Sheryl Hill
Sheryl HillFounder, Board Member Emeritus

Sheryl & Allen Hill understand that it takes grit to make a pearl. Tyler, their vibrant, athletic, role-model teenage son, died a preventable death on a People to People Student Ambassador trip to Japan. He was barely sixteen.

Sheryl and Allen turned their grief into a mission and founded the only nonprofit working on travel and tourism consumer protections. For ten years, they advocated for safe travel abroad, and now they offer a solution: Travel HEROES Safety Training. Sheryl passionately believes every person, especially students, should possess the skills to get help and home safely when they travel abroad.

Sheryl is publicly recognized as an industry expert, speaker, award winning author and advocate. “Depart Smart is the most important professional work I have ever done,” says Sheryl.

She has been seen in CNN, USA Today, Washington Post, ABC, NBC, CBS, Newsweek, Forbes, Huffington Post, and more. Through her guidance, Depart Smart has achieved Guidestar Platinum Partner status for transparency, passed the first ever state bill requiring safety reports on programs escorting students into foreign countries, and received a Telly Award for Health and Wellness in Travel HEROES Safety Training.

Sheryl is also the mother of Alec Hill, as well as the host mom to eight international youth for more than twelve years. The Hills have been in foreign countries with all of their host children and believe in the value of intercultural experiences.

Our Valuable Team Members

Lana Weber
Lana WeberExecutive Director
Julie Nekola
Julie NekolaDevelopment
Sarah Ashley
Sarah AshleyeLearning QA Specialist
Keegan Bohn
Keegan BohnDigital Marketing
Kacie Griffith
Kacie GriffithSocial Media Manager
Daniyela Perzhu
Daniyela PerzhuBusiness Development
Michael Gorospe
Michael GorospeChief Technology Officer
Nick Nelson
Nick NelsonMySQL Database Developer
David Nelson
David NelsonChief Information Officer

Our Prestigious Board of Directors

Tim Malecha
Tim MalechaInterim Chair, Founder, Chair Emeritus
Allen Hill
Allen HillDirector, Founder, Chair Emeritus
Senior Vice President at Fraueshuh Commercial Real Estate
Amy Swedberg-Hagen
Amy Swedberg-HagenDirector
Partner, Maslon’s Financial Services Group.
Jana Webster
Jana WebsterDirector
Executive Director, Airport Foundation MSP
Dr. Kathryn Johnson
Dr. Kathryn JohnsonDirector
St. Cloud State University
Michael Bowers
Michael BowersDirector
Founder and CEO at the Center for Student Travel Safety

Our Valuable Advisors & Experts

Robin Kocina
Robin KocinaBoard Chair Emeritus
Owner, Media Relations, Inc.
Sarah Hague
Sarah HagueBoard Member Emeritus
Annamarie Saarinen
Annamarie SaarinenCo-Founder, Board Member Emeritus
Amalia Moreno-Damgaard
Amalia Moreno-DamgaardBoard Member Emeritus
Dr. Vincent Johnson
Dr. Vincent JohnsonBoard Member Emeritus
Karen Gries
Karen GriesIRS Tax Law Advisor
Dr. Peter Tarlow
Dr. Peter TarlowSafety Specialist, Tourism
Dr. John Fletemeyer
Dr. John FletemeyerWater Safety Advisor
David Angueira
David AngueiraLegal Advisor
Jerome Fields
Jerome FieldsUnited States Department of State
Brent Barker
Brent BarkerSafety & Security Advisor
Tom Pasquarello
Tom PasquarelloPartner, Global Secure Resources
Malcolm Noden
Malcolm NodenHospitality Safety Specialist