Governor Hochul Makes Announcement Amid Historic Investment. Mike Pratt to Retire After 38 Years of Service
Read the full announcement here on Governor Hochul’s website.
Governor Kathy Hochul today welcomed Ashley Walden as the next President and CEO of the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority. She succeeds Mike Pratt, who is retiring after over 38 years with the organization. The Olympic Authority’s directors voted to appoint Ms. Walden following a multi-month search.
“Congratulations to Ashley Walden, who brings dedication, leadership and deep sports knowledge to the Olympic Regional Development Authority,” Governor Hochul said. “I want to thank Mike Pratt for his 38 years of dedication and leadership of the Olympic Authority, which have been among the best in the Olympic Authority’s history. Building on the State’s recent generational investments in our Olympic facilities and the successful FISU 2023 World University Games, the future of winter sports in New York State is bright.”
Walden was a successful athlete with USA Luge on the Olympic and World Cup level before transitioning to recent sport leadership roles. She joins the Olympic Authority after serving as Executive Director of the Adirondack Sports Council, where she promoted sports and athletic development in the region. Walden organized the 2023 Winter World University Games, a multi-sport collegiate event that involved over 50 countries and approximately 600 universities. Prior to that, as Director of Sport and Operations for USA Bobsled and Skeleton, Walden led a recruiting and development effort for both sports to support growth and top performance for the athletes.
Olympic Authority Board Chair Joe Martens said, “Ashley’s accomplishments, first as an athlete and now as an executive, run parallel. She sets ambitious goals, overcomes challenges, and inspires others to reach their full potential. I have no doubt she will do that as the Olympic Authority’s President & CEO, following in Mike Pratt’s giant footsteps.”
Mike Pratt has been the Olympic Authority’s President and CEO since February 2017. During his tenure, New York has invested more than $600 million in the Olympic Authority facilities to help reposition the State of New York as a global winter sport destination. The major transformations and modernizations were executed with a focus on sustainability and financial responsibility. The venues include Mt. Van Hoevenberg, the Olympic Center, the Olympic Jumping Complex, and the Olympic Authority’s three ski areas, Belleayre Mountain, Gore Mountain, and Whiteface Mountain. The facilities are open year-round for events, athlete training, and recreation, while providing world-class experiences and competitions. In addition to its six venues in the Adirondacks and Catskills, the Olympic Authority manages the Lake Placid Olympic Museum and Lake Placid Conference Center. The organization also owns the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center, the U.S. Luge Association facility, and the Olympic Authority’s Corporate offices, all located in Lake Placid.
Last winter, New York welcomed 68.5 million visitors, generating more than $16.1 billion in direct visitor spending. The Olympic Authority surpassed one million visits to the venues in the 2022/2023 fiscal; it included record-breaking growth in season passes and operational revenue as well as an expanded scope of the Olympic Authority’s business segments and year-round activities. Tourism Economics reported that the Olympic Authority delivered a $341.8 million economic impact for New York State during the 2022/2023 fiscal year, a 119 percent increase from the $156 million reported in 2016/2017.
The Olympic Authority Board of Directors found Walden to be a leader who will build on the Olympic Authority’s economic successes and continue to leverage the venue investments that New York State has made. Governor Hochul’s 2023/2024 Executive Budget includes $92.5 million in capital contributions to continue improving and maintaining the Olympic Authority’s venues and facilities.