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.

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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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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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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Henry Kartagener

President, Kartagener Associates, Inc

Henry Kartagener has comprehensive experience in the development and implementation of sales and marketing strategies for international travel products wishing to enter the North American market.

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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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Kyle McCarthy

Editor, Family Travel Forum

Kyle McCarthy is the co-founder and editor of Family Travel Forum, an independent media network that has served all who “Have Kids, Still Travel” since 1996.

Her community’s award-winning sites and forums provide expert and user-generated reviews of global family vacations ranging from multi-generational cruises to theme parks, flop n’ drop tropical resorts to eco-adventures, city breaks and more. Her staff and partner experts at FamilyTravelConsulting.com consult to the travel trade on reaching the family market, improving services and staying ahead of the curve to better meet the changing family’s changing needs.

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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.

Jim Pickell

President, GrowthPoint Structures

Jim Pickell is the President of GrowthPoint Structures, an advisor, angel investor and frequent guest lecturer. Pickell co-founded several companies including OpenEnglish.com, Latin America’s leading online language school, now with over 2,000 employees. He served as President of HomeExchange.com, and Senior Vice President of SONY in L.A., where he was responsible for leading digital distribution strategy around film, music and eBooks. He started his career as an attorney focused on mergers and acquisitions but ultimately sought to collaborate with like-minded thinkers and create ideas that influence positive change. Pickell’s lifelong wanderlust has taken him to more than 30 countries, including living for short periods in Italy (his wife’s home country), Japan, Mexico, and the U.K. He and his family value the relationships they have formed with locals and participate in authentic local experiences whenever they travel. Pickell holds a degree in economics from UC Berkeley, a law degree from Loyola Law School, and an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA.

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Peter Ross

Co-Founder, 829 Studios

Peter Ross is the co-founder of 829 Studios, a midsized marketing firm based in Boston that specializes in the luxury travel industry. He leads a team of 37 designers, programmers, and marketing professionals who consult for travel agencies and tour operators). Last year, his team was awarded two Adrian Awards by the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) for their work on OceanEdge.com and Oars.com. Peter serves on the Board of Advisors for the Family Travel Association. Notable 829 clients include Stanford University, Micato Safaris, Off the Beaten Path, Ciao Bambino, Camp Cody, Oxfam, Black & Decker, and BitSight.

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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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Chitra Stern

Owner & Founding Board Member, Martinhal Family Hotels & Resorts

Owner and founding board member of Martinhal Family Hotels & Resorts, Chitra Sern is a passionate entrepreneur and real-estate and hotel developer, working alongside her business-partner and husband on their projects in Portugal. They developed their flagship Martinhal Sagres Beach Resort & Hotel in the Algarve from scratch and have successfully expanded the “Martinhal” brand across three other properties in the best and most prestigious locations in Portugal. They are also working on commercial real-estate projects and an international school project in Lisbon. They had four children during the process of building up their businesses – all born in Portugal.

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Get the FTA Guidebook

More families are traveling than ever before, and they're increasingly searching for meaningful and authentic experiences. But where to begin? This free guide provides plenty of inspiration for getting off the beaten path.

FTA Guidebook

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Member Spotlight

Vagabond Adventure Tours of Ireland

Ireland’s original and leading small-group tour operator since 2002, Vagabond specialises in fantastic off-the-beaten track tours of Ireland – we will take you to the hidden corners of the world’s favourite country. Right from the start our mission has always been that ‘We want you to love Ireland as much as we do’ – and […]

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