Board of Directors

Board of Directors

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.

Board President

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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Board Vice President

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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Board Treasurer

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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Board Secretary

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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Board Member

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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Board Member

Peter Bopp

Director of Strategy

Peter Bopp serves on the Board of Directors 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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Board Member

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 25 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; Tahiti; the Azores, 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 Andaz Maui; and the ultimate family travel destination, Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas.

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Board Member

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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Board Member

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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Board Member

Jessica Griscavage

Director of Marketing for McCabe World Travel

Jessica joined McCabe World Travel in 2004 as a travel advisor and has never looked back. Jessica has thrived in the industry, from serving family and friends, to developing several million dollars in annual sales. In 2016, she took on the additional role of Director of Marketing for McCabe World Travel.

Jessica was recognized with Virtuoso’s first Rising Star award in 2009. For the past seven years, Jessica has been named to the Travel+Leisure magazine A-List of top travel advisors. Travel Agent Magazine highlighted her among their Top 25 Agents in 2014, and she has been a Star Performer for Classic Vacations for the last ten years.

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Board Member

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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Board Member

Rainer Jenss

Founder

Having traveled to over 60 countries and counting, Rainer is an authority on the subject of family travel and how it can be used as a learning tool. During his family’s around-the-world journey, Rainer reported for National Geographic Traveler’s award-winning Intelligent Travel Blog, recognized as one of the Top 25 Family Travel Blogs by Babble.com in 2011 and 2012. In 2011, Rainer founded Smart Family Travel, Inc., an interactive media and marketing company dedicated to helping families enrich their children’s lives through travel. In 2012, he joined forces with Scholastic to direct a new family travel initiative and content development for the “Smart Family Travel” feature in Parent & Child magazine.

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Board Member

Gregg Kaminsky

Travel Designer, R Family Vacations

Gregg Kaminsky is one of the founding partners of R Family Vacations, the first travel company to offer vacations designed for LGBTQ families. HBO filmed an Emmy nominated documentary about their maiden voyage. More than 20,000 guests have traveled with R Family, which now includes adult-only LGBTQ vacations and tours. He also produced multiple full-ship charter cruises for Nickelodeon. Kaminsky was named as part of the “OUT 100”, an annual list of the most influential members of the LGBTQ community. R Family Vacations has joined the prestigious Tzell Travel Group in NYC where they design individual and group travel all over the world. Kaminsky has personally sailed on well over 100 cruises.

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Board Member

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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Board Member

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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Board Member

Claire Zlobin

Founder and CEO, Life With A Baby

Claire is the founder and CEO of www.lifewithababy.com. Life With A Baby is Canada's largest peer to peer network of mothers with over 77,000 users. In addition to her parenting network, she owns www.dropofgoldensun.ca; a site focused on sharing fun things to do with kids and family travel.

Claire is a media member of the Family Travel Association and The Society of American Travel Writers. In addition to her sites, she also writes for many freelance publications with a focus on family travel.

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Member Spotlight

S i Vacations

For one, S i Vacations is a family based company. The founder is me, Jag Uppal, a devoted family man, married to my lovely wife Aman. Together we have two adorable children, Sofia and Ishaan. The “S” and “I” are the initials of our children! Together with my parents, Rashpal and Gian, we’ve traveled the […]

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