120: NY PATA Election Slate for 2024-2025 Board of Directors

Issue 120, December 6, 2023
New York, NYwww.newyorkpata.org
Election for the 2024-2025 Board of Directors
Dear NY PATA Members, NY PATA is pleased to announce that the newly formed Election Committee on November 29, 2023, comprising of Sandra Walker, Belinda Siu, and Lucero Sanchez, has submitted a slate of 13 official candidates who have self-nominated to the Board of Directors positions. The Election Committee has worked diligently to review the self-nominations, and are confident that the candidates’ collective skills and experience will help us to continue to advance the interests of our members and the tourism industry. Please take the time to review the NY PATA candidate profiles.
The Election Runner ballot for the NY PATA election is created based on the slate of candidates provided by the Election Committee. All active NY PATA members will receive the ballot instruction and ballot via email on December 7, 2023, and we urge you to keep an eye on your email inbox and follow the instructions carefully. Please note that only active members are eligible to vote and lapsed members will not receive the ballot. We encourage all eligible members to participate in this important election process.
We look forward to a successful election done entirely online!
Best wishes to all. Sincerely,Elizabeth
Elizabeth ChinExecutive DirectorNY PATAelizabethnypata@gmail.com
Announcement of Candidates
New York PATA Slate of Candidatesfor the 2024-2025 Board of Directors Member can only run for an Executive Board seat in the Category for which he/she is registered. 
Available    Category
1 seat         Transportation; Airline | Cruise Line | Consolidator
1 seat          Allied Member; Hospitality | Media | Marketing | PR
3 seats        Tour Operator
3 seats        Travel Advisor
Preview of the Ballot
Larry GreenmanKelli Mills ALLIED – Select 1
John Graham TOUR OPERATORS – Select 3
Bill Gardiner
Catherine Heald
Qua Liang
Joebert Opulencia
Iris Salazar
Irene Sino 
Julian Banegas
Frank Hryszkanich
Boris Miketic
Pradip Shrestha
Self-Nominated Candidate Profiles
Select One (1) of two
Larry Greenman – Cruise
Director, Public Relations & Customer Service, Victoria Cruise Lines
Phone: 917-754-2257; Email: larrygwiz@yahoo.com
I have a half century of travel industry experience, heavily focused on Asia, holding management positions with several respected cruise lines and tour operators. I served on the NY PATA board from 1990-2018, including four years as Chairman, as well as Secretary and Treasurer, and on many committees. I am a NY PATA Life Member.  I have worked hard for our chapter, and would like to continue working on meaningful programs for members, offering opportunities to help us learn, do business, and network. In addition to featuring PATA destinations and suppliers, I would like to promote a greater awareness of sustainable tourism, and ways in which we as industry professionals can preserve the products we sell.
Kelli Mills – Cruise
Sales Director, Eastern USA & Canada, Aurora Expeditions
Phone: 908-340-8972 | Email: kelli@aurora-expeditions.com
After attending school for travel and tourism and then with over 20 years of experience in the travel industry, I am excited to apply my knowledge and skills to support and promote the goals of NY PATA. Throughout my career, I have held various roles including travel advisor, agency owner, and business development in retail/host agencies. My passion for travel has led me to lead travel advisor FAM groups with Hurtigruten and Aurora Expeditions in different areas of the world. I exhibited multiple times at the NY PATA Trade Shows.My goal is to help travel advisors find the perfect cruise experience for their guests and match their personal travel goals. I successfully served two years as secretary on the NY PATA 2022-2023 Executive Board. I am confident that I can continue to bring the same enthusiasm and dedication to the NY PATA Chapter and contribute to its growth and success. Thank you for considering my application.
Select One (1) of one
John C. Graham – Media
President, Travel World VR
Phone: 203-984-4827 | Email: johng@travelworld.com
I started my travel media career in 1989 with OAG Travel Magazines. At Travel Agent magazine I helped create the Cruise/Tour Expo shows in 1995. I also wrote a bi-monthly column and was Advertising Director for Travel Agent International. I was Executive Publisher at Travel Trade Publications and Trade Shows. In February 2018, Steve Perillo, CEO of Perillo Tours and I launched Travel World VR. We are the leading producers for travel 360/VR videos and the leading distribution platform. I propose to educate and assist our members on VR production and viewing. I am offering a discount, and I will give free Travel World Virtual Reality headsets to view VR videos on the Travel World VR app. It is no longer a luxury. 360/VR for tourism is the future of the travel industry.
TOUR OPERATOR CATEGORYSelect Three (3) of six
Bill Gardiner – Tour Operator
Director of Business Development; Downtown Travel, Holidays with Downtown, and The Best Agent.
Pro Phone: 917-575-0278 | Email: william@downtowntravel.com
Bill Gardiner is a Forty-Nine-year veteran of the travel industry. He has worked in all aspects of the industry during his career. He is the Director of Business Development for Downtown Travel, Holidays with Downtown, and The Best Agent.Pro (Downtowns new B2B booking engine). He has been employed by a number of leading Tour operators and Air Consolidators during his career. Bill was the President and one of the founders of National Trade shows a leading Travel industry trade show and event company. Bill Gardiner attended Villanova University, where his field of study was marketing and management. His professional accreditations include being both a Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) and Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE) designations. These were granted by the Travel Institute. He has consulted for and operated programs for various travel companies throughout his career. His professional affiliates include; The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), CCRA, NY PATA, PTANA, ASTA Small Business Network, Travel Agents of Tennessee (TAT) and SKAL International.He has served on numerous local and national committees for these organizations. He served as President of NJ-SKAL for the 2011/2012 year. He is a resident of New Jersey where he lives with his wife Susan. He has four children and eleven grandchildren.
Catherine Heald – Tour Operator
Co-Founder & CEO, Remote Lands, Inc.
Phone:212-518-1618 | Mobile: 917-6894994 |www.remotelands.com
Catherine Heald is the Co-Founder and CEO of Remote Lands, the ultra-luxe tour operator founded in 2006 to focus exclusively on personalized travel to Asia. We pride ourselves on our deep knowledge of Asia including the continent’s most remote corners, our adventurous spirit, creativity, outside the box thinking, and personal relationships with some of Asia’s most interesting, accomplished, and prominent residents. Founded by serial technology entrepreneurs Catherine Heald and Jay Tindall, and based in New York and Bangkok, our name is derived from our ying and yang passion for intrepid expeditions to far-flung destinations as well as private jets and luxurious hotels. Our clients are highly discerning Americans and Europeans including Hollywood celebrities, Forbes 400 CEO’s, Wall Street titans and professional athletes who want to the best of everything but they also seek to understand Asia at deeper level and have a profoundly rewarding experience. We have been featured numerous times in the The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, Departures, Forbes, Town & Country, Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, CNN and the BBC.Catherine is an Asiaphile who is passionate about the culture, history, art, architecture, cuisine, language, religion, business, politics and lifestyles of Asia, and has devoted her life and career to this massive and complex continent. She co-founded Remote Lands in January 2006 to introduce intrepid high-end travelers to the remote corners and unexplored regions of Asia, from Mustang to Sikkim, Banaue to Naoshima, Ulaanbaatar to Galle.She was previously co-founder, president & CEO (as Catherine Winchester) of Soliloquy, a natural language technology, and Wanderlust Interactive, a children’s travel software company with a license to the Pink Panther character. She oversaw its initial public offering on NASDAQ in March 1996, which was Silicon Alley’s first IPO.Previously, Catherine lived in Hong Kong from 1987-1994, where she founded InterOptica Publishing Ltd., the world’s first travel e-book creator, with offices in Hong Kong, San Francisco, New York and Shenzhen, China. InterOptica developed over 25 award-winning travel titles, 15 of which were distributed exclusively by Apple. When Bill Gates announced the original Multimedia PC in New York in 1991 and San Jose in 1992, he invited her to share the stage with him to demonstrate her software. Now called Take-2 Interactive, the company is traded on NASDAQ under the symbol TTWO and has annual sales of over one billion dollars. It is perhaps best known for its controversial Grand Theft Auto video game.She holds a B.A. in Computer Science ’84 from Barnard College, Columbia University. She is married to Donald Heald, an antiquarian bookseller, and they live in New York and Sherman, CT.
Qua Liang – Tour Operator
President, L & M Tours
Phone: 718-238-2284 | Email: info@lmtours.netwww.lmtours.net
L&M Tours, a bus tour operator and full-service travel agency based in Brooklyn, NY, has been providing bus tours within the USA and Canada for 24 years. In addition to organizing and conducting bus trips, L&M Tours also provides transportation services for groups. The agency is experienced in selling and booking hotels, airline tickets, cruises, vacation packages, as well as planning and hosting events such as dinner parties and shows. Qua Liang, who graduated from Baruch College in 1993, would like to serve on the 2024-2025 PATA New York Chapter Executive Board. Qua Liang is excited to contribute his expertise to NY PATA in planning different trips and organizing events, and is willing to dedicate partial time to the organization based on its needs.
Joebert Opulencia – Tour Operator
President, Orientours Co., LTD | President, USA & Orientours Co., LTD
Chairman, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) New York Chapter
Director, LGBT Meeting Planners Association (LGBT MPA)
Phone: 212-973-1777 | Email: orientoursnyc@gmail.com   
A pioneering figure in the Travel Industry worldwide, Joebert established ORIENTOURS in 1986, handling leisure and M.I.C.E. groups traveling to Asia & the Pacific. In 1992, he established USA & ORIENTOURS, to handle both inbound to the United States. Canada, and Mexico, as well as outbound to destinations such as Turkey, Greece, Portugal, and Spain. He has continued to lead both operations showing remarkable resilience and adaptability despite several market challenges that have become the new normal. Joebert’s success could be attributed to a business philosophy that places a premium on keeping his word. He delivers what he has promised. Moreover, both companies he leads demonstrate the advantages of apersonalized service. His clients can count on the quality he delivers. He has been active in international markets for a good 35 years. In the last 7 years he has actively promoted the ongoing partnership and cooperation between Turkey and the Philippines. A graduate of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in Management from the University of the East, Joebert moved to New York in 1984 and worked with various tourism- related companies including hotels and tour companies, before he started his own company. He is presently the Chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) New York Chapter, and seats on the Board of the LGBT Meeting Planners Association (LGBT MPA)  Indeed, with a sense of humor and whose word means honor, Joebert has earned himself a significant place in the Travel Industry.
Iris Salazar – Tour Operator
Chief Financial Officer, Trustee, and
Director of Human Resources, Micato Safaris
Phone: 212-545-7111 | Email: isalazar@micato.com
With more than 38 years of experience in various fields and an intrepid traveler to more than 72 countries and counting. Iris has spent most of her professional life in the Travel Industry, holding positions at Micato Safaris as Chief Financial Officer, Trustee, and Director of Human Resources. She previously held a diplomatic position at the Permanent Mission of Honduras to the United Nations as the Assistant to the Ambassador of Honduras. Her education includes accounting, finance, business administration, technology, hospitality, and travel & tourism. Iris is a Certified Travel Consultant, verified and re-certified by the American Society of Travel Advisors. She has spent more than 33 concurrent years on the field of non-profits, serving as Treasurer at AmericaShare; at High Water Women Foundation, helping low-income students build their financial skills; at New Life Fellowship volunteering as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher for adults; supporting the Kiwanis movement of improvement communities for children; and most recently joined CCAMRE (Canadian Central American Relief Effort) volunteering as a translator between Canadian doctors and the Mayan Chorti people in the Merendon Mountains of Guatemala. Iris has been a long-time member, and director on the executive board of several prestigious travel organizations, such as the 41-74 Club of New York, ASTA, AWTA, FIJET, NY PATA, Skal International, Tourism Cares, and others. Executive Board Positions:• 41-74 Club of New York, President 2020-2021• American Society of Travel Advisors NY Chapter, Director 2018-2022• AmericaShare USA, Treasurer• Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), NY PATA Treasurer 2016-2020• Skal International New York, President 2019• Skal International USA Representative 2020-2023 Cultural, Environmental, and Social Volunteer Services:• Paterson Habitat for Humanity, Volunteering for over 20 years• Tourism Cares with Jordan, Feb 2018• Tourism Cares in Puerto Rico, May 2019• Tourism Cares in Victoria, BC Canada, Sep 2022• Canadian Central American Relief Effort, Feb-Mar 2023• Skal International Global Challenges and Tourism Co-Chair, 2022-2023• Skal International Sustainability Committee Member, 2022-2023
Irene Sino – Tour Operator
President, Panorama Travel
Phone: 212-244-0730 | Email: isino@panoramatravel.com
I am honored to self-nominate myself for the position of NY PATA Board Member. My name is Irene Sino, and I am the President of Panorama Travel, a successful New York based Tour Operator and Consolidator that I founded in 1995.Throughout my career, I have gained extensive knowledge and experience in the travel industry. I have served on the NY PATA board for three years, with the last year as Treasurer. I believe that my professional expertise and experience can contribute to the promotion of Pacific Asia by participating in the organization of events and FAM trips.As the President of Panorama Travel, I oversee the entire operation of the company, supplier’s relations, and administrative tasks. I am confident that my skills in these areas can bring value to the NY PATA board.
Select Three (3) of four
Julian Banegas – Travel Advisor
Manager Groups and Operations, NYC Branch Office
Gil Travel and Kenes Tours
Phone: 212-889-7097 | Email: julianb@giltravel.com
Julian Banegas is a seasoned professional in the travel industry beginning his career with Pan American Airways. With over 38 years of experience in various facets of the industry, including tour operations, wholesale, corporate travel, and Jewish heritage tours, Julian brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to NY PATA. He has also spent 15 years as a supervisor at Trafalgar Travel, further adding to his impressive resume. In addition to his professional accomplishments, Julian is also the president of the Sociedad Honduras New York Inc., highlighting his dedication to his community.Julian, a NY PATA member and travel advisor, is excited to share his recent experience in exploring new destinations in the Asia-Pacific region for his clients. He has a continued passion for the NY PATA mission and considers the Chapter his extended family. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Julian remains committed to contributing to the Chapter by serving on the Committees and renewing travel trade relations. He is honored to serve on the NY PATA Board of Directors and looks forward to continue supporting the Chapter’s mission.
Frank Hryszkanich – Travel Advisor
President, Travel, Ports & Voyages, LLC(Association of Home-Based Travel Agents)
Phone: 732-251-1775 | Email: frankh@tpvp.com
1) I have been a travel agent for over twenty years.2) I’m a host agency, with a large number of independent agents that use my agency to book travel. So, I constantly deal with many agents and travel supplier representatives.3) I have been doing monthly travel seminars for over seventeen years with my own association called the’ “Association of Home-Based Travel Agents”4) I have the motivation and ability to enhance the success and growth of the Chapter. I would like to contribute where I can to do teaching, training and trade shows, which I really enjoy doing. I’m one hundred percent into travel and tourism education.5) I have served on the NY PATA Board for two years (2022-2023) I would like to express my continued dedication and commitment to NY PATA as I seek re-election to serve on the 2024-2025 Board. Having previously served for two years, I have gained valuable experience and knowledge that will enable me to make meaningful contributions to the Board’s success. I humbly ask for your vote and support in this election. Thank you for your consideration.
Boris Miketic – Travel Advisor
President, Boris World of Travel
Phone: 718-726-6700 | Email: bjmike@gmail.com
Boris Miketic, a distinguished individual with a legal education from the University of Zagreb and an Economics degree from City University of New York – Queens College, boasts a remarkable career spanning over three decades in the Croatian tourism industry. As the President of Croatia Travel Agency, he has cultivated enduring relationships with numerous travel industry business partners.Mr. Miketic’s contributions to the promotion of Croatia as a premier tourist destination were acknowledged when he was honored with the presidential medal “The Order of Croatian Weaver.” This prestigious award was presented to him by Croatia’s first president, Dr. Franjo Tudjman, in recognition of his dedicated efforts. On June 18, 2022, Boris Miketic was the recipient of Association of Croatian American professional’s honorary award created to recognize a person of Croatian descent who during their lifetime made significant and sustained contributions to the Croatian-American community.An ardent traveler, Boris Miketic has explored over 120 countries across five continents. This extensive global experience positions him as a formidable advocate for customers seeking travel advice. Beyond his corporate endeavors, he dedicated four years to serving on the Croatian Government’s Advisory Council for Croats Abroad.In addition to bridging the tourism industry between Croatia and the United States, Mr. Miketic extends his expertise to provide translation services for various legal documents, including birth/death certifications, divorce documents, and power of attorney. His guidance also extends to advising on the inheritance process in Croatia.With a commitment to community service, Boris Miketic has facilitated numerous individuals of Croatian descent in obtaining citizenship in their homeland. A notary public in both Queens and New York counties for a quarter of a century, he has been a reliable source of legal advice and support.Boris Miketic has not only been a prominent figure in the media landscape but also a cultural ambassador. For over 20 years, he served as a host on the Croatian Radio Show in NYC, delivering news and broadcasting traditional Croatian music to the Croatian community in the Tri-State area.Demonstrating a profound sense of humanitarianism, Mr. Miketic played a pivotal role in raising over $40,000 for humanitarian aid. This fund was directed towards rebuilding the Petrinja and Sisak Hospital following the devastating 2020 Zagreb Earthquake, reflecting his commitment to community welfare through the Croatia Fund in New York.
Pradip Shrestha – Travel Advisor
President – Greater New York Nepali Chamber of Commerce:Executive Secretary and Treasurer – SKAL International New York (2023)CEO – Travel Bureau of Nepal INC:
Phone: +1 347 653 7282 |Email: dipsth74@gmail.com / info@travelbureauofnepal.com
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/pradip-shrestha-213a03179
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pradip1974
Pradip Shrestha is a seasoned professional with a rich background in the travel and tourism industry. Currently serving as the Honorary Public Relations Representative (HPRR) for the Nepal Tourism Board inNew York since 2016, Pradip has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to promoting Nepalese tourism on the global stage. With an illustrious career spanning 25 years, he brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the table. Pradip leads a prominent travel agency dedicated to showcasing the beauty and cultural richness of Nepal. Under his leadership, the agency hasbecome a key player in the promotion of Nepalese tourism. Pradip Shrestha is an esteemed member of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) in New York City, further solidifying his commitment to upholding industry standards and best practices. Pradip’s unwavering dedication to the growth and development of the travel and tourism industry is evident through his active involvement in various organizations. His role as the HPRR for the Nepal Tourism Board, coupled with leadership positions in chambers of commerce and international travel associations, underscores his passion for advancing the industry. In his pursuit of excellence, Pradip Shrestha has consistently demonstrated leadership, strategic vision, and a deep understanding of the global tourism landscape. His candidacy for the Executive Board Member position at PATA New York is rooted in a proven track record of achievement and a commitment to driving positive change within the travel and tourism sector.
PATA New York Chapter