“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.”
Shannon’s personal and professional background is well suited for the adventure travel industry. He has adventured in numerous places around the world enjoying diverse cultural and active experiences. He brings a special passion to this industry borne of experience and a desire to see adventure travel act as a driver for environmental protection, poverty alleviation and the protection of threatened cultures. His 20+ years of business experience, connections, marketing insight, environmental science, vision and passion for adventure travel have prepared him well to serve and lead as the president of the Adventure Travel Trade Association. Early in his career, with a B.S. Biology from Seattle Pacific University, Shannon worked as a fisheries observer on ships in Alaska for the National Marine Fisheries Service. After a stint on the Bering Sea, and work with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, he spent eight years at an environmental testing laboratory as a biologist/chemist. He moved into management to develop and spearhead the company’s international vision and Asian presence during his eight years.
Shannon then engaged in the dot-com revolution as a co-founder of Altrec.com, an outdoor and adventure travel gear retailer. He directed the company’s business development, affiliate marketing and non-profit relations for six years. Despite the dot-com boom and bust, Altrec survived, then thrived. Shannon struck deals with Amazon.com, CBS Sportsline, National Geographic, Backpacker Magazine, Virtuoso, Nike, Gore-Tex, Outward Bound and Virtuoso, among many others. He wore other hats during his tenure, including aspects of marketing, PR, advertising program development and development of Altrec’s sister site, Greatoutdoors.com.
Starting in 2004 under his leadership as president of the ATTA, the organization has grown into the largest international association of adventure travel companies with more than 900 members and dozens of national tourism boards, major corporations and influential individuals helping propel industry initiatives forward. Shannon speaks at numerous events throughout the year regarding adventure tourism issues and is engaged in numerous initiatives to help drive the tourism industry towards a more responsible future. In 2013 he emceed CSR day at ITB Berlin. The ATTA also hosts the Adventure Travel World Summits, which attract leaders from around the world to a different destination every year.
Committed to non-profit endeavors, Shannon is on the board of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and also served four years on the Board of the American Hiking Society. He has also directed several community plays, been the vice-chairman in a community political group and served on the Library Board at his local library. Shannon also co-authored a book in 2008, published by National Geographic: Riding the Hulahula to the Arctic Ocean — A guide to 50 Extraordinary Adventures. He currently blogs for National Geographic Adventure. Raised on the Arkansas River in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, Shannon today lives with his two children in the Seattle area.
“My traveling mantra goes something like this: Carry adventure in your soul. Allow your imagination to run wild, always. Let ‘it’ come to you. Keep an open mind and heart. Imbue yourself in and embrace the ways of the peoples and cultures you visit. Empathize. Understand. Learn. Grow. Give back.”
Since 2004, Chris served a key role in the Adventure Travel Trade Association’s strategic direction and development. Between 2005-2014, he directed the content and execution for each of the ATTA’s marquee annual Adventure Travel World Summit conferences and continues to contribute to the organization’s global events content team. He’s traveled worldwide with public and private organizations as an ambassador of best practices representing the collective interests of the ATTA’s nearly 1,100 members. Chris currently oversees the ATTA in Europe, serves as an AdventureEDU instructor/facilitator, and leads specialized adventure tourism development efforts and projects in both emerging and mature tourism destinations throughout Europe.
An active marathoner and avid outdoorsman, Chris, splits his time between California and Sweden with his wife, Emma, son, Aidan, and daughters, Moa and Lyra.
Antonio was born in Mexico in 1974 to a Mexican father and an American mother. He was raised in a bi-national, bi-cultural environment which has made him particularly sensitive to the multi-national issues as seen from local perspectives. He received his formation as a Civil Engineer and later obtained an MBA from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. This led him to become a consultant for the IDB “Inter-American Development Bank” and advisor to a large Private Equity firm in D.C. Some years later, he was invited to collaborate with CEMEX, one of the largest Mexican conglomerates as strategy and planning manager. At this point is where Antonio decides to make a huge leap of faith, follow his passion, and accept a position as Executive Director for Rio y Montaña Expediciones, one of the largest and most reputable adventure travel companies in Mexico.
Manal S. Kelig is one of three co- founders of Gateway To Egypt (GWE) for Travel Marketing in the Middle East & Great Wonders of Egypt for sustainable travel to Egypt, North Africa and the Middle East. She received her B.A. in Egyptology & Tourism in 1992 from the Faculty of Tourism & Hotel Management Helwan University of Cairo. Upon graduation she pursued a career as an Egyptologist and guide, and also worked on a Masters Degree in Modern History. However, through her work she realized that there was a huge misconception, misunderstanding and stereotyping about the status of women in the Middle East and Islamic countries. This encouraged her to change course and chose instead to study the Public & Political role of women in Egypt during the 19th century, which became the subject of her thesis. Her research got her quite involved in various issues of women and the community on the national and international scale. Manal prefers to categorize her research and community work under community development support rather than feminist support. Later on, her academic and professional interests expanded to a higher international scale and it involved bridging the cultural gap between the Western & Middle Eastern civilizations.Since the operation of GWE in 2005, her work in the field of tourism along with her community development interests brought to her attention another urgent issue, which is the preservation of the cultural heritage of Egypt whether ancient or Modern. Since then, Manal and her partners became dedicated to operating only responsible travel to Egypt and the Middle East, and developing programs that foster a culture of peace between the travelers and the locals. Their latest project is launching an initiative known as egyptcharity.org which will collect information on as many of the NGOs, voluntourism and related initiatives in Egypt as possible to be available for all travelers.In the past five years, Manal has conducted voluntary work with United Nations organizations, earned her PHD degree, and pursued more studies in the field of Peace & Conflict studies. Manal is a regular speaker in different events related to the travel industry and History & Politics of the Middle East.
“Adventure, for me, begins with seeing cultures worldwide come together, and, initially, all through the eyes of my laptop. Every day is a new experience filled with the education of new people, cultures, and the power the Internet has in connecting us all. Most importantly, the adventure lies in the future where we just might have the chance one day to meet those on the other side of the globe face-to-face.”
Jason Reckers has more than 15 years of experience providing web strategy guidance and training to professional services firms, trade associations, business and web consulting companies, and a host of industry sectors. With applied experience in website development, online marketing and social media strategy, ecommerce and online transaction processing, and webinar production, he brings a broad collection of knowledge to ATTA and the industry.
Jason joined Shannon and Chris Doyle in 2004 as a consultant to drive the early development of the organization’s website and online strategy including AdventureTravelNews, and then later driving the development of Adventure.Travel and The HUB. More recently, he has helped launch and drive online strategies with Facebook and Twitter. He recently joined the ATTA in a full time capacity to assist with internal operations, organizational growth, as well as continue driving ATTA’s online strategies.
A veteran of the Adventure Travel World Summit, since the inaugural 2005 Summit, Jason has also presented as speaker and panelist a number of times on topics ranging from Social Media and SEO to mapping technologies. He now helps contribute to the development of tech-oriented sessions at the Summit, educational webinars, and articles in AdventureTravelNews and on The HUB.
In his role with ATTA, Jason oversees internal operations, online strategy direction, and technical webinar and educational development. He also serves as ATTA’s technical representative with industry organizations such as the Open Travel Alliance.
Prior to ATTA, Jason was the President and CEO of PixelMill Inc. where he was responsible for partnership development, daily operations and strategic direction, and future vision of the company. Under his direction, PixelMill contributed to the development of more than 65,000 web sites. He also holds a B.A. in Business, Strategic Management from California State University, Sacramento.
“The purpose of life isn’t to get it all done but to enjoy each step along the way.”
Specializing in adventure travel marketing, communications and branding, Casey has spent nearly 20 years telling the story of authentic, educational and responsible travel. As the head of the ATTA’s Marketing & Communications efforts, Casey is responsible for determining the place global adventure travel has the context in the greater tourism industry. She develops products and collaborates on partnerships that advance destinations’ efforts to support economic- and community-based initiatives and works closely with international media outlets to make sure the story of adventure travel is told.
Casey’s extensive background working for specialty travel brands gives her the experience necessary to communicate the industry-wide big picture of the adventure travel sector. Prior to coming to the ATTA, she was VP, Marketing, Brand, and Sales at Zegrahm Expeditions, a leader in small-ship cruising and land-based expeditions to all seven continents. She started her career at Zegrahm’s newly-formed space adventures and deep sea voyages division. In 2000, she led a group of travelers on a Cosmonaut training program in Russia where, along with eight travelers, she completed a parabolic flight that certainly became one of her career travel highlights. Casey led Zegrahm’s marketing strategies including client retention and acquisition programs, social media strategy and implementation, public relation and communication efforts, and all direct mail efforts. In 2009, her role expanded to include business development and sales which allowed her to continue her long standing relationships with partners such as World Wildlife Fund and The Nature Conservancy to alumni travel providers from prestigious universities such as Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. At around this same time, TUI Travel purchased Zegrahm Expeditions and Casey’s role expanded as a function of being part of this multi-brand travel corporation.
Born in Windsor, England, Walters has been involved in the adventure travel industry since the early 1980′s. An accomplished kayaker and registered Maine Guide, Walters has experience on the east and west coasts of the U.S. including a four year term as General Manager for O.A.R.S. in Angels Camp, California. Walters returned to Maine in 2000 to become president of Northern Outdoors, a four-season Adventure Resort located in The Forks, Maine.
Walters serves on a number of local, regional and state organizations including as a board member of Maine Huts & Trails and past terms on the governor appointed Maine Tourism Commission. Walters served as one of the original ATTA Advisory Board Members when the organization was relaunched in 2004. He has been involved in a number of programs for the ATTA including presentations in The Phillipines and Brazil and as an AdventureEDU Educator in The Western Balkans, New York and Colorado. He brings a practical and enthusiastic approach to all of his work and thoroughly enjoys collaborating with others to help craft sustainable solutions to everyday business challenges.
Russell serves as an ATTA AdventureEDU educator as well as ATTA’s AdventureELEVATE Strategic Director.
In1986, Nick Qin graduated from the Tourism Department of Hua Qiao University in Fujian, China, and worked for China Travel Service’s Head Office (CTS), one of the largest tour company in China. After 2 years in Chinese tourism experience, Nick joined in the China Tours team as ticketing manager and operations manager in Atlanta, Georgia, the headquarters of CTS in North America. In 1995, Nick Qin created his own business – China Professional Tours, and has served since as President & CEO. Most of the business is sending professional tours between USA & China, such as students exchange tours, Chinese Gong Fu tours, photo tours, business tours, hiking tours, driving tours, biking tours, etc.
In 2002, Nick Qin was the President of the Miss Universe China Organization, which organized the biggest beauty pageants in China nation wide to select the winner, Miss China Universe, for the Miss Universe Pageant and has continued from that time being involved. Nick Qin joined the American Academy of Hospitality Science, located in New York, to select the best hotel for the Five Star Diamond Award, he was the inspector, trustee and General Manager, China.
In 2005, Nick Qin and his company joined the ATTA and attended numerous Adventure Travel World Summits. He also became a marathon runner and has run 36 full marathons including the majors in China including Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen and more in addition to Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, and Boston in the US. Nick is the Director of Business, China, for the Adventure Travel Trade Association.
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
Murray has been hard wired for the world of travel and outdoor recreation since childhood.
He, along with his family, has explored many parts of the world. He has gained indelible impressions of diverse cultures drawn in part from an extended journey to Indonesia – hearing people worship in a foreign tongue, smelling the scents of tea plantations, and observing vast economic inequities. Spending time in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Bali, he realized further that the world’s culture is far broader than he could have imagined. Nothing like a little first-hand experience to awaken the mind.
In college, he leapt at opportunities to leave America’s borders. Though not a Literature Major, he studied South African Literature at its source. During a month’s stay along the southern coast of Africa, he read novels depicting the Apartheid and then saw its lingering effects and an optimistic country in recovery. For his International Business Degree at Seattle Pacific University, he studied for a time at Oxford University in England, and then headed to Barcelona to study at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. In Barcelona, he immersed himself in Spanish culture; he lived with a Spanish family, ate their food, spoke their language, and gradually learned how to fit in well enough to be confused as a Spaniard.
In joining the ATTA, Murray is carrying out his dream to be intimately involved in international business. In 2004, he worked for Agros International, a non-profit organization that empowers indigenous people in Central America through land loans and training. The locals use the new land to cultivate to become self-sustaining, and to establish productive and economically viable communities. He rigorously analyzed the company’s operations in Central America, and then reported to the company’s president how Agros could be more helpful during their frequent service trips and provide the maximum value to the new village and its inhabitants.
Being raised in a family of outdoor enthusiasts, including his father who served as an executive in the outdoor recreation and manufacturing industry, adventure was never far away. Even as young as two months old, Murray, a native of Washington State, could be seen in the mountains.
Active in the Scouts, he learned to appreciate hiking. In his teens, he pursued more serious endeavors, including 50 mile hiking trips in the rugged North Cascades. After earning his Eagle Scout, he did what America’s forefathers did, stepped out a little further and went on to explore the “last” American frontier — Alaska. There, Murray boned up on his glacial ice climbing and white water rafting skills throughout the 24/7 summer sun of Denali National Park. He even chose to attend Seattle Pacific University in a large part for its proximity to adventure. After he and his brother got their first set of climbing gear, he started what really should have been his Major; nearly every sunny day (i.e. every non-rainy day in Seattle) he rock climbed at Washington State’s premier locations: Index Town Wall, Peshastin Pinnacles, or Castle Rock.
Murray joined the Adventure Travel Trade Association in August 2005 in support of the Adventure Travel World Summit. After contributing to this event’s success, he has shifted roles and now coordinates the ATTA membership program.
“Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.”
Living in the ‘precious present’ is how Amber Silvey lives her life. Originally from British Columbia, Canada, she has lived up and down the West Coast and has settled in the beautiful Northwest of the US. Her passion now is family filled with outdoor activities to pass on her and her husband’s love of adventure to their three children. Free days are spent hiking, camping, traveling, dancing, skiing and exploring.
Amber earned her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and has worked in various fields of law, marketing, sales, management, and event planning. In the summer of 2005, Shannon Stowell called and asked her to interview for a Director of Operations position for the first Adventure Travel World Summit in Seattle, WA. She has been with the ATTA ever since and loves every minute of it.
“Live every week like it’s Shark Week.”
Growing up with an active, creative and supportive family, Alice spent each winter in Savannah, Georgia and each summer on the coast of Maine. While she did not grow up camping or participating in outdoor sports, something drew her to Jackson Hole, Wyoming one summer to work as a whitewater rafting guide. It was here she discovered her passion for adventure travel. She spent the following year studying and backpacking throughout Tasmania, Australia and New Zealand, combining her love of the arts and her newfound passion for wilderness. Upon her return, she became an editorial intern with National Geographic Adventure magazine, graduated from Sarah Lawrence College, and promptly moved to the West Coast, where the ocean and mountains were calling her name.
She worked a stint onboard a small cruise ship along the Columbia River – no better introduction to the Pacific Northwest! – and edited for The Mountaineers Books. After a few years with a travel and nature stock photography company, she found herself yearning to be the one inside the photos rather than cataloguing them. This desire led her to Adventure Associates of WA, an eco-sensitive tour operator specializing in meaningful worldwide travel experiences for women. Here she developed a strong rapport among trip participants and fellow tour operators, a deep sense of company loyalty, and firsthand knowledge of the challenges involved in niche marketing.
Alice’s passion is to foster sustainable lifestyles and environmental and cultural stewardship within the outdoor recreation industry. Having worked as a guide and in adventure travel media, she brings an insider’s perspective to the ATTA. Her role has developed from the first Member Advocate in 2009 to Director of Community Development in 2013. Alice lives with her husband and daughter in Washington.
“The one serious conviction that a man should have is that nothing is to be taken too seriously.”
Christina created and leads the AdventureEDU program for the Adventure Travel Trade Association. In this role she is responsible for designing and managing professional training programs to enhance regional economic development for clients in both emerging markets and in under-developed regions of developed countries. Christina works closely with small businesses, social enterprises, international development agencies, governments, and foundations. She also develops and leads the ATTA’s research program, prioritizing research needs and developing projects to address them.
Prior to joining the ATTA, Christina worked from 2004 – 2013 as a consultant and researcher supporting governments and tour operator clients in adventure tourism development. As the founder and President of Xola Consulting (2004 – 2011) Christina led numerous study teams and workshops in countries around the world with a particular focus on strengthening entrepreneurs and supporting local market expansion through connection to international partners. In 2011 when Xola Consulting was acquired by Vital Wave Consulting, Christina supported projects on behalf of global foundations (Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation) focused on environmental policy, poverty alleviation and healthcare throughout the developing world. She has in-depth experience working with small businesses in countries around the world including recent projects in China, Brazil, Mexico, Montenegro, Nepal, Saudi Arabia and many others.
In 2008 Christina initiated the Adventure Tourism Development Index, drawing together key partners (The George Washington University and the Adventure Travel Trade Association) to raise awareness for the adventure industry and promote its sustainable development.
She has served as an advisor to the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Development and the World Travel and Tourism Council and to start-up technology companies providing services to the adventure travel market: Pathwrangler, Xola, Inc.
Prior to her work in adventure tourism, Christina worked as a management consultant at BearingPoint (formerly KPMG Consulting) with a diverse range of clients including the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Department of Navy and communications companies such as Bell Atlantic and Nextel Communications. Her projects emphasized process analysis and re-design, market research and project management for technology software and hardware implementations.
Christina speaks regularly at industry and academic conferences on topics ranging from small business management to humanitarian aid and international development through responsible tourism. She holds a BA in Communication from Cornell University, an MA in Communication, Culture and Technology from Georgetown University, and an MBA with a concentration in Entrepreneurship from American University. Originally from Alaska, Christina now lives in San Francisco, California.
“Travelling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, 'I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.'”
~Lisa St. Aubin de Teran
Meredith Guzy comes to the ATTA with a rich history as a travel consultant for Protravel International in Chicago, Illinois. Meredith has a habit of infusing philanthropy into her her professional life. First by serving to sponsor a village in Rwanda; wearing three hats she was office team leader, in charge of promotional item sales, and raised donations. And second, by organizing and recruiting monetary donations & supplies for Ndapona Yashikende Primary School, village of Onekwaya in north-central Namibia, affiliated with the WorldTeach Organization.
Meredith was raised with an appreciation for travel. She grew up in St. Louis, but every summer she and her family would travel up north to Michigan for the month of July. She considered herself fortunate to have nature reserves, sand dunes and Lake Michigan as her backyard growing up. Her family vacations — whether north or south — laid the ground work for her itch to the see the world. At the age 16 Meredith took her first trip to Europe and from that point on she took every opportunity to travel. Attending school sponsored trips, such as ski, volunteer, government studies, and developed into independent trips back to Europe, Canada and Mexico, not to mention the family vacations scattered along the way. Meredith headed to Alabama for college, where she attended Spring Hill College. She graduated with a B.A. in Integrated Communications with a focus in PR and advertising. While in college Meredith was the PR/Promotions Director of Out-of-Order Communications and developed an Integrated Marketing Communications Campaign for the Public Relations Council of Alabama, selected for their 2007 Marketing Plan.
Meredith also has a background in events management and fundraising. She interned with the Bay Area Food Bank and served at the media contact for numerous media outlets as well as working on their event planning team. Volunteering has been a major theme throughout Meredith’s life: while at Spring Hill she worked as a tutor for under-privileged schools in the Mobile area, and served on the Post-Katrina Disaster Relief Clean-Up Committee.
Meredith shifted the direction of her career in September 2010 and joined the ATTA sales team as business development and membership sales. Recognizing that she still wanted to make a career out of her passion for travel, she also realized that she wanted to help strengthen the industry, by contributing to the efforts to develop sustainable tourism. ATTA was a very natural move for Meredith and the opportunity to give back to an industry that has impacted her life since her early childhood.
“...the great promise of it is that, traveling, we are born again, and able to return at moments to a younger and a more open kind of self.”
Travel has been an integral part of Rebeca’s upbringing. Since she was a child, every weekend her family van headed off to a different town around Mexico. However, getting to the destination was just half of the fun, since the road offered from breathtaking landscapes, singing performances of heartfelt corridos (old Mexican rural songs) to exciting stories told by the best storyteller ever (Dad), delicious food in little restaurants which happen be by the road, and of course a detailed summary about the place they were heading to provided by Mom the historian.
Traveling made Rebeca conscious of her country’s reality: its beauty, its deep social contrasts, and its cultural and historic richness. Traveling with her parents taught her to respect the people and natural environments she visited, to immerse herself in the moment she was living, to understand how fortunate she was to have the opportunity to be there, to observe and learn other people’s customs, to take the time to know powerful words such as “thank you…” in náhuatl, and to listen, listen, and listen to the stories people had to tell. And as she grew older and the traveling possibilities became wider and the regions further away, she repeated this same pattern of conduct and enjoyment throughout all the places she visited around the world.
Extensive travel through India, Japan, China, Thailand, Nepal, Egypt, Morocco, Europe and America has given her a special sensitivity towards local people and customs. Rebeca studied history in Mexico City, and pursued a Masters in Liberal Studies at Georgetown University in Washington DC. Adventure travel had been part of her life however she had the chance to combine it with more active experiences when she included to her traveling the mountain biking, river rafting, hiking, etc. Finally, she had the chance to work for one of the most important adventure travel companies in Mexico, where she collaborated with its Academic Program that focused on enticing schools to promote scientific and academic travel among their students. It became an ambitious program that allowed the children to leave the classroom and live science, culture and nature first hand. Rebeca developed her PR skills while being the liaison between enthusiastic but sometimes concerned parents and the company.
Afterwards, and totally convinced that adventure travel could combine her strongest passions — traveling and history — Rebeca and her husband created their own tour operator that specializes on custom-made adventure travel experiences around Mexico. From the moment The Muddy Boot was born, it was an ATTA Member. This gave Rebeca a deep knowledge not only about the ATTA itself, but the adventure travel industry around the world — and, how Mexico’s remarkable adventure, natural and cultural resources need to be connected to this network. The Adventure Travel World Summits became her source of inspiration where she could “learn, partner and grow” not only as a business owner but as a person. This commitment to the ATTA, her experience as a tour operator owner and manager, itinerary designer and travel blogger, along with her language skills and understanding of Mexico, allowed Rebeca to naturally decide to join the ATTA’s team as its Executive Director in Mexico.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!"”
~Hunter S. Thompson
Maria was born in Ukraine, raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, and moved to the Seattle area in grade school. She traveled often with her family, road tripping throughout North America, riding camels in Turkey, sampling cheeses in France, sailing in Greece, trekking along the coast of Italy – developing the travel bug at an early age!
After spending her adolescence and early college years exploring Europe and North America, she jumped on a plane and continued her dream journey of visiting all seven continents! Maria spent several months backpacking around New Zealand and the South Pacific, followed by some time walking along the Great Wall of China, and island hopping in Hong Kong. She has climbed massive sand dunes, kayaked with thousands of fur seals, and was charged by rhinos while on foot in Namibia! Driven by her love for nature and Latin culture, she has taken many trips to Latin America, where she fell in love with the people, the land, and the food!
Some of her favorite memories have been made in the mountains and turquoise lakes of Patagonia, the coastal fishing villages and the jungle in Ecuador, and while getting up close and personal with humpback whales in Alaska and sea turtles in the Galapagos.
Maria studied sustainable tourism development in college, and since then she has spent her career working at both small and large companies in the adventure travel industry. At ATTA, Maria is the Special Projects Lead for Marketing, where she stays energized by being involved in many business ventures!
At home in the Pacific Northwest, Maria enjoys hiking with her husband and furry dog child, camping, kayaking, snowshoeing, and sipping local wine while feeding friends and family from her unruly fruit and vegetable garden!
Her passion lies in spreading the wonder and beauty of a sustainable lifestyle and of adventure travel to her friends, family, and everyone she encounters!
“So enamored is the traveling wind of the tree that stands with its root in the earth and grows.”
~Johannes V. Jensen
Jen is at her best at the confluence of travel, storytelling, and online environments. That’s why she manages communications and media relations for ATTA. She has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Alabama and her first job out of grad school was writing pre-trip notebooks and editing trip logs for Zegrahm Expeditions based in Seattle. A few years later, weary of reading and writing about other people’s far-flung travels, she sold everything and moved to Shanghai to teach communications to Chinese business students and write articles for the first online travel guide to China in English. Hooked on living abroad, she stayed gone for awhile moving from China to the Philippines and finally to Sweden, where she worked for an accommodation start-up, picked up a degree in International Marketing at Lund University, and took as many cheap flights, ferries, and trains to as many European cities as there were weekends in the year.
Jen enjoys creating online platforms and solutions for improving communications, but she loves writing the most and believes everyone has a story. After a full day of writing effective emails and press releases, she teaches a community creative writing class in the small mountain town of Logan, Utah, where she has finally planted some roots. She also enjoys experimenting with audio storytelling as a reporter for a local public radio station, focusing on environmental and community issues. Jen’s an avid bike commuter and always finds time for river rafting in the summer. She likes picking up traditional knitting techniques when she travels and showing off her international skills at the county fair.
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
Jessica is a Pacific Northwest native, born and raised in the Seattle area. The travel bug hit during her teenage years and kicked off with a trip to South Africa. Mexico and Canada are just a few other places she has had the opportunity to explore and learn. She will never forget the first time she heard a lion roar in the wilds of Africa while on safari, or being welcomed into the kitchen of dear friends in Mazatlan and being taught to cook real Mexican food with their pet Tarantula keeping watch nearby! Being able to help others while exploring the world has drawn her to many locations – from helping doctors provide free medical care in remote populations to building houses for those living in scrap metal shacks; serving has been an integral part of her travel experience.
In 2008, a friend invited her along for a 3-day backpacking trip on the Washington Coast. Ever since then, Jessica has been an avid hiker and backpacker – she cannot get enough of the beautiful world around her!
Jessica earned her B.A. in Business Management from Northwest University in Kirkland, WA. After spending over a decade working in the medical industry, she began to pursue the idea of finding a new career – one that would inspire joy, challenge her in every way, and serve others. Enter the ATTA! After a few good chats with Shannon and other team members and one whirlwind trip to the 2012 ATWS in Switzerland she joined the team and has definitely found her tribe and is excited to serve all members and staff.
Jessica and her Husband/Adventure Buddy/Best Friend, Jerome currently live in Monroe, WA and enjoy finding/building unique-vintage inspired furniture for their home (a favorite piece is the homemade couch made of recycled Volkswagen bus seats), playing and listening to all kinds of music, cooking large meals for everyone they know and of course, adventuring in the great outdoors.
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list”
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Sarah has loved the outdoors since day one. Her favorite childhood memories are those she spent touring around the San Juan Islands and chasing after salmon on her family’s boat. The adventures didn’t stop there. Life has taken Sarah to many incredible places. After obtaining her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Western Washington University, Sarah spent time in Kenya, Africa working with orphans and building swing sets in nearby townships. Sarah decided she wanted to try out teaching, so she bought a one way ticket to a country she knew nothing about and hoped to land a job in Bangkok, Thailand. After a year full of lesson planning, scuba certifications and endless beach trips, Sarah decided to come home only to leave again eight months later. This time to Ketchikan, Alaska where she worked at a fishing lodge. It’s no wonder Sarah has such a wanderer’s heart. Her grandparents were born in South America and Europe and her parents were born in England and Ireland, of which Sarah just became a dual citizen.And with roots in travel that grow deep, it is with much enthusiasm that Sarah takes on the role of Member Advocate at the ATTA; working with companies within the travel industry is a role that comes naturally to an avid traveler. It is Sarah’s mission to connect with ATTA Members and assist them in maximizing their membership.
On any given weekend, you can find Sarah outside hiking, biking, camping, skiing, fishing or playing soccer. Sarah also loves all things food, especially desserts. Many of Sarah’s hours are also spent volunteering with local branches of the Ronald McDonald House, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Camp Goodtimes West (a camp for kids with or whom have survived cancer) as well as being the Donor Relations personnel for the non-profit Two Feet Project based in Kenya.
“You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen”
Gabi was born in São Paulo state, Brazil. Leaving next to the Atlantic Forest she fell in love with nature and the outdoors. At the age of 12, she joined a NGO that protected and studied the ecology of the Japi Forest in southeastern Brazil. The passion for nature motivated her to study ecology in college. After her first year, she became a guide in the Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland area. This was her dream job: guiding and teaching environmental education.
After two years living and working in a very remote place in Pantanal she came back to São Paulo state to finish her ecology degree. After graduating, she worked at a rafting company in Brotas, São Paulo state. Then she came back to Pantanal, working as a guide and receptionist at small lodge even more remote.
Gabi wanted to learn more about the different ecosystems of Brazil, so she moved to the region of canyons of Santa Catarina state to work at an eco resort, where she created their adventure department, responsible for the guests activities and the sustainability program.
After working with several small companies, she realized that the main struggle for small companies was the business administration itself. So, she moved to the capital of the state to study MBA. While studying for that she taught English. After graduating, she became a manager of an adventure travel operator in the island of Florianópolis, Santa Catarina state.
Today she works for the ATTA, primarily taking care of Latin American accounts and programs.
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Hilary Sgalitzer joined the ATTA with a long and varied history in the fields of: sustainable tourism, conservation, education, and travel. During the first chapter of her career she worked on endangered species restoration and research projects for the California Department of Fish & Game and the National Park Service. She then became interested in conservation education and lead trips for the California Wilderness Coalition and Colorado Fourteeners Initiative. After gaining years of experience in backcountry travel and education, she combined these skills to guide and instruct courses for organizations like the National Outdoor Leadership School and Wilderness Ventures. After returning from a revolutionary trip in Indonesia in 2009, she began pursuing a career in sustainable tourism, which truly is the convergence of her past work. Most recently, Hilary managed membership and outreach for The International Ecotourism Society. Currently she is a Member Advocate for the ATTA, while also managing membership and communications for the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
Hilary completed her MS degree in Sustainable Tourism Management at the University of Utah. During her time at the University of Utah, she was involved in several sustainable tourism research projects in the US and abroad. She successfully completed a yearlong research project with a conservancy in Kenya, Africa, designed to guide management decisions for their travelers’ philanthropy program. Hilary also holds a BS in Environmental Science: Water Quality from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California.
Growing up in the foothills of the North Cascades in Washington State, Hilary has a deep appreciation of the West and simultaneously a passion for international travel. Her spark for exploration ignited when working at a small family-owned cabin resort in the mountains of Northern California. Since then, some of her travels have included a high altitude expedition in the Himalayas, surfing the Pacific Coast from California to Costa Rica, gorging on mangos in Southern India, exploring the rich history of Eastern Europe, diving in Indonesia, and sipping on sundowners in Kenya. She is also an avid rock and ice climber that has extensively explored the mountains and deserts of the Western U.S. Hilary currently resides in Colorado where she loves spending time with her partner, Micah, and Alaskan Malamute, Ixta.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
Ulrika Larsson, from Sweden, has for most of her active professional life been trying to avoid static jobs like sitting in front of an abacus, a whiteboard, a typewriter, a TV or a computer. Instead, curiosity has been her biggest and most important employer and has offered her exciting and varied jobs and tasks including working in places like Spain, Sweden, Cyprus, the United States and Wales. Quite often she’s been drawn to jobs with a touch of the outdoors.
After having studied Spanish in Spain and Outdoor Education with Ecotourism as her major in Dalarna (in north Sweden), she became one of the driving forces behind the outdoor company Upplevelsebolaget for eight years (2002-2010). This was one of the first tour operators with adventure activities on the Swedish west coast, focusing on sea kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking and team building. In 2006 the company received that year’s Grand Travel Ecotourism Award.
In 2011 she founded Green Adventures, a sea kayak company on Sweden’s west coast, where guided tours, courses and consultancy are the key components. Sustainability was the green thread running throughout the company’s activities.
In order to not completely drown in the administrative bottomless hole that usually comes with running your own business, she tries to make sure, at irregular intervals, to refill her outdoor adventure account with her own adventures. Bicycle tours across the U.S., solo paddling trips along the Swedish coastline, tidal paddling adventures in Wales, off-piste skiing in Chamonix, scuba diving trips to the far East, mountain bike rides in the forest on the Swedish west coast or long rock climbing days on sun-warmed rocks. Call it a hobby if you want. Ulrika calls it necessary skills-training.
At ATTA, Ulrika is the Partnerships Lead for Europe, working with destinations and other adventure travel partners to facilitate connection and growth for the industry worldwide.
Three things best describe Gergana: passionate about sustainable tourism, eager for new challenges and with a truly Balkan heart.Gergana was born in Sofia (Bulgaria) in a family where being citizen of the world was a fundamental value. She started learning English and Russian when she was six. By the age of 11 she had already lived in both the UK and the US. By the age of 15 she added German to her language portfolio. Later she also studied Spanish and most recently Serbian.Gergana’s bachelor’s degree in Tourism Management is from Sofia University. In 2005 a student summer work program sent Gergana to Washington, D.C., where she worked at a Starwood property and was later extended an offer to move to the U.S. and work for another Starwood property in the Washington, D.C., area. During the three years of valuable work experience in the U.S., Gergana enrolled in The George Washington University School of Business and obtained a graduate degree in Sustainable Tourism Management. During her studies she also worked as a research assistant and took part in a student consultancy project in the Atitlan Lake area in Guatemala.In 2008 Gergana’s heart took her back to Bulgaria and the Balkans. She worked as an independent tourism consultant for different projects, including a series of European Union-funded projects (in Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Turkey). Her most important engagement in the last few years is with the USAID Regional Competitiveness Initiative (RCI) where she served as Regional Tourism Expert. She led the the National Geographic Maps Division team in the Balkans for the development of a regional promotional MapGuide portal (www.BalkansGeotourism.travel) – an initiative that brought together several post-conflict countries in the Balkans to work together.Gergana’s first formal contact with ATTA took place during a regional meeting in Montenegro attended by ATTA’s Executive Director-Europe Chris Doyle. Since then, Chris and Gergana have collaborated on numerous activities – an AdventureEDU training in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2013), another AdventureEDU training in Macedonia (2014) and the first European AdventureWeek (in Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia) (2014).Throughout her career, Gergana developed strong strategic planning and management experience that considers the multidimensional nature of the tourism industry as well as the complexity of the stakeholder network it involves. She has worked with a variety of international development agencies and across countries with different socio-economic profiles.
Gergana is a nature lover, active skier and adrenaline seeker. She currently lives in Sofia with her boyfriend Nasko and her dog Chrisma. She enjoys being close to her family and friends while working in tourism on global level.
“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”
From a young age, Garth was destined to be in the web development industry. Given his first job at the age of 13, where he was tasked to review, test and provide feedback on HTML coding tutorials. After graduation, he accepted an opportunity to return to coding as part of the web development and design company, PixelMill. During this time, he built web design templates, assisted with graphic design projects, and performed site maintenance for various companies, including the ATTA.
Later that year, Garth also joined the ATTA at the Adventure Travel World Summit in Norway where he helped the storytelling team with photography and videography, two of his other passions. Expecting to experience some adventure at the summit, he was not prepared for this trip. Then again, what can prepare you for a cruise in near hurricane like weather? Especially standing in the front of the ship and dodging waves tall enough to come over the top of a cruise liner. This was enough for him to officially catch the adventure travel bug.
In the years that followed, Garth continued to teach himself to be a web developer, built custom sites for clients and graduated from American River College with an Associates in Social Sciences. In early 2013, Garth took on a part-time roll with the ATTA before joining the team full time that fall.
When not being a ninja of all things web, Garth likes to spend time with his wife, shoot photos, play guitar and watch films.
“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
~Alexander Supertramp Chris McCandless
Mike has a Marketing Degree by Tecnológico de Monterrey. He’s got experience in logistics coordination for corporate groups during international sport events, such as Olympics and FIFA World Cup. Mike was part of the adventure tourism team for two years at the Mexico Tourism Board. The team was in charge of the promotion and commercialization, both national and international, of the adventure tourism product from Mexico. He was Marketing Manager at Newlink Group Mexico for almost a year, but he left his office life to become part of the adventure tribe. Mike loves design and cheese.
“A lot of people don't like the road, but it's as natural to me as breathing.”
Elena is a young marketing specialist and a passionate traveler, with over 10 years of experience in the tourism industry, developing marketing and branding strategies for destinations and tourism industry stakeholders.
Elena started working in tourism in her hometown, Durango, Mexico, where she was the online communications director for the festivities committee of Durango, and was in charge of the digital strategy as well as the online media campaigns of several cultural and adventure events. After three years of working in the committee, Elena was invited to join the Mexico Tourism Board, where she was the agency management director and brand manager. She had the opportunity to participate in the launch of advertising campaigns for the Mexico Brand in North America, such as “Mexico, The Place You Thought you Knew” and “Vive Mexico”. Her responsibilities included strategic planning and placing all the content of the promotional campaigns of the Mexico Tourism Board world wide in traditional and digital media, developing editorial content and supervising creative development for TV spots and print ads. Elena was also in charge of the development of specific marketing strategies for specialized segments such as adventure tourism, cultural travel, and luxury travel, as well as the supervision of a variety of projects aimed to position the Mexico brand internationally. One of these projects was the Adventure Travel World Summit in Chiapas, in which she fell in love with the adventure travel spirit.
After her journey at the MTB, Elena was the Marketing Director of Fitch & Associates for t years, but she missed tourism and decided to become part of the adventure tribe.
Today she divides her time between Experiencias Genuinas, a consulting firm specialized in adventure travel, Dopamina, an outbound travel agency, The Muddy Boot, an inbound tour operator company based in Mexico City and collaborating with the ATTA Latin America team on several special projects.
Elena has a Bachelor’s’ Degree in Communications Sciences with a major in film production from the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey. She also holds degrees in target marketing and audiovisual production from the UAEM.
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today, let us begin.”
Swimming in the brisk waters of the Pacific Northwest, hiking through the Cascade Mountain Range, and camping in a variety of national and state parks, Carrie considers herself fortunate to have grown up in a family that embraced and explored the outdoors. Whether it was sliding down muddy hillsides into creeks, running up and down a soccer field, whizzing past her father on the ski slopes, or going on family bike rides, she lived an active childhood, which laid the foundation for a life full of adventure. Setting out from her family, as a young adult, Carrie had the opportunity to journey on several backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies and a sailing excursion through the alluring San Juan Islands of Washington State. On these trips Carrie’s eyes wereopened to the mystery, beauty, and majesty of Creation, and a hunger was unleashed to discover the people and places of this world. While an undergraduate student at the University of Washington, Carrie married Tyson who shared these sentiments towards nature. Upon completing a B.A. in Psychology, they moved to Sun Valley, Idaho to work and play…well, let’s be honest, not much work took place with the limitless ski terrain of Bald Mountain as a backyard. During her time in Sun Valley, Idaho, Carrie grew to cherish a slow-paced, small-town lifestyle and integrated the values of living presently and living simply into her being. Other notable outdoor moments have included biking through the captivating countryside of Czech Republic, taking in the marvelous night-lights of Budapest while cruising down the Danube River, snorkeling and swimming in the waterfall-fed lagoons of Maui, and training for multiple triathlons in the outdoor playground of the greater Seattle area.
Professionally, Carrie holds a M.A. in Counseling from Seattle University. She has worked as the Regional Intake Coordinator for Meier Clinics and the Program Coordinator for Monroe Public Schools’ GEAR UP Scholars Project. In her community she has actively served, volunteering as a volleyball coach at the local Boys and Girls Club and as a leader for her church’s youth group. Carrie now lives in Monroe, Washington, where she and her husband welcomed of a beautiful girl to their family in 2007. The prospect of giving back what she received as a child and opening her daughter’s eyes to the wonders of this world is exciting for Carrie.
In the fall of 2007, with the arrival of her daughter, Carrie underwent a career shift and began working with the ATTA in database development. Her focus now includes supporting the Business Development Team and assisting the membership program. It is Carrie’s hope that pairing her enthusiasm for activity and the outdoors with her experience in the human service sector will enable her to make valuable connections and contributions in the adventure travel industry.
"We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us"
Dawn has always had a great love of travelling and adventure. As a child, she traversed the US in a camper with her family, went hiking in the mountains and swimming at her family’s cabin in West Virginia. As a student, she decided to do something unique: spend a summer living with a host family in Costa Rica to work as an English teacher at a local orphanage and explore the jungle on weekends. This experience, as well as a semester studying abroad in the UK, broadened her view of the world and inspired her desire to live, work and travel abroad, as well as learn foreign languages (such as French, Spanish plus a spattering of Polish and Russian).
After graduating, she moved to Spain where she obtained a TEFL degree and taught English at an academy in a village near Valencia. Because of a desire to experience Eastern Europe while discovering family roots, she moved to Poland for a year to work as a preschool English teacher. While in Warsaw, she was able to not only travel the whole of Poland and dig deep into Polish culture, she was able to visit surrounding nations in the Baltics, Central and Eastern Europe, even a little of the Balkans. Always looking for adventure off the beaten path, she has also visited places such as Iceland, Norway and Russia as a solo traveller. She loves anything from cycling to hiking to grape picking to cultural immersion.
These travels made her realize that the tourism sector was her perfect match. She moved to Lyon, France in order to do her Masters Degree in International Marketing and Global Tourism in a bilingual (French-English) program at the INSEEC business school.
She has also spent time working for other trade organisations, including the Passenger Vessel Association where she managed her own column. She collaborated with the Textile Rental Services Association, where she worked with the editorial team as well as managing the ‘New Product’ and ‘Back in Time’ columns, and visited several plants in America and Europe to conduct on-site interviews and write feature articles.
Based in Lyon, she is currently working with ATTA to expand their European operations and presence while sharing her passion for travel and tourism to attract ever-larger numbers of visitors hungry for adventurous experiences.
Moementum (www.moementum.com) Founder and Principal Moe Carrick has woven a cohesive and provocative tapestry of personal leadership experiences, Fortune 100 consulting, academic and institutional learning, keynote addresses, authorship, strategic partnering, and masterful facilitation. Her diverse background, which spans more than two decades, makes Moe an ideal partner for those who possess the power and desire to achieve concrete and lasting change for themselves and their organizations.
Moe grounds her approach in a unifying and undeniable truth: successful work is dependent upon human relationships. Moe believes that people and human relationships can stand between our successes and failures when not managed well. Her work begins and ends at the critical juncture where people and organizations must solve root issues while simultaneously sustaining the motivation to become better.
Counted as one of the nation’s foremost leaders in adventure learning, one of Moe’s on-river forays with senior executives on the nation’s most threatening white-water rapid were recorded in Fast Company’s, “Extreme Off-Site” feature story (1999). Straddling mainstream organizational consulting with best-of-the-best wilderness education as faculty for the National Outdoor Leadership School, Outward Bound, and Project Adventure, Moe’s varied contributions to people and organizations have consistently stimulated positive ripple effects with direct and favorable impact to the bottom line.
Her lifelong adventurous spirit and story-telling prowess coupled with her inspirational, witty, and humorous style, earn Moe rave reviews following keynote addresses, training events, and consulting experiences. Her visionary mind allows her to translate her experiences into engaging and interactive presentations, which both predict and reflect emerging trends.
Moe holds a BA from the University of New Hampshire, an MS in Organizational Development from Antioch University, and numerous relevant certifications.
“Travel around the world, adventure travel in particular, is a wonderful experience that enriches and creates powerful memories you carry for life”
Hong has been in senior management positions over the past 15 years and has been responsible for international technical and engineering management, business development, and venture operation management for several large US and Canadian companies, including AT&T Wireless and Nortel Networks. In those international management roles, he has traveled the world, from Asia to Europe, from North America to Central America. Travel has been an integral part of his business life. In his most recent duty at AT&T Wireless where he served as a senior director of engineering and a senior director of business development, he led his engineering team and implementation team developed and deployed cellular networks in the whole Caribbean region from Bermuda to Curacao, from Cayman to Barbados, explored the from time to time to create paths) for cellsite location selection. He has accumulated rich experiences in government relations, business development and operation management, which he brought in with him to the ATTA. Born and raised in Beijing, Hong speaks Mandarin and English fluently.
Hong’s rich international business experience, bi-lingual capabilities and knowledge of technology and travel make him an ideal team member as the ATTA works with many international governments, NGOs and companies.
When he is at home in the beautiful emerald city of Washington, he enjoys hiking, camping and biking with the family and friends. Hong received his PhD degree in electrical and computer engineering from University of Victoria, British Columbia in 1993 and owns many US patents.
“For me, the best travel pushes my personal limits and helps me discover what I’m capable of.”
Natasha Martin is a tourism consultant specializing in adventure tourism destination marketing, research and market expansion into non-traditional and frontier destinations. Areas of expertise include strategic and online marketing for emerging tourism destinations, Gen Y adventure travelers trends, social media for tourism destinations and tourism research. Past clients include destinations such as Nepal, Palestine, Myanmar, Greenland, Namibia, Northern Peru, India, tour operators in Newfoundland, Mexico and Argentina and industry associations in Brazil and the USA. Natasha was ATTA’s key point of contact during the ATWS 2013, which was held in Namibia.
Natasha has guest lectured at The George Washington University on the topics of social media for tourism destinations and viral campaigns for tourism destinations and delivered workshops in Namibia and Uganda on online tourism marketing.
Natasha has a BA Honors in African history from Concordia University and a Master of Tourism Administration from the George Washington University.
Natasha speaks French and Spanish. She is based in Yangon, Myanmar.
The ATTA would like to thank the following individuals for their participation with our Advisory Board. Follow the link to learn more about these incredible people.
Malia Asfour Director, Jordan Tourism Board North America
Steve Barker Principal, Wild Places LLC
Urs Eberhard Executive VP Markets & MICE, Switzerland Tourism
Paul Easto – CEO, The Wilderness Collective
Richard Edwards – Founder, ecoism
Fernando Escudero – Founder of AUTENTICA SALTA and Founder and Vice President of AAETAV (Argentinian Adventure Travel Trade Association)
Alfredo Ferreyros President, Explorandes
Kristian B. Jørgensen Managing Director, Fjord Norway Tourist Board
Maxi Pia Louis Director, NACSO
Praveen Moman Co-founder and Managing Director of Volcanoes Safaris
Jim Sano WWF’s Vice President for Travel, Tourism and Conservation
Rob Torres Managing Director of Travel at Google
Richard Weiss CEO, Strategic Travel Consulting, USA
Mike Adams Travel Footwear, W. L. Gore and Associates
Richard Bangs adventurer, entrepreneur, author, producer and director
Eric Brodnax EVP, Digital Products, National Geographic Society
William L. Bryan, Jr., Ph.D. Founder, Off the Beaten Path
Jeff Dossett Chief Executive Officer, AdventureLink, Inc.
Francis X. Farrell Former Publisher, Men’s Journal and National Geographic Adventure Magazines
Nicky Fitzgerald Pangaea Associates
Rick Hemmerling Vice President Business Development – Buzz Off Insect Shield LLC
John Hogan Director – Qatar Airways
Kurt Kutay Founding Director and President of Wildland Adventures, Inc. and non-profit Travelers Conservation Trust
Perry Lungmus Director of Sales & Marketing at Travcoa
Megan McCormick TV Show host for Globetrekkers
Thornton May Contributing Futurist – World Bank
Helen Nodland Director, Member Sales & Service at Virtuoso, Ltd.
John Poimiroo Principal, Poimiroo & Partners; former Director of Tourism, California
Everett Potter Author, Journalist
Gustavo Timo Co-founder of ABETA (Brazilian Adventure Travel Trade Association)
Steve Trautman Principal, Solution Strategies; former Expedia manager
Ed Viesturs Adventurer, Author and America’s Leading High-Altitude Mountaineer
Mei Zhang Founder, WildChina