The National Board of Directors of the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) is composed of outstanding members of Canada’s travel industry. They make up one of the most knowledgeable boards in Canada and each member has enviable experience in guiding their companies through years in this dynamic economic sector and beyond.
Not only does the board have a core of veterans, it has added members in the past several years from the top levels of the industry and its agency segment. The makeup of the national board is one of the key reasons why travel agency heads across the country should join ACTA and support the work inspired and directed by these stellar board members.
Board members in many cases serve as Chairs of ACTA Regional Councils in their regions which are: B.C. and Yukon, Alberta and NWT, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic. ACTA members can run for places on regional councils each year.
Mary Jane Hiebert, Manitoba & Nunavut Regions, ACTA Chair
Ms. Hiebert began her career in travel in 1994, with the purchase of Harvest Travel Ltd. In Steinbach, Manitoba. In 2009 Mary Jane merged Harvest Travel with Holiday Travel in Steinbach. In 2014, Holiday Travel was acquired by Canada One Travel, where she continues to fulfill her role as Manager.
During her time with ACTA National Board, Mary Jane has participated on the Board Strategy and Work Plans committee in 2012, and again 2014/2015. She participated in the review of the ACTA By-laws in 2014, and most recently a member of the Terms of Reference review committee.
Ms. Hiebert was the President of the Steinbach Chamber of Commerce from 2001 – 2007, and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Eastman Education Center as well as the planning committee for the Summer In The City Festival, in Steinbach.
André Desmarais , Quebec Region , ACTA Vice Chair
André has worked in the travel industry for more than thirty years and founded AeroportVoyage.com fifteen years ago. AeroportVoyage.com is part of Voyage en Direct in Québec.
André has been involved in many organizations including one helping entrepreneurs, is currently the president of Montréal Investment Fund for PME Montréal Sud-Ouest with $2.5 million in assistance, was administrator on the Board of Verdun CLD and for the last two years as Treasurer, was president of C.A. of the F.C.A.Q. (Fédération des Clubs d’affaires du Québec) for two years, and president for five years of the SDC (Société de développement Commercial) Wellington.
Michael Thompson, ACTA Secretary
Mr. Thompson is a visionary and performance-focused leader with 20-plus years of experience building profitable businesses. With an exceptional track record in the Canadian technology and corporate marketplace, he is well known for his customer-centric approach, team building talent and ability to create a deep network of senior C-level relationships.
Prior to ISB, Mr. Thompson was at the helm of a major Canadian company specializing in Supply Chain Management and innovative 1:1 Marketing technology solutions. Before that, he had been vice president of a top-tier travel and leisure company, driving record growth and creating the largest wholly-owned consumer travel business in North America with $1B of network sales.
In addition to his leadership role at ACTA, Mr. Thompson participates on several boards and committees, including CEO Forum.
Louise Gardiner, Treasurer
Louise Gardiner is responsible for setting and implementing Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s leisure strategy for the Associate Franchise Program in Canada. She is responsible for the overall leisure operational execution of 120 leisure travel locations which represent over $1B in sales within Canada. Louise works closely with CWT’s Loyalty, Marketing and Leisure Supplier management teams to assist in developing existing and new associations with strategic loyalty and supplier partners. She sits on the Canadian Executive Team and has executive ownership of the CWT Canada Associate Program Leisure Operations Division.
Louise brings 35 years of experience in the Leisure travel industry and has a proven track record in running successful operations and building strong teams. Since joining CWT Canada in 2004, Gardiner managed branch fulfillment for both the leisure and mid-market corporate segments. She also oversaw the Company Owned Canada Leisure Division, Associate Franchise Network, and the North American Product Solutions Technology Team. She was instrumental in ensuring all branches delivered a consistent service and product offering across Canada for all CWT’s preferred membership customers.
Liz Fleming, B.C. and Yukon Territories
leadership skills to one of Western Canada’s largest independent management companies. Liz began as a front line corporate travel advisor with North South before moving in to management. That experience gives her a unique perspective on all aspects of agency operations from the service provision level through to the administrative challenges of running an agency in today’s environment. Although she has spent many years in the corporate world, first as a legal assistant specializing in corporate/commercial issues and subsequently in a management role with North South Travel, Liz’s first love and educational background is in the field of social services. Originally trained at the University of Victoria as a Social Worker, Liz has balanced her corporate work life with private volunteerism at both the service provision and Board of Directors level for several social service organizations.
On the corporate side, Liz has served on the ACTA Council for BC and Yukon since 2009 (as Vice-Chair since 2013 and as Chair since 2016). In addition, she also serves as ACTA’s representative to IATA’s APJC (Agency Program Joint Council) and its FAG (Financial Advisory Group) sub-committee.
Peter Keyter, Alberta/Northwest Territories
Residing in Calgary Alberta, Peter Keyter and wife Lesley have co-owned South Travel, operating as The Travel Lady Agency, for 22 years. The agency has been an ACTA member for much of that time and they are extremely proud to be one of the Top 25 Ensemble Agencies in Canada.
Several years ago, Peter joined the ACTA Alberta Regional Council lending his insight and expertise within Alberta and the ACTA National board. Peter facilitated and participated in meetings with the Alberta Insurance Council (AIC), providing information and creating dialogue with the AIC in regards to legislation, training, and licensing. This was a first and has opened the door to further possibilities and contacts in regard to insurance licensing. This is also particularly important and helpful as ACTA National continues to work on harmonized insurance license requirements and interprovincial recognition with regard to travel insurance sales.
Barbara Lee-White, Atlantic Region
Barbara began her career in the travel business in 1985 as owner of UNIGLOBE Direct Travel in Saint John New Brunswick. In 2000, she merged forces with UNIGLOBE River Valley Travel becoming the sole owner in 2004. With the introduction of new technologies over the past 20 years, the travel business rapidly changed making for newer and more exciting challenges. Barbara’s keen interest in both international and domestic travel combined with a passion for problem solving have served her well in her capacity as a board member of ACTA Atlantic since 2007. In 2013, Maritime Travel acquired UNIGLOBE River Valley where Barbara continues to sell leisure travel.
Mike Foster, Ontario Region
Mike Foster opened Nexion Canada. The company specializes in travel agency services to small to mid-sized corporate clients and leisure passengers with annual system-wide sales volume of C$2.7 billion. Mike has served in a variety of roles for both the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) and the Travel Industry Council of Ontario. A resident of London, Mike has been an active volunteer with many local organizations.
Karen Schabel, Saskatchewan Region
Karen Schabel’s career in the travel industry began in 1985 at CAA Saskatchewan where she was hired as a Receptionist and then became a Travel Consultant. In 1989, a new store was opened in Regina and Karen was promoted to Travel Manager for that location. Over the next 21 years, Karen worked in the frontline as a selling Manager and saw this location grow into a very successful store. After being a CTC for several years, Karen earned her CTM in 2012.
In 2010, Karen became the Travel Training Coordinator for CAA Saskatchewan where she’s currently employed. In 2011 Karen earned her Registered Professional Trainer designation (from the Canadian Professional Trainers Association). Her responsibilities include: training new travel consultants for the 12 Saskatchewan locations, organizing ongoing training between the frontline and CAA’s travel partners, assisting travel consultants in obtaining their CTC designation and facilitating travel insurance training for CAA’s newly licenced agents.
Cyrus K Rustamji CTM, CCTA Representative
Cyrus has been with UNIGLOBE Premiere Travel since 1989 with experience spanning Corporate Travel Management, sales and account management, agency acquisitions/mergers, international incentive and group tour sales and leisure agency management including sales automation and facilitation for home-based independent agents.
One of his major roles with UNIGLOBE The Premiere Travel Group has been vendor management and negotiations with airlines and the other important travel industry suppliers. With a passion for travel from an early age, he has travelled extensively in over 50 countries. Since 1995 Cyrus has been based in the Toronto office of UNIGLOBE The Premiere Travel Group, a CCTA member and one of Canada’s leading privately held travel companies.
Richard Vanderlubbe, Director
Richard Vanderlubbe is the founder and owner of tripcentral.ca, a travel agency with 26 locations and a national website. It has been in business under prior trade names since 1989 where it began as a single startup travel agency in Hamilton. Richard has participated in industry affairs for many years dating back to the late 1990s. He was elected the Chair of ACTA Ontario, sat on the national board, and chaired ACTA National for a couple of years. Richard also served on the TICO board since 2001 in various capacities including Chair, Vice Chair and currently Chair of the Legislative and Regulatory Modernization Committee looking at an overhaul of the Travel Industry Act. Over the years, Richard has garnered a rare understanding of both the detailed fundamentals of the Canadian retail travel business, and a bigger picture view of the industry and trends.
Andrew Enns, Director
Andrew has worked with NRG Research Group (NRG) for seventeen years. He joined NRG in January of 2000 as a Senior Research Consultant. Prior to joining NRG in 2000, Andrew spent almost a decade working as a political assistant in the governments of Canada, Ontario and Manitoba. Andrew worked in the offices of Minister’s of the Crowns and several Premiers providing briefing and advice on an array of different public affairs topics. In 2005, Andrew became a partner in NRG and, in early 2012, he assumed the role of President of the company. In this role, Andrew directs and manages NRG’s complement of professional researchers across the three offices located in Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver. While Andrew has assumed increasingly larger corporate management responsibilities, he still maintains his role as an active senior researcher with the company and an important source of revenue generation.