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Female Leaders In Travel Conclave

Female Leaders In Travel Conclave

Courageous female leader in travel,

As you carve out your calling in our industry, have you ever looked at those in the power positions at the top and noticed how few females there are? 

Have there been times when you’ve seen a strong female role model and wondered how she got there and what insights she might provide?  

Have you ever wished you had a support system of other strong females that you could turn to for advice, wisdom, and encouragement?

You are not alone!

The Female Leaders In Travel Conclave’s mission brings together a collective group of ambitious women that share ideas, tackle issues, gain skills, seek advice, and become a powerful voice in our industry.

Are you searching for connection with other female leaders? 

This female leaders in travel advocacy conclave provides an intimate setting for a small group of hand selected, accomplished women as a means to exchange ideas, practice mindfulness, and spark creativity. This immersive experience will leave you feeling more resilient, motivated and equipped to lead.


  • Share and fine-tune your unique strengths, gifts, and leadership purpose.
  • Engage in discussions on leadership impact and influence pathways.
  • Collaborate and strategize for best practices.
  • Join creative think tanks discussing female leadership action plans, the vision for effecting change and ways to empower others.
  • Relax, renew, and participate in rituals  that remove the emotional responses we each face during chaos and change.
  • Bond with a tribe of like-minded leaders who want to make a bold impact on their workplaces and the travel community.

2019’s Conclave daily itinerary is listed at the bottom of this page.

The 2019 Female Leaders in Travel Conclave resulted in a collective group of women that walked away from the experience raving.

Here are a few comments about the 2019 conclave from attendees: 

Cindy McCabe: “I went to the Female Leaders Conclave last July with no idea what to expect. I have always admired Jennifer and thought to myself, if she put this together, I’m sure it will be great. It was a life changing experience and I truly learned so much about myself as a person and a boss. I have thought back so many times to things the ladies shared about their own struggles and challenges they have faced in business and life and feel I am a better person and team leader after the three days spent in the company of some of the greatest people I have ever met. I look forward to the 2020 meeting!!!”

Lauré Poffenberger: “The 2019 First All-Female Travel Leaders Conclave at the beautiful Le Blanc Cancun was enlightening to me for several reasons, but one stands out the most. Strong female travel leaders need other strong female travel leaders to lean on, counsel with and bat ideas around.  It helps us remember that we sell “fun” for a living, fulfill dreams for families & couples to spend time together and create memories. We are leaders even when we are following.”

Lois Barbour: “I had no idea what to expect when going to this event; my thoughts were that it would either be an amazing experience or a huge waste of time! Glad to say it was the former, and I came away from it with a connection to these fabulous ladies that allows me to dig deep and feel a support that I had no idea was there! Entrepreneurship can be HARD, but knowing that there are powerful women in this business who will ‘save me a seat’ allows me to have the confidence needed in many situations! Thank you for putting this together!”

Niki Rakowitz: “I had no clue what to expect for this event, however I knew the leader, Jennifer and her desire to create a support group for female travel leaders. And WOW,  I can say the results of this event were beyond anything I could have expected.  The education, mentorship and support of this group… priceless! I can say wholeheartedly this event was life changing for me and my business goals.”

Travel Agent Magazine article about the Female Leaders in Travel Conclave



Featured female leaders participating at the conclave:

Jennifer Doncsecz's Agent At Home Article

Jennifer Doncsecz: President, VIP Vacations

Jennifer is a nationally recognized travel expert.  As president of VIP Vacations Inc., Jennifer has distinguished herself as one of the top travel agents in America. Having received numerous industry awards, Jennifer uses her position to educate consumers as well as travel professionals on how to create amazing memories through travel.

Jennifer is a featured keynote speaker at numerous industry conferences and serves on several travel industry advisory boards.  In addition, her bi-weekly column in Vacation Agent Magazine, guides travel professionals in striving to reach their personal goals.  Jennifer is a 2016 and 2018 Travvy Award winner.  Under her direction, VIP Vacations has received over 200 renowned industry awards.

Female Leader's in Travel 2019

Robin Sanchez: COO,  Your Travel Center / Montecito Village Travel

Robin Sanchez, CTIE, is the Chief Operating Officer (and part owner) of Your Travel Center/Montecito Village Travel where she oversees the operation of four offices and over 500 Independent Contractors throughout the United States. Beginning her career in 1988 as a front-line leisure advisor for On the Go Travel, Robin joined Your Travel Center in 1992. Here her responsibilities expanded to include all facets of leisure travel, corporate travel & sales, and agency management, providing her the skills necessary to navigate the challenges of today’s travel industry. In addition to the critical role she holds at YTC/MVT, Robin is active in many travel organizations, including, but not limited to Virtuoso’s New Advisor Committee, past Secretary and current board member of the Professional Association of Travel Hosts (PATH), member of the American Society of Travel Advisors’ (ASTA) AGC PBS Advisory Committee, CCTO board member, and serving as Chapter Secretary of the Orange County ASTA Chapter. Her proudest achievement, however, is having raised two successful young men to adulthood while balancing a strenuous career path. When not working or helping advisors reach their goals, Robin enjoys cooking, gardening and of all things, cleaning.

Female Leader's in Travel 2019

Megan Velez: Vice President, DestinationWeddings.Com

An industry veteran, Megan’s role of VP if product at, a leader in the retail Romance segment. Previous to this, she held roles at Apple Leisure Group,, TNT Vacations and Jack Tar Village Resorts.  Her focus in travel has always been on the Contracting/Product/Partner Relationship side, where she built and nurtured strong supplier associations for the past 30 years.  Megan feels fortunate to have found her passion in travel very early in life by traveling extensively both domestically and abroad with her family.  Her passion for this industry is evidenced daily by the way she leads and the gratitude she feels carries through to those she manages and engages with.  

Kristen Little_BB_3779_pp

Kirsten Little:  VP, Operations & Business Development at Andavo Travel

Kirsten Little started in the travel industry in 1989.  She joined Andavo Travel in 1998.   Over the past 30 years she expanded her knowledge in corporate and leisure travel, moving from an advisor into management.   

After a merger with Christopherson Business Travel in 2008, Kirsten transitioned to oversee Leisure division, Andavo Travel.  Today, she is the Vice President of Operations and Business Development for Andavo Travel.  Her main responsibilities are operations, marketing, and business development.  Under her leadership Andavo Travel has doubled in size, closing out 2018 at just over $60M.


Jen Cochrane:  Co-Founder & COO,  GIFTE Travel Network

As Co-Founder and COO of Gifted Travel Network (GTN), Jen built GTN from the ground up to a thriving host agency with 280+ independent contractors in only five years. In addition to running the day-to-day operations of GTN, Jen is one of the leadership trio at Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs (GIFTE) where she coaches business owners through GIFTE’s Travel Business Consulting and other programs in the areas of business management, finance, marketing, team building, operations/implementation, strategic planning and leadership. Jen has an MBA from Columbia University and an extensive business background. After nearly 20 years with the Federal Reserve, Jen left her high-level executive position for better quality of life and began her career as an entrepreneur in 2008. Jen is passionate about the travel industry and its limitless opportunities and maintains that she is here to stay.

Lori Speers PIC

Lori Speers: CEO/Owner Levarte Travel

Lori has over 35 years of leadership experience as a travel professional. She has worked for Fortune 500 Corporate travel departments, boutique Virtuoso agencies and large host agencies.

In her most previous position, Lori oversaw an operation that supports more than 3,500 independent leisure travel professionals. She started with Xstream Travel in 2005 and was instrumental in growing the membership base by over 400% and increasing annual gross sales by more than 1200%.

An expert in all aspects of the travel industry, Lori was instrumental in developing the company’s Travel division, which has become a top producer for all established cruise lines and tour operators. Every year since 2007, the agency has been counted among Travelsavers “Top 40 Travel Agencies”.

Lori is regularly sought after to participate on industry panels and is an executive board member for (CLIA) Cruise Line International Association, Carnival Travel Advisory Board, Royal Caribbean Executive Forum and Norwegian’s Presidents Symposium.

She is now putting her experience and wide array of industry knowledge to use as owner of her new agency,  Levarte Travel. 

Female Leader's in Travel 2019

Jennifer Avey: VP Marketing, Destination Weddings Travel Group

Jennifer  is a seasoned marketing professional who re-joined the travel industry in August 2018 when she began working at Destination Weddings Travel Group. She has worked both in and outside of the travel industry and has held senior roles with consumer brands such as Life is Good, The Princeton Review, TripAdvisor and BJ’s Wholesale Club. With a wealth of experience in traditional and digital marketing, Jen is currently in charge of all marketing functions for her organization.


Karen Schroedermeier: Owner, All About Travel, Inc

Karen has been  in the travel industry for over 25 years.  Her early days were  in the airline industry which soon evolved  into the leisure side of the business.  In 1997 she opened “All About Travel, Inc.  Now with two office, she overseas eleven travel consultants that have a combined 75 years of travel experience.  Under Karen’s leadership, All About Travel, has grown into an award winning agency.

Ruby Stanfield: Owner/President,, LLC

Ruby is the President of, LLC which oversees an office staff and encompasses 42 independent travel advisors.  She started her travel business in 1989 and has been successful for 31 years.  As a member of Signature Travel Network she sits on the Advisory Committee of the Land & Specialty Suppliers.  She has previously served as the treasurer of NJ ASTA.  She also sits on the Travel Advisory Board for Antigua & Barbuda.  She is the recipient of numerous travel awards over the course of her career.  Due to her outstanding team nearly every corner of the globe is expertly covered.  She has a passion for travel and does so both domestically and internationally continuing to expand her knowledge of the world.  She has successfully managed this career for 31 years while raising 2 daughters with her husband.  During this time, she also volunteered in her daughter’s schools and her community.  She is extremely well respected in the industry and maintains close ties with business associates and clients.

Female Leader's in Travel 2019

Samarah Meil: Co-Owner, Amarillo Travel Network

Samarah has been the co-owner of Amarillo Travel Network since 2004.  She is actively involved in various industry organizations, including ASTA and ASTA YPS, where she was on the board as Treasurer for ASTA YPS from 2012-2014.  Samarah is also an advisory Board Member with Global Travel Market (GTM West & GTM Flagship) for 2017-2019.  She also is the co-leader for a small business group that meets weekly, called Wisdom For Business Leaders, which has a goal of educating and supporting small business owners and entrepreneurial leaders in her hometown area of Amarillo, TX.  With her agency team of eleven, Samarah’s passion is in leadership development and growth, as well as in building relationships with other like-minded individuals, and educating the public on the travel industry.


Julie Lanham: Owner, Vacations to Remember

Julie has been working in the travel industry for 35 years starting at a small brick & mortar local travel agency while still in high school where she would stamp brochures and hand write airline tickets. After majoring in Travel & Tourism in college, Julie went on to work in airline reservations for Air Canada in Manhattan for a year then moved to handling corporate travel at an agency on Long Island. Following her move to Augusta in 1991, she realized that creating an experience for the customer brought her much more satisfaction than scheduling flights and car rentals.   This realization sent her back to leisure travel to to feed her passion. Julie opened her own vacation boutique in 1996 and set her sights on warmer weather.  Twenty five years later, her agency, Vacations To Remember still specializes in the Caribbean and Mexico with a strong focus on Honeymoons.  Julie has the honor of being a Chairman’s Royal Club Member with Sandals & Beaches Resorts as well as a 5X Platinum Agent.  Her agency has also earned accolades from Hard Rock Resorts, Funjet Vacations, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and is Earmarked with The Walt Disney Travel Company.  Julie has a small team of 4 in house agents as well as 10+ independent contractors.   Her most proud accomplishment is being the mother of three; Nicholas (23), Joshua (19) and Emily (17) .  Being a mother of three is what inspired her to start her own company and they continue to be her motivation in striving for excellence in her business. 

Sanya L. Weston

Sanya Tyson Weston : Owner and Travel Strategist at “Your Premier Travel Services”

Sanya Tyson Weston, CEO of Your Premier Travel Service, the oldest African-American owned travel agency in Detroit. Weston has more than 30 years of experience planning and organizing travel excursions. A third-generation business owner, she comes from a family legacy of professionals and leaders in the travel industry. Sanya is an internationally recognized entrepreneur, thought leader and community leader. As a recognized authority in her industry, Weston has appeared as a travel expert on national and local news stations and in leading publications.

Additionally, she founded Young People Travel Global Edge mentoring programs to encourage children to find their place in the world through academics, entrepreneurship, service, and travel and Skylar’s Way foundation a memorial travel fund to support first responders in her community due to the effects of COVID-19. Sanya is a native Detroiter, during her spare time Sanya volunteers as a Girl Scout Leader with the Girl Scouts of U.S.A.    Sanya believes the continued success of Your Premier Travel Services’ is their dedication to providing exceptional customer service, remaining current on changing travel trends, and giving back to the community 

Female Leader's in Travel 2019

Lois Barbour: Owner Travel Time–TPI Inc (Canada)

Lois runs Travel Time in Newfoundland,  Canada. Her agency’s niche is  romance/destination wedding travel.  Lois is a Certified Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Specialist through the Wedding Planners Institute of Canada, and has completed the training and courses for certification through Travel Agent University’s Destination Wedding Specialist program. Through further education she has qualified for designation as a Certified Travel Counsellor, and received the Elite Cruise Counsellor certificate.  She is also a Charter Member of the Destination Weddings & Honeymoons Association (DWHSA).  Lois’ leadership is further seen as a presenter and trainer for travel agents that are focused in the romance travel arena.

Jennifer Evans: President, Totally Trips

Jennifer is the proud owner and President of two brick and mortar retail locations outside of St. Louis and Kansas City, MO.  She started in the industry in 2009 and has always loved to travel.  Jennifer has also owned or has been a partial owner of several businesses since 1995 & still owns a cell phone repair shop with her husband now. 

Totallytrips has been a part of the Presidents Circle with TLN since 2015 and they have received many awards in the travel industry.

She is known for being trustworthy and having integrity, but has no problem speaking her mind and standing up for her business.  She finds it important to be open minded and communicate clearly with her staff to share ideas to grow their business as a team.

Jennifer and her husband have  4 daughters and 1 son. She strives to be a role model for her children.


Cindy McCabe: Owner, Bethany Travel/Dream Vacations

Cindy has been leading Bethany Travel/Dream Vacations  since March 2005.  She leads a team of 12 agents and their office is  premier agency in Delaware.  Cindy leads by example and spreads positive joy about the benefits travel can have on one’s life.   Her agency is a top selling Sandals/Beaches agency and Cindy has won the distinct honor of being named a Sandals CRC Elite agent since 2017.


Lauré Poffenberger: Owner, Travel & Luxury Vacations, LLC

Lauré is the Founder and leader at Travel & Luxury Vacations in Texas. She has evolved the agency over the last 25 years as a niche provider of destination weddings and luxury travel. Brides and grooms rave about the unique and special way Lauré holds their hand through the entire wedding planning and travel process. She cares deeply about helping her brides and grooms create a destination wedding experience that becomes a dream come true for the couple and their guests. Lauré and her team have received awards and accolades from Tour Operators and Luxury Resorts for their production.

Her many roles in the agency include sales, marketing, and educating her team. Lauré has two daughters and a growing number of grandchildren.

Amanda Scott: CEO, Tycoon Travel Club

Prior to founding Tycoon Travel Club, Amanda was a top and award-winning sales producer in the financial industry.  She always had a passion for travel, so when she found out there was a possibility she could create a career doing something she loved, she took a leap of faith and started her own travel agency in 2014. Determined to be successful and by solely leveraging her network, Amanda immediately started booking incentive corporate groups and leisure trips. 

Over the years, Amanda has grown her business by genuinely caring about her clients and their experience.  Amanda serves on the advisory board for the Antigua Tourism Department.  Her company is a Funjet 500 Silver Account, and she has won Palace Resort’s  Platinum award as well as Hard Rock AIC’s Platinum Award.

Andrea Williams


Andrea Williams: President, Exquisite Vacations Inc

Andres is an award-winning Certified Destination Weddings, Honeymoons & Events Travel Consultant. She started her travel career in Jamaica at the age of 18 years old, where she worked at the coveted Ciboney Resort, where she developed her love and passion for the travel industry. Andrea attended college pursuing an Associate Degree in Travel & Tourism Management. She continued her passion at legendary Air Jamaica Vacations before migrating to Miami, Florida where she continued her work with Air Jamaica Vacations and also pursued her Bachelors of Science in Tourism Management at Florida International University.    It’s her passion, drive,determination and love for the travel industry, in 2004 she started Exquisite Vacations, Inc., a full-service travel agency based in Miami, Florida. She has been quoted in Travel Agent Magazine, a past Ambassador for Global Travel Market,  won many travel awards and she currently sits on the travel advisory board for the island of Antigua. Andrea and her team of travel advisors specializes in honeymoons, destination weddings, family vacations, bespoke itineraries and special events for her many loyal clients.

Amy Hobbins: Founder and CEO Journeys Unlimited Travel

Amy has been in the travel industry over 30 years, starting as an agent in 1988.   She wanted to share her passion for travel with others and began teaching evenings at a local Travel School. She has students who are now industry professionals for over 25 years.

Amy opened her own agency, Journeys Unlimited Travel in 1997, and has continued to grow.  Embracing industry changes going from 2 storefront locations and 12 employees, she is now a successful host with one office staffed and independent contractors in several states. 

Amy serves her local community and has been president of her Chamber of Commerce as well as being involved in several non profit boards.  In addition, she has served on the Preferred Supplier Board of her consortium. 




Kristi Huss: Co-Owner, Travel Savvi, Inc.

Kristi started exploring the world at a young age and has never stopped. Her passion for travel developed into a career after studying travel and tourism. She gained experience on both the corporate and leisure sides of travel, which has helped her develop into a versatile agent. Kristi prides herself on customer satisfaction; she truly goes above and beyond for her clients. With over 22 years in the travel industry, working on destination weddings, honeymoons, incentive groups and family vacations, she is an expert on group travel.   Helping mentor agents and discover their passion as a travel advisor is one of her greatest joys.  Kristi resides in Iowa with her husband and has 6 daughters; having such a large family makes everyday a group planning event!  She enjoys sharing her love of travel with her family and friends and exploring new destinations.  Being in the travel business has allowed her to meet many new people, create great friendships and form valued partnerships with her colleagues.

DeAna Haywood:  President/CEO, Queens of the Isles 

DeAna worked as an accountant for 15 years however due to the love of travel with family and friends she started her own travel agency in 2003.  Her agency, headquartered in Wheatley Heights, NY, specializes in Destination Weddings and Honeymoons, Conferences, Escorted Tours and Mission trips.

DeAna believes the continued success of Travel Services is being FAT, Faithful, Available and Teachable; which is being dedicated to personal relationships, providing excellent customer service, continuing education with certifications and expert training. It is very important to remain current on changing travel trends and protocols.

She worked as a Business Development Manager for Grace’s Distinctive Properties and currently serves as the Chapter President of ASTA Suffolk SBN Chapter- American Society of Travel Advisors. DeAna is also the recipient of numerous travel awards over the course of her career. 

She has developed an award winning agency from various travel industries, receiving Jamaica’s top 50 awards from 2014 to 2019, as well as Destination Wedding Specialist, “Destination Wedding, “2019 Desti Ruby Award”, “HardRock Platinum”, Vacation Express “Presidents” award and several other distinguished awards. She has escorted church conferences and retreats from 2006 with 10 to 430 passengers. Most recently she has been featured in “The Beat Newsletter” Jamaica Travel Specialist – Summer 2020 Issue. Her most proud accomplishment is being the mother of three daughter; Bryanna, Nia-Dyamond and Zoe with her husband Curtis.  Being a mother continues to be her inspiration and motivation in striving for excellence in her business. 

Nadia Henry: Owner, Travel with Sparkle, LLC

Nadia Henry, MCC, is a certified group specialist and proud owner of an award-winning Travel agency. Although she spent almost a decade working in the medical field as an Ophthalmic Nurse, Nadia has always had a love for travel. Before becoming a professional travel advisor, she was planning one-of-a-kind international trips and creating memorable itineraries for her family. Those trips eventually led to over 200 people vacationing together.

Nadia shares her client’s passion for travel and has visited more than 36 countries around the world. Nadia specializes in custom experiences, as well as group and luxury travel. From a once in a lifetime vacation for two to Thailand or Egypt in a group, her expertise ensures clients an immersive, culturally enriching journey. 

Nadia is a member of the John Maxwell leadership team. 

Her mission is to give clients unforgettable experiences around the world. She believes that travel is an investment in making memories and should be accessible to everyone.

Mona Dean

Mona Deane: Owner, Horizon Escapes

Mona’s travel career began in 2006 when she joined Copper Travels, a brick and mortar agency, as a leisure travel advisor. Here, she used her knowledge to educate her clients while designing vacations filled with memories that last forever. This learning experience provided her with the skills needed to pursue her dream of opening her own agency.

By continuously adapting to the changes in technology and needs of her consumers, she founded Horizon Escapes as a home based agency in 2013. Mona quickly expanded her knowledge to incorporate both group and destination weddings to her long list of expertise.

Currently, Mona recruits, manages, and mentors a group of 10 agents in 4 states. The agency handles several types of travel with agents each specializing in their personal travel passions. Mona focuses on training, educating, and empowering her agents to succeed in the ever changing travel industry.

In addition to her role as owner, Mona has a personal passion to help others succeed. Since 2005 she has become a certified adaptive ski instructor and along with her family, enjoys volunteering to teach children with disabilities how to ski.

Female Leaders In Travel

Application to attend the Female Leaders in Travel Retreat

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