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. Prior to that time she was a consumer lending officer with The Steinbach Credit Union. 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.
Mary Jane has been an active member of ACTA since 1994, and has sat on the Manitoba Regional Council since 2006, in the position of chair since 2010. In 2010 she was selected as the MB Council representative to the ACTA National Board, where she currently serves as Vice-Chair.
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.. Contact Mary Jane
Marilyn Long CTM, Atlantic Regions, ACTA Vice-Chair
Marilyn began her travel career over 30 years ago. In 1993, Marilyn left the travel industry to work with Revenue Canada for 8 years and then returned as Travel Centre Manager of CAA Atlantic in the Charlottetown, PEI. Marilyn has served on the Atlantic CITC Board of Directors as well as a ACTA Atlantic. In 1985, Marilyn received her CTC designation followed by her CTM designation in 2006. She was a co-recipient of The MACGUIRE WAMSLEY AWARD for achieving the highest mark on the Certification Program work paper. Marilyn resides in Charlottetown with her husband, Alan and has 4 grown children and 2 American Cocker Spaniels. Contact Marilyn
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. Contact Michael
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. Contact Louise
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. Contact Liz
Anthony Tonkinson, Alberta/Northwest Territories
DirectorBorn and raised in the UK, Anthony Tonkinson attended the London Hotel School in Chiswick, London before immigrating to Canada in 1967. In 1979, he started his own business and by 1985, he bought and opened a Goliger’s Travel franchise in Calgary with his wife Bev.
Having known each other from the London Hotel School, Michael Broadhurst decided to join Anthony in 1986 in running and building the agency. In 2000, Anthony and Michael moved the business away from the franchise and joined three other agencies to become Vision 2000 Travel Group. They built the agency and in 2010, they had about eighty employees.
In 2010, they merged the agency with an Ontario corporation to form one company with agencies from Ontario to the BC coast with currently five hundred plus employees. Anthony is currently the company's VP of Administration. Anthony brings a wealth of experience to the ACTA Board of Directors, having been involved with many boards including being President of the Squamish (in B.C.) Chamber of Commerce, Chinook Rotary, and the Skål Club of Calgary. He also sat on the SAIT Travel & Tourism Advisory Committee for over twenty years and the ACTA Alberta Council for over 5 years. Contact Anthony
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. Contact Mike
Sharon Kaendo, Saskatchewan Region
Sharon Kaendo opened Leisure Travel 2000 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1998 after a number of years in the travel industry. She and her husband Friets often host cruises and Sharon is a Certified Adventure Travel and Sandals Resorts Specialist. Sharon is involved in various aspects of the travel industry including serving on the Advisory Council for Vacation.com Western Canada, Saskatchewan Council Chair for ACTA, and the National Board of Directors for ACTA. Leisure Travel 2000 is a member of Vacation.com and offers a full range of travel services. Contact Sharon
André Desmarais , Quebec Region
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 an active member of the ACTA Québec council for one year and was recently elected Chair. He has the support of the council behind his nomination to be a member of the national Board of Directors. André believes in ACTA’s strategic plan to represent the travel industry and agencies to government and wholesalers and as a member of the Board of Directors, he will continue ACTA’s mission and work for the best interest of the travel industry. André and the members of the Québec council are strong supporters of education, enhancing the industry’s norm, and also promotion of the importance of the travel agent role for the customer. He believes that we must help our members to be more prepared for all the challenges that occur in this ever-changing industry.
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.
Cyrus K Rustamji CTM, CCTA Representative
Cyrus started in the travel industry in 1983 with Diners Club and has been with UNIGLOBE Premiere Travel since 1989. His travel industry experience spans 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.
Cyrus has acted as account manager for major national corporate accounts with complex travel management requirements. He has actively managed tours and business travel to destinations in North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Africa.
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. Contact Cyrus
Norman Payne, Director
Norman (Norm) Payne’s devotion to Canada's travel industry, especially for the traveling consumer, is equally matched with tangible evidence – right from the start of his career. Scores of letters and testimonials are available from clients and industry personnel that support his impressive level of professionalism.
Graduating from Algonquin College, completing a myriad courses over the years including Certified Travel Consultant (CTC) and Certified Travel Manager (CTM), Norm has earned the Marlin Silver and Golden Globe Award, Thomas Cook President’s Council, American Express Honour Roll and Pacesetter Award, the prestigious American Express President’s Global Award for exemplary Customer Service, ATCO Travel’s highest honour, The President’s Sky Award, Custom Travel's Achievement Award, and the ACTA Atlas Ontario plus the ACTA National award. Norm’s accomplishments have been reported in Ottawa’s major daily newspapers and he has been interviewed by CTV, CBC radio and TV several times. Norm is has also been a professor at Algonquin College for over 17 years.
Norm’s networking proficiency is omnidirectional and he firmly believes in team spirit, having been committed to ACTA and the ACTA Ontario regional Council for about eight years. During his time on council, he has served on several committees and co-operated on many projects. Norm’s dedication continues unabated and it’s this interest and drive, with a cheerful spirit that he wishes to contribute on the ACTA Board of Directors. Contact Norm
Rita Polegri, Director
Rita Polegri has dedicated her career to the travel industry. She is proud to be part of such a dynamic and established business sector, which offers opportunities at many different levels. These opportunities help satisfy the natural curiosities people have and expands one’s universe in various ways. This is the reason Rita stayed in the industry for so many years.
Rita began her career working at Wardair in the public relations department. Having graduated from Ryerson University with a degree in journalism, she wanted to learn as much as she could about the travel industry. Rita’s path took her to the wholesale side where she worked with Sunflight Holidays and Canada 3000 Holidays (C3H). In both companies, she worked in the reservations department and became Reservations Manager at C3H. Rita also worked at Thomas Cook as the Operations Manager of their call center before moving to Transat more than 11 years ago. Her current role is that of Director Operations and Member Services, Ontario and Atlantic Canada for Transat Distribution Canada. Rita considers this her most satisfying role by far as she can delve into the “business” of travel and not only the travel business.
Rita considers herself to be recognized as being fair, knowledgeable and a straight shooter. Her passion for the industry has never been questioned and she tries her best to properly represent the hard work everyone puts into making this a great business to be associated with. Contact Rita