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.”
Featured female leaders participating at the conclave:
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.
Sandy Anderson: Founder and President of Riverdale Travel
Sandy is a force in the Travel Industry. She has honed her skills in her own agency for 32 years. Sandy lives and breathes all things Travel. As Owner and now President of Riverdale Travel, Sandy has distinguished herself and her team as one of the top agencies in America. She has received numerous industry awards and used her position to educate the consumer and mentor advisors to create amazing memories. Her success has been from adapting to the changes and needs of consumers by developing a Rockstar team. She has sat on various industry boards and currently lives between Montana, Minnesota and Wisconsin. (all three are rated in top 10 of worst weather states) Her passion is travel, of course. But a recently found passion is mentorship. Riverdale Travel has evolved from a mom and pop shop to a sophisticated travel company. They have embraced change and developed in the Digital and Independent contractor space while cultivating Brick and Mortar Travel Agencies.
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.
Megan Velez: Vice President, DestinationWeddings.Com
An industry veteran, Megan’s role of VP if product at DestinationWeddings.com, a leader in the retail Romance segment. Previous to this, she held roles at Apple Leisure Group, CheapCaribbean.com, 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.
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.
Daren Southgate: Co-Owner at Tzell Long Island
Daren has been in the travel industry for 31 years, beginning with Delta Air Lines and then the Tzell Travel Group. She is very proud to be a mentor and role model to new travel advisors and has been instrumental in promoting them in their travel careers. She currently serves on the Advisory Boards of Delta Vacations and AM Resorts, is a member 41°-74° Club of New York, .the Premier Association for Professional Women in Travel. As a Partner and Executive Travel Consultant at Tzell Travel Long Island, and with her 44 colleagues (almost entirely female) in 8 states, she and the agency handle every type of travel from high-end private plane clients to group movements in the hundreds.
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: 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.
JIll LaBarre: President, Jill’s Great Escapes and VP Business Development, Palm Coast Travel
After 20 years in Senior Management in the Retail Industry, Jill LaBarre decided to turn her passion for travel into her source of income and Jill’s Great Escapes was created. She and her team enjoy curating experiences for their clients globally, land and sea. Group travel, romance escapes, Europe, Caribbean and Cruising are favorite vacation specialties. She is thrilled to consistently be a Top 10 Producing agency within her Host Agency, OASIS Travel Network and part of the Signature Travel Network.
Jill currently serves on the advisory board for Global Travel Marketplace. She has also been an advisory board member for Norwegian Cruise Line University as well as Director of the OASIS advisory board where she was instrumental in helping the CEO create programs to benefit their Travel Advisors. Jill LaBarre has been featured in several trade publications.
Jill believes strongly in the professional development of Travel Advisors. She is a member of ASTA and CLIA and a certified expert for Signature Travel Network. She holds certifications in various destinations and with top suppliers. Committed to the Travel Advisor development in the industry, Jill helped create the New 2 Travel program with the OASIS Travel Network and served as a presenter for 3 sessions each quarter in their 3 day bootcamps for 3 and ½ years. Additionally, she has presented in Peer to Peer sessions several years at CruiseWorld. Continuing education, providing and participating in professional growth opportunities are key components to the success of Jill’s Great Escapes and Jill’s passion for travel
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.
Jani Miller, CTC: President & CEO and Co-Owner of Central Travel
Part of the Signature Travel Network, Central Travel is a multi-branch travel agency based in Toledo, OH with five locations in Northwest OH. She joined the agency in 1977 as a front line advisor. In 2007, under Miller’s leadership, the Better Business Bureau serving Northwestern Ohio and Southeastern Michigan presented Central Travel with the 2007 Torch Award for a medium sized business. Miller believes in giving back to the community as well as her industry and being active in both industry and community groups has been a mainstay in Ms. Miller’s career. She currently serves on the Accor Hotel Board and Delta Vacations board. In addition to a Certified Travel Counselor (CTC), Ms. Miller holds a Destination Specialist certification for East & West Africa, an Adventure Travel Lifestyle certification and is a Certified Lifestyle Specialist for Golf. She was a finalist in the 1998 Northwest Ohio Entrepreneur of the Year Awards and was named one of “The Most Powerful Women in Travel” by Travel Agent Magazine in 1999, 2000 & 2003. Miller is currently listed as one of Travel+Leisure A-List of Top 70 Travel Super Agents as a golf specialist and has held this designation since 2002. On a personal level, Jani has a passion for the game of golf, enjoys exercise and adventure travel. Africa is one of her favorite destinations for safari & golf
Laurie Keith: President, Romantic Planet Vacations (Canada)
Monica Karnes: Owner, LaMacchia Travel
Monica and her husband purchased LaMacchia Travel in 2009. Since then, and through various economic swings, they have grown their single-storefront into a thriving business. In 2014, Monica added a luxury romance travel brand called LovinAway under the umbrella of LaMacchia Travel. LovinAway has blossomed into a romance and destination wedding brand adding to their Lamacchia portfolio. Along with steering LaMacchia travel, Monica also has three daughters, Cassidy, Emma, and Lily. Her oldest daughter has followed her parents into the travel industry.
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,RubysTravel.com, LLC
Ruby is the President of RubysTravel.com, 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.
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.
Tina Hearn: President, Paradise Weddings and Travel
Seeking a more adventurous career, Tina left her position as hospital administrator in 2003 and purchased a franchise with All About Honeymoons and Destination Weddings working as an independent travel advisor.
As they years passed, Tina gained experience and knowledge in the travel industry and in 2011, she formed her own company, Paradise Weddings and Travel. Paradise quickly grew to a team of 30 and has received many industry awards, including Karisma’s prestigious Hall of Fame award in 2016. Tina has also served on the advisory board for Classic Vacations.
Paradise has embraced and grown with the industry to not only have a niche market in the wedding field but in addition has grown the Luxury and Family Travel Categories.
One of Tina’s greatest prides is that she has mentored women and men and enabled them the opportunity to create a career of their own in travel. Tina has a passion for travel and life. In the summer of 2021, she will marry the love of her life~ Richard in her own destination wedding. Yes, love comes at all ages!!
Her other passions include her Children, Grandchildren, gardening, and giving back to the industry that has treated her so well!
Samantha Hammond: Luxury Travel Consultant and Founder of Jus Adventures
Samantha Hammond is a professional Luxury Travel Consultant and Founder of ‘Jus Adventures’ travel agency (www.jusadventures.com). Samantha started her career as a ‘Destination Weddings’ and group specialist doing 40+ weddings and groups each year. In 2017, Samantha launched ‘Jus Adventures’, a travel host agency, where she trains and mentors over 80 home based travel agents. Besides being a travel consultant, Samantha was the former New York City Chapter Director for CCRA for 3 years and was also the East Coast Business Development Manager for Temptation Cancun Resort and Desire Resorts and cruises. Currently, Samantha is a member of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Advisory Board, where she chairs the Trade Committee. Samantha has been invited as guest speaker to many industry conferences including: The Travel Industry Exchange, The Romance Travel Forum, The NY Travel Fest, Sotic 2018 and the Travel Agent Forum. When she is not training other travel agents, guest speaking or creating memorable itineraries for her clients, Hammond continuously travels the world partnering with countless resorts and tourism boards to get firsthand experiences of the destinations and properties that she recommends to her clients. Currently, Hammond resides in New York with husband Phillip.
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 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
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.
Donna Watson: Owner – Jett Set Travel LLC
Donna opened Jett Set Travel in 2003 hoping to sell a few trips to Mexico and the Caribbean for a supplement income. She fell in love with every aspect of the industry and branched out to sell luxury world-wide destinations, cruises and groups. This expansion has given her the opportunity to service many Destination Weddings and Incentive groups along the way. Her agency has been recognized as a Funjet Silver and AIC Platinum Agency.
Donna has grown Jett Set Travel to include 7 IC’s and 1 Admin. She is passionate about internal and professional growth to be the best leader possible for her team and her family. She strives to educate herself with certifications and expert trainings. She believes a warm personal relationship and excellent customer service are the key to building a plethora of repeat clients.
Donna and her husband Britt (co-owner) have 9 children together and 4 grandchildren which they spend every spare moment with outside of their careers. She feels true success starts in the home and is blessed to watch those generations evolve.
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 has two daughters and a growing number of grandchildren.
Michelle Masters: Owner, Far Horizons Travel
As the long-time agency owner of Far Horizons Travel, Michelle has over 30 years of experience in the travel industry, including hospitality, corporate meetings and incentive programs. She is passionate about traveling the world to enhance her knowledge. Additionally, she consistently extends compassionate counsel to her wide range of clients while executing every detail of the travel experience, ultimately exceeding her clients’ expectations. Michelle’s specialties include mentoring her IC’s and collaborating with other agency owners while developing and gaining new experiences along the way.
When Far Horizons transitioned from a traditional brick and mortar agency to a home based agency over 10 years ago. During this extreme transition, Michelle sustained continued success and business growth. Michelle serves on the Delta Vacations Advisory Board and is active in the charity organization Meals on Wheels, which provides meals to senior citizens hit especially hard by the pandemic. Michelle strives to live by her own philosophy….. “Life is a journey…. and travel takes us on many of those journeys. Providing us with the Enrichment, Knowledge, Empowerment and Appreciation of what our world has to offer. These are the principals which move us all forward through life’s long journey”.
Jenene Mealey: Director of Outside Sales, Canary Travel
Jenene’s career in travel began in 2009 where she worked as a Business Development Manager for a corporate travel management company, securing new corporate meeting and incentive travel groups. In 2015 she joined the nationally recognized, award winning team at Canary Travel. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies and Ernst & Young award winners. She has a proven track record of decreasing corporate travel costs while improving the quality of existing travel programs. In addition to corporate group travel she also manages several destination wedding groups and hosts leisure group trips as well. While managing her own multi-million dollar annual book of business, Jenene also serves as the Director of Outside Sales at Canary Travel. She leads a team of 50 travel advisors, and is responsible for facilitating monthly training opportunities while building strong supplier relationships. Canary Travel is a Funjet Vacations Platinum agency, Apple Vacations Crystal award winner, Sandals Preferred Agency, as well as a top AM Resorts, AIC Hotel Group and Blue Diamond Partner. In 2019 Jenene founded Awestruck by Canary Travel, a luxury division. She curates personalized, luxury travel experiences, filled with Awestruck Moments, that allow her travelers to encounter the world in unforgettable, transformative ways. Jenene will serve as a Global Travel Marketplace Ambassador (GTM) this fall. She is also a Fox News contributor and is called upon to discuss the latest travel trends.
Jamie Jones: President, WhirlAway Travel
Jamie is the President and co-owner of WhirlAway Travel, a boutique travel advisory company in West Chester, PA. While Jamie grew up in travel, she joined the family business as a second career 10 years ago. She is active in the industry and served on the Signature Travel Network Board of Directors for 4 years, is a member of TAMS, and consults with other agencies on fees and the client advisor consultative process. Additionally, Jamie has served on Signature’s technology, marketing and training advisory boards. Over the past 10 years Jamie has shifted her business from a transactional agency to a true advisory business that specializes in diving deep into the true reasons WhirlAway clients want to travel. She is passionate about the importance meaningful travel has on the greater good of our world.
Janelle Grissinger: President, JCo Travel.
Janelle is the President at both JCo Travel and The Heart of JCo. After a 12 year career as a maternity nurse and prenatal educator, Janelle founded JCo Travel in 2013. The agency quickly became a force in the industry with a powerhouse team of 12 ICs that also represent the brand. JCo is a Gold 500 Club member with ALG, a Silver member of The President’s Club with Vacation Express, a top producer for Karisma and AIC resorts, A Gold Earmarked Disney Agency, and a Preferred Sandal/Beaches agency.
Janelle serves on the advisory board for Global Travel Marketplace, was selected as the Travel Ambassador for New Zealand by Tourism NZ, and has been featured in several travel trade publications.
Janelle believes “We rise by lifting others.” and that her key to success in this industry has been; always putting people first with heart, and authenticity. Janelle’s other passion is helping children in need. In 2018 she founded “The Heart of JCo”, a children’s charity whose mission statement is “Helping to create a kinder world where no child is hungry or excluded due to financial difficulty.”
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.
Niki Rakowitz: Owner, CARE Travel
Niki Rakowitz is the proud owner and visionary of CARE Travel. Cultivating clients’ travel experiences for over sixteen years, she inspires her team of seven designers to showcase their passion for creating vacations. Niki has received several industry awards which include Caribbean Wedding Industry Awards Travel Agent of the Year, Sandals & Beaches Rising Star Award, and Jamaica Top 50, just to name a few. Niki is on a mission to make sure every person gets to experience how travel makes a difference and help them create a travel experience filled with memories to last a lifetime.
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.
Angel Mateo: Owner, Island Travel Company
Angel is a certified Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Specialist, Platinum Agent with AIC Hotel Group, Vacation Express Pepe Club Agent and the Owner of Island Travel Company based in Columbus Ohio. Prior to becoming a travel advisor, Angel was a flight attendant with Delta in 1998. When she started her family she then realized she wanted to stay in travel, but have a career with more flexibility and she became a travel advisor. After working for several years at a few travel agencies, she decided to open her very own. With a degree in teaching, Angel was able to take her knowledge and expertise and share her joy and enthusiasm with her clients, creating the perfect itineraries based on their needs and wants.
After 23 years in the industry, she still continues to have the flexibility to raise her family with more of a work life balance and build unique travel itineraries for her clients.
Angel specializes in beach honeymoons and weddings. She has been awarded the Best of the Knot six times and has received the Couples Choice Award for the past consecutive eight years.
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.
Jenni Parks: CEO, All Inclusive Hub
Jenni started in the travel industry in 2014 and very quickly found her love and passion for the industry. She is an award-winning Certified Destination Weddings, Honeymoons & Events Travel Consultant. While Jenni has had a broad range of careers, such as Military Police for the U.S. Army, Executive assistant for a Department of Defense Contracting company, and even an award winning wedding photographer in Colorado Springs, nothing brings as much joy as the happiness quite the same way as the travel and tourism industry. Her drive and determination have helped her to be awarded with many top selling awards, named the top U.S. Destination Wedding Specialist, among several other distinguished awards since 2014. In 2016, Jenni began her very own full-service travel agency, better known as All Inclusive Hub and Paradise Travel Chick. Jenni’s been quoted in Travel Agent Magazine, on the board of the Romance Travel Forum, and was named Ambassador for GTM West. Jenni wants to help other agents find their love of travel, to help them achieve and exceed their own goals. Jennif believes that life is about making precious memories.
Brenda O’Neale: Owner of With This Ring Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Travel Agency
Brenda has been in the travel industry for over 28 years and specializes in romance and celebratory travel. Her weddings and events have been featured in major publications and she has been a travel contributor on several cable TV shows. Several resort chains as well as suppliers have awarded her for her sales and knowledge of their products. Ms. O’Neale is a contributor to MarryCaribbean.com and is featured in their Caribbean Wedding Guide 2020. Her articles have appeared in several TravAlliance media publications and she has been a speaker at several national conferences as well as appearing in several Destination Wedding and Expo webinars. Mentoring agents in the niche of romance has been one of her greatest accomplishments.Industries, the past 11 years of which have been in Leadership and Management roles.
Shelley Morse: Owner, Horizon Vacations
For over 13 years, her agency has grown from what began as a one-woman operation in July 2007 to a full-service travel agency with a growing team of six travel professionals today.
Shelley’s early experience in the travel industry began after attending American Airlines Travel Academy in 1995, when she began working at Dillard’s Travel. There she traveled to new places to prepare her to book leisure travel. After a few years, she had an opportunity to work at Carlson Wagonlit Travel as a corporate travel counselor arranging business travel for a Fortune-500 company. While there, Shelley quickly assumed a leadership role overseeing and training travel advisors. Although she enjoyed corporate travel, she continued her studies in leisure and stayed knowledgeable in that part of the industry and eventually returned to booking vacations.
With Shelley’s passion for arranging leisure travel, her past leadership experience in corporate travel, and her loyal clientele she opened her very own travel agency, Horizon Vacations, LLC, on July 1, 2007. Shelley specializes in beach vacations and group travel, such as Destination Weddings and Incentive Trips. Shelley’s love for European destinations, especially Italy, shines through when she creates masterpiece itineraries with local tour guides and boutique hotels, often involving multi-city or multi-country in-depth planning. Her extensive networking with hoteliers, tour operators and drivers around the world is invaluable when planning her clients’ customized trips. Shelley has been planning Destination Weddings & Honeymoons since 2006 and enjoys working with newly engaged couples excited to plan their dream honeymoon.
Shelley has earned many certifications such as Hawaii Destination Specialist, Jamaica Travel Specialist, Certified Travel Associate from the Travel Institute, Certified Sandals Specialist and many other vendor certifications. Shelley’s agency, Horizon Vacations, has been recognized by vendors for achieving high sales goals, such as the Funjet 500 Club. Shelley is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Dallas/Ft Worth Chapter of American Society of Travel Advisors where she enjoys networking with friends and colleagues. Shelley is a Charter Member of Destination Wedding & Honeymoon Specialist Association and serves as the Honeymoon/Destination Wedding Expert for DFW Wedding Professionals.
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 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.
Ronda Helton: Owner, The Travel Connection Group
Ronda is a highly sought after luxury travel advisor with high profile clients that range from music icons, fashion designers, professional athletes and more. She opened her agency in 2014 after spending 18 years as a respected leader in sales and marketing within the music industry, luxury goods and services.
Ronda is a CTIE from the Travel Institute and is enrolled in the Wharton’s School of Business certification program; “Achieving Personal and Professional Success”. She is also completing her CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine) by The Society of Wine Educators.
Ronda is a Certified Special Needs Travel Specialist, Certified Autism Travel Professional, Master Specialist for all of the Hawaiian Islands and holds dozens of other certifications for destinations and resort brands. She prioritizes education, knowledge and involvement with these programs, as a means of ensuring that her clients are working with a trusted travel advisor they can rely on for expertise. Additionally, she has participated in numerous elite travel industry events, including Global Travel Marketplace (GTM), Travel Weekly’s Cruise World STAR event, Family Travel Advisor Forum, Travel Agent Forum, and Classic Vacations E3 (Elite Education Experience).
Ronda is a proud wife and mother of two children. After the birth of her daughter in 2018, she quickly became an advocate for children born with Down Syndrome and Congenital Heart Defects. She has also become a support system for many parents just receiving the news of a DS diagnosis.
Ashley Morris: Owner, Alpaca Your Bags Travel: Groups & Adventures
Ashley Morris, CTA, came to the travel industry after 15 years in media and marketing, leading teams at advertising agencies in Manhattan as well as client-side strategy for Target and Kohl’s.
Inspired by planning her own Destination Wedding, Ashley changed careers and has never looked back. Her passions include mentoring other business owners on their technology and systems set up.
Ashley is a member of ASTA, DWHSA, a GTM attendee and is a recipient of numerous industry awards, including four “Best of Weddings” mentions from The Knot.
She is a fierce lover of rescue animals and her house is slowly turning into an unmanaged zoo. Ashley and her husband Matt currently live in the Kansas City, MO area
Elizabeth Moran: Travel Advisor, VIP Vacations
Elizabeth Moran, CTA, is a Destination Wedding & Honeymoon Specialist at VIP Vacations. As an experienced travel agent, Elizabeth has received numerous certifications and has helped VIP Vacations to achieve awards such as Top Selling Beaches Resort Agency, Top Sandals and Beaches Wedding Agency and top selling Karisma Resorts Storefront Agency. Before becoming a travel advisor, Elizabeth had a passion for travel and even lived in Germany for 6 months while she studied abroad!
Female Leaders In Travel
Application to attend the Female Leaders in Travel Retreat