Made in Italy

Italian Design

Made in Italy: Fashion and Design
in Milan and Como

May 31 – Jun 8, 2014

Tour some of Italy’s most renowned areas of applied arts on this new tour to Milan’s trendy design districts.

CALL 855-330-1542


Made in Italy: Fashion and Design in Milan and Como

Italy has long been a trendsetter in fashion and automobile design. When you add architecture, furniture, and interior spaces to the already rich creative tableau, you have the hottest, most sought-after design in the world. “Made in Italy” is not just a label, but a statement of where function meets fine art. Join us for an exclusive look at some of Italy’s most renowned areas of applied arts on this new tour to Milan’s trendy design districts and Como, located in the stunning Lake District.

milan_duomoYou’ll explore Italy’s world of fashion on visits to Missoni and Dolce & Gabbana, yet discover interior spaces and furnishings at the showrooms of Artemide (lighting), Alessi (utensils), and Boffi (kitchens and baths). Come to understand the sweeping designs of aerodynamically inspired racing cars at the Zagato headquarters. At the Triennale Design Museum you’ll learn about the history of Italian design and see the most significant objects from across all design fields. Our Smithsonian expert, plus industry professionals and artists in Italy, will guide our explorations, discussing the evolution of post-modern Italian design.


2013: The Year in Review

Another whirlwind year has come to a close. While we welcome the adventures that 2014 will inevitably bring, we want to reflect on 2013 with our annual Highlights List  featuring the events, destinations, and people that made this year so incredible.

Spanning the Globe: Several education and law groups enjoyed professional exchanges with counterparts in Myanmar, and demand remained strong in Cuba, where we facilitated over 50 people-to-people and professional groups to Havana and points beyond. Europe was bustling with a renewed interest in the prehistoric caves in southwestern France, an exploration of Downton Abbey film locations, a family adventure in Switzerland, and a look at the legacy of Olympic Park in London. Close to home, art lovers descended on Seattle’s rich art scene and enjoyed visits to private collections.


Giving Back: Staff volunteered their time and talents this year in a variety of ways, and for two charities close to our hearts. The Fund for Education Abroad ( benefited from Team CET’s run in the Cherry Blossom 10K in the spring.

Meanwhile, five ATA staff members volunteered for Tourism Cares ( joining 600 other tourism professionals to clean up Coney Island, New York in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.


We share our story! ATA produced a new corporate video this year. Partners shared their experiences working with ATA and their stories of meaningful and engaging travel that the trips brought to others.

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New Faces:  We welcomed a great group of professionals this year!

From top left to the right: Tim Ambrose,

Top left to right: Tim Ambrose, Sales Director; Megan Horrigan, CET Intern; Stacie Kellerman, Tour Communications Specialist; Joan O’Neill, Tour Communications Specialist; Kara Nichols, FEA Fundraising & Admin Coordinator; Kevin Hoercher, Reservations Specialist; Kimberly Sine, CET Middlebury in China Programs Manager; CET Hector Cruz-Feliciano, Brazil Programs Manager. Bottom left to right: Natalie Pascale, Tour Communications Specialist; Shelley Jessee, CET Director of Marketing; Allegra O’Donoghue, CET Middle East & North Africa Programs Manager; Leya Brown, Reservations Specialist.

Significant Milestones: In January, President Kate Simpson celebrated 25 years at ATA. Overseeing a company engaged in constant evolution, she reminisced about the many companies she has served, all while working at ATA. Never a dull moment, even after 25 years!

Kate Simpson

In May, we celebrated Dave Parry’s 80th birthday. The party was an extended family reunion, a real who’s who of ATA staff and clients who were here in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and in more recent years.


None of our successes would be possible without the partners and travelers we serve, and the dedicated tour managers and colleagues we consider part of our ATA family. We are grateful for all of you this holiday season!


Happy Holidays!
Chase Poffenberger
Executive Vice President

A Gem of A Jog in Siena

jogging1With some free time to exercise and such a gorgeous day, I asked our language teacher, Elena, what are the best outdoor activities in Siena.

An avid jogger herself, she recommended  the Foretzza Medicea where the air is clean, the trail uncrowded, and most of all…the views are spectacular!  During the jog around the perimeter of this massive fortress, you see the Duomo, the hills of Tuscany, and the rooftops below…

There is still time to book on our September trip to Siena where we explore art, history, neighborhoods, cuisine, wine, and the hills of Tuscany together!


Follow the Soprano!

D-090815damrauVerdi’s opera, La Traviata, consistently steals the hearts of millions as we inevitably become entangled  in the complex yet spirited Violetta. As the main character of the opera, we watch as she finds her true love  against all odds only to fall ill and then pass away in his arms. Violetta takes us on her journey of discovery and hope and while singing some of the most melodic arias the opera world has ever known.

Now with new blog series, “Follow the Soprano!” we take you on a journey to follow our own Violetta , Diana Damrau. She is the same soprano that will appear in La Traviata to be performed at Zurich’s Opernhaus during the Smithsonian Journeys Musical Masterpieces tour May 5-13, 2013. The tour will immerse travelers in operas from La Fenice in Venice to La Scala in Milan.

What is Diana’s next role? She will appear at the Metropolitan Opera from January
to April in 2013 starring first as Gilda in Rigoletto  followed by her role as Violetta in
La Traviata – the same role that we will see her in Zurich!

We look forward to watching this superstar in 2013! Her immediate next (and biggest role?)  She will become a mother this month. Stay tuned for more as we follow
our soprano!


Transition of Ownership at ATA


David and Susan Parry sell final shares to Kate Simpson and Chase Poffenberger on January 1, 2012

Washington, DC, December, 2011—Academic Travel Abroad, a 61-year old international travel company that has served the country’s elite non-profit organizations, museums, and universities in operating specialized educational and immersive study abroad programs, will transition to new owners on January, 1, 2012. Long time employees and co-owners Kate M. Simpson and Chase V. Poffenberger will acquire the company’s remaining shares from David and Susan Parry in January 1, 2012.

On staff since the late 1980’s, Simpson and Poffenberger worked with David Parry to ensure the long term stability of the company through diversification of its portfolio. In 1994, ATA acquired CET Academic Programs, a premier study abroad organization. In 2008, the American Museum of Natural History in New York outsourced the management of their travel program (Expeditions) to ATA.  In 2009, the company launched Professionals Abroad to develop and market high quality international professional programs to associations for their members’ career development and continuing education. In addition, the company manages the reservation and customer service centers for National Geographic Expeditions and The American Museum of Natural History’s Expeditions.

Kate Simpson became ATA’s President in 2005. She is involved in all aspects of Academic Travel Abroad’s business, including its study abroad division, CET Academic Programs ( In 2008, she completed a three-year executive education program for owners and presidents at Harvard Business School and holds a degree in East Asian Studies from Yale University. She serves on the Board of Directors of NTA (the nation’s premier tour operator association) and is Vice President of the Board for the Fund for Education Abroad. (

Chase Poffenberger has served as Executive Vice President for the past five years. She oversees ATA’s tour business partnerships with non-profit institutions, as well as its professional delegation division, Professionals Abroad ( Chase also leads ATA’s Sales & Creative team, developing new product and brainstorming new marketing approaches.  Chase completed her MBA at the University of Maryland in 1998 and holds a BA in Chinese Studies from Wellesley College.

David Parry acquired Academic Travel Abroad in 1972 from Fritz Kaufman, an Austrian Jewish refugee who committed to educating Americans about the world after WW2.

During my forty years in travel, I found myself in four or five different businesses as the industry changed. Exciting times! Since Kate and Chase became owners in 2005, they have charted a wise course balancing risk management with innovative new business approaches, and have achieved amazing results, even during an economic downturn. Now I look forward to passing the torch to Kate and Chase to shape the future of ATA,” said Parry. “For my part, I’ll serve happily as a consultant; continue to hike in the Alps and spend more time with my grandchildren!

Academic Travel Abroad, Inc.



Boomers and the future of the travel industry.

It would appear that the troubling economic times we’ve all recently experienced may well be in our rear-view mirrors now, but the road to the top is still steep, and frankly a bit foggy. So what now?

baby boomersWell, welcome to a new market!  A market of boomers seeking out unique travel opportunities in which their sense of independence, desire for immersion, and quest for a deeper sense of cultural education and awareness is in focus. Although boomers may not identify themselves by their given name, they are a distinct market segment that those in the travel industry will want to take heed of.  Those within the designated birth dates between 1946 and 1964 fall into the market-derived name of “Boomers.”  The indicators stress that they are more independent both in thinking and in action.  They seek travel opportunities that offer a unique angle, more cultural immersion, and meet their high demands for value and experience.  Many boomers are already well-traveled and now seek unique destinations, possible “voluntourism” opportunities where their sense of community and altruism can be met with rewarding results.

Our friends at ,, and have recently expressed how boomers seek travel opportunities in a more frugal way then the preceding generations. Focusing more on the value of travel (where cost in not a focus), but where amenities should provide rewarding results.  They seek upscale accommodations, but no longer see the value in extravagancy. Their focus has now shifted to real value.  Instead of just enjoying a rare bottle of wine, they now wish to meet the owners of the vineyard – even have dinner with them even.  Instead of donating their money to a cause, they now seek tangible interaction with those they seek to help.

All this parlays into the fact that those in the travel industry should rekindle their understandings and interpretations of adding true value into their offerings.  Strong amenities, well-appointed accommodations, interaction with locals in given destinations and an educational element can offer a resounding value and mental enrichment to those seeking a true experience abroad.

Group travel can render significant rewards for those seeking to meet new people while absorbing cultural experiences.  This often translates to new friendships among boomers of like interests, further enhancing their desire for connecting with others. Adding an educational element, via an accompanying  tour expert or location historian can bring new appreciations to otherwise mainstay destinations.  These elements remove the “tourist” aspect to travel and brings a deeper focus to interaction and participation while abroad.

So, we at Academic Travel Abroad are eager to hear more!  What do you seek in your travel experiences?  What destinations entice you the most and why?  Tell us more about your travel aspirations and where you find specific value when traveling.  What has been your most rewarding experience so far?

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CET Teams Up with Smithsonian Journeys

Student group in Beijing

Student group in Beijing

CET is excited to announce a new avenue for high school students looking for unique study abroad opportunities for 2010. CET has now teamed up with Smithsonian Journeys and will offer study programs in Spain, Italy, and China for 2010.

CET Academic Programs is a private study abroad organization based in Washington, DC that has been designing and administering innovative educational programs abroad since 1982. CET is known for their high academic standards, innovative approaches to teaching and careful student management. Their programs integrate students into their overseas communities and lead them to create lasting relationships with their local hosts. Staffed by over 40 full-time employees in the US and abroad, CET currently sends around 1000 US students abroad annually.

Smithsonian Journeys will be offering Smithsonian Studies Abroad programs in Italy, Spain, and China summer programs geared specifically to high school students looking to take advantage of the benefits of studying abroad programs.

Students in Avila, Spain

Students in Avila, Spain

These programs will include;

Rigorous courses of study led by highly qualified teaching staff.

All programs feature a language component, cultural explorations, sightseeing, and weekend excursions.

Student accommodations feature modern facilities, internet service, most meals, and a dedicated full-time residential staff.

More about the programs;

• Florence, Italy –Renaissance Treasures

Florence offers an ideal location for students to study Italy’s rich artistic and cultural legacy. Surrounded by brilliant art and architecture, students will be uniquely immersed in contemporary Tuscan life with many opportunities to practice their language skills.

• Avila, Spain – Life in a Medievil Walled City

Located halfway between Madrid and Salamanca, medieval Avila is recognized as one of Spain’s most distinguished centers of learning. Students will strengthen existing Spanish skills during a comprehensive cultural course at the University of Salamanca.

• Beijing, China – The Heart of Imperial and Modern China

The Beijing program focuses on China’s extraordinary past and present. Students will reside at China’s top-rated Capital Normal University, located just outside of Beijing. Students will study Chinese politics, economics, history, and environmental policies, and gain a foundation in Chinese language.

To learn more, visit

Also visit CET’s website to learn more here: