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Dr. Carson Watt
Dr. Watt is a Professor Emeritus of Texas A&M University in the Dept. of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences. He spent his academic career assisting the citizens of the state of Texas develop tourism and recreational opportunities working for Texas Cooperative Extension. Dr. Watt spent his entire career working to grow tourism and help rural communities to be sustainable throughout the U.S. In 2002 Dr. Watt was recognized by Governor Perry and the Texas State Legislature in Senate Proclamation No. 809 for 31 years of service and contributions to the tourism industry for the people of the state of Texas.
Dr. Rick Giardino
Dr. Giardino is the founder of Camp Planet Earth, an academic outward bound-type of environmental camp for middle and junior high minority students. His professional career has focused on studying the changing surface of Earth through extensive field work and the use of satellite imagery and GIS. His experiences range from the Canadian and European arctic to the tropical regions of Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia and the arid regions of the Middle East. Through his research he has been involved in the search for Columbus’s caravels in Jamaica, studies of rainforest deforestation in Sumatra, and sustainability of national parks in Africa. He designed the interpretative galleries of Victoria Falls for the Livingstone Museum in Zambia. Giardino is a prolific writer of scientific papers and books. His most recent book is a co-authored volume, Water for Texas (2004). Giardino is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (F.R.G.S.). He is Professor of Geology & Geophysics and Geography; he presently is Dean of Graduate Studies at Texas A&M University.
Dr. Joseph O’Leary
Joseph T. O’Leary is a Professor and Department Head in the Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M University. He arrived at Texas A&M in July 2001. His graduate degrees are from the University of Washington and Yale University. He is on the Board of Directors for the Bryan/College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau, a Board Member with the Texas Travel Industry Association, and was Program Chair for the 2004 International Travel and Tourism Research Association meetings in Montreal. His research has involved knowledge management, and analysis of large national and international studies of travel and recreation behavior, the results of which have been used by public and private organizations throughout the world.
Jose M. Quintana – President & Chairman of the Board
Mr. Quintana has a wealth of start-up experience. As a lifelong entrepreneur, he has started several successful companies and has acted as consultant to many of the world’s top corporations including Nokia, Sprint, Qualcomm, Frito-Lay, Schering-Plough, Disney, Lockheed, Sun Microsystems, Verizon and Novartis International. He is an active board member of Global Knowledge Group, PowerKids, The Texas Lyceum Association, Westcar Consulting Group, and The Research Valley Technology Alliance (RVTA). Mr Quintana is also proud to serve as Advisory Council Member at the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), a Texas A&M University System Agency.
JD Salinas – Managing Partner
JD Salinas is a lifelong public servant, having provided leadership at the local level as County Judge of Hidalgo County, Texas, and at the federal level as Regional Administrator for the GSA’s Greater Southwest Region. He has an exceptional understanding of local, state and federal issues that impact both local governments and businesses and is known for reinventing government and leveraging innovations through keen analysis. Mr. Salinas builds successful relationships among key stakeholders and partners in order to encourage economic growth and community prosperity.
Joan Quintana – Managing Partner
Joan Quintana specializes in providing support to small and medium sized communities and businesses seeking to grow and contribute to a strong economy. Joan has provided marketing, communications and strategy development expertise to help form sound economic strategies for communities throughout Texas. As the Director of Economic Innovation for the Texas Engineering Extension Service, Joan shaped the economic development and market intelligence services programs for communities and businesses throughout the State of Texas.
Cassidy Barton – Director of Community Development
Cassidy Barton serves our AdventGX team as the Director of Community Development. She has served as a key member in the creation of the SEAD Gallery and SEAD Academy. Cassidy has particular expertise in cultural and heritage experience creation and facilitation of public/private partnerships. Cassidy has extensive knowledge of arts and culture as a foundation for local economic and community development, having contributed to the formation and implementation of programs and venues downtown such as Texas Reds, Lights On, First Friday and Art Step during her time as Executive Director of the Downtown Bryan Association.
Rodrigo Chavez – Lead Capital Consultant
Rodrigo serves as the Director of Capitol at AdventGX, bringing his financial expertise to everything from technology start-up companies to community-wide economic development programs. Rodrigo is a former Senior Operations, Finance and Grants Manager on a $40 million program for USAID in Central America. Mr. Chavez previously worked for eight years as a Consultant and then as the Country Office Administrative Manager for the Inter American Development Bank. As a Consultant, Rodrigo contributed in the elaboration and management of many Multi-Sector Technical Cooperation and Loans in excess of $35 million for Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Rodrigo also had over a decade of experience in Agribusiness and Financial Business Management, as Director and General Manager. Rodrigo has a Masters of Economics and Agricultural Business Administration from Texas A&M University- Universidad del Valle deGuatemala.
Dr. J. Warren Evans – Director, Strategic Initiatives
Dr. Warren Evans has served as Assistant Vice Chancellor of Agriculture for Resource Development at Texas A&M University since the early 1990s. He has had responsibility for development of resources for agriculture research and teaching programs and corporate relationships. Prior to 1985, he served as Assistant Dean in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at the University of California, Davis. During his career, he has served as a director or on advisory boards for various types of entities including banking, equine, professional societies and nonprofit foundations. In many of these organizations, he has held leadership positions and been honored for his service. He has been an international consultant for the past 30 years. Throughout his career, he has been involved in equine related tourism. He has led tours in Russia and Morocco. For several years in the high Sierras of California, he taught horse and mule packing and outfitting for wilderness adventures.
Victor Aguilar – Director, Financial Services & Emerging Markets
Victor Aguilar is a former financial advisor and trust officer. He provided financial services to private and institutional investors seeking expertise in wealth management, real estate investments, insurance, and trust administration. Victor previously worked for Stanford Financial Group, JP Morgan Chase and Merrill Lynch as a financial advisor with an active portfolio of new business in excess of 40 million for US and Latin American clients. He previously held the position of Agricultural Specialist for the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) a USDA Agency at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala. Victor served as member of the board of directors for Sending Out Servants, a Texas non-profit dedicated to improving the Maya quality of life in Guatemala. He holds a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Economics and a Bachelor’s Degree in Agronomy, both from Texas A&M University.
Executive Advisory Board/Consultants
Dr. Ulrike Gretzel
Dr. Ulrike Gretzel is an Associate Professor and Director of the Laboratory for Intelligent Systems in Tourism (LIST) in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M University. She received her Ph.D. in Communications from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and holds a Masters degree in International Business from the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. Her research focuses on persuasion in human-technology interaction, experience design, use of technology for interpretation, adoption and use of social media, interorganizational information systems, and other issues related to the development and use of intelligent systems in tourism. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Park Service, TripAdvisor, the Bush Presidential Library and Museum, and a number of national, regional and local tourism organizations in North America, Europe and Asia. Dr. Gretzel is an external lecturer at MODUL University, Austria and a Visiting Principal Fellow at the University of Wollongong, Australia. She is also the editor of the e-Review of Tourism Research.
Commander Douglas A. Johnson
Commander Johnson has broad experience in food safety, industrial hygiene, regulatory compliance, medical physics and radiation safety. He was the first manager of the National Center for Electron Beam Research and a former member of the American National Standards Institute for Laser Safety. He has over 30 years in the Navy and Navy Reserve and is a retired Commander, Medical Service Corps. Commander Johnson has served as an intelligence analyst in Europe, and as a problem solver he has been dispatched to operational, repair and medical commands to evaluate and recommend corrective actions in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Doug has a Master’s degree in nuclear engineering and is the VP of product development for the Patria Group, a start-up business involving technology innovations in emergency response. Doug has widely consulted and trained on environmental problems including deep-sea research and radiation issues. He is a Texas registered sanitarian and licensed as a medical physicist currently serving as governor’s appointee and vice chair of the Medical Physics Board.
Brian Hickert – Director, Process Improvement and International Trade
Mr. Hickert holds a BS in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University and a MBA in Executive Management from the Monterrey Institute of Technology. Offering 11 years in managing regional P&L, strategy planning and multi-site operations combined with 8 years in strategic program/project management and process improvement initiatives for organizations with $28 million to $900 million in annual revenue and up to 450 employees. Extensive international experience establishing branches, joint ventures, relationships and contractors in Mexico, Canada, Central America and Asia Pacific.
Stan Meador – Director, Nature Tourism Development
Stan Meador is the Director of Nature Tourism Development for AdventGX Corp. and founder and general manager of the recreational division on his family’s five-generation X Bar Ranch near Eldorado, Texas. He has a BA in public relations and marketing from Texas Tech University with an emphasis on international marketing. Stan’s involvement in numerous associations and boards includes the Texas Travel Industry Association, chairman of the Texas Nature Tourism Council, the Texas Tourism Foundation, the Texas Mountain Bike Racers Association, Images for Conservation Fund, the Texas Forts Trail, Texas Agriculture Lifetime Leadership (TALL), & the Southwest Texas Tourism Partnership, among others. He is frequently invited to speak to groups on topics related to nature and rural tourism and ranch diversification through sustainable means; he has also acted as a consultant to landowners and institutions.
Brian Smith is a licensed attorney in the State of Texas and a Certified Economic Developer. He currently serves as a Government Affairs Representative for such clients as Texas Association of Public Educators Interlocal Agreement Self-Insurance League, and Texas Association of Political Subdivisions Interlocal Agreement Self-Insurance League. In this capacity, he provides legislative support for the roughly 110 member school districts and 93 member political subdivisions. He also represents developers before local governmental bodies across the state with permitting, land use, and other ordinance compliance matters. Prior to entering law school on a full time basis, Brian volunteered his time and expertise as a member of economic development professional organizations including Texas Economic Development Council, American Economic Development Council, the International Development Research Council, and the Texas Municipal League, Regulation of Development Committee. He is also an alumni director with the Texas Lyceum. Brian is a graduate of St. Mary’s University School of Law and has a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning and Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Development from Texas A&M University.
Jed Elrod has served 5 years as Pecos County’s Ag & Natural Resources Agent dealing with myriad responsibilities for agriculture and community development. Prior to his involvement with Pecos County, he worked more than 13 years as a Specialist for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) dealing with wildlife and range resource policy analysis and conflict arbitration. Mr. Elrod has also worked with Tide Products, Inc, the Texas Department of Transportation, USDA Soil Conservation Service, the USDI Bureau of Land Management Young Adult Conservation Corps, and Farm Credit System. Mr. Elrod graduated from Texas A&M University in 1973, and received his Masters degree in Range Animal Science in 1975.
Hank Phillips is a noted travel industry executive, having served as chief staff officer for the National Tour Association, and executive vice president of Host Communications, Inc., a national leader in association management and collegiate sports marketing. He specializes in strategic planning, convention & event planning and execution, corporate partnership & sponsorship marketing, and fundraising, tourism development and publishing. Since founding Phillips Consulting in 2006, some of Hank’s clients have included the American Tourism Society, GE Money, the International Tour Management Institute, and Paintsville Tourism Commission. Paintsville is home to Butcher Hollow, the childhood home of Loretta Lynn which was made famous by the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter. A thought leader in tourism development, Hank was instrumental in the formation of Tourism Cares, an organization that supports the preservation and restoration of important historical, natural and cultural sites around the world. He is a writer and columnist, having contributed to Business Lexington and The Group Travel Leader and is a Certified Tour Professional. Hank has served on the board of directors of Tourism Cares, the Travel Industry Association and is a former member of the American Society of Association Executives and the Travel Industry Association Travel & Tourism Coalition.
Dr. Salih Yurttas
Doctor Salih Yurttas holds a PhD in Computer Science from Ege University, Turkey. He has been on the faculty of Texas A&M University, Department of Computer Science 1982-1991 as Visiting Assistant Professor and 1991 to present day as Senior Lecturer. He taught undergraduate and graduate courses at Texas A&M, Turkey, and People’s Republic of China. His main interest is Programming Languages Design and Implementation for Large-Scale software development. He has developed reusable, modular language collections in Ada, C++, Java, and several imperative languages.
Dr. Jim Kimmel
Dr. Kimmel focuses on the learning/educational activities of tourism (interpretation). He is certified by the National Association for Interpretation as an Interpretive Guide, an Interpretive Trainer, and an Interpretive Planner. He provides full service interpretive development, from comprehensive planning to the development of specific interpretive programs and staff training. He holds graduate degrees in both the natural and social sciences. He has conducted work for the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority; the Texas Historical Commission; the Texas Department of Transportation; Bandera County, Texas; various rural communities; and large ranches. Interpretation is crucial to tourism development because it often is the main tangible product. Virtually any place can be made interesting to visitors if it is interpreted effectively.