Kelly pawlak 

President/ceo, National ski areas association

Kelly first started in the industry when she joined Mount Snow, VT, in 1985, and then was later named Mount Snow general manager in 2005. She has 30 years of experience at Mount Snow and has held a variety of positions including Vice President of Marketing and Sales and Vice President of Resort Operations. In November of 2017, Kelly became the President/CEO of National Ski Areas Association (NSAA).

Kelly shares how her first year at NSAA has been as well as an inside look into her session during the Forum.


How has your first season as the new President and CEO of NSAA been so far? What were your biggest surprises?

It was an amazing first year.  I knew I would like working with the NSAA staff but they really blew away all of my expectations – they are very capable and have taught me so much.  The skiing was equally amazing!  From Wachusett to Mammoth, a highlight of my year was visiting resorts and seeing all of the cool things that our membership is doing.  Biggest surprise?  Hmmmm?  Bar down!  Western skiers and riders are a brave bunch and look at me a little odd when I ask to put the bar down.  Safety first, folks!

We are really excited about the Growth Through Innovation session you are participating in. Can you give us a few of the key items you will be highlighting?

My primary role is to provide the audience with the background due to National Ski Areas Association’s strong historical data collection.  I will outline where we are as an industry and some of the challenges we face.  And I am passionate about finding solutions to get more Americans outside and up to the mountains so I hope to have the opportunity to have that discussion, too.

Talking to the MTS attendees now, what would you ask them to think about BEFORE MTS to put them in the right mindset to think about innovative ways to grow the industry?

I would ask them to think about themselves, maybe a personal experience when they were most innovative?  What pushes you out of you comfort zone?  Who pushes you? What is the result when you move out of your comfort zone?  Now apply those questions and answers to your work.  Are you opening up and pushing enough? 

This is your second MTS, what are you most looking forward to? 

The speakers – it always motivates me and sends me away with a strong list of ideas.  And of course, the skiing!  I have never skied Whistler.

MTS is very different than NSAA, what lessons do you think your members, ski resorts across the U.S., can learn by participating at MTS? 

When I was working at Mount Snow, VT, marketing/sales staff usually went to MTS.  There is a lot of valuable content but the networking opportunity is equally important.  I believe that education is one of the most important gifts that we share with our staff – it is empowering.

Check out Kelly’s breakout and general session at the MTS Forum, April 3-4, Whistler, BC, Canada.