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The Travel Institute fortifies its Board with Three New Directors

The Travel Institute fortifies its Board with Three New Directors

New members bring additional expertise from within and outside the industry to help continue to steer its long-term success


FRAMINGHAM, MA, March 1, 2021 – The Travel Institute announces three new directors have joined its Board of Directors. New directors include: Rick Meadows, CTC, recently retired president of Seabourn and long-term Carnival Corporation executive; Anita Pagliasso, vice president of industry relations for KHM Travel Group; and Jennifer Simmons, president, Marketexture, Inc.


“These three individuals are a perfect match with The Travel Institute’s tradition of strong and skilled board leadership. And, in keeping with the founders’ early vision, they are also continuing the board’s history of bringing diverse perspectives together to further The Travel Institute’s mission in serving educational needs across the industry,” said Brian Robb, CTIE, chairman of The Travel Institute Board of Trustees, principal of The Robb Aspect, and former Mark Travel Executive.


Meadows has 40+ years of industry experience, starting as a travel advisor and most recently leading Seabourn. Previous positions also include president of Cunard Line North America as well as several key executive roles in sales and marketing for Holland America, Carnival Corporation and Windstar Cruises. A long-time board member for Cruise Lines International Association, CLIA, Meadows also previously served on the Washington State Tourism Commission and is a recognized “Outstanding Voice” for the Seattle Business Journal.


Pagliasso, who joined the KHM Travel Group team in early 2020, is the founder and former president of Ticket To Travel. After switching careers to start her own home-based travel agency in 1992, Pagliasso’s business quickly evolved with agents looking to her for mentoring and guidance. Over her nearly 30-year career in the industry, she has become a renowned industry speaker and author, home-based travel agent advocate, and mentor to thousands. She is also a member of The Travel Institute’s Professional Educators Program and active in several other travel industry organizations.


With more than 25 years of experience in travel and tourism, Simmons specializes in thought leadership, brand strategy, strategic plan development, marketing research, consumer behavior and psychology, and integrated marketing communications. Her clients include household brand names for country tourism boards, state tourism offices, CVBs, hotels/accommodations, airlines, and attractions. A past adjunct faculty member and lecturer at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business, Simmons is also a frequent keynote speaker at industry events both in and outside the tourism industry.


Board members for The Travel Institute commit to three-year terms, volunteering their time and talent to support the non-profit education leader’s mission of advancing industry professionals through general governance, short- and long-term planning and strategy, and, at times, support of specific initiatives.


Diane Petras, CTIE, president of The Travel Institute, is the critical liaison between the board and The Travel Institute staff. Excited about the fresh perspectives the new board members bring, Petras believes the three will find joining the group of already-engaged and committed board members uniquely gratifying. “The Travel Institute has a bird’s eye view on the industry and what travel professionals need. Contributing to the strategic direction of how we best serve the industry’s educational needs and help steer its success long-term is truly exciting,” she remarked.


Along with Chairman Brian Robb, The Travel Institute Board’s executive committee includes:

  • Gary Pollard, CTC, President and CEO, Ambassador Tours; vice chair
  • Patrick McGovern, Director of Business Development, Ascedia; secretary
  • Drew Daly, CTIE, Senior Vice President & General Manager, World Travel Holdings B2B Division


Additional board members include:

  • Scott Ahlsmith, CTC, industry veteran, consultant and educator; past chair
  • Rick Baron, CTC, Managing Director, Global Sales, Tauck, Inc.
  • Laurie Bohn, Associate Vice President, National Accounts, Royal Caribbean International
  • Jackie Friedman, CTIE, President, Nexion Travel Group
  • Evan McElligott, CTA, President, Longer Vacations
  • Debbie Wilson, CTA, Professor and Department Chair, Los Medanos College



About The Travel Institute

A collaborative industry effort created in 1964, The Travel Institute has continuously evolved to maintain its role as the global leader in industry education and certification while staying true to its mission: dedicated solely to advancing the professionalism of both agents and industry leaders in support of individual and industry success. A non-profit, independent organization, The Travel Institute also works with leaders throughout the industry to create and deliver relevant, meaningful and rigorous coursework. Using exclusive proctored, closed-book testing to ensure its graduates earn credentials that demonstrate the highest standards of expertise and service, The Travel Institute has certified more than 26,000 Certified Travel Associate, CTA®; Certified Travel Counselor, CTC®; and Certified Travel Industry Executive, CTIE®; graduates and also administers the Travel Agent Proficiency, or TAP, exam to confirm students new to the industry demonstrate a mastery of travel industry basics. A trusted partner to industry suppliers and educational institutions, The Travel Institute has trained hundreds of thousands more through additional courses, webinars, and in its online Premium Access program. Throughout North America, many successful agents and high-profile leaders credit their success to coursework from The Travel Institute. Learn more at The Travel Institute.