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Industry Briefs
Women of Color Who Have Impacted the Travel, Tourism, Hospitality, Lodging Industry

The  $2.4 trillion U.S. travel industry reportedly supports 15.6 million jobs within the many components of the industry. Over 51 to 55% of that workforce consists of women. While the majority of the women employed in the Travel industry are in entry level and mid management positions, that landscape is rapidly and significantly changing.

As women continue to achieve higher status in all arenas of employment, we find women of color represented in every part of the Travel Industry; from enterprising women entrepreneurs such as Sheila Johnson, owner of Salamander Resorts and other prime hotel properties, to female corporate executives, the likes of Erica Qualls-Batley, general manager of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, the largest hotel in the state of Georgia.

Another outstanding example of a professional woman who has built a stellar career in travel and tourism is Audrey Peterman.  Peterman is part of a dynamic husband and wife team who encourages all of us to make the great outdoors and the U.S. National Parks a part of our travel itinerary.

Audrey and Frank Peterman are nationally recognized for their groundbreaking leadership and accomplishments in the environmental field. It has become their mission to share with the world the history of the Black Race in America that is rooted in National Parks around the country.

For almost a quarter century the Petermans have helped inspire and cultivate a nationwide network of black and brown leaders who are integrating the outdoors and environmental space. In 2014 they created The Diverse Environmental Leaders Speakers Bureau ( consisting of experts in climate change and environmental policy; hikers, birders, mountaineers, sailors and "green" activists.

In 2016 they helped form The Next100 Coalition ( www.Next100.Org) of leaders that succeeded in persuading President Barack Obama to issue a Presidential Memorandum Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Our National Parks, National Forests, and Other Public Lands and Waters


They are the authors of two "MUST READ" books, Legacy On The Land: A Black Couple Discovers Our National Inheritance and Tells Why Every American Should Care and Our True Nature: Finding A Zest For Life in The National Park System .

Anyone who has ever participated in a travel experience organized by Jo Keita appreciates her profound attention to detail and her caring regard for the needs of each individual. Knowing her background, it is easy to see how her many career moves shaped her to be the consummate travel specialist that she is today. When She joined United Airlines Reservations in 1966 her goal was simply to see the world.  She has accomplished that goal many times over.

While serving as travel coordinator for "Hitsville USA" Motown artists, she saw the need for airlines to become more understanding and sensitive to the way people of color should be treated. With the support of United Airlines and fellow employees, she started a diversity awareness program called "Something Special." Subsequently, Keita was promoted to Special assistant to the airline's Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in Chicago.

Having had her own African Haute Couture company, Nubian Princess, for a number of years, Keita is well known for her striking, authentic, African style of dress. Keita lived in West Africa where for four years, she worked for the First Lady of Gabon, with the late, Dr. Leon Sullivan and with international Teacher Training groups.

Her Los Angeles based Travel Service, NUBIAN TOURS & CRUISES , assists clients with travel to all places in the world. However, having an African-born husband and being fluent in French, undoubtedly contribute to  her enormous pride in introducing the African Continent to travelers of all ages, cultures and backgrounds.

In this recurring e-newsletter column and as a part of the soon to launch, "Traveling In OUR World Podcast series, BM&T will continue to share with you, stories of some of the Industry's Amazing Sisters... MORE TO COME

We welcome YOUR suggestions for HIDDEN FIGURES to be profiled in this column. Send bio, including contact info, as a WORD document, along with a professional quality headshot as a jpg file, to

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