ETC 2017 EXECUTIVE ADVISORY COUNCIL

EAC members in Bermuda for May 2016 mid-year planning meeting. Hosted by the Bermuda Tourism Authority.

Members of the current EAC as well as members on the Emeritus Council (colleagues that have served as former Council members) are available to share behind the scenes insights on what is involved with the deliberation of conference planning, session choices and events, the economic reality behind venue choices, and the aggregate input received from community members at large which initiated the digital platform evolving ETC’s community engagement.

One of the things I enjoyed the most while serving on the council were the friendships with other travel colleagues.  I got to know Travel Vendors, Destination Company Representatives and other Planners much better.  At the end of the day we all have very similar goals and challenges, and this experience gave me a much broader perspective on the Educational Travel Community. ~ Christel Pailet Aragon, Director, UCLA Alumni Travel

Fred Ackerman is the Chief Shepherding Officer of Black Sheep Adventures, the adventure travel business he founded in 2002.  Ackerman is actively involved in every aspect

of his business and personally guides a select number of tours each year.  Prior to starting BSA, he worked as a Trip Specialist for Backroads designing and leading bicycling and multisport trips around the US and Europe.  Ackerman was formerly a strategy management consultant with Mars & Co. working mostly in Australia.  After graduation, he worked for Schlumberger, a multinational oilfield services company, where he spent nine months on an offshore oil rig training to become an oil rig manager.  His entrance into the travel industry was the result of a “quarter–life crisis” when he happily left the relative security of the corporate world to focus on travel.  Ackerman holds a BS degree in mechanical engineering from MIT.  Ackerman joined the ETC Executive Advisory Council in 2014 and represents the interests of U.S. Tour Operators with a focus on active, adventure travel. BlackSheepAdventures.com 

Jennifer Bohac is the Director of Travel for The Association of Former Students at Texas A&M University.  She has held this position since May, 2001. Under Bohac's

leadership, the travel program has grown from 10-12 trips per year in 2001 to 70-80 trips per year with approximately 1,100 former students traveling with the Aggies in 2014. In her 14 years as Director of the Travel Program, she has visited more than 80 countries while hosting over 180 trips.  Prior to joining the Traveling Aggies, Bohac worked at Texas A&M University as an academic counselor for the Department of Agricultural Economics, and developed and directed the Athletic Career Services Program. Bohac also worked for two years at the University of Minnesota as the director of student-athlete development. In 200, she authored a textbook published by Prentice Hall titled, “Career Game Plan for Student-Athletes.” She has been involved in the community in many capacities, including as past president of the Brazos County A&M Club, the College Station Noon Lions, the B/CS Jaycees, and the University Advisors and Counselors. She is a Leadership Brazos Alumni and a former ABWA Woman of the Year. Bohac was on the Advisory Board for the Division IA Athletic Directors Association for four years. She was also on the 2001 NCAA Final Four Committee.  Bohac is currently serving on the Education Travel Conference Executive Advisory Council.  Bohac has earned two bachelor’s degrees, a master’s degree and her Ph.D. from Texas A&M University. aggienetwork.com/travel

Regina Cross is the Director of Alumni Travel for the Michigan State University (MSU) Alumni Association. She has been a member of the MSU Alumni Association

staff since 1988 and worked has a student intern while attending classes at MSU. In 1996, she hired on as a full-time employee and has served in a variety of different positions. In 2000, she assumed the responsibility of the MSU travel program and has continued to build the travel program to more than 30 tours. Her love for travel was inherited from her mother, who was an avid traveler.  Cross received her undergraduate degree in education in 1991 and went on to fulfill her graduate coursework from MSU in kinesiology in 1995. Cross joined the ETC Executive Advisory Council in 2012 and represents the ETC Mid-West schools.alumni.msu.edu 

Heidi Durflinger is the President of Go Ahead Tours, the adult travel division of EF Education First whose mission is Opening the World through Education and providing

culturally immersive educational travel programs.  Durflinger has over 12 years of experience in the tourism industry, in both the direct to consumer and group affinity educational travel segments.  Her extensive background in the travel sector includes strategy and leadership in sales, service, marketing, product development, and quality control.   She has a passion for cultural exchange and travel, stemming from a childhood growing up with international students from across the globe hosted by her family in Kansas. Her first trip abroad was to Italy at the age of 16, the first in her family to get a passport, and she hasn’t stopped traveling since.  When she is not traveling, Durflinger is a long distance runner and foodie.  Her favorite way to explore a new destination is on a sunrise run and indulging in the local flavors and meal time traditions of that culture. Durflinger is a graduate of Kansas State University with a degree in Marketing and International Business, a minor in Spanish and a certificate of International Studies for the University of Salamanca in Salamanca, Spain. goaheadtours.com 

Melissa Gresh is the Director of the MIT Alumni Travel Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has been on staff at MIT and has worked for the Travel Program

for over 25 years.  In 2013, under her leadership, the MIT Alumni Travel Program received MIT’s prestigious Leading the Way award. The Program has also earned recognition from CASE Awards Program for its marketing and its innovative programming. Prior to working at MIT, Gresh worked at World Class Incentives, an incentive travel firm, where she helped to create tour programming. She also spent a year working as a travel agent. Gresh has two children and enjoys spending time with family, hiking in the White Mountains, yoga, and cooking. She received a BS in geography from Salem State University and spent part of her senior year studying abroad in Caen, France. She has attended the Educational Travel Conference for 24 years. Gresh is a member of the ETC Executive Advisory Council representing ETC Northeast schools.

Karen Kuttner-Dimitry is Vice President of Affinity and Charter Sales at Lindblad Expeditions. Kuttner-Dimitry has been in the adventure travel/luxury cruise industry

for nearly 30 years. She launched her career in the travel industry in 1987, where she spent five years on board cruise ships as a Social Director. In 1993, she became the Director of Sales, Mid-Atlantic States for Lindblad Expeditions.  After three years of rapid growth in regional sales revenue, she focused on the development of affinity and travel agency accounts nationwide. Seeking new challenges, Kuttner-Dimitry left for Natural Habitat Adventures in Boulder, Colo., in 1997, to direct all sales, and marketing for affinity and incentive markets. In 2003, she became the Director of Sales at Grand Expeditions responsible for all affinity sales and marketing. She returned to Lindblad Expeditions in 2004 to expand the affinity and charter business nationwide. Kuttner-Dimitry holds a M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology and a M.A. in Personnel Administration, both from Columbia University. She lives with her husband and three children in New Jersey.Kuttner Dimitry currently serves on the ETC Executive Advisory Council representing the interests of the affinity expedition and cruise market. expeditions.com 

Christel Pailet joined UCLA Alumni Travel in 1994 and assumed the position of Director of Travel in 1999. Now in its 74th year, UCLA Alumni Travel offers 45 educational tours serving

approximately 1,000 travelers annually. Pailet strongly believes in lifelong learning through travel, and is persistently searching for ways to make the offerings more educational, unique and a good fit for UCLA’s more than 415,000 living alumni. While international travel is her main responsibility, Pailet also oversees UCLA Alumni Travel’s unique Cultural Program Series. These tours are custom designed in-house by UCLA Alumni Travel staff and feature such destinations as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Santa Fe Opera Festival. Recommitting to the Association’s mission of continuing education, Pailet has been instrumental in establishing a new strategic direction for the program by featuring UCLA faculty on tour offerings. Today, UCLA Alumni Travel tours feature UCLA faculty on more than 50 percent of the offerings. Pailet was born in Stockholm, Sweden, and she has over 20 years of experience in the travel industry.

Tony Rango has been a staff member of the Sierra Club since 1992 and currently serves as the National Outings Director. This program offers more than 300 domestic and

domestic and international trips annually, led exclusively by volunteers. In 2000, Rango created and developed the Sierra Club’s first national training program for outing leaders. Since then, the program has trained and fielded several thousand leaders and volunteers. He initially got involved with the Sierra Club because of his job, but he soon began leading for the Outings program and training future leaders. He has led numerous Sierra Club trips including backpacking, rafting, biking, kayaking, and trekking trips. Rango currently serves on the ETC Executive Advisory Council representing the interests of National Conservation Organization Member Travel Program constituents. sierraclub.org/outings/national 

Beth Ray-Schroeder is Director of Alumni Travel in the Office of Alumni Affairs at Duke University, where she organizes educational travel programs comprising vendor itineraries

and in-house customized programs showcasing unique Duke entities. At Duke since 2005, Ray-Schroeder has also directed alumni education initiatives, but has recently been tasked with focusing her efforts on expanding the alumni travel program. Prior to coming to Duke, Ray-Schroeder lived and worked in Spain and Germany for 17 years. She held positions as a software developer in Madrid, as international systems project manager at Deutsche Lufthansa AG in Frankfurt am Main, and as an organizational consultant in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science and the equivalent degree in Psychology from Duke University, and a M.S. in Organizational Psychology from Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. 

Steve Ridgway is Owner and President of Criterion Travel, a tour operator specializing in educational travel. He has been a professional tour operator for over 40 years,

focusing for the past 30 years on affinity travel. He held a variety of management positions during twelve years with Maupintour, a wholesale tour operator that for Ridgway’s last ten years was honored in the annual Travel/Holidaymagazine reader poll as the best international tour operator in the U.S. At the AARP/NRTA Travel Service he was responsible for a staff of 120 providing travel programs for 40,000 travelers annually. Prior to becoming owner of Criterion Travel, for 17 years Ridgway helped lead High Country Passage, another tour operator specializing in high-quality educational travel programs for prestigious nonprofit organizations. He currently shuttles between Criterion’s administrative office in Palo Alto, California and his home in Beaverton, Oregon where he keeps an eye on his three young grandchildren. Ridgway is a graduate of the University of Kansas and a proud Jayhawk. He joined the ETC Executive Advisory Council in 2014 and represents the ETC U.S. Tour Operator constituents. criteriontravel.com 

Ben Sander has been the Travel Program Manager for National Parks Conservation Association since 2010, offering the best in educational travel to the National Parks.  Sander has

experienced and worked in ecotourism ventures in Costa Rica, Kenya, Tanzania, Peru and Pohnpei, Micronesia which have guided his vision for the travel program. He holds a masters degree in natural resources and sustainable development and conducted his master’s research in Costa Rica at one of the first eco-lodges in the world, Rara Avis, which has since been published and Ben has spoken at a number of ecotourism focused conferences on his research. His passion for ecotourism also led him to be a tour guide in Washington DC offering bike tours of the national memorials as well as being a nature guide in Costa Rica. He is also a bike advocate and commutes 15 miles round-trip a day as often as possible from his home in Brentwood, MD to work in downtown DC. He has gone beyond this bike commute to take part in Climate Ride the last four years riding over 300 miles on each ride to help raise awareness around climate change, bike advocacy, and national park protection. npca.org/travel 

Dan Stypa is the Associate Director of Alumni Programs at Rice University (Houston, TX) where he has served for over five years.  Stypa is responsible for the Rice Alumni Traveling Owls

program, as well as all other lifelong learning and international engagement initiatives.  Additionally, he manages affinity and constituency groups to help engage alumni in meaningful programs and activities that connect alumni and friends back to Rice University.  Prior to his current role, Stypa worked at the University of South Florida and coordinated faculty engagement programming for on-campus residential students.  Stypa has presented at regional and statewide CASE Conferences and serves on the Greater Houston Partnership Commission.  He is passionate about dogs; he has two of his own – Frieda and Knightro – and is active with K-9 Rescue Angels – a nonprofit dog rescue committed to rescuing and rehoming dogs in the greater Houston area.  Stypa is originally from Ohio and has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Bowling Green State University (OH) and a Master of Science in Higher Education Administration from the University of Tennessee. 

Lauren Summers is the Director of Marketing for Visit Wales in North America, the official government sponsored tourism board for Wales, where she has worked for

the past two years. She has over 18 years of experience including marketing, public relations, event planning and business management.  At Visit Wales, she manages trade sales and marketing as well as consumer campaigns for the U.S. and Canada. Prior to this position, Summers was the general manager of a small hotel in Cambridge, MA where she worked while completing her masters at Harvard Divinity School. At Harvard, she studied the healing traditions of indigenous world religions while playing host to the scholars, researchers, academics and activists from around the world who stayed in her hotel. As a result, she discovered her passion for the tourism and hospitality industries. Summers had previously founded and run her own communications agency based in New York City. Her clients included entertainment, corporate and non-profit organizations such as Levi’s, Disney, and the international Acapulco Film Festival, along with number of Grammy award winning artists, Oscar winning performers, bestselling authors and other celebrities. In addition to her master’s degree, Summers holds an undergraduate degree in Public Relations and marketing from Hampton University and she’s a certified Zumba instructor. Summers currently serves on the ETC Executive Advisory Council representing the interests of the International Destination constituents.
trade.visitwales.com