March 2021. This appointment marked an elevation of the West Virginia Tourism Office to a cabinet-level department, where Ruby served as Tourism Commissioner for four years. Tourism is a pillar of Governor Justice’s administration. As  Secretary, Ruby leads efforts to unify and promote the state’s Almost Heaven brand, advance  tourism development, and promote the Mountain State to a broader audience, featuring West Virginia as a year-round travel destination to both national and international travelers. 

Under Ruby’s leadership, tourism in West Virginia has seen historic success. Annual traveler spending grew by $611 million, a 14.8% increase, in three years preceding the pandemic. Along with growth in visitation, the state has seen historic levels of private investment. Recent projects total more than $250 million in new developments and represent every region of the state.

She and her team have received numerous marketing and advertising accolades for the Almost Heaven brand campaign, which launched in April 2018. The Department of Tourism has been recognized as a national leader with an ESTO Mercury Award for best broadcast television ad, both an Eddie Award and an ESTO Mercury Award for the 2020 vacation guide, and a ESTO Mercury Award for community building during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Previously, Ruby served as Director of Marketing and Communications for the West Virginia Department of Commerce, where she earned numerous state and regional marketing awards for the department’s successful social media, print publications, and comprehensive public  relations and advertising campaigns. She also was a member of then-Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s communications staff and served as executive director of West Virginia’s acclaimed 150th birthday celebration. In 2021, Ruby was named a Young Gun by West Virginia Executive Magazine. She was named Young Practitioner of the Year by the West Virginia Public Relations Society of America in 2014, as well as being recognized as one of West Virginia’s 40 top young professionals by Generation Next in 2015. 

Secretary Ruby currently serves on the board of directors for Travel South USA, the official regional destination marketing organization for the southern United States. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and lives in Charleston, West Virginia, with her husband Steve, and their three children.