2023 Landscape of Family Travel Panel Discussion

2023 Landscape of Family Travel Panel Discussion


Ken Shapiro

Vice President, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, TravelAge West, Family Getaways, Explorer

As Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Ken Shapiro has overseen the growth of TravelAge West, creating the number-one travel trade brand in the Western U.S. He successfully launched Family Getaways, covering family and multigenerational travel, and Explorer, focused on adventure and experiential travel. Under his guidance, all three titles have received numerous national and international editorial, design and online awards. TravelAge West also presents the annual WAVE (Western Agents Votes of Excellence) Awards for travel suppliers; the Future Leaders in Travel Retreat, for the next generation of travel advisors; and Global Travel Marketplace (GTM) West, the top face-to-face marketplace event for advisors.

Shapiro is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and has won writing awards from numerous organizations, including SATW and the North American Travel Journalists Association. He is also a recipient of the Diamond Award from the Southern California chapter of the American Society of Travel Agents. He lives with his wife and their two children in Los Angeles.


Stephanie Sheehy Protti

CEO, General Manager, Il Viaggio Travel

Founded in 2005 by Emilio Zuniga and Stephanie Sheehy. The family business is the local ground operator with all government certifications, like the ELITE level in Sustainability and the Social Seal. They specialize on Families and Accessible Travel, believing everyone should be able to enjoy Costa Rica equally. That is why Il Viaggie Travel is the pioneer and leader in accessible travel in Costa Rica.






Michelle Baran


Michelle Baran is the senior travel news editor at Afar where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, family travel, air, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined Afar in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly. She has reported on family travel topics that range from top travel destinations for families with kids at every age to a mental health-focus kids’ club at a Mexico resort, from families who went fully remote during the pandemic, to visiting Hawai’i more responsibly with kids. A daughter of immigrants, Baran is fluent in French, Polish and Romanian and is just back from a multigen trip to Eastern Europe with her entire family. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband, hilarious seven-year-old son, and feisty four-year-old daughter.






Jamie Biesiada

Travel Weekly

Travel Weekly senior editor Jamie Biesiada covers retail travel sellers, reporting news about travel advisors and agencies, consortia, host agencies and OTAs. She also is co-host of the Trade Secrets podcast. In addition, she covers GDSs and other technologies driving the retail distribution channel, as well as theme parks. She was named the American Society of TravelAdvisors’ 2019 ASTA Travel Journalist of the Year. Biesiada’s roots are in community journalism. Before Travel Weekly, she was most recently the editor of Star News Group based in Manasquan, N.J., covering communities up and down the New Jersey shore. She was named to Editor & Publisher’s Top 25 Under 35 list in 2013, which honors the most promising young journalists.






Karen Cicero

Good Housekeeping

Karen Cicero is the contributing family travel editor for Good Housekeeping, where she writes several stories monthly and manages travel for the brand’s Family Travel Awards. She also accepts freelance writing and consulting assignments. In the last year, her work has appeared in Real SimpleTravel + LeisureReader’s Digest and other national publications. For more than 10 years, she was the travel editor at Parents magazine. She has launched numerous travel awards during her career, and forged partnerships with brands such as TripAdvisor and Google Maps. A frequent traveler with her family, Cicero has visited almost every state. She’s been a featured speaker at several industry conferences, including PRSA and the Mid-Atlantic Tourism Alliance. Cicero has been quoted about family travel in The New York TimesUSA Today, and other national publications. A mom who goes overboard for the holidays, she lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania—the Christmas City! You can follow Karen on Instagram at Karen.Cicero and on TikTok at karencicero.