Active Board of Director: Danny Lewandowski
Director of Business and Talent Development, Hemisphere Educational Travel
Please describe your experience as a volunteer within or outside the travel community.
My professional volunteer experience started when I was a DMO and volunteered with Team Illinois to promote the state as a whole in their sponsorship booth and ABA and NTA. As a tour operator I have volunteered my time as a panelist with IATDG and ITMI and have traveled to several ITMI trainings to teach the student travel portion of their training. I have also volunteered my time as a guest speaker to DMOs to better educate their members on how to work with TOs. I have also worked with several colleges and universities, helping advise students in their tourism related degreed programs. I was proud to work with SYF on the 2018 Silver Lining program to Birmingham, AL by writing the itinerary, securing the sites and tour directing the actual tour. In my personal life I have served on the boards of two different non-profit sports organizations. I also volunteer with the Old Dominion Boston Terrier Rescue and Operations Paws for Homes Rescue transporting dogs long distance from shelters and owner surrenders to their new foster families.
As a founding board member of CRU (Chicago Rowing Union) I helped form an LGBTQ+ focused rowing team that went on to participate and medal in both domestic and international races. I helped develop brand strategy, marketing and offered my professional experience by coordinating the travel of the membership to each out of town race. I also served as an at-large board member of CMSA (Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association) where I helped implement a formal membership registration process for over 3,000 members. With CMSA I also used my professional experience as both a DMO and a TO to present a bid for a national LGBTQ+ softball tournament. The tournament was held in Chicago in 2011 and resulted in hundreds of room nights.
Please describe your professional experience in the student travel industry.
I have spent 20+ years in multiple sectors of the Tour and Travel Industry as a DMO, a supplier attraction and as a tour operator. I have extensive experience in Sales, Marketing, Operations, Customer Service, Event Management, Project Management and Public Speaking. In my 16+ year tenure with Hemisphere I have worked almost every role within the company including receptionist, customer service, sales, operations, procurement, and even guiding and tour directing.
Please describe other professional or personal experience that would benefit you as a Board member.
Having worked the other side of the booth/table at Conference as both a DMO and a supplier, I have a broad perspective to which I can relate to the membership as a whole. My industry contacts are very diverse. I am very comfortable mingling and interacting with both Active and Associate members. My outgoing and personable, yet direct and straightforward personality would benefit the Board. Also my 16 years as a Tour Operator has prepared me to “get the job done”.
Please describe why you would like to serve as a Board of Director (Active).
With my industry experience and full support of my company, I am in the position to actively help steer SYTA as we all navigate the landscape of post Covid student travel. The devastation of our industry in 2020 has obviously impacted me professionally, but it has also affected me personally. I realized that working in travel runs through my veins and I want to be a leader in the recovery of the industry.
What do you see as the challenges facing the student travel industry? What can SYTA do to meet those challenges?
Liability is one of the most challenging issues all of our members face. SYTA needs to continue to push for compliance with industry standards and a certification process that is financially feasible and available to all members.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Nominating Committee?
Prior to nominating, I made contact with several past and present leadership to educate myself on what exactly serving on the SYTA Board of Directors would entail. I feel that my skill set and passion for the industry would benefit the SYTA Board. I am fortunate to have the full support of my company and I will actively contribute to the Board of Directors.