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Speaker Biographies

Adam Smiley Poswolsky
Featured Speaker

Adam Smiley Poswolsky is a millennial workplace expert, internationally renowned keynote speaker, and bestselling author of The Quarter-Life Breakthrough: Invent Your Own Path, Find Meaningful Work, and Build a Life That Matters (Penguin Random House, 2016). Smiley helps companies attract, retain, and empower millennial talent, and he’s inspired thousands of professionals to be more engaged at work, through speaking at companies like Unilever, IDEO, Salesforce, Deloitte, SAP, and TEDx, and by collaborating with purpose-driven organizations like the Hive Global Leaders Program, the StartingBloc Institute for Social Innovation, Camp Grounded, The Passion Co., Esalen Institute, and General Assembly. His writing has been published in The Washington Post, Fast Company, Time, Quartz, Business Insider, and GOOD, and his work has been featured in USA Today, Mashable, Forbes, Inc., VICE, CNBC, MarketWatch, and the World Economic Forum, among others.

Peter Ross
Founding Partner, 829 Studios

Peter has defined the vision, strategy, and culture of 829 Studios since its founding in 2007. It has been his mission to help clients transform their data into strategy and provide an integrated approach that blends creativity with technological sophistication. He is constantly hunting for new opportunities clients can leverage to achieve differentiation, develop competitive advantages, and better communicate their brand story.

He serves on the Board of Advisors for the Family Travel Association, the America Outdoors Association, and TEDxKenmoreSquare.  He is also an active member of the Adventure Travel Trade Association.

Jeff Ment
Managing Partner, Ment Law

For more than 20 years, Jeff has represented companies and individuals in the travel industry.  His experiences range from helping form new companies to defending companies in litigation.  Jeff’s focus is on helping ensure that his clients are always ahead of the curve – following the best practices of our industry.  This includes risk management, documentation, vendor selection, tour director training and insurance coverage.  Jeff relies on his experience as a travel agent, sales manager for two airlines and his work as a tour guide to understand what his clients need most. Economic Forum, among others.

Bill Caldwell
CEO, Caldwell & Companies

With his extensive knowledge of tax codes combined with strong accounting skills and over 25 years of experience, CEO William J. Caldwell is able to help his clients realize their dreams.  Caldwell & Companies, founded in 2003, has grown to encompass a team of 28 experts who provide valuable certified public accounting services to an array of clients – from successful professionals to expanding nonprofits to fast-growing companies. Bill is an innovative problem-solver who serves to minimize his clients’ financial burdens and maximize their growth opportunities.  Bill is a CPA.

Ryan Sparzak
Director, American Heritage Program, Global Travel Alliance

Ryan is a committed and experienced educator with 10 years in school-based education. During this time he found himself spending more time with students out of the classroom than inside. He is passionate about changing the way students are educated in America and believes that educational travel is a key part of that change. After receiving a graduate degree in nonprofit management and a Masters in Education, he and his wife left Boston to work for Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City. Ryan worked alongside other committed educators to develop HCZ Promise Academy, both as a teacher and a school leader. Ryan also earned a Masters in Educational Leadership. After 7 years with HCZ, Ryan left New York City to work for Denver School of Science and Technology, where he was a founding science teacher at their College View Campus. In his spare time he loves hiking (especially with his wife and two kids), working long hours in his garden, and cooking.

Michael J. Bowers
Founder, Center for Student Travel Safety

Michael J. Bowers founded the Center for Student Travel Safety (CSTS) in October of 2015 to help travel organizations address the challenges faced when traveling groups of students domestically or internationally. In 2017, CSTS teamed up with the Student &Youth Travel Association (SYTA) to develop industry leading standards to improve overall safety practices, training, and safety awareness throughout the industry.

Mike offers more than 39 years of experience in travel safety and operations management. He has helped organizations take the necessary steps to reduce the probability of unwanted events in order to help make travel safer.

“The best part of a SYTA SUMMIT is that it provides the opportunity for travel professionals to meet in a conversable setting without the pressure of a 7 minute meeting or have to deal with the barrage of conference masses. Every tour operator has unique abilities, and since I am a big proponent of partnerships, SUMMIT becomes an ideal network to forge plans for new and exciting joint ventures.”

Dr. Michael A. Mazzarisi, President, Performing Arts Consultants

“To me, SYTA Summit is the most valuable conference that I attend. I always find the educational seminars very useful and because it is a smaller, more intimate conference, you get to build a much deeper relationship with the sponsors. This is also the only conference that I have ever really had the opportunity to get to know other attendees. I absolutely LOVE SYTA Summit!”

Kara Mihalevich, President, Adventure Student Travel, LLC

“SYTA Summit provides an unique opportunity to get up close with my SYTA partners and many of our buyers. The environment lends itself to a causal, natural environment – no pressure just building my network!”

Tara Hippensteel, Director of National Tour & Travel, Hard Rock Café

“SYTA Summit has been an invaluable resource for both personal growth and building partnerships with other tour operators and vendors that has helped strengthen our business.”

Steve Maehl, Vice President, Global Travel Alliance

“The Summit is great. I Love the destinations we have visited and the size of the event itself. There is a real opportunity at Summit to spend quality time with all of the attendees and in a relationship based business, that time is everything.”

Bob Hofmann, Vice President, Broadway Inbound

SYTA Strategic Partners


SYTA Summit 2019