Board of Advisors

Board of Advisors

The Family Travel Association was founded in 2014 by Rainer Jenss and a steering committee who recognized that too many parents do not take advantage of the amazing travel opportunities available to them and their children. Considering that family travel constitutes approximately one third of all leisure travel, and has seen steady growth in family and multigenerational travel, the time has come to create a single and collective voice on behalf of the travel industry and those companies that serve traveling families.

If you are involved in the travel industry and offer products and services specifically for families, you have a place in the association. Go to Become A Member to find out how the Family Travel Association can help you be more connected, profitable and informed, or call us at 1.845.689.9033.

Carylann Assante, CAE

CEO, SYTA and SYTA Youth Foundation

A seasoned tourism and association executive with more than 30 years of experience in the industry, Carylann Assante, CAE serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Student & Youth Travel Association, the international association that promotes student and youth travel worldwide. Carylann is also the Chief Staff Officer of the SYTA Youth Foundation, the philanthropic arm that provides scholarships and education experiences for students and youth who are unable to travel due to financial and personal hardship.

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Dan Austin

Founder and President of Austin Adventures

Founder & President of Austin Adventures, Dan manages all aspects of the day to day of this small international tour company. After 20 years as founder and President of a large international commercial construction company, Dan was looking for new adventures when he acquired Backcountry Tours in 1994. Backcountry evolved over the years through several key acquisitions to be what Austin Adventures is today. Over the last 20 years Dan has become a respected expert on Adventure Travel and as a result holds key positions on numerous boards.

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Morgan Bruemmer

Founding Partner, The Clear Creek Group

Morgan Bruemmer is a Founding Partner of The Clear Creek Group, a luxury villa rental firm and real estate brokerage in Jackson, Wyoming. Within the company, his primary focus is business development, public relations, and marketing, roles that led to his affiliation with the Family Travel Association.

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Laura Davidson

President & Founder, Laura Davidson Public Relations

Laura Davidson is the creative force behind LDPR, a leading New York-based public relations agency that specializes in travel and lifestyle clients. For more than 20 years it has been in the vanguard of its industry, constantly stretching the traditional boundaries of PR, embracing new digital solutions and adding services for its roster of top international clients. Today LDPR’s client list includes destinations like Scotland; Sydney, Australia; and Portland, Oregon; global hospitality brands like Aman Resorts and Abercrombie & Kent; luxury resorts such as Park Hyatt St. Kitts, Las Alcobas Napa Valley, the Ocean House in Watch Hill, RI, and Gleneagles in Scotland; and the ultimate family travel destination, Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas.

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Randy Garfield

President Walt Disney Travel Co. & EVP Worldwide Sales & Travel Operations – Disney Destinations (Retired)

Randy A. Garfield, the recently retired (after 20+ years) President of Walt Disney Travel Company and Executive Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Travel Operations for Disney Destinations, has agreed both to join the FTA Board of Advisors and to anchor its upcoming Summit as its keynote speaker. Much accoladed, he brings to the association broad and deep knowledge of the tourism industry, fed by his experience at Disney as well at Universal Studios and by his time as chair and longest-serving executive committee member for the U.S. Travel Association, and member of the Board of Directors of Brand USA. Over the years, Garfield has also held chairmanship and other leadership roles with Visit Orlando, Visit Florida,the California Travel & Tourism Commission and other civic and tourism organizations.

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Heather Greenwood Davis

Multiple award-winning journalist and feature writer

Heather Greenwood Davis is a former lawyer turned multiple award-winning journalist and feature writer. Her columns and feature articles have appeared for more than 20 years in newspapers, magazines and online publications around the world including O Magazine, National Geographic Traveler (where she is the Family Time columnist), USA Today, The Travel Channel, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, Today’s Parent, Canadian Living and more.

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Wanda Goodman

Deputy Secretary, South Dakota Department of Tourism

Wanda Goodman serves as the Deputy Secretary for the South Dakota Department of Tourism, a position she has held since 2012. In this role, she works on inter-agency issues, constituent services and legislative matters, as well as assisting in the department’s day-to-day operations, developing strategic partnerships, advocacy and policy work, and overseeing the department’s strategic plan.

Prior to this role, Wanda served the Department of Tourism as the Media & Industry Relations Manager, and worked as the Public Relations Director for a small marketing firm.

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Ron Gulaskey

AVP, National/Strategic Accounts & Trade Relations, North America, Celebrity Cruises

Ron leads the consortia, strategic account and trade relation efforts within the industry. In his past role as Director, Global Corporate & Charter Sales his team managed double digit growth every year and Celebrity’s charter business attracted some of the leading Fortune 500 corporations in North America, and also incredible brands for re?sale charters. Gulaskey previously served as Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Director, Northeast Field Sales and prior to that senior sales and marketing roles for Polaroid Corporation in the consumer & commercial divisions.

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Lynn O’Rourke Hayes

Editor, FamilyTravel.com

Lynn O’Rourke Hayes relishes sharing strategies for balancing family, work, and exploration through her writing, photography, and consulting. Her site, FamilyTravel.com, combines her passion for travel and adventure with her love of family to create a varied and meaningful travel resource for families. She is also the Editor and owner of Aisle52.com and writes a weekly syndicated travel column for the Dallas Morning News. She is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and provides content, photography and commentary for other print, online and broadcast outlets throughout the year.

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Colleen Hodson

Director, National Dude Ranchers Association

Having been born and raised in Alaska I have always loved the outdoors and all it has to offer. I moved to Cody Wyoming as a young adult and fell head over heels in love with the western way of life. Being the Director of the National Dude Ranchers Association for the last 18 years has allowed me the opportunity visit over 140 ranches and to experience some of the most majestic places and people in the Western United States and Canada. At the DRA we are all about Horses, Hats, History, Hospitality, Heart and Honesty. Previously to being employed by the DRA my husband, two sons and I ran a very successful summer pack trip and outfitting business along with a water business and candy business.

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Mike Janes

Marketing and eCommerce Executive

Mike Janes is a marketing and eCommerce executive, and builder of internet businesses for both new and world class brands. Mike is founder of a family-focused startup currently in stealth mode, as well as a strategic advisor for consumer startups - consulting on family travel, marketplaces, content marketing, community development, and social commerce.

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Pamela Lassers

Director, Media Relations, Abercrombie & Kent

Director of Media Relations for luxury and adventure travel pioneer Abercrombie & Kent. Extensive travels include all seven continents. Varied experience in media relations and event marketing for clients including United Airlines, Polo Ralph Lauren, Lalique, Goodman Theatre, Evanston Northwestern Healthcare, Marilyn Miglin and Chas. Levy Circulating Co.

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Sven Lindblad

President & Founder, Lindblad Expeditions

Sven-Olof Lindblad, Founder of Lindblad Expeditions, born in Switzerland, traveled extensively with his father, renowned adventure-travel pioneer Lars-Eric Lindblad, who led the first non-scientific groups of travelers to Antarctica (1966). In 1979 he launched Special Expeditions, the adventure travel company that became Lindblad Expeditions.

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Jeff Ment

Ment Law

For more than 20 years, Jeff Ment has represented companies and individuals in the travel industry. His experiences range from helping form new companies to defending companies in litigation. Jeff’s focus is on helping ensure that his clients are always ahead of the curve – following the best practices of our industry. This includes risk management, documentation, vendor selection, tour director training and insurance coverage. Jeff relies on his experience as a travel agent, sales manager for two airlines and work as a tour guide to understand what his clients need most.

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Amie O’Shaughnessy

Editor, Ciao Bambino!

Amie O’Shaughnessy runs Ciao Bambino, an award-winning family travel planning website and vacation planning service offering essential tips and advice on how, what, and where to travel with kids of all ages. Amie is a leading voice in family travel today and covers everything from family adventure travel to luxury hotels. In addition to managing Ciao Bambino, Amie is on the Board of the Family Travel Association and a member of SATW, the Society of American Travel Writers.

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Ben Perlo

Managing Director, G Adventures

G Adventures’ Managing Director for the United States and Mexico, Ben Perlo, describes himself first and foremost as a family man who loves travel; then, as a builder of highly competitive and purpose-driven teams intent on changing people’s lives. Perlo joined G Adventures’ leadership group in September 2014, when he was tasked with the challenge of scaling the business at breakneck speed in market where it was young and largely unknown. Since that time, he has overseen a quadrupling of G Adventures’ U.S. workforce and sales, negotiated a number of successful partnerships including with National Geographic Expeditions, and helped the brand earn first-time accolades for innovation from Fast Company, the Inc. 5000, and the Edison Awards.

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Margo Peyton

President & Founder, Kids Sea Camp, Inc & Family Dive Adventures

Margo Peyton has created an award winning dive and travel company called Kids Sea Camp. She has spent the last 30 years as a international travel consultant and tour guide, traveling & living abroad with her own family and thousands of others. She has dedicated her life to bringing families from around the world together through unique educational family scuba diving vacations hosted in various off the beaten path locations around the world. Her trips provide authentic cultural experiences that inspire and educate children and their families as they explore and learn about the underwater world.

Ashish Sanghrajka

President, Big Five Tours and Expeditions

Spend just a few minutes with Ashish Sanghrajka, president of Big Five Tours & Expeditions, and you see clearly that he is driven by passion. A native-born Kenyan, Sanghrajka learned about the family travel company at an early age.

In the mid-1980s, his family relocated to New York, and later Florida. Sanghrajka attended the University of Arizona in Tucson, graduating with a degree in political science, with a special focus on international economics.

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Nancy Schretter

Founder & Managing Editor, Family Travel Network

Nancy Schretter is the Founder & Managing Editor of theFamily Travel Network and President of Beacon Group Holdings, Inc., a diversified holding company that has operated businesses in the travel and publishing fields since 1988. The Family Travel Network first launched in partnership with America Online in 1995 and has served the needs of millions of family travelers.

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Kenneth 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.

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