Meet the Staff

Meet The West Michigan Tourist Association Team

Dan Sippel

Name: Dan Sippel
Title: CEO
Phone: (616) 245-2217 ext 102
Get In Touch With Me For: Administration, board of directors or staff questions.

Favorite Summer Activity in West Michigan: It’s always hard to choose between all of the options, but I tend to be on or near the water. Sea kayaking, fishing and boating are passions that keep me busy in the summer. Golfing as many of the beautiful Michigan courses as possible is always a welcome challenge as well.

Favorite Winter Activity in West Michigan: Skiing, snowshoeing and ice hockey outdoors, and visiting our incredible cultural venues.

Best Place in West Michigan to Eat: I love the “farm to table” type restaurants throughout WM. Some of my favorites include: Food Dance in Kalamazoo, Real Foods in Rockford and Stella Trattoria in Traverse City, but I am always trying to find great experiences in Culinary Tourism.

It’s your first visit to West Michigan, where should you head first? The beaches are world class in West Michigan and I have seen many visitors amazed at the grandeur and beauty that is Pure Michigan Beaches. Our Beachtowns make the experiences even better with “apres-beach” activities.

Best Spot for Kids to Visit: So many great places from Michigan’s Adventure to Fredrik Meijer Gardens, Boyne Mountain and Avalanche Bay Water Park and our many historical and cultural destinations, museums and nature activities.

Favorite Outdoor Activity in West Michigan: Being outdoors and enjoying the natural beauty of the woods and waters in all of West Michigan.

Favorite Season in West Michigan: Spring, when the salmon run and the morel mushrooms announce the beginning of the season is my favorite.

Jess Herrema
Title: Office Manager
Phone: (616) 245-2217 ext 101
Get In Touch With Me For: Any questions regarding billing of partnerships, publications, trade shows, and online advertisements!

It’s your first visit to West Michigan, where should you head first? Silver Lake! We camp there every year and there is something for everyone of all ages.

Best spot for kids to visit: There is no way I can choose just one! My top 3 would be: Country Dairy, Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, and Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park.

Favorite Season in West Michigan: That would have to be fall! My family and I love the outdoors that time of year and you can’t beat the fall colors in Michigan!

What do you love most about West Michigan? There is so much to do – no need to vacation outside of Michigan when we can “staycation” right here!

Courtney ShefferName:
Courtney Sheffer
Title: Marketing Director
Phone: (616) 245-2217 ext 105

Get In Touch With Me For: Joining our mailing list, signing up to receive West Michigan Press Releases, website updates, information for connecting on our social media, questions on our newsletters, ideas on how WMTA can promote your business.

Favorite Winter Activity in West Michigan: Going to the beach! Lake Michigan is always fun in the summer, but in the dead of winter when the lake is frozen for hundreds of yards out from the shore, and full of caverns, hills, and ice balls formed by the waves, it’s truly majestic.

It’s your first visit to West Michigan, where should you head first? Straight to the shores of Lake Michigan! Gorgeous sandy beaches, miles of public shoreline, and gallons and gallons of clean, fresh water. Swim in it, boat on it, or relax next to it: there’s no wrong way to enjoy Lake Michigan.

Favorite outdoor activity in West Michigan: Definitely camping! There’s so many great public & private campgrounds to choose from, and it’s the perfect way to hit all of the things that I enjoy doing outdoors in West Michigan at once: hiking, kayaking, swimming, disc golfing, and (of course) s’mores!

What do you love most about West Michigan? My favorite thing about West Michigan is that it seems to offer the best of both worlds, in any given category! It boasts large, metropolitan cities and small, cozy towns. Nationally recognized dining experiences, and “Mom & Pop” restaurants whose food can’t be beat. Sprawling international festivals, and intimate concerts. No matter your tastes, you’ll find something in West Michigan that’s right up your alley.

Name: Erin Murphy
Title: Marketing Manager
Phone: (616) 245-2217 ext 107

Get in touch with me for: Press release questions, participating in trade shows, signing up or getting your information in our newsletters, how to get featured in our editorial.

It’s your first visit to West Michigan, where should you head first? As a Hope College grad (go Dutch!), I’m a bit partial to Holland! Downtown Holland has some amazing shops and restaurants and is a beautiful getaway in all four seasons. Plus, there’s multiple great beaches just a short drive away for everyone to enjoy!

Favorite Season in West Michigan: Nothing beats a West Michigan summer for me! A perfect summer day would include a day at Lake Michigan, enjoying the sunshine, warm sand, and water, and capping off the day with a beautiful sunset and some yummy ice cream.

What do you love most about West Michigan? I love how you don’t have to drive very far to experience so many different amazing towns and communities! You’re never too far away from a lake and you can easily find whatever you’re looking for, from big city amenities and lots of activity to sweet small towns full of charm.

Name: Kathleen Schiefler
Title: Materials & Marketing Coordinator
Phone: (616) 260-2649

Get in touch with me for: Pick up the phone and call or email me with any general West Michigan inquires, or to request a mailed copy of our awesome Carefree Travel Guides or Lighthouse Maps. (for immediate information you can access these materials on our website too!)

What do you love most about West Michigan? Well, just about everything. You know what they say, there is no place like home! And even if I didn’t live here, I’d surely want to BE here! The incredible diversity of beauty, scenery, culture, people, food, entertainment, and topography is mind boggling. And you don’t have to travel far to find an adventure just about every weekend. (Check out our calendar of events and find your next weekend getaway!) I’ve made my list…now it’s your turn!

What’s the coolest thing you have ever done in Michigan? Getting up in the middle of the night to watch the aurora borealis, walking waist-deep through a water trail to emerge on top of the Sand Hill bog. Taking wild kayak rides down the Pere Marquette River, flipping over, and losing my shoe, of course. Taking many tranquil weekend boating trips through the intercoastal waterway from Petoskey to Cheboygan, then through several locks and areas that made me swear I was in the everglades; seeing a fascinating Chicago skyline mirage over Lake Michigan at sunset when the conditions were oh so right; taking a breathtaking Silver Lakes dune ride up and over and through towering mountains of sand and down to the waters edge, building bonfires and eating smores with those I love while fireflies twinkle like fairies and tree frogs sing their songs.

What West Michigan things do you never tire of? The harvest of summer – picking dahlias and zinnias, or strawberries and blueberries at area u-pick farms and returning home to create beautiful bouquets and jars of yummy homemade jam; exploring farmers markets, and sampling any jar or bottle or box or label that says “Made in Michigan”; watching sunsets from one of dozens of my favorite spots all along our indescribably beautiful shorelines; listening quietly to the sounds of the river as the salmon run and splash about; walking barefoot in beach sand; magical nights with outdoor concerts; fun-tastic winery tours down south near Paw Paw or up north to Old Mission or Leelanau Peninsulas; soaking in a hot tub watching a thousand shooting stars in the Northern Michigan sky. Oh, and Mackinac Island too – tourists and all: it was my honeymoon after all…..

Name: Judy Dood
Title: Distribution Coordinator
Phone: (616) 260-2649
Get In Touch With Me For: Sending copies of our guides and answer phone inquiries

It’s your first visit to West Michigan, where should you head first? I would say the Sand Dunes, as they are a true beauty of nature.

Favorite outdoor activity in West Michigan: Camping; love being outdoors, and enjoying the beauty of all the areas of Michigan.

Favorite Season in West Michigan: Spring/Fall (hard decision).

What do you love most about West Michigan? The seasons.



Karen BreckonName:
  Karen Breckon
Title: Account Executive
Phone: (616) 240-3491
Get in touch with me for: Promoting your business through many of West Michigan Tourist Association’s extensive membership benefits.  I welcome you to contact me anytime you have questions or interest in advertising on our dynamic new website or in our annual Carefree Travel guide.  If you have questions about your current benefits, accessing your on-line membership profile, or how to become a WMTA member I can help you.  If your business or organization is located in West Michigan, I would welcome the opportunity to talk with you.  I am dedicated to promoting travel and tourism throughout the West Michigan region.  Utilizing one of West Michigan Tourist Association’s various marketing and media outlets, I would be happy to provide information and insight on how WMTA can provide value to your business.

Favorite Summer Activity in West Michigan: Traveling!  I love to travel with my family and friends to many great destinations that West Michigan has to offer.  From ball parks to theaters, from farm markets to the beaches, from museums to festivals, there is always something new to discover or uncover.

Favorite outdoor activity in West Michigan: My favorite outdoor activity would be boating. Lake Michigan water is mesmerizing as you soar the coast with the breeze in your hair and the sun on your face. If you can catch the sun setting too, even better.  The colors are equally fascinating.

Favorite Season in West Michigan: I love shoes (what woman doesn’t) but I especially love flip flops. So if I had to choose a favorite season, it would be flip flop season. Any time I can kick them off and jump in a pool or a lake, it’s a great day. With more than 11,000 inland lakes in Michigan, and one big Lake Michigan, there are plenty of opportunities to kick off the flips and dive right in.

What do you love most about West Michigan?  Born and raised outside of Chicago, I have had my fair share of lights, traffic and gobs of people. That’s not to say that you can’t find the hustle and bustle in West Michigan, but to me West Michigan is unfiltered. The nights are dark and not polluted with city lights making the stars incredible for viewing. The people are friendly and inviting in their communities. There is small town charm as well as big city life coupled with world class dining, breweries/distilleries and entertaining attractions. I am proud to call West Michigan home.


Name: Alise Hale
Title: Account Executive
Phone: 231.350.2973
Get in touch with me for: Promoting your business through WMTA. If you’re not a partner yet, why not? You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the many benefits that come with your partnership. And if you are a partner, let’s chat over lunch; I’d like to show you what’s new with WMTA.

It’s your first visit to West Michigan, where should you head first? Hands down, the turquoise blue waters of Torch Lake! Weekends are great but one of my favorite times are mid-week, later in the day, when it feels like I have the lake to myself.

Favorite Season in West Michigan: I simply can’t decide and that’s what makes West Michigan great. Whether you enjoy skiing or snowshoeing in the winter, morel hunting and walks in the spring, boating and golfing in the summer, or the harvest and vibrant colors in the fall, you’ll never be disappointed.