Advisory Panel

Our volunteer Advisory Panel shares their time and expertise. They provide insight that is critical to implementing relevant curriculum, enterprise services, and key strategies needed by students, employers, and the tourism industry as a whole.

Panel With A Purpose

The primary purpose of the advisory panel is to promote collaboration between specific educational programs and stakeholders in the tourism community. Career and technical education programs and associated outreach tools are designed to prepare students with skills, knowledge, and approaches to succeed within the workforce and provide better consumer travel experiences.

The advisory panel serves as advisors to the Academy, providing curriculum recommendations and support for quality programs and have no administrative or legislative authority. Working cooperatively with program administrators, staff and instructors, the advisory committee helps strengthen and improve the Academy. The success of workforce education depends, to a large extent, upon the activity and involvement of advisory panel.

Advisory Panel

Our volunteer Advisory Panel shares their time and expertise. They provide insight that is critical to implementing relevant curriculum, enterprise services, and key strategies needed by students, employers, and the tourism industry as a whole.

Stephen Ekstrom, Co-Founder & CEO

Advisory Panel Chair, CEO and resident Nerd Whisperer at The Tourism Academy | is Stephen Ekstrom. Ekstrom began his career in tourism development in the 1990s.

Al Hutchinson, Visit Baltimore

President & CEO of Visit Baltimore. He also serves on the boards of the United States Travel Association (USTA); Religious Conference Management Association (RCMA), the American Bus Association (ABA) and Tourism Diversity Matters (TDM).

Fred Dixon, NYC Tourism

Fred Dixon is President and CEO of NYC Tourism & Conventions and the current Chair of Destinations International. With more than 30 years of experience in the travel industry, Dixon has the overall responsibility for developing and implementing New York City’s tourism, meetings, and events strategy and programming to grow business and leisure travel from across the US and from around the world.

Adam Burke, Los Angeles Tourism

Overseeing global brand marketing and sales strategies for one of the world’s most diverse and innovative destinations. He first joined the organization as Chief Operating Officer in 2016.

Elliott Ferguson, Destination DC

Elliott Ferguson serves as President and CEO of Destination DC (DDC), the official destination marketing organization for Washington, DC. Inducted into the U.S. Travel Association’s 2023 Hall of Leaders

Amir Eylon, Longwoods International

A thirty-four year veteran of the Travel & Tourism industry, Amir leads the entire team responsible for the development and execution of all facets of this premier travel and tourism market research consultancy, from program development to customer acquisition and retention.

Barbara Karasek, Paradise Advertising & Marketing

Barbara Karasek's impressive career has led marketing and business development efforts for renowned organizations such as SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, PGA TOUR, NASCAR, and the United States Olympic Committee. Her innovative marketing campaigns, digital platforms, and television productions have garnered numerous accolades, including ADDYs, Ex Awards, Effies, Webbies, and Daytime Emmys.

Gregg Caren, Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau

Oversees efforts to promote and sell Philadelphia as a premier destination for meetings, conventions, sporting events, overseas travelers, and group tour visitors.

Gary Sherwin, Visit Newport Beach

Gary is a 24-year veteran of the destination marketing industry. Gary, a graduate of California State University Fullerton, was named to the school’s Wall of Fame in 2000 and is an adjunct member of the faculty. He is also an instructor and co-creator of the DMAI CDME Brand and Positioning course. Currently he is on the Board of Directors for the Orange County Visitor Association and the California Travel Association.

Kristina Wilson, KEW Legal

Kristina focuses her practice on General Counsel Services, Corporate Law, and Real Estate. Specifically, Kristina assists clients with corporate formation, drafts and negotiates an array of contracts, handles commercial acquisitions and leasing, and offers a problem solving approach to provide white glove service to business owners and investors.

Lisa Curtin, PAFM Caldwell & Company CPAs

Lisa spent 20 years in the tourism industry as VP of Operations with Brightspark Travel/Tui Travel before moving onto a new career as Chief Operations Officer with Caldwell CPAs.

Vincent Agaba, Rwenzori Tourism Academy

Vincent Agaba is the Managing Director of Avarts Housing Ltd. He is a Director of the Rwenzori Tourism Academy.

Keith Snode, Group Travel Odyssey

Accomplished COO with a 10+ year track record of driving continuous improvement and enabling organization-wide mission and objectives.

Timothy McGuinness

More than 25 years as a senior level executive serving both the for profit and non-profit business sectors. He is currently Chairman of Sterling Advisory Group which was formed in 2020.

Sheena Works, Tourism Academy

Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer at the nonprofit Tourism Academy |

Richard Peterson, USCHMC

An Ambassador For: Sustainable Tourism – Travel – Community Engagement – Art – Culture – History – Heritage – Brand Connections – Storytelling.

Roy Wentworth, Norwich Free Academy

Named Norwich Free Academy’s Athletic Director in April 2019, Wentworth credits the support of his family, the guidance of his mentor, and his unique perspective as contributing to his successful career as a student, coach, teacher, and administrator at NFA.

Samantha Keene, Executive Coach & Educator

A coach and certified educator and school administrator with over 15 years of experience in diverse educational settings. Her expertise is primarily in supporting schools with curriculum development and ensuring literacy achievement.

Anna Karnowski, PEEK

Consistently recognized by her peers as one of the top movers and shakers of the travel industry. Anna Karnowski was part of the opening teams at Top of the Rock and SPYSCAPE and has also been a senior leader at One World Observatory and New York Water Taxi.

Isaac Johnson-Tyas, DBA

An avid traveler and lifelong learner, Isaac has been working in the education and training industry since 2008. He currently serves as CEO of EduGuide KSA.

Dr. Eric Canny

He is a faculty member at the University of Southern California, Rossier School of Education in the Doctoral Programs for Organizational Change Leadership and Education Leadership. Dr. Canny has also taught at Stetson University and Grand Canyon University.

John Marshall, The Borough Pass

John is the Founder and Chief Stewardship Officer of NYC Borough Pass, a culturally sustainable value sightseeing pass. He has a passion for inclusivity and collaboration and two decades of experience in CX, marketing, and business development.

William Caldwell, CPA

With his extensive knowledge of tax codes combined with strong accounting skills, CEO William J. Caldwell is able to help his clients realize their dreams. His own firm exemplifies the business management strategies and growth principles he shares with his clients.

Ophélie Le Livec, Destinations International

A traveler extraordinaire, French expatriate, and rockstar on the rise in the tourism industry. She serves as a creative design specialist for VisitNorfolk and was recently selected from applicants around the world as one of the future tourism industry leaders/rising stars in this year’s Destinations International 30 Under 30 class

Keith Douglas, KD&CO Advisors

Founder and CEO of KD&CO Advisors, is a marketing, branding, and operations executive with 25+ years of experience in the travel, tourism, hospitality, and commercial real estate with globally recognized iconic brands and assets.


Leaders in tourism development, destination marketing and association management are talking about us and the work we do to upskill, engage and inspire communities.
"I commend the Tourism Academy team for making the efforts to teach and exercise the values of diversity, equity and inclusions, and I appreciate the opportunity to share my unique perspective and insights to this diverse group."
Al Hutchinson
CEO Visit Baltimore & Destinations International Chair
“The Tourism Academy provides a unique vehicle to ensure professional education of the tourism is available in various forms.”
Greg DeShields
Tourism Diversity Matters
“By focusing on developing the people involved in the industry, the Tourism Academy is setting up a strong foundation that will allow the industry to build reliable and knowledgeable professionals capable of making every travel experience unforgettable.”
Juan Alberto Villareal
EdD, Austin Industrial