Meet Our Team
Every single person on our team - from travel agent to tour group leader - has a keen sensitivity to the needs of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They appreciate how important Trips Inc. adventures are to our travelers!
Jim Peterson - President & Founder
Jim with a traveler at the Camping trip in Oregon
In 1982, Jim Peterson M.S., the president and founder of Trips Inc., was caring for Trent, a young man with cerebral palsy. Although there were “local” camps and destinations to visit, Jim quickly realized there was little opportunity for people with intellectual & developmental disabilities to experience the wide world of travel. More important, there was no inspiration to travel beyond one’s own backyard! This discovery altered the course of Jim’s life. Originally from Maryland, he completed his undergraduate work at Georgetown University, and earned a Masters degree in Special Education at the University of Oregon. He later became the director of residential programs for adults with developmental disabilities in both Oregon and California.
Jim’s dream to create a business where ALL people have access to travel came true in 1991 when he started Trips Inc. Special Adventures. Thirteen years running, Trips Inc. has won the Community Partner award from the ARC “in recognition of business partnership that benefits people with developmental disabilities.” In 2010 Jim won the prestigious Lisl Waechter award “in recognition of outstanding service and dedication to people with developmental disabilities in Lane County.” Jim has also been named the Direct Service Provider of the Year “for exemplary skills in working with people with developmental disabilities.”
Staff & Tour Leaders
Our chaperones and tour leaders excel at creating special bonds with travelers that result in a sense of warmth and belonging. And they all know how to dance!
Our professional tour leaders all have extensive training and experience in special education, first aid, and travel. Our chaperones are school teachers, counselors, residential care providers and other caring individuals. They help travelers with their medications (if required), budgeting their spending money, and personal care. They are especially attentive to the countless logistics and tiny details involved in traveling with those with developmental disabilities.
Our average staffing ratio is one chaperone for every three or four travelers.
Leslie Peterson - Executive Director/Tour Group Leader
Leslie and Leroy at the Dude Ranch. This was his 11th vacation to the ranch!
Leslie came to Trips Inc. after working eleven years at the Bureau of Labor & Industries as a Senior Civil Rights Investigator. She has a broad knowledge of disability laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act. She has her Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture & Allied Arts from the University of Oregon.
Leslie started at Trips Inc. as the communications director in March 2005. In 2014 she took over the
position of Executive Director. She is involved in everything from creating the Trips Inc. brochures, to managing the volunteer chaperone program, as well as promoting the growth and development of Trips Inc. Leslie has chaperoned and led many trips but has an attachment to one in particular--Dude Ranch! She has made lifelong friends with several of our travelers and keeps in touch with them outside of work.
Leslie has her mediation certification that she has used to volunteer for a community mediation service, and as a mediation trainer for students at her son's school. She strongly believes in the importance of giving back to the community and has been a mentor for a big brother/big sister program, Committed Partner's For Youth, as well as being involved in several project that support the homeless. Leslie is an accomplished martial artist and a volunteer instructor for Warrior Sisters Society, a non-profit group that provides free reality-based self defense for women.
Leslie's free time is spent with her two sons, Caleb (17) and Sage (13). Both boys have participated in the camping trip for many years, but can't wait for the day they can be official Trips Inc. chaperones!
Rhonda Reed - Travel and Accounting Manager/Tour Group Leader
Rhonda & a traveler in Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Rhonda, our travel and accounting manager, has over 27 years experience in the travel industry. She has a certificate in travel agency operations, and a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. Rhonda is a certified airline reporting corporation (ARC) specialist and responsible for the extremely complex task of booking all the various components of our vacations as well as being the lead accountant for the business.
Since coming to Trips Inc. in 1998, Rhonda has led/chaperoned over 30 trips including Scotland, England, Germany, Austria, Italy, Ireland, Greece, New Zealand, Russia, Portugal, Scandinavia and France.
Rhonda believes traveling is a way to enhance a person's independence and personal growth. Traveling with our groups gives an opportunity to make new friends and she has found our travelers are the best ambassadors at the international destinations!
We also want to recognize Rhonda for her devotion to homeless animals in our community. She received her certification as a dog trainer with Animal Behavior College and has started her own business called Canine Miracle Rescue!
Julia Duke - Community Outreach Specialist/Tour Group Leader
Julia and a traveler on the Hawaii Cruise!
Julia is our amazing community outreach specialist and tour group leader. She has been with Trips Inc. for 6 years & presents the benefits of travel to groups of people all over the country!
Julia comes from a family of human service professionals and began learning about physical & developmental disabilities at a very young age. She has done a psych internship focusing on PTSD and social anxiety, as well as respite care for children with aspergers and autism. Julia worked as a care provider through Full Access Brokerage for over three years.
Julia's degree psychology degree came from the University of Oregon, but she has participated in many study abroad programs including the University Per Stranieri in Peruguia, Italy; the University of Puerto Rico; as well as a work study volunteer program in Croatia. She is also quite the linguist speaking Spanish, Italian, and sign language!
Julia believes that travel is important for everyone! Outside of all her Trips Inc. adventures, she still seeks out travel, including backpacking through Peru & Columbia in South America, and recently honeymooned in Southern Argentina and Chile.
Julia's zest for life and travel are contagious. Everyone that meets her is inspired to seek out their own adventure!
Susan Cernik - Office Manager/Chaperone
Susan with a traveler at Knott's Berry Farm!
Susan is the newest member of the
Trips Inc. family! She brings over 21
years experience working in customer service.
She is a University of Oregon
graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture & Allied Arts.
Her first introduction to Trips was
through her cousins, Bob and Gerald Lockman, who have been traveling with Trips
Inc. since 1994. Her love for travel comes from her mother who spent over
twenty years as a trip leader for a senior center.
Susan’s an experienced equestrian and
has been riding & jumping horses since she was 16 years old. She has volunteered her time with Pony Club,
taught riding lessons, rode on the University of Oregon equestrian team, and
groomed for a rider on the 2012 Olympic Team!
Susan’s favorite travel destination
is Hawaii and she is looking forward to chaperoning and getting to know all of
our special travelers!
Anna Scheri - Photo Manager/Chaperone
Anna with a traveler in Hawaii
Anna started at Trips Inc. in 2011 after spending two years in Europe traveling and working as a nanny for a family with four children in Holland. During her travels in Europe she also did work exchanges on farms and hostels. Her two favorite countries were Greece and Portugal (both places Trips Inc. travels to!)
Anna has chaperoned several trips and is loved by all. She has fun in everything she does! At the office, Anna creates photo albums for each traveler that comes back from their trip. She has a lot of passion and experience in photography and does a wonderful job putting together lasting memories for each and every traveler. In addition, she does the drives to and from the Portland airport for our travelers in Oregon.
Prior to her traveling adventures, she worked as a care provider for Full Access Brokerage supporting folks with intellectual disabilities in her community. The thing she likes best about working with people with special needs is finding common ground to relate on, and being able to share in their experiences and perceptions of the world.
Fun Fact: She is the sister to Julia!
David Robinson - Tour Group Leader
David with a traveler in San Diego
David is another one of our outstanding leaders. He has been with Trips Inc. more years than we can remember. What is memorable is that he also volunteers in Africa on medical missions! He is an excellent cook and a private caterer in Portland, Oregon, as well as an animal lover.
David is one of the most caring individuals that we know, and if you are lucky enough to have him as your tour group leader, we are sure you will agree with us!
Kim Ostberg - Tour Group Leader
Kim and traveler in Disney World!
Kim Ostberg has worked for Trips Inc. for over 20 years and is an outstanding Tour Group Leader and definite favorite of the travelers. Kim has been an adult foster care provider for many years and has over 23 years experience in the field of developmental disabilities. She has also been a long term care provider through Full Access Brokerage.
Kim recently started her own business called P.E.A.C.E. (Peer Empowerment And Community Experiences) that supports people with intellectual disabilities in Lane County, Oregon. Her business helps people to build skills and enhance their lives through fun activities.
Kim is a true horse lover as well as a duck lover--the University of Oregon Ducks, that is!
Ed Wanner - Tour Group Leader
Ed and a traveler in Alaska
Ed Wanner loves to travel! When Ed, a Community Employment Manager for Mid-Valley Rehabilitation in McMinnville, Oregon, heard that Trips Inc. was looking for chaperones, he and his wife, Cheryl, applied and soon they were off to Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth. Ed and Cheryl have put together local excursions to sporting events and theater plays, so they find it a pleasure to work with Trips Inc. having them handle all the details! Ed says, “Trips Inc. knows how to do vacations right, and they always have that little extra that makes it special!”
Ed’s interest in sports and people lead him to coach golf and basketball with Special Olympics for the past six years. He looks forward to having enough athletes to field a baseball team, his favorite sport.
In addition to traveling, Ed spends a week in the summer as a counselor at Royal Family Kids Camp, a program designed for foster and abused youth. Ed and Cheryl also bring their vacation experiences to their home by hosting foreign exchange students from places such as Japan, Korea, and Germany—which, of course, are places they hope to travel in the future!
Danell Boggs - Tour Group Leader
Danell with travelers in Hawaii
Danell has been chaperoning and leading trips since the 1990's. She is also well known at Trips Inc. as one of the most beloved tour group leaders by both the travelers and the chaperones who work with her!
Danell is employed by Tillamook Family Counseling Center as a case manager in Tillamook, Oregon where she lives with her three children, one of whom has special needs. She also worked at the same agency in the capacity of an abuse investigator.
In 2011 she became the Mayor of her home city, Rockaway Beach, Oregon! In addition to all of that, she has returned to school to pursue her masters degree in special education!
Tracey Henshen - Tour Group Leader
Tracey & a traveler in Disneyland!
Tracey has worked for Trips Inc. since 1999. She has an extensive background in volunteer work in the community including working with people with intellectually & developmentally disabilities through the Arc of Lane County.
In 2009 Tracey became a certified Airline Reporting Corporation (ARC) specialist. She has demonstrated comprehensive knowledge of ARC procedures and a commitment to professionalism in the travel industry. Tracey has chaperoned/led more than 28 trips. She currently works as a special education classroom assistant for the Springfield, Oregon School District.
In 2014 Tracey accomplished a lifelong goal and ran a half marathon! Tracey has to keep up with her son Cody, a very busy 9 year old!
Steve Shearer - Tour Group Leader
Steve and a traveler in Hawaii
Steve has been traveling with Trips Inc. since 1999 when he was working in Europe and was able to join the group as a chaperone in Scotland.
Steve has a Bachelors of Arts from the School of Music at Pacific Lutheran University in Washington. For the last 25 years, he has worked as a computer network engineer. Steve is also the I.T. support person for Trips Inc. and keeps us up and running on all the technical aspects of the business!
Steve enjoys taking the time off from machines and getting back to the joy of living with the Trips Inc. adventures. Steve says, "From Scotland and Disneyland, to camping and the dude ranch, there is always an adventure waiting; new friends to make, places to learn about and enjoy!"
Amy Mohler - Tour Group Leader
Amy with travelers on the Skydeck in Chicago!
Amy became a chaperone with Trips Inc. in early 2009 after some of her clients went on a trip. She has been working in the field for about 10 years and says she can't believe she gets paid to have a lot of fun with a lot of special people from all walks of life, with vast variations in abilities!
Amy has a tremendous amount of energy! Part of what she does includes the following:
• Special education (k-12)
• Advocate & caregiver - vocational support & assistance with self care & daily activities
• Respite care for severe/profoundly disabled kids
• Young Life leader - Capernaum branch for kids with disabilities
• Volunteer with Outdoors for All & other recreational organizations
• Coach for Special Olympics swim team
• Chaperone & Tour Group Leader for Trips Inc every chance she gets!
"I can't say enough good things about what a wonderful company Trips Inc. is and the amazing opportunities it gives to so many people! These quotes embody WHY I do it all:"
"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness." Declaration of Independence
"Our inner strengths, experiences and truths cannot be lost, destroyed or taken away. Every person has inborn worth and can contribute to the human community. We all can treat one another with dignity and respect, provide opportunities to grow towards out fullest potential, and help one another discover and develop our unique gifts. We each deserve this and can extend it to others." Mark Twain
Kim Dunn - Tour Group Leader
Kim and travelers in Disneyland
Kim Dunn has been with Trips Inc. as a chaperone/tour group leader for over ten years! She is one busy gal currently traveling around Europe with her partner and their super cute young daughter.
A volunteer for Special Olympics for over 24 years, she was selected to coach the NW region women's power lifting team in Dublin, Ireland at the Special Olympics summer games. She has also provided respite care to families of children with Down's Syndrome.
She always receives top notch reviews from the travelers and other chaperones that work with her, describing her as having a gorgeous smile, boundless energy and the patience of a saint!
Wayne Kleckner - Tour Group Leader
Wayne and travelers on the Hawaii Cruise
Wayne is one of our newest tour group leaders. A retired U.S. Forest Service worker, he is still active on incident management teams in the summers and during the school year he works in special education at all levels. He is also a proud basketball coach for Special Olympics.
For almost 20 years Wayne has done exclusive travel while working with his wife, Cathi, on numerous trips to Mexico and Italy with their church youth group. All these life experiences and three years of Trips Inc. chaperone tours have prepared Wayne to jump in head first as a tour group leader!
Shirley Eastman - Tour Group Leader
Shirley with a traveler in Yellowstone!
Shirley has a passion for both travel and working alongside people with special needs, and has taken a delight in combining both by working for Trips Inc.!
In addition to the time she spends with us, she works full time at Costal Farm & Ranch managing the lawn and garden department. She became a certified OSU Master Gardener volunteer in 2005 and mentors new trainees, is a compost specialist, and co-chairperson of the plant sale silent auction. She enjoys mentoring youth, including at-risk youths, where she has gained a strong appreciation for diversity. On top of all that, she is also a jewelry and crafts artisan! In her free time she enjoys spending time with her two sons.
Shirley truly has a heart for those folks with special needs and loves being able to help them experience new and exciting places!