TTC’s ‘Core Four’

The so-called ‘Core Four’ are the individuals responsible for most of the day-to-day operations of TTC, working in partnership with the Ambassadors and Advisors in implementing TTC’s strategic plans and goals.


Jake Haupert | Co-Founder

Jake has a deep appreciation for the power of travel and its ability to incite change by breaking down the walls within and between us. He brings his unique qualities, genuine personality, big heart, and an unquenchable thirst for the unknown into his work, his professional expression. As an inspirational agent of change, Jake calls on the modern art of ancient travel to raise consciousness and bring about peace, unity, love, and equality. 

Michael Bennett, Ed.D. | Co-Founder

Michael is a traveler, coach, educator, speaker, and accidental entrepreneur who founded Muddy Shoe Adventures in 2012 to help others use travel to bring more purpose, passion, and meaning to their lives. His doctoral dissertation explored transformational learning through adventure travel. He is now the Chief Adventure Officer @ Explorer X.

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Birgit Mohrmann | Community Building Guru & Writer

Birgit joined Ultimate Safaris in 2014 as Sales & Marketing Director. A 4th generation Namibian, she knows first-hand the incredible power that travel  has on travelers and the communities they visit. Birgit's infectious enthusiasm and commitment to the preservation of the environment are just part of what make her so special. 


Eric Rupp | Business Ops & Lead Author of the Journal

The General Manager at Evergreen Escapes, Eric’s wanderlust, thirst for knowledge, penchant for insight, and deep love of design have resulted in a delightfully abstract resume that includes Directorship of a Bolivian University, missile propulsion design for the Department of Defense, and bartending in Greece.  

TTC Advisors

Advisors support TTC by offering experience, guidance, wisdom, and perspective to our strategic direction and plans.

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Don Mankin, Ph.D. | Co-Founder & Advisor

Don is an intrepid explorer and author of the critically acclaimed book Riding the Hulahula to the Arctic Ocean. Don’s award-winning travel writing, appearing regularly in the Huffington Post and his Adventure Geezer blog, explores his travels to the far corners of the earth. Don earned a Ph.D. in Psychology from Johns Hopkins University.


Kurt Kutay | Co-Founder & Advisor

Founder, President & CEO of Wildland Adventures, Kurt is a travel industry pioneer. He has served on many professional boards and conservation organizations including The International Ecotourism Society and the ATTA. Kurt wrote a chapter on adventure travel for Fodor's guide books and has written numerous articles on ecotourism. 


Norie Quintos | Advisor

Norie is a communications consultant who helps destinations and travel companies find and tell their authentic stories. She is an Editor-at-Large for National Geographic Travel Media, the former executive editor of NatGeo Traveler, and an AdventureEDU educator. She 'grams and tweets @noriecicerone. Learn more about Norie's work by visiting her website:


Gordon Hempton | Advisor

Gordon, known as the Sound Tracker ®, is an acoustic ecologist and Emmy award–winning sound recordist. For 35+ years, his sound portraits have recorded vanishing natural soundscapes. They have been featured in People magazine and a PBS documentary, Vanishing Dawn Chorus. Hempton is subject of a feature film, Soundtracker, and co-author of One Square Inch of Silence: One Man’s Quest to Preserve Quiet. He is Founder and Vice President of The One Square Inch of Silence Foundation and Quiet Planet®.

Brian T. Mullis | Advisor

Brian is an advisor, guide, and social entrepreneur working at the intersection of sustainable development, conservation, and tourism. As Founder and former CEO of Sustainable Travel International, Brian has helped advance sustainability within the travel and tourism sector. Other past leadership positions include the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board for the Department of Commerce and the World Economic Forum's Future of Travel and Tourism Council.

Katherine Droga | Advisor

Katherine is passionate about the transformational effect travel can have for people and planet. Her consultancy firm, Droga & Co., specializes in strategy creation, refinement, and new business development for destinations and tourism experiences worldwide. Katherine previously worked for Tourism Australia, where she led international operations, distribution platforms, and partnerships for over a decade. Katherine has extensive experience in both tourism development and promotion.

TTC Ambassadors

Ambassadors represent TTC in their respective destinations by spreading the word about transformational travel, speaking at conferences on behalf of TTC, and inviting travelers and those within the travel industry to join the movement!

Maria Baltazzi | North America Ambassador

Maria Baltazzi is traveler, long distance walker, and TV show producer. She was one of the original producers of Survivor. Maria's most recent adventure has been founding Sojourn Explorers, where she curates adventures throughout the world that have a fundraising component to them – proceeds from each trip go to one of several nonprofit partners. 

Jennine Cohen | North America Ambassador

Jennine Cohen is a trusted luxury and adventure travel expert, speaker and coach. She’s frequently called upon as a media source and has been quoted in Travel & Leisure, Afar, Conde Nast Traveler, Vogue, YahooTravel, Fortune, Forbes, ABC, CBS, and numerous trade publications. These days, she’s the Managing Director of the Americas at GeoEx.

Raj Joshi, M.D. | European Ambassador & Research Guru

Raj is an Expedition Leader that has led numerous expeditions worldwide, including high profile media projects. He embraces the power of travel in developing human interaction with people and cultures. Raj has climbed the highest mountain on every continent and believes that everyone needs their own ‘Everest’ to create change both within the inner self and in greater society. With his expertise in expeditionary environments and through his company The Adventure Boutique, Raj inspires and challenges people to transform through adventure.


Elyse Mailhot | Canada Ambassador

Combining a passion for adventure travel and 25+ years of travel industry experience in integrative marketing with a large database of industry leaders and media globally, Elyse has worked with some of Canada’s most innovative tourism organizations. Her career took a turn following a hiking trip and Antarctic cruise. Transformational adventures as such have shaped Elyse’s life and career. She left a lucrative job to start her own adventure travel PR consultancy, EM Adventure Marketing, and has not looked back since.

Nigel Malone | Australia Ambassador

With 20+ years in the marketing and design industries, Nigel brings significant experience and insight to the table. His credits include rebranding three World-Heritage listed sites and assisting the Yolngu Aboriginal people of North East Arnhem Land develop cultural tourism businesses. A qualified Sea Kayaking Instructor, avid climber, and serial rescue dog adopter, Nigel’s current enterprise is the Adventure Junky App, earth’s sustainable travel game.

Jorge Perez  | South America Ambassador

Jorge is the founder and owner of Tierra del Volcan, an eco-tourism, family, and adventure travel company based in Ecuador that offers legendary moments and promotes adrenaline-fueled conservation. With 20+ years of experience in conservation and the travel industry, Jorge is a pioneer on private land conservation. He is also the former president of ASEC, (Ecuador Ecotourism Association).


Stine Selmer Andersen | Nordic Ambassador

Besides being a passionate traveler and tourism nerd, Stine has worked with and specialized in sustainable destination development in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland. She has been in charge of not only marketing and relationship management – but most importantly engaging the local businesses in working together to create a more attractive destination based on transformational products and multidisciplinary collaborations. This has given her vivid experience in relationship management, business and destination development, public speaking and  most importantly facilitation workshops and development projects. Stine is now a consultant at Visit Greenland.


David Benitez | Outreach & MICE Manager

David is a very passionate on business interactions through designed, humane, and authentic event formats! In 2015, he founded CoCoA, a B2B experimental marketing events consultation company that provide designed programs in the business events world. CoCoA  also partners with Mindmeeting to provide event content design and empower desired audience behavioral changes through tailored made moderation and facilitation of the event program. Previously, David successfully launched the award-winning educational summits “IBTM Talks” with Reed Travel Exhibitions. He has experience in launching and Project Managing “Evento Days,” the leading events industry exhibition in Spain.

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Chloe Lauer | Curriculum Development Manager

Chloé is pioneering the #transformationaltravel movement and is at the forefront of bringing personal evolution through self-directed adventure to everyone. She created the world’s first course on Transformational Travel, supporting people as they embark on their inner journeys, no matter where they are -- at home or abroad. An adventurer since 18, she has solo-traveled to 59 countries and completed a 10,000-mile, 100-day road trip across the USA and back. A former “doer,” travel worked its transformational magic on Chloé, inviting her to “be” in the moment, trust the world, and feel at home with herself — wherever she is!

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Samantha Hardcastle | Marketing Manager

Samantha is the founder of Amore Social, a marketing communications agency focused on furthering transformative travel. She consults with destinations and tourism organizations, supporting them in elevating their experience to match the extensively researched motivations and desires of travelers worldwide. Samantha draws on her own passion for exploring the world through cultural cuisine, music & theater, artisan design & crafts, and her undeniable magnetism towards nature & wildlife to bring fresh ideas to travel providers.


Mona Lewicka | Ally Program Manager

Bio Coming Soon!