Paula Vlamings, CEO
For more than a decade, Paula Vlamings has worked at the intersection of tourism and sustainability. Her 10 years in politics prior to moving into the sustainability world provided her with a unique set of skills in diplomacy, fundraising, and cross-sector collaboration. She excels at breaking down complex issues and forging a path forward, while building consensus along the way. She believes big change can happen when business is used as a force for good.
Before joining Tourism Cares, Paula was the founder of Prosper360, a sustainable tourism and social impact consulting firm that works to create a full circle of prosperity within the travel economy. Prior to her consulting work, Paula was the head of The Planeterra Foundation, the nonprofit foundation of the global travel company G Adventures, where she incubated social enterprises supporting women, youth, and indigenous communities into the tourism supply chain. Paula’s sustainability work includes serving as Program Director to the Institute at the Golden Gate, a program of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, where she led a large-scale national Food for the Parks initiative. That collaboration resulted in a national policy change to more sustainable practices in our nation’s parks, and an endorsement by First Lady Michelle Obama’s Council on Environmental Equality.
In 2014, Paula realized a wild travel to dream to drive from San Francisco to Tierra del Fuego, literally the end of the world. For 2 years, she and her husband lived a nomad life, slowly and deliberately, through 17 countries and 24 border crossings. Every mile is chronicled at www.ourbiggerpicture.com.
Paula has served on numerous nonprofit boards, and is currently on the board of Omprakash, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building mutually beneficial & educational relationships between grassroots social impact organizations and volunteers around the world. She also volunteers as an ambassador for Visit.org and for several animal welfare organizations. Paula has traveled to over 70 countries on all seven continents, and is an international speaker on sustainable tourism.
Paula holds a BA in Political Science from Virginia Tech and a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from California State University.
Mike Rea, Senior Program Advisor
Mike Rea is a social entrepreneur who has been committed to creating philanthropic value and impact for more than 15 years.
Mike grew Tourism Cares as CEO from 2013-2018, building on its momentum to unite the industry around critical philanthropic needs and opportunities that are best tackled together.
Mike’s career in philanthropy is diverse, entrepreneurial and focused on outcomes. He co-founded Give2Asia in 2000, an affiliate of The Asia Foundation which to-date has facilitated more than $300M in personalized philanthropy. One area of specialty is disaster relief, and Mike’s personal research project, www.TsunamiPlus10.org, revisited the long-term impact of Give2Asia’s 2004 tsunami investments.
In 2008 Mike served as Regional Philanthropic Executive for the Philanthropic Management division of Bank of America, leading client relations with nonprofits and foundations in the West and Central regions. In 2010 he joined the College Ready team at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he supported the strategy, management and execution of the foundation’s US K-12 education strategy. He currently serves on the board of the U.S. Travel Association.
Mike earned a Bachelor of Arts from Middlebury College and a Master of Arts in Asian studies and anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. When not travelling, he enjoys urban farmhouse living in Seattle, and other passions include flyfishing and Seattle Sounders F.C.
John Yonce, Director of Advancement & Engagement
After graduating from college with the intention of applying to law school, John took one summer off to work as an adventure tour leader, and never quite made it back to his original plan. He still can’t believe he was paid to travel, and share wonderful experiences with people from all over the world.
John brings more than 20 years of experience in the travel industry and non-profit management to his role in building and delivering the Tourism Cares member experience.
He believes travel is a powerful lever to move the world, and that unified industry giving yields more than the sum of its parts.
John lives with his wife, Beth, 4 children and 1 large dog on the South Shore of Boston. He enjoys playing and coaching soccer, sailing, and – occasionally – loud live music.
Jessica Ahern, Director of Events
Jessica Ahern is the Director of Events for Tourism Cares and is principally responsible for organizing and executing our large scale volunteer programs. Jessica came to Tourism Cares after studying Communications and Public Relations at Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.
Through Tourism Cares, Jessica says she “has had the privilege to meet so many amazing people from this industry from all over the world and help to give them the opportunity to really feel as if they are making a contribution to the business they love and earn their livelihoods.” She continues, “I have been given an opportunity to have such a unique job where I am able to travel, meet wonderful people and find it personally rewarding to see the smiles on our volunteer’s faces and the gratitude from our amazing host sites”.
Kati Hagedorn, Events Manager
Kati is the Events Manager at Tourism Cares and assists Jessica in organizing our volunteer give back programs and fundraising events. She graduated from Champlain College with a degree in Hospitality Industry Management with a focus in tourism and event management.
Kati’s favorite part of working at Tourism Cares is being able to work with all of our passionate volunteers and meeting individuals from all of the sites and communities that we impact every year.
Ellaine Deeken, Community Engagement Manager
For the last decade, Ellaine has been telling stories and connecting people as a publicist and marketing & communications consultant. She has worked for destinations, in hospitality and for nonprofits in New York City and beyond. She wears the Tourism Cares marketing hat, is a part of the advancement team and loves to watch this this dynamic community grow. Ellaine practices yoga, and can't say no to good food and wine. She lives with her husband, daughter and dog in Quincy, MA.
Paula Brabants, Member Services Manager
Paula manages the Tourism Cares membership community, including member communications and benefits.
She holds a degree in Marketing & Management from UMass Boston and has several years experience in traditional and non-traditional marketing, web-site project management and event planning and now fund-raising. “
Our Tourism Cares for America Volunteer Programs are amazing!” Paula says. “It is a way to come together within the travel and tourism industry to give back to valued destinations around the world. It’s a personal and professional contribution which results in a personal impact that will last to future generations."
Trish Kelly, Workforce Development Coordinator
Trish is responsible for workforce development at Tourism Cares, which includes academic scholarships, professional development scholarships, and mentoring programs.
Trish comes to Tourism Cares with over 14 years of travel industry experience in international tour operations at an educational travel company. Her prior positions include employment at various educational institutions in event planning, program administration, and as a registrar. With a passion for travel, she enjoys working at Tourism Cares as it allows her to help others in the industry.
Karrie Hylen, Operations & Special Projects Coordinator
Karrie Hylen has been a team member at Tourism Cares for six years, supporting the organization through administrative work, auction planning and stewardship. Karrie began her career as a social worker, worked for a legislator in the Massachusetts State House and eventually assisted the VP of Meetings & Conferences at Manulife Financial.
Karrie volunteers for many local organizations and working for Tourism Cares allows Karrie to incorporate her passion for giving back and volunteerism in her daily work.
Geoff Dion, Volunteer Coordinator
Geoff serves as the Volunteer Coordinator on the events team. Not only does he assist with the planning and execution of our volunteer programs, he also provides marketing support and takes on special projects. Geoff graduated from Merrimack College with a degree in Business Administration with concentrations in Sport Management and Marketing. He brings event management and operations experience from his time working for The Kraft Group at Gillette Stadium and WaterFire Providence.