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.

spanning-the-globe

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 (http://www.fundforeducationabroad.org/) benefited from Team CET’s run in the Cherry Blossom 10K in the spring.

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

giving-back

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.

Dave-Parry-Birthday

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!

holiday-season

Happy Holidays!
CHASE
Chase Poffenberger
Executive Vice President

Happy Quinquatrus!

Minerva_courtesy_of_VromaToday on the Ancient Roman calendar marks the Quinquatrus – a celebration of Minerva.  It is especially appropriate then to celebrate her here at Academic Travel Abroad where we offer educational tours and study abroad experiences because Minerva was a goddess of learning and scholars.

The festival commemorating Minerva continued in Rome for five days. The first and most important day, was the consecration of her temple on the Aventine and the following days consisted of gladiatorial contests, a display of wild animals,  plays, orators, poets, and the consultation of fortune tellers.

Make sure to wish your teachers a very happy Quinquatrus today!

Friends, Romans, Countrymen…Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentineanddisciples

Do you know the roots of Valentine’s Day come from Rome?  There are lots of stories surrounding the origin of this day but one thing that we know for sure is that  Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine disagreed and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. 

While the roots of this holiday are shrouded in conflict, this holiday has become symbolic of love, romance, and appreciation of those special in our lives.  Happy Valentine’s Day from ATA!

Transition of Ownership at ATA

ACADEMIC TRAVEL ABROAD, INC TRANSITIONS TO NEW OWNERS

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 (www.cetacademicprograms.com). 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. (www.fundforeducationabroad.org).

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 (www.professionalsabroad.org). 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.

 

 

Memories of Greece Amongst the Snow

Walking about through the slushy sidewalks and salt-ridden streets of Washington, DC this time of year makes me nostalgic of the time I spent in Greece a year or so ago.

For every chilled passer-by here wrapped in woolen scarves and fleeced ear muffs I think of the locals walking the inner streets in the town of Mykonos, dressed in their traditional island attire, making their way to the local baker for their loaf of bread.

For every chain restaurant franchisee I pass by from the metro station to the office, I think of the local Greek cafe’s, serving local delights, lining the edges of the islands small inner harbor, in which the colorful local fisherman’s boats bob up and down in the warm Aegean waters.

For every chunk of rippled ice I see float by in the Potomac along the shores of the Mall, I think of warm breezes blowing across our ship bow as we sailed out of the caldera cliffs of Santorini.  The white-washed towns along the caldera’s edges almost appearing like snow-capped peaks rising against a deep blue sky.

Sitting at my desk, occasionally peering out the window over the street below takes me back to walking atop the Acropolis in Athens, and being both amazed of the view and absorbing the historical background of the fortified perch I stood upon.

It’s the brisk winter days like these in Washington, DC that make my mind wander back to Greece and the amazing vistas, warm sun upon my back, and the cultural richness that is,… well,  one of my favorite places to be.

Kalispera!

Launching AuthentiCity: Behind the Scenes

AuthentiCity Travel logo

www.authenticitytravel.com

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do otherwise …” – Rahm Emanuel

When Rahm Emanuel uttered these words in late 2008 at the height of the financial crisis, we were watching the travel industry go into a dramatic free fall, as consumers faced great uncertainty and cancelled or postponed their travel plans.

We braced ourselves for a tough 2009 season as we had done many times before during times of volatility. But this time, we took a bigger step. We innovated! Over the course of several months, our team of incurable explorers traveled, researched, brainstormed and finally conceived of a fresh, immersive travel concept for an independent-minded, well-traveled traveler called AuthentiCity!

We kept hearing that travelers wanted to experience an international destination as authentically as possible, but they were missing the tools to do so. Now, we have solved that with AuthentiCity!

In 2011, AuthentiCity programs will debut in Athens, Beijing, Cairo and Siena with over 15 departures. Travelers will be sure catch their breath and have their breath taken away over the course of 12 to 14 days. They will live like the locals in their neighborhoods, markets, and squares. They will enjoy unhurried itineraries where they’ll have unprecedented access to places and people not found in any guidebook, learn some language, and savor deliciously-prepared cuisine—the very essence of AuthentiCity and the heart of our motto, “Travel Deeper.”

Please visit www.authenticitytravel.com to read about the details of these new trips!

Chase Poffenberger

Executive Vice President
Academic Travel Abroad