Every single person on our team – from travel agent to tour group leader – has a keen sensitivity to those with intellectual and 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 (26 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. 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®. Sixteen 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.”
Leslie Peterson – Executive Director/Tour Group Leader (12 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 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 projects that support the homeless.
Leslie is an accomplished martial artist and a volunteer instructor for a non-profit group that provides free reality-based self defense for women. She also teaches Krav Maga self defense through the local community college.
Leslie’s two sons, Caleb (20) and Sage (16) have participated in the camping trip for many years, and Caleb is now a chaperone who has done several trips including Disneyland, Disney World, Memphis, Oregon Camp & Ireland/Scotland!
Rhonda Reed – Travel and Accounting Manager/Tour Group Leader (19 Years)
Rhonda, our travel and accounting manager, has over 30 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, France, Austria, Italy, Ireland, Greece, New Zealand, Russia, Portugal, Iceland, Scandinavia 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 business, Canine Miracle Rescue!
Julia Duke – Community Outreach Specialist/Tour Group Leader (8 Years)
Julia is our amazing community outreach specialist and tour group leader. She has been with Trips Inc.™ for 8 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 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! In November 2015 she had a baby boy but that has not stopped her from traveling and having adventures–she just has an extra passenger in her backpack!
Julia’s zest for life and travel are contagious. Everyone that meets her is inspired to seek out their own adventure!
Nick Abel – Community Outreach Specialist/Chaperone (1 Year)
Nick is a community outreach specialist covering the state of Washington, and chaperone. Nick first learned about Trips Inc. Special Adventures® after his sister, Amelia, went on several trips and loved her travel experiences.
Nick graduated from the University of Oregon in 2014 with a degree in psychology, and worked for two years as a behavioral support specialist for incarcerated youth, as well as a substance abuse therapist at the Center for Family Development.
Nick has been involved with the intellectual & developmentally disabled community for his entire life. He has worked with Special Olympics, Autism Rocks, Look Me in the Eye, and various organizations dedicated to improving the lives of those with intellectual & developmental disabilities.
Nick believes travel is an important and fulfilling life experience that everyone should have access to, and values the opportunity to share amazing adventures with all of the Trips Inc.™ travelers!
Susan Cernik – Office Manager/Chaperone (3 Years)
Susan is our office manager who brings over 23 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 Inc.™ was through her cousins, Bob and Gerald, 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. She has already chaperoned several trips and she can’t wait to do more to get to know more of our awesome travelers!
Susan is 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 is the person you’ll talk to when you call the office and she can answer all your travel questions and help you select the perfect trip!
David Robinson – Tour Group Leader (19 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!
Ed Wanner – Tour Group Leader (10 Years)
Ed Wanner loves to travel! Ed and his wife, Cheryl, put together local excursions to sporting events and theater plays, so they find it a pleasure to work with Trips Inc.™ and have us handle all the details! Ed says, “Trips Inc.™ knows how to do vacations right, and they always have that little extra that make every trip special!”
Ed’s interest in sports and people lead him to coach golf and basketball with Special Olympics for the past seven years. He looks forward to having enough athletes to field a baseball team, his favorite sport.
In addition to traveling, Ed is 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!
This is Ed’s 10th year working with Trips Inc.™ and we appreciate the many ways he makes sure each traveler has the vacation of a lifetime!
Danell Boggs – Tour Group Leader (15 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 Family Counseling Center as a mental health and addictions counselor. 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 recently received her masters degree in special education.
We are lucky to have Danell as one of our leaders! She has a passion for working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Tracey Henshen – Tour Group Leader (18 Years)
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.
Tracey has chaperoned/led more than 30 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 11 year old!
Amy Mohler – Tour Group Leader (8 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 11 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 (14 Years)
Kim Dunn has been with Trips Inc.™ as a chaperone/tour group leader for fourteen years! She is one busy gal who took a 9-month travel adventure around Europe with her partner and their super cute young daughter who is now 5 years old!
A volunteer for Special Olympics for over 25 years, she was selected to coach the NW region power lifting team in Dublin, Ireland at the Special Olympics summer games.
Kim is currently working as a Direct Service Provider for with people with developmental disabilities. She just finished her degree in Gerontology so she can apply it to her work with the DD population.
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!
Shirley Eastman – Tour Group Leader (5 Years)
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 Coastal 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 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 hanging out 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!
Mark DeMonbrun – Tour Group Leader (8 Years)
Mark has been traveling with Trips Inc.™ since 2009. After his first trip to Disneyland when a traveler said to Mickey Mouse, “I have waited my whole life to meet you.” he was hooked on these special adventures.
Mark works as an area manager in Washington providing a multitude of services designed to support people in finding and keeping meaningful employment in their communities. These services are provided to people with a range of disabilities, providing assistance to overcome barriers that prevent successful employment.
I an addition to his full time work, Mark has been Board President for The Arc of Yakima County, Juvenile Rehabilitation Youth Mentor in Yakima, and a Special Olympics Softball Coach.
In the eight years that Mark has been with Trips Inc.™ he has been on over 35 trips worldwide! Although Mark enjoys all of the places he has been able to explore-his favorite part is being able to help make special memories for each of the travelers.
Ryan Charboneau – Trips Inc. Driver/Chaperone (5 Years)
Ryan is one of our drivers and chaperones since 2012. He started volunteering for Trips Inc.™ after looking for a way to become more involved with his local developmental disability community.
“Being part of the Trips Inc. team has allowed me to combine my love of traveling the world and getting the opportunity to work with individuals with disabilities. Seeing the excitement on a traveler’s face as they are leaving for a trip is the best part of my job. Exploring the world is one of the greatest things someone can experience and it’s awesome being part of an organization that makes sure everyone has equal access to travel the world.”
Ryan also works as firefighter paramedic for the Eugene Fire Department.