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SYTA Welcomes the 2024-2025 SYTA Board of Directors Slate of Candidates

June 12, 2024

The SYTA Nominating Committee presents the following candidates for the 2024-2025 SYTA Vice President and SYTA Board of Directors. Voting opens Monday, July 29th at 12:00pm Eastern and closes Saturday, August 10th, at 5:00pm Eastern.

Votes are conducted electronically through Survey Monkey. The link to vote will be sent to the primary contact of each Active, Dual and Associate Member organization. Members can only vote for candidates within their respective categories. All member companies in good standing are eligible to vote. If you do not know whom the primary contact is or believe it may have changed, please contact Katy Summers at [email protected] or 703-672-8530.

Election results will be announced on Monday, August 12th at the 2024 SYTA Annual Conference.

Meet the candidates at virtual town halls.

SYTA Board of Directors Associate Candidate Town Hall


SYTA Board of Directors Active Candidate Town Hall


Vice President Candidate (1 open position)

Brent Imrie

Tour Time

Over 23 years ago, my father handed me the keys to a tour coach and said, “Go and learn the business from the ground up”. Leaving behind my career as a pilot, I embraced a new path starting out as a coach driver, tour manager, and sales manager. I’m now the CEO of our thriving 31-year-old company that has offices in New Zealand, Australia, USA and we will be opening an office in the UK by the end of this year.

My journey extended beyond the business, as I became a father to four incredible children. Experiencing the world through their eyes, saw me immerse myself in the vibrant world of youth travel even more.

I am seeking election as Vice President of SYTA to continue being part of the solution in rebuilding the Youth Travel Market globally. I co-founded the School Travel Collective Inc in NZ, to help rebuild and reset the school travel market post-covid through financial bonding and creating the best practice Health & Safety requirements. With this knowledge I wish to continue being part of SYTA’s work on creating a global health and safety program, and ensuring financial stability and sustainability in our market, whilst also increasing SYTA’s presence and membership around the world and down-under in Australia and New Zealand.


Active Candidates (2 open positions)

Jane Tougouma

Educational Tours, Inc

I could not afford to study abroad, but I really, really wanted to. When I saved money to visit a dear friend who was studying in the UK, that trip changed my life. Fast forward to discovering SYTA, I realized how critical this organization is to the important business of student travel.

As a past DMO rep and supplier, I initially felt as an outsider at my first conference. Immediately impressed with the association, the initiatives, the education, the community and the why, it took no time to feel included, energized and motivated to maximize impact for my destination and SYTA through volunteerism, planning committees, sponsorship, FAM hosting and more.

Now, as a buyer/tour operator with ETI and a volunteer SYTA Youth Foundation trustee/secretary, I would be honored to apply my multi-faceted learnings and unique dual perspective to help lead and grow this amazing organization, together, as “The Voice of Student and Youth Travel.”


Terry Twitchell

Bob Rogers Travel

My passion for educational travel began at Disney where I played a role in the development of Disney Youth Programs. Next, I was led to a position in Product Development where I traveled the globe creating products for international travelers.  My experience at Disney created opportunities for me at multiple educational travel companies.  Having held leadership roles in sales, account-management, operations, and product development, I comprehensively understand our industry.  Having worked as a supplier and a tour-operator, I have developed the ability to understand issues from both perspectives.

During my years in our industry, I have been an active and dedicated member of the Student Youth Travel Association, serving on the board, as conference and summit chair, and on many other committees.  SYTA has been an important part of our industry’s evolution and I would love to have the opportunity to volunteer my time as a board member to further our mission.


Valerie Bedard

Voyages A+

It is a great pride and honor to have been selected as a candidate for a position on the Board of Directors. This is a professional challenge that excites me and will push me out of my comfort zone. As a newly appointed associate in the company where I have been working for over 8 years, I feel that a seat on the Board of Directors is the natural next step in my professional journey. I have always enjoyed working as part of a team and being involved in projects that are larger and more significant than my personal universe. I sincerely hope that the members of SYTA will allow me to serve on the Board. I aim to raise awareness of SYTA in my community so that more people understand the importance and impact of travel in the lives of students and I aspire to foster the sense of community and mutual support that SYTA brings to our industry.


Associate Candidates (1 open position)

Leah Ann Ingram

Escot Bus Lines

Bringing over 25 years of expertise as a student travel company owner and current Director of Sales at Escot Bus Lines, I am poised to bring a dynamic blend of expertise, passion, and a fresh perspective to the Student and Youth Travel Association (SYTA) Board of Directors. My extensive experience spans customer service, sales, finances, and contracts, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the industry. As a former President of Women in Tourism, a longstanding Ronald McDonald House volunteer, and having served on the SYTA Summit committee, I’m deeply committed to community engagement and advocacy.

My vision for SYTA involves fostering a culture of collaboration and communication, enhancing member engagement through platforms for knowledge-sharing and networking. I’m passionate about contributing to SYTA’s strategic direction, leveraging my diverse background to guide sustainable growth. Furthermore, I advocate for inclusivity within the student travel industry, emphasizing partnerships and educational initiatives to broaden access and opportunities for all. With unwavering dedication, I aspire to make student travel a more welcoming and accessible space for everyone.


Mike Stoupa

Visit Prince William

My father’s advice to “pursue something you love and use it to help others” unknowingly fueled my passion for student travel. After working as a tour planner for a SYTA member company for four years, I have spent the past 13 years as a destination sales manager for Prince William, VA. While a high school trip to Atlanta for an electric vehicle competition planted the seed for group travel, my commitment to service has always been my guiding light. To that end, I served as committee chair within several travel industry organizations, as well as an Associate member the SYTA Board of Directors from 2020 to 2023. I’m excited for the possibility to rejoin the Board and advocate for you to thrive and make more connections to allow more students to travel.


Sarah Robinson

Tourism Winnipeg

With my extensive background in the international tourism industry, particularly in marketing, business development, and designing cultural and student youth experiences, I am eager to run for the SYTA Board of Directors. I am honored to run alongside my fellow Associate candidates and appreciate the opportunity to serve an association and industry I am deeply passionate about. My specific expertise in the student youth market, recent hands-on involvement in hosting the SYTA Annual Conference, participation on the SYTA DEIA Committee as well as my commitment to sustainable travel will be valuable assets to the Board of Directors. I am excited at the prospect of shaping the future of student travel and view this position as a chance to give back to the industry, mentor future leaders, and drive positive outcomes for all stakeholders involved.


Tom White

Visit Mobile

Serving on the Student Youth Travel Association Board holds profound importance to me as it aligns with my passion for youth empowerment through educational travel. Having experienced firsthand the transformative power of travel, I am dedicated to ensuring more students access such life-changing opportunities. My background in organizing student trips has honed my skills in planning, leadership, and collaboration, making me well-suited for this role. I am committed to advocating for inclusive travel programs that broaden perspectives, foster cultural understanding, and cultivate lifelong learners. By serving on the board, I aim to contribute innovative ideas to enhance our programs, support diverse student needs, and strengthen our outreach efforts. This role is not just an opportunity for personal growth but a chance to impact the lives of countless young individuals, helping them discover new horizons and achieve their fullest potential.


If you have any questions, please contact Katy Summers by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 703-672-8530.