Appointed by Governor Walker in January 2011, Stephanie Klett has the privilege of leading the state’s $16.8 billion tourism industry as the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. The mission of this cabinet level agency is to promote the state as the Midwest’s premier travel destination for fun.
Working in collaboration with the statewide tourism industry, traveler spending in Wisconsin has increased $2 billion since 2011, supporting 1 in 13 jobs and generating $1.3 billion in revenue for state and local government. With the support of the Governor and the legislature, the tourism budget has seen an approximately 30 percent increase.
Klett has brought new energy to the Department, which has seen a resurgence thanks in large measure to award-winning creative marketing efforts, including the recruitment of Hollywood directors and celebrities (with Wisconsin ties) for advertising campaigns. These efforts are realizing a 6 to 1 return for Wisconsin taxpayers. Under her leadership, the Department earned 28 national and international marketing and public relations awards in 2011-2013; eight Travel Wisconsin Welcome Centers are open for business; and, new industry customer service and development programs are helping communities grow their local economies.
Klett believes Wisconsin Tourism has a big role in creating jobs and improving the quality of life for Wisconsin residents. She understands the power of partnerships, shining the light on Wisconsin’s hidden and lesser-known treasures, and working with the dynamic tourism-related organizations around the state.
Klett has been promoting Wisconsin for over two decades, logging more than one million miles criss-crossing the state during her 20-year career hosting the award winning Discover Wisconsin Television & Radio series. She has received eight Emmy nominations from the Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, finally bringing home the Golden statue in the category of “Individual Excellence for On-Camera Hosting” in 2010. At last - no more Susan Lucci jokes.
Many recognize Klett from her year as 1992 Miss Wisconsin. She was a Bert Parks Talent winner at the 1993 Miss America Finals in Atlantic City – the first cornet player in its history. During her year as Miss Wisconsin, she created the ATTITUDE ON AIDS program to educate teens on the facts of HIV and AIDS. Her charity work has continued with the “Spotlight on Wisconsin” benefit, helping to raise money for the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, Beloit Regional Hospice, and the Stateline Area Boys & Girls Clubs.
Klett is a member of the Ice Age Trail Alliance, the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame Foundation, a Beloit Regional Hospice Board Member, Beloit Memorial Hall of Fame Inductee, and is a lay minister for the River of Life United Methodist Church.
Klett is a graduate of Beloit College, Wisconsin’s oldest college of continuing education. Her parents, Fred and Joanne Klett, have been married for 60 years and hail originally from the big Wisconsin cities of La Valle and Elroy. They have 10 children: 9 sons, and one daughter. Klett credits her brothers for her sense of humor and being single.