Founder and Principle
The Center for Student Travel Safety
Michael J. Bowers, Founder and Principle at The Center for Student Travel Safety, provides safety system consulting services to some of the top student travel service providers, world-wide. Specializing in safety trend analysis, emergency response preparedness and family CARE team support systems, Mr. Bowers is able to bring a wealth of industry experience to each situation in order to develop innovative, and personalize safety solutions to the industry most complex challenges. He also served on the Board of Directors of the SYTA for 6 years and served as President of SYTA from 2013-2014.
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.
Students of the World
Daniel Dozier is Director, Students of the World. Students of the World is a 501c3 non-profit that supports a diverse community of storytellers to use their creativity as a force for good.
For over 30 years, Joan Keddell has been a tourism industry professional, working in various aspects of the hospitality industry on land and at sea. Her hands-on experience has given her unique insights into the industry from an operational perspective as well as the day-to-day activities of frontline workers. As president of ITMI, she has been a passionate champion for ITMI graduates to be ambassadors of goodwill. In 2012 she introduced into ITMI’s curriculum a course in Human Trafficking Awareness. This past year ITMI was named ECPAT’s Hero Award due to the efforts of ITMI’s alumni in saving 8 children. Collaborating with SYTA offers Joan a unique opportunity to be actively engaged in the dynamic student tour industry, which enriches young minds by exposing them to other cultures and traditions. Her vision for ITMI is to continually enhance its educational offerings by learning from industry peers through her participation in in professional organizations that reflect the best practices in the industry.
Stuart Levy, MBA, PhD
Associate Teaching Professor of Management
George Washington University School of Business
Stuart Levy, MBA, PhD, has nearly two decades of experience in management, teaching, consulting and research within a range of organizations — entrepreneurial and established businesses, consulting firms, government and academia. His work background includes consulting with PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Hospitality and Leisure Practice as well as management positions in tour operations and internet marketing. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in digital marketing, entrepreneurship, customer experience management, hospitality and event management, and tourism planning and development. He is passionate about experiential education, and serves as a facilitator for GW’s SUMMIT team building ropes course. Dr. Levy’s record of scholarship includes 12 peer-reviewed publications in business journals including the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly and the Journal of Business Ethics. His volunteer work involves co-founding JAM (Jews and Muslims) DC, supporting GW Alternative Spring Break and GW Adventure Bound courses as a Learning Partner, representing GW as a DC Public Schools Hospitality Advisory Board Member, and serving as Treasurer of the DC-area alumni chapter of the Cornell Hotel School.
Ellen Malasky is President of NFTGA, National Federation of Tour Guides and on the Board of Directors of the Guild of Professional Tour Guides of Washington, DC. She is also an independent tour guide and director.
Vice President Education
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.
Jeff Ment, Esq.
The Ment Law Group
Jeff is the founder of The Ment Law Group. With more than 27 years of experience representing travel companies, he is able to best represent the many facets of the travel industry. He represents tour operators, vendors, DMC’s, travel agents, transportation companies and trade associations. Jeff regularly address travel groups and associations on timely and interesting topics. He counsels clients on our industry’s best practices, including contract terms, compliance with government regulations, risk assessment, crisis response, employment issues and he represents travel companies in litigation throughout the country. His background in the travel industry includes working as a travel agent, tour guide and as a sales manager for two airlines.
President and CEO
First Financial Group (FFG)
Lloyd Polmateer is President and CEO of First Financial Group (FFG) a complete financial services firm. Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, the firm employs over 200 financial representatives and 2,000 licensed brokers. FFG is one of the largest independently owned businesses of its kind. For over 20 years Lloyd has concentrated his practice in the areas of business, estate, and charitable planning. As a business owner, he understands the unique set of challenges and opportunities presented to local entrepreneurs and business owners from all walks of life. Lloyd is a member of Advanced Association of Life Underwriters (AALU), National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), and General Agents and Managers Association (GAMA). He has been a guest lecturer and presenter at Deloitte and Touche, Reznic Group, and other organizations and associations on the subjects of business, estate and charitable strategies for business owners.
Polish Writing & Editing
Amy Wescott is the owner of Polish Writing & Editing and is a recognized educator who specializes in helping business professionals tell their stories. Whether you are new to the industry or an established executive, Amy will help you improve your writing skills. We look forward to welcoming Amy back to the SYTA Annual Conference. To learn more about Amy, visit https://polishwritingservices.com/.
Director of Advancement & Engagement
John Yonce is Director of Advancement & Engagement of Tourism Cares, a 501(c)3 nonprofit*, charitable community of the travel and tourism industry. After graduating from college with the intention of applying to law school, John took one summer off to work as an adventure tour leader, and never quite made it back to his original plan. He still can’t believe he was paid to travel, and share wonderful experiences with people from all over the world. John brings more than 20 years of experience in the travel industry and non-profit management to his role in building and delivering the Tourism Cares member experience. He believes travel is a powerful lever to move the world, and that unified industry giving yields more than the sum of its parts.