Our Team: Regional Managers
Our Regional Managers devote their days to creating the best possible biking, multisport and walking trips around the globe—and will be working again tomorrow to make them even better. From seeking out the most scenic routes to uncovering the region’s hidden hotel gems, their goal is constant: bringing you the immediate, highly personal satisfaction of discovering a new world on your own terms.
As our Italy Regional Manager, Jeff draws on a passionate Italian heritage to create unforgettable experiences for our Italy guests: “My father was twice knighted by Italy’s government for his efforts to promote Italian culture in the U.S. And I can show up at the homes of my Italian cousins anytime.” From 1994 when Jeff first led our Tuscan trips, he knew he'd be coming back forever. “And thanks to the local friendships we’ve cultivated over the years, our trips have an authenticity that can’t be matched.”
Our France Regional Manager, Tanya spent a good part of her formative years in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria, before heading north to France and Belgium, with an occasional trip to visit her folks in Switzerland. Aside from the few years when her parents dragged her off to Arkansas, Tanya has never looked back on her love of France and all things European. “What I like best about active travel is the opportunity to enjoy new places at a slow pace, to soak in the sights, sounds and smells that are unique to the area, and delve into the culture at hand, whether it’s chatting with a farmer working in the vineyards or making friends with the local boulangerie, baking croissants.”
A 21-year Backroads veteran, Linda Cassell is our Rockies & Southwest Regional Manager and travels the world pursuing her passion for hiking, biking, telemark and alpine skiing, and photography. But as a Californian who grew up exploring the mountains of her own backyard, she feels a special connection to the great western national parks: “I know exactly how people feel when they get their first glimpse of the Tetons,” she says. “They’ve read the books and seen the photos, but nothing can prepare them for the sheer grandeur of these peaks. At the same time, they rediscover the beauty of minutiae—kneeling down to study a wildflower or feel the warmth of a hot spring. These are places where you feel more physically and emotionally alive—and I love sharing that experience with Backroads guests.”
With an anthropology degree from the University of California, Berkeley, Christian has led trips in 20 countries (including South Africa, China, Bhutan, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam) and designed trips in 16 countries (from India to Mexico). Now the Asia & Africa Regional Manager, Christian says, “I love my job because it gives me the opportunity to return seasonally to my favorite parts of the world and share them with others.” To Christian, who was born in Germany and “raised all over,” the most rewarding thing about traveling with Backroads is “the opportunity for interaction with the locals—people across the globe readily identify with someone riding a bike or walking down a path so the conversations get started easily.”
Our Canadian Regional Manager, Alison has skied, run, biked, climbed and lived in the Canadian Rockies for two decades. “I feel like I have one of the best jobs at Backroads - if a trip has to do with Canada or Canadians, it's my responsibility. And I'm lucky enough to work my nine-to-five in Banff, Alberta - one of the most beautiful places in the world.” A 21-year Backroads veteran, Alison is also in charge of our Family program: “I'm the mother of two energetic boys, and I can attest that when kids and their families are actively exploring together, they see, experience and learn so much more about the world and themselves.”
Our Regional Manager for Latin America, Michelle has traveled extensively throughout the U.S., Europe and Africa, but “Latin America is a region that I hold dear to my heart,” she says enthusiastically. “Not only does it offer some of the most beautiful destinations on Earth, its people have a warmth and passion for life that I love.” As a Trip Leader in Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile, Patagonia and Peru, Michelle had the joy of introducing Backroads guests to these rich cultures, “so deeply focused on music, dance and family.” Now married to a Costa Rican and the mother of twins, Michelle is our Regional Manager for Latin America and strives to develop trips that offer the most authentic local experience possible while giving guests the trip of a lifetime.