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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Peter Bopp

Director of Strategy

Peter Bopp serves on the Board of Advisors of the Family Travel Association, and works on our strategy, marketing, consumer research and insights. He has managed our family travel research partnership with NYU’s Tisch School of Tourism and Hospitality, and is building the FTA Consumer Panel for ongoing research and feedback benefitting the industry and our member organizations.

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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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Chris ‘Chez’ Chesak

Managing Director, Tracks & Trails

Chris ‘Chez’ Chesak brings to the FTA 20 years experience in corporate partnerships, business development, and organizational leadership. Most recently, Chez spent nine years helping guide the Adventure Travel Trade Association to its current position as a galvanizing force for that niche of the travel industry. Previously he drove the development and marketing programs for various active/outdoor organizations, such American Hiking Society (where he also managed the National Trails Day program) and the venerable, 100+ year-old The American Alpine Club.

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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


Lynn O’Rourke Hayes relishes sharing strategies for balancing family, work, and exploration through her writing, photography, and consulting. Her site,, 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 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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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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Janeece Keller

CEO, Bound Round

Janeece’s professional experience spans creative agencies, large multinationals, small business (she’s founded and run 4 companies of her own). She’s travelled to over 50 countries, lived on 3 continents and after 5 years of running Bound Round, Australia’s first travel platform to share stories and experiences from a kids perspective, she’s pretty sure she’s now visited every zoo and amusement park in the region. Janeece’s postgraduate qualifications in business and journalism coupled with being a certified travel agent have all played their part in guiding her to become the industry champion for family travel in APAC. Janeece is the regional director of the Family Travel Association APAC, the regional chapter for the FTA.

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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 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

Silver, Golub, Teitell, LLP

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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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, Latin America’s leading online language school, now with over 2,000 employees. He served as President of, 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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Charles Scott

Founder, Family Adventure Guy & former Director, Intel Corp.

Charles R. Scott, known as the Family Adventure Guy, encourages people of all ages to challenge their limits. Author of Rising Son: A Father and Son’s Bike Adventure across Japan, the United Nations named him a “Climate Hero,” and Red Tricycle named him “One of NYC’s Coolest Dads.” Charles has cycled over 7,000 miles with his young children across Japan, Iceland, Europe and the U.S., and has been featured in media around the world. He also serves as a guide to disabled athletes in marathons and Ironman triathlons. Prior to founding the Family Adventure Guy, he worked at Intel Corporation for 14 years.

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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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Matt Villano

Writer, Editor

Matt Villano, father of three girls, is a full-time freelance writer who specializes in family travel (among other subjects). In more than 20 years, he has penned pieces for publications including AFAR, TIME, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic Traveler, Family Fun, Fast Company, Sunset, and Scholastic Parent & Child, to name a few. He currently is an editor at Napa Sonoma magazine, and has served as the family travel columnist for, adventure travel blogger for, and senior editor of the Expedia Viewfinder travel blog. He also writes about his family’s adventures on his own blog, Wandering Pod. Villano is based in Northern California. Learn more about him at

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Member Spotlight

Ohana Sunscapes, LLC

We work with families of all ages and stages – from couples just starting their life out together, families with young children, families preparing for their kids to go off to college, to the empty nesters who want to either see the world on their own or take their grandkids to see it. Our agents […]

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