Active Board of Director: Donna Adam
President, Educational Tours, Inc.
Please describe your experience as a volunteer within or outside the travel community.
I have loved my experiences volunteering within the SYTA organization. I started out volunteering at multiple functions at our annual conferences. I moved from that to several conference committees: 2012 Nashville – Education Committee, 2013 Los Angeles – Volunteer Committee, 2016 Orlando – Tour Operator Panels, and 2017 Albuquerque – Membership Development Committee. I’ve been a mentor at each Annual Conference since 2012, as well. In 2012 and 2013, I was part of the SYF Run for Youth team. In 2015, I was fortunate enough to be elected to serve as a member of the SYTA Board of Directors, becoming Secretary in 2016 and Treasurer in 2017. Currently, I’m on the Executive Board, the Finance Committee, and the Safety Committee. What I’ve gained from these volunteer positions cannot be measured. I’ve gained knowledge and confidence about our industry, but most importantly, I’ve gained friends. None of us will last long in this industry if we stay secluded from our peers. We may be competitors, but we can also support each other in our business and personal lives and share knowledge to improve student travel. Outside of the travel community, I’m very proud of being a current, long-term member of the Board of Directors of our local, rural health hospital that has just completed an expansion. I am a former board member of our county’s non-profit agency combating domestic violence and homelessness. I am also a volunteer at my church. We all can grow with each act of volunteerism. I encourage each person to volunteer as often as possible in their daily lives.
Please describe your professional experience in the student travel industry.
I began working at Educational Tours, Inc., in Holt, MI, in 2005, in the accounting department. In January of 2007 I became the General Manager of the company. After 10 years of management, my husband, Mark, and I became the owners of the company on August 1, 2017. In 13 years, have gone from limited knowledge of this industry to assuming a leadership role and becoming a strong proponent of the industry.
Please describe other professional or personal experience that would benefit you as a Board member.
I have been involved with association boards for many years. As an employee, I was Executive Director of our county’s United Way, so understand the need for an active board. As mentioned earlier, I am currently, and have been in the past, a member of various organization boards. My experience has confirmed that boards need to share their ideas as well as compromise when necessary.
Please describe why you would like to serve as a Board of Director (Active) or Vice President (Active).
A board can only be successful if its members are willing to give their time and talents. I’m willing to volunteer, listen, learn, and compromise for the good of our association. These last three years have allowed me to get my feet wet, but there is much more I want to do. I want to continue the path that we’re on to see more projects completed and for us to work together to continue to grow our industry. I also want to see us draw in more members as volunteers.
What do you see as the challenges facing the student travel industry? What can SYTA do to meet those challenges?
There are so many spokes in the wheel of challenges facing our industry. Safety for our students is so important, so we need to promote safe procedures to all our members. I am the Board Liaison for our Safety Committee, and we will be focusing on safety at our upcoming Conference. Another challenge is what we just faced with a tour operator in Ohio. When students’ funds are lost as they just were, how can we expect trip organizers to trust tour operators to keep funds secure? Tour Operators will be facing tough scrutiny from trip organizers, as we should. We need to work together to restore faith in our industry. There are also political challenges due to immigration issues that impede international travel. Our Executive Director is already working with our tourism partners in the industry to combat this issue. Another challenge is the struggle for many school systems to comprehend the positive impact on student performance during and after a group travel experience. We need to continue to educate our society on travel benefits. One way to do this is by broadcasting the Research Digest data to the educational community.