Board of Directors & Advisors

Jamie Sweeting

President

Jamie has spent the last 25 years working in tourism, conservation, development, and business management. He is passionate about Planeterra because, in his decades of traversing the globe, he has yet to encounter another organization as effective at using tourism to improve the lives of some of the most under-resourced people on this planet — especially marginalized women, disadvantaged youth, and rural communities (with a priority focus on Indigenous communities).

Jamie also serves as G Adventures’ VP of Social Enterprise & Responsible Travel, spearheading a number of impactful initiatives over the years, including the creation of the industry-leading Ripple Score, as well as spearheading industry-leading work related to animal welfare, child welfare, and working with indigenous communities. Prior to his role at Planeterra, Jamie was Global Chief Environmental Officer at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and led the travel industry program at the Center for Environmental Leadership in Business at Conservation International. He was formerly Chairman at Sustainable Travel International and has served on the boards of The International Ecotourism Society, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Travel.

Bruce Poon Tip

Founder of Planeterra & G Adventures

Entrepreneur, leader and philanthropist, Bruce Poon Tip is the founder of adventure travel company and social enterprise G Adventures. With a vision that travel could become a force for social good and significant wealth distribution, Bruce founded the nonprofit Planeterra in 2003, to direct travel dollars into underserved communities around the world. He has addressed the United Nations and the World Bank, spoken at the headquarters of Apple and Google, and delivered keynote speeches at TED events and entrepreneurship conferences around the world. In 2012, Bruce was inducted into the Social Venture Network Hall of Fame. He was also awarded a Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, recognizing significant contributions to society, and was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 2002 and 2006.

Roula Poon Tip

Co-Founder of Planeterra

As co-founder, Roula has been part of Planeterra since Day 1 in 2003 – the same year Planeterra’s namesake was born, their daughter Terra. Roula and Bruce named the organization they founded with love and a belief that it would grow to have an impact in communities around the world. Roula has always supported Planeterra’s mission to change lives through travel. She has been to over 90 countries and visited at least 20 Planeterra projects.

Zeina Gedeon

Chief Executive Officer, Travel Professionals International

Zeina believes that travellers can do more than just give back to countries we visit; that skills and tools can be used to develop local capacity and make economics self-sustainable — that’s what motivates her to be involved with Planeterra. Zeina has over 20 years experience in the Travel Industry with a focus on technology and e-commerce. She has been involved in the leadership of several iconic Canadian travel companies, which include Air Canada Vacations and Travel Brands Inc. Zeina has a track record for turning around companies profitability by building extraordinary teams. A true adventure seeker at heart, Zeina enjoys car racing, thrill rides and roller coasters.

Jody Hamade

Retired, Planeterra Treasurer

Jody Hamade is a retired risk management professional having spent 20 years in the banking industry followed by 15 years with Ontario Power Generation. Jody completed his career in 2016 as VP, Enterprise Risk Management (‘ERM’), having built a world class ERM program at OPG. Jody enjoys an active retirement, playing golf and engaging in spinning, yoga, and weight training. In addition to being avid travellers, Jody and his wife Deborah are committed snowbirds and spend winters in Naples, Florida. The Hamades are also active patrons of the arts and are Playwright Circle members of the Stratford Festival and Marquee Club members of Roy Thomson Hall. Jody is keen to lend his experience and knowledge to worthy nonprofits and views Planeterra as an excellent opportunity to do so. Jody has emeritus member status with the Conference Board of Canada’s Strategic Risk Council.

Gloria Fluxà Thienemann

Vice-Chair & Chief Sustainability Officer, Iberostar Hotels & Resorts

Gloria Fluxà has extensive experience in the tourism industry, with expertise in innovative business and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) leadership. In 2018 she was appointed “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum for her efforts in boosting the company’s approach to responsible tourism. As Iberostar’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Gloria Fluxà is positioning the Group as a global reference in responsible tourism, launching in 2017 the Wave of Change movement to preserve the environment and protect the oceans through the implementation of circularity policies. She works committedly and in joint effort with her sister Sabina Fluxá, Vice-Chairman CEO of Iberostar Group, and their father and founder of the Company, Miguel Fluxá. The company works with a long-term vision building on circularity and follows an ambitious 2030 Agenda to become waste free by 2025, carbon neutral by 2030, 100% responsible in its seafood consumption by 2025, and improve the health of ecosystems surrounding its hotels, among other targets. The Wave of Change movement reflects this commitment of the company and the wish to share it with the whole society.

Deirdre Shurland

Policy Consultant

Deirdre specializes in sustainable development policy, implementation and capacity building and has led projects in the blue and green economy. Her main interests lie in supporting governments, the private sector and civil society groups to accomplish objectives and deliver benefits, through policy reform and project implementation.

With 25 years experience in management consulting in the services, manufacturing and mining sectors, she started out conducting environmental assessments for regulatory reviews and providing advice to businesses on environmentally sound development. Her expertise evolved to advising governments, the private sector and non-profit groups in strategic and management operations and institutional development.

She has worked in the tourism, energy, infrastructure and mining sectors, and for UN Environment Programme, UNESCO, UNDP, IUCN, among other organizations, and has led global partnerships and partner networks. During her years in industry serving the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, she developed and implemented sustainability guidance and tools for businesses, advised on enterprise management solutions and conducted facility audits for industrial, infrastructural and mining industries. She is a Senior member of the American Society for Quality, is fluent in Spanish and supports various social causes.

Karen Ziffer

Chief Development Officer, RARE

Karen Ziffer is the CDO for RARE, the global leader using the science of human behavior to encourage individuals and their communities to adopt more sustainable natural resource practices. She is formerly the Senior Vice President of Strategy at Conservation International (CI) where she created and ran the organization’s first ecotourism program. She holds an MBA from Stanford University and a BA in Economics and International Relations from Brown University. With over 30 years in the non-profit sector with immense strategy and development experience, Karen brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the resources needed to support the next phase of Planeterra.

Seleni Matus

Executive Director, GWU International Institute of Tourism Studies

Seleni Matus is Executive Director at the George Washington University International Institute of Tourism Studies. A native of Belize, Seleni served as the country’s Director of Tourism and oversaw the reorganization of the Belize Tourism Board in order to meet the demands of a fiercely competitive global marketplace. Seleni currently serves as a member of many tourism boards and committees. Seleni is a longtime friend of Planeterra with many connections to funding opportunities and partners. As a woman of Indigenous Mestizo heritage with a history of working with Indigenous communities across the Americas, Seleni has a deep understanding of our work to support Indigenous communities around the world.

Meenu Vadera

Founder of Azad Foundation / Planeterra Partner

Meenu is a founding member & Executive Director of Azad Foundation, a social enterprise that supports resource-poor women to gain “livelihoods with dignity” in India. She has more than 30 years of experience as a grassroots worker, trainer, implementer, and leader in communities in South Asia, and represents Planeterra’s Women With Wheels partnership. Meenu not only comes to Planeterra with immense experience but will also represent many beneficiary and community partnerships.

Prof. Dr. Walter Jamieson FCIP RPP Advisor

Prof. Dr. Walter Jamieson FCIP RPP

Advisor

For more than 40 years Walter Jamieson has worked to bridge the academic and consultancy worlds by challenging conventional thinking using creative, innovative and strategic problem-solving methodologies. Jamieson’s work is based on a sound set of responsible and sustainable values and principles, which include early work in Canada using tourism and heritage resources as tools for community and economic development; research and consultancy work in China; extensive community-based tourism in Asia; and exploring the power of tourism as a tool for economic and social development and leadership in creating an innovative service and experience design opportunities in Thailand. Having been a member of faculty and management at universities in the Canada, United States, Thailand and Japan, Jamieson’s academic experience is complemented with a wide range of consultancy projects that put theory into practice and work to evolve the tourism and travel industries. A vital part of Jamieson’s work is centred on contributing to expanding the practical knowledge and technical aspects being practiced in the tourism and travel industries. He has conducted over 150 public and private sector projects at an international, national and local level and authored and contributed to over 140 academic publications. Jamieson’s extensive work has been recognized with the Queen’s Jubilee Medal for his contributions to heritage preservation in Canada, the Heritage Canada Lieutenant Governor’s Award, and his election to the College of Fellows of the Canadian Institute of Planners.

Kelly Galaski

Advisor

Kelly Galaski is a passionate sustainable tourism professional with over 20 years of experience across the hospitality and tourism for-profit and non-profit sectors. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management and a Master in Environmental Studies in sustainable tourism development with a focus on community tourism.  For much of that time she has worked with rural, underserved communities, creating social enterprise opportunities in tourism by connecting communities and local non-profits with market partners. Kelly worked for over 11 years with Planeterra, and served as Director of Global Programs from 2017-2020 overseeing the development of close to 100 community tourism enterprises.  Kelly was also part of the team guiding G Adventures in the development of responsible travel policies and a supply chain assessment system to measure local impact and sustainability across the company’s 2000+ global suppliers.  Kelly is currently Managing Director of Symphony Tourism Services, a division of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA), based in Kelowna, BC, western Canada, which provides research, marketing, and consulting services to businesses, communities, and local and regional governments on responsible tourism development.

Panot Pakongsup Community Tourism Advisor – Southeast Asia

Panot Pakongsup

Community Tourism Advisor – Southeast Asia

Panot, also known as Tung, enjoys seeing how responsible tourism can benefit sustainable development in communities. He has seen the positive change tourism can bring to help people live a better life in some of the most rural parts of Thailand and Myanmar. Tung is responsible for the in-country research, coordination, and facilitation of Planeterra projects with local communities and organizations in Asia. He has been working in the tourism industry since 2001, owning a tour operator that specializes in community-based tourism experiences with the hill-tribe communities of Northern Thailand. When he’s not travelling, Tung spends his free time taking photos of scenic places and spaces, and meeting locals wherever he goes.

Laura Gasparini

Community Tourism Advisor – Europe

Laura is a tourism professional with over 10 years of work experience in the travel and hospitality sector in Latin America, Europe and Oceania. She holds a Master Degree in Tourism Economics and Management and her areas of expertise include community-based tourism, sustainability monitoring, marketing and communication, stakeholder’s engagement and capacity building. Passionate about the potential of tourism to create local livelihoods, between 2018 and 2019 she has delivered sustainable tourism projects in ten Latin American countries with her initiative “Echoes of the Journey”, working mainly with rural and community-based tourism initiatives to enhance the quality of their offer, improve their sustainability level and reach new markets. Laura worked as Community Development Specialist for Planeterra in Europe between 2020 and 2021, supporting the organization’s partners in this continent. Currently she is a research fellow at the Centre for Advanced Studies in Tourism (CAST) from the University of Bologna and a PhD candidate in the area of regional development and cultural tourism.

DANIELLE LEWIS-JONES Community Tourism Advisor, North America

Danielle Lewis-Jones

Community Tourism Advisor – North America

Danielle Lewis-Jones recently joined Planeterra as a Community Development Specialist for North America. Currently pursuing her Master’s of Tourism Administration degree at George Washington University,  Danielle brings over ten years of professional experience in relationship management, marketing, small business revenue growth strategy to the Community Development team. Prior to joining Planeterra, Danielle worked on various projects including Caribbean Market and North Dakota Tribal Tourism Research while she serving as the Advisory Committee Liaison for the Indigenous Tourism Forum of the Americas.  Additionally, she volunteers with the National Blacks in Travel and Tourism Collaborative,  an organization devoted to diversity and inclusion efforts in the tourism industry. A native of Atlanta, GA, Danielle enjoys traveling, cooking, reading, and spending time with her family and friends.