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Keynote Speaker

 Doug Lansky

Doug Lansky has been living abroad and traveling for the last nearly 20 years in over 120 countries. He is the author of 10 books, including 2 for Lonely Planet and 3 for Rough Guides, had a weekly syndicated travel column in over 40 newspapers for five years, hosted a Travel Channel show, served as a correspondent for Public Radio’s Savvy Traveler show, served as travel editor for Scandinavian Airlines inflight magazine for three years and contributed to publications such as National Geographic Traveler, Reader’s Digest, Esquire, Men’s Journal, The Guardian, National Geographic Adventure, Huffington Post and Skift. On the speaking circuit, Doug has given acclaimed lectures at nearly 100 universities, spoken to a sold-out audience at National Geographic Headquarters, for the United Nations World’s Tourism Organization, as an after-dinner speaker at corporate events and at both public and industry travel/tourism conferences, at TEDx Stockholm, and set the attendance record for keynote lectures at the 2012 and 2013 ITB Berlin conferences.

Session Speakers

William J. Caldwell, CPA
Caldwell & Companies

With his extensive knowledge of tax codes combined with strong accounting skills, CEO William “Bill” J. Caldwell is able to help clients realize their dreams. Prior to founding Caldwell & Companies in 2002, Bill Caldwell honed his financial skills during a tenure at the U.S. Department of Army Audit Agency and a successful career at the accounting firm, Bond Beebe. Bill holds a position at American University, where he is an adjunct professor and teaches a Master’s level class in finance for art organizations. Bill believes in giving back to the community and has served many organizations including a role as past president of the National Capital Optimist Club, a global association of volunteers dedicated to ‘bringing out the best in kids’. Bill consults to SYTA and his most recent presentation on “Tax Planning for Businesses” was well received at SYTA Summit. Caldwell & Companies supports the SYTA Youth Foundation as a Wingman.

Lisa S. Curtin
Caldwell & Companies

Lisa Curtin’s has 20+ years of experience in the student tourism industry, holding senior management roles in operations and sales. In 2016, Lisa left tourism to pursue a new opportunity in public accounting as the Chief Operations Officer of Caldwell & Companies. She’s found her skills in process management, contract negotiations and customer service are universal to any business. Currently, Lisa consults to SYTA, providing website content and has presented on Human Resource topics at the Annual Conference and Summit. Caldwell & Companies actively supports the SYTA Youth Foundation as a Wingman. In her former role as Vice President of Operations for Brightspark Travel, Lisa served on various SYTA committees and was a Past Chair of SYTA Summit.

Michael Grueninger
Grueninger Music Tours

As a second generation business owner of the Grueninger Travel Group, Michael has seen first-hand the influence of student travel. Growing up in the industry he has been able to experience student travel from every perspective. Upon graduation from Indiana University in 1989, his first job outside the family business was as a travel director in Alaska with Holland America. Over the past twenty-four years Grueninger has forged long-standing partnerships with companies to shape the offerings available to students and their families. His priority has always been to ensure the experience inspires a traveler. He was instrumental in the development of the Grueninger student travel divisions (GMT), one of the three companies at Grueninger Travel Group. Michael is married and a busy father to four children. Michael is the current President of the Student Youth Travel Association.

Norm Hull

Norm Hull, leadership expert is a best-selling, co-author of several books focused on leadership development and is currently writing a book on Audience Alchemy. He began teaching his particular brand of leadership to audiences 37 years ago and since then over 3,000,000 people have come to understand why he is called the Audience Alchemist™. Norm has a diverse client list, including Pepsi, Yum International, Dept. of Defense and Fortune 500 companies. He is a past SYF trustee, SYTA Conference keynoter and one of the original members of the SYTA All-Star Band. Participants who have attended his sessions over the years leave with stronger industry connections, implementable business building tools as well as a smile on their face.

John Kamm, CTP
TourTools® by Adatasol

John Kamm is a former tour operator and current software developer. He founded TourTech Systems, Inc. in 1996, to develop and support TourTools®, a software solution providing comprehensive automation for package tour operators and tourism marketing organizations throughout North America. He has held leadership positions in the National Tour Association, SYTA, ABA and Ohio tourism organizations and has published numerous articles on technology in tourism. TourTech has recently merged with Adatasol, Inc., to provide additional resources for development and support for their flagship solution, TourTools®. A father of 3, he lives with his wife, Linda, on a farm in the forested hills of southeastern Ohio. Although he loves his work, he’d rather be sailing.

Barbara McCormack
Newseum  – Moderator for Teacher Panel

Barbara McCormack is the Newseum’s vice president/education. Part of the founding staff when the Newseum opened in 1997, McCormack has since held many leadership positions, including coordinator for the Newseum’s NewsCapade with Al Neuharth. McCormack established the education department when the Newseum moved to Pennsylvania Avenue, and leads the team responsible for extending and enriching the museum experience for learners of all ages. Since 2008, McCormack has grown the staff from two to 12, added 75 volunteers, served 5,100 students in one day, and now reaches over 12 million students each year through on-site and online programming and resources. McCormack is a former middle and high school teacher who was awarded an Outstanding New Teacher in Virginia award in 1995. She has been a noted speaker and committee leader at numerous educational organizations. She currently serves on the executive committee of the Student Youth Foundation’s board of trustees.

Tom Merrill
Festivals of Music

Tom Merrill is the Executive Director of Festivals of Music, an organization that has produced educationally-focused adjudicated music festivals throughout North America for school music ensembles since 1982. He began his career in music education as a high school band director, where over a ten year span his groups traveled and performed in festivals. In 2000, he joined the New Horizons Tour and Travel team where he was a successful tour consultant for 12 years. Prior to his current position, he was a Concert Development Associate for a Carnegie Hall concert planning organization. His experiences as a teacher, travel planner, and event organizer provide a multi-faceted view of the performance travel industry.

David Norman
Kitchen Public Relations

David Norman is Managing Director and co-owner of Kitchen Public Relations, a New York-based corporate media relations and social media firm. Founded in 1992, KPR specializes in helping companies use media relations and social media to raise brand awareness and drive business results. Through a combination of strategic focus and tactical execution, KPR creates high-level media opportunities and brand attention targeted to the constituencies and markets its clients want to reach. David leads KPR’s award-winning crisis and reputation management practice. As a nationally recognized expert in crisis communication, he speaks regularly about the subject and has written extensively about crisis planning and management. KPR is a partner with the American Bus Association in providing a comprehensive crisis management planning service, complete with detailed, customized response plans in the event of an accident or high-profile incident. David is also an Adjunct Professor of Public Relations at Hofstra University and Lenoir-Rhyne University, with a focus on crisis communication.

Jeff Peterson
Global Travel Alliance

Jeff holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in History, Theology, and Education. He has taught full-time at the elementary, secondary, and college levels, and has also served as a curriculum director, principal, and superintendent. His 30+ years in the field of education have been strongly influenced by a devotion to cross-cultural education. For a decade he taught various grade levels on the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservations, followed by a lectureship position at Montana State University – Billings. While at MSU-Billings, he served as President of the Rocky Mountain Language and Culture Institute and also worked as the Program Director for the International Studies Department. He has traveled to Asia and the Middle East to develop international programs and served as the European coordinator for an education non-profit.

Tami Rogers
Bob Rogers Travel

Maintaining her father’s original vision of personal service and worry-free travel is incredibly important to Tami, as she leads the BRT team with her brother, Todd. She wears many hats, doing everything from creating exclusive events for groups and meeting with clients all over the country, to coaching her team on “why” BRT is a leader in the student travel industry and what they need to do to remain successful. The legacy she carries, the relationships she enjoys and the meaningful moments she helps to create are what Tami enjoys most about her work at BRT. Most recently, Tami was asked to lead the Education Committee and has enjoyed the opportunity to engage other SYTA members in various sessions from which the industry can benefit.

Dan Weiss

For over 20 years Dan Weiss has been helping to reduce the number of workflow steps at his clients to drastically improve their productivity and bottom lines. Often this involves a 10 to 1 improvement, (10 days to 1 day, 10 processes to 1). As president of Adatasol, he is now building an organization that can take these concepts and grow nationwide. Dan lives in Mentor Ohio with his wife Kelly and their six teenagers.




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