Every single person on our team – from travel agent to tour group leader – has a keen sensitivity to those with intellectual & developmental disabilities. They are especially attentive to the countless logistics and details involved in special needs travel. Plus, they appreciate how important Trips Inc. Special Adventures® are to all of our travelers and they strive to give every person the vacation of a lifetime!
Jim Peterson – President & Founder
Tour Group Leader (32 Years)
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. 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®.
Leslie Peterson – Executive Director
Tour Group Leader (18 Years)
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 2004. 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 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 strongly believes in the importance of giving back to the community and has been a mentor for at-risk kids, as well as being involved in several projects that support disadvantaged women and children. She has her mediation certification that she has used to volunteer for a community mediation service.
Leslie is an accomplished martial artist and teaches Krav Maga self defense. She is CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) certified.
Rhonda Reed – Travel and Accounting Manager
Tour Group Leader (24 Years)
Rhonda, our travel and accounting manager, has over 32 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 over 42 trips including Scotland, England, Germany, France, Austria, Italy, Ireland, Greece, New Zealand, Russia, Portugal, Iceland, Scandinavia Cruise, Norway, Costa Rica and the Cook Islands.
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 dog rescue business, Canine Miracle Rescue!
David Robinson – Tour Group Leader (24 Years)
David is another one of our outstanding leaders. He has been with Trips Inc.™ since 1998!
David is an amazing and caring individual. In addition to the work he does with Trips Inc.™ he also volunteers his time in Africa on medical missions!
David worked as a skills trainer and job developer for clients with intellectual disabilities in Multnomah County for about ten years when he discovered Trips Inc.™
“A man in a group home I worked with told me that he was going to Hawaii to swim with dolphins. He handed me the brochure and I was blown away. I thought Trips Inc.™ was the best idea ever! I’m pretty sure I sat down and wrote a letter that very day to Trips, Inc.™ asking about volunteer possibilities. Trips Inc.™ has been a good place for me to apply my experience, interests, and skills. I’m particularly fond of sharing the character and bridge-building attributes travel affords people who might not have had such an experience before. I love observing a traveler’s world expand on a trip!”
David is one of the most kind 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!
Danell Boggs – Tour Group Leader (20 Years)
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 County as behavioral health clinician 3. She is the local program coordinator for Special Olympics in Tillamook, OR and the chairperson for the Arc of Tillamook County. She has three children, one of whom has special needs.
Danell is a go-getter! In 2011 she became the Mayor of her home city, Rockaway Beach, Oregon! In addition to all of that, she returned to school and received her masters degree in special education. She is officially a licensed clinical social worker! We are so proud of her!
We are lucky to have Danell as one of our leaders. She has a passion for working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities!
Amy Mohler – Tour Group Leader (13 Years)
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 17 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
Shirley Eastman – Shuttle Driver (13 Years)
Shirley has a passion for both travel and working alongside people with disabilities, and has taken a delight in combining both by working for Trips Inc.™!
In addition to the time she spends with us, she works as a supervisor at Coastal Farm & Ranch. She became a certified OSU Master Gardener volunteer in 2005 and mentors new trainees, and in 2018 become a volunteer for the American Red Cross as a First Aide Service Team Member.
She also 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 time spent with her two sons.
Shirley truly has a heart for our travelers and loves being able to help them experience new and exciting places!
Caleb Peterson – Tour Group Leader (8 Years)
Caleb has been been involved with Trips Inc.™ since he was nine years old. He grew up helping on the Oregon Camp trip making sure the travelers had FUN and then became a chaperone at age 18 and started leading trips a few years later!
Caleb will be graduating this summer with a Bachelors of Social Work with an empahsis on homelessness and housing policy. He works in residential services for Clackamas Housing Authority and the Beaverton Severe Weather Shelter.
Caleb is an avid chess player, an outspoken advocate and has an adventurous spirit that he brings to all our travelers!
Sidney Balfour – Tour Group Leader (4 Years)
Sidney Balfour is one of the newest Trips Inc. Group Leaders. She has been working with Trips Inc. since 2018 and has been on many trips including Hawaii, Disneyland, Dude Ranch, Oregon Camp, and Missouri.
Outside of Trips Inc.™, Sidney has traveled to Costa Rica, England, Spain, France, Panama, and Belize.
Sidney lives in Bellingham, Washington and works as a Special Education Teacher at a Middle School. She has her bachelor’s degree in Special Education P-12 and Elementary Education K-8 as well as her Masters degree in Education for Learning and Technology.
She also just got married so we are thrilled for her and her new husband, Dakota!