Chelsea 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. Growth in traveler spending in West Virginia outpaced the national growth rate and saw a 9.9% increase in just two years. In addition, the Department of Tourism has received numerous marketing and advertising accolades for the Almost Heaven brand campaign, which launched in April 2018, including an ESTO Mercury Award for best broadcast television ad and an Eddie Award for best Custom Content Marketing piece for the 2020 West Virginia Vacation Guide.
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 2014, Ruby was named Young Practitioner of the Year by the West Virginia Public Relations Society of America, and in 2015, she was recognized as one of West Virginia’s 40 top young professionals by Generation Next.
Secretary Ruby currently serves as Chair of the board of directors for Travel South USA, the official regional destination marketing organization for the southern United States and serves on Travel South’s media relations and advertising committee. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and lives in Charleston, West Virginia, with her husband Steve, and their two children.