RENO, Nev. -- A former tour operator and travel consultant was
honored by a blue-chip panel for her role in helping to formulate
Nevada's tourism policies.
Jean Ford, who has, by her own admission, "moved in and out of
the tourism business" during her life, was feted at a special
luncheon during the recent Nevada Governor's Conference on Tourism.
She is credited widely with having played a leading role in
drafting the legislation that led to the establishment, in 1983, of
the Nevada Commission on Tourism, the constitution of which is
virtually unchanged today.
Sens. Harry Reid and Richard Bryan; Gov. Bob Miller, and a blue
chip panel that included two Nevada Supreme Court justices and the
leaders of the state senate and assembly paid tribute to the
northern Nevada native, now 67 and in ill health.
Ford's record of public service was hailed by all of the
speakers. Phrases such as "innovative legislator," "women's rights
pioneer," and "driving force in Nevada for three decades" were
widely used in summing up her accomplishments.
She has been one of the most influential women in Nevada since
her election to the state assembly in the early 1970s and to the
senate a few years later. After losing a reelection bid, she went
to work for then-state senator Bryan in his successful campaign for
governor. At that time, she had her first hands-on contact with the
visitor industry: The travel-arranging aspects of the campaign led
her to set up a company (Nevada Discovery Tours) organizing spouse
programs for convention groups.
As a special consultant to Bryan -- who by then had become
governor -- she helped write the legislation that created the
tourism commission and was named a commissioner for a two-year
term. In 1985, with her term completed, she moved to the state
capital, Carson City, to become director of community services in
the Bryan administration; later, under Miller, she organized and
escorted familiarization tours of the state for members of the
National Tour Association.
In recent years, she taught a class at the University of
Nevada-Las Vegas on Women on the Frontier and became the chair of
the Nevada Women's History Project, a statewide program to
highlight the role of women in the development of the Silver
Of the growth of tourism in Nevada and the success of the
commission that she helped establish, Ford said, "It's really been
an educational job. What I wanted to do was promote not just the
casinos but cultural tourism -- to rural Nevada, to the historic
sites and natural attractions. Some people just didn't understand
that, even some of those who stood to benefit from that
Although not directly involved with the Commission on Tourism
for several years, Ford always has been available to advise,
according to Tom Tait, the group's executive director. "Jean Ford,"
Tait said, "is a remarkable woman."