STAFF AND TEAM MEMBERS

Jim Davis, President

Jim Davis graduated from The American University in Washington, DC with a degree in International Affairs. During college he interned for Senator Pell of Rhode Island and did research relating to the senator's membership on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In addition, he interned at the U.S. Embassy in London and worked at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Gallery of Art.

After working in operations for Washington Group Tours in 1976 and managing New York Group Tours Jim moved to California in 1980 to oversee San Francisco Group Tours. In 1984 he branched out on his own and established California Tour Consultants, Inc. In 2011 he formed U.S. Group Planners, Inc., an offshoot of California Tour Consultants, to promote national as well as regional tour packages.

In addition to his travel industry career Jim is a professional digital photographer and loves to combine his passion for travel and photography. Jim is an avid kayaker and does volunteer work for Search for Common Ground which fosters peace at troubled areas throughout the world and is a member of the International Relations Forum for the Commonwealth Club. He and his wife Jennifer spend weekends at the beach with their three dogs and they enjoy hiking on Marin trailsides.

David Olivier, Senior Tour Director

David Olivier is a native of San Francisco and has lived in the Bay Area nearly all his life. From his family's frequent vacations and outings in California and elsewhere, David caught the travel bug early on. A great curiosity to explore the world continues to be a major theme in his life. This once resulted in a five-year adventure during which he lived and taught English in both Japan and Italy, while backpacking around much of the globe.

Education and service have always been the principle components of David's professional life. Following his years of undergraduate and graduate study at San Jose and San Francisco State Universities, David moved into San Francisco's tourism and hospitality industry. He spent several years as a concierge at the St. Francis Hotel, then shifted into hotel management before opting to become a tour director. For over 20 years he has been our senior tour director and has been instrumental in our companies success.

Vera Lissfeld, Tour Director Extraordinaire

Vera Lissfeld is a grandmother to two gorgeous little girls who have inherited her spunk, her curiosity and her beauty. She shares her love of geography, history, art, sociology, science, and photography to the groups she leads on our behalf. Living in San Francisco for many years and her love of travel has afforded her great expertise in all these diverse fields.

A career travel professional, Vera brings her European charm, elegance, wit and organization to each trip to insure a flawless and memorable experience. She is multifaceted and multi-lingual and her love of photography has resulted in an impressive portfolio of gallery-worthy images.

Kathy von Hurst, Event Planner

Kathy von Hurst has been an event planner for twenty years as it related to her Executive Assistant position in large Northern and Southern California corporations. The wide variety of corporate functions she's arranged include industry-related tradeshows, on-site and off-site meetings, company picnics, training seminars, sporting events, and in the support of Corporate Initiatives partnered with non-profit organizations in the preparation of upcoming campaigns. Her attitude, attention to detail and ability to organize all aspects of a function has resulted in many successful events.

Kathy's warm personality and willingness to tackle any challenge have been assets in past positions and in her current role at U. S. Group Planners. In her spare time, Kathy enjoys cooking for family and friends, reading and listening to classical music.

Debbie Kessler, Event Planner

Debbie Kessler was born and raised in Hong Kong to an American Dad and Australian Mum, and had her first passport before she was 2 weeks old. Travel is truly in her blood. After attending UCLA for college, she returned to Hong Kong to live and work (via South America, Australia and South-East Asia). Singapore followed, then Sydney, Australia before landing back in Marin in 2010 with her family, including 3 children and 16-year old Australian born cat! While in Sydney, she worked in Corporate Relocations; earned a degree in Travel & Tourism; and eventually found her niche as a Travel Counselor/Event Project Manager.

Debbie excels at planning customized, fully-inclusive experiences for groups of all sizes and interests, as well as destination events such as anniversaries, milestone birthdays, reunions, and honeymoons. A big sports fan, she is President of the Marin Highlanders Rugby Football Club and enjoys tennis, golf, hiking and yoga. When not out on a trail or chasing after her teenagers, Debbie enjoys cooking or watching baseball.