The Global Advantage

  • Best value for your money – guaranteed.
  • World-wide network of support.
  • Flexibility to meet your group’s needs.

The Global Difference

  • Reliable, friendly customer service.
  • Life-changing trip itineraries.
  • Enhanced security and safety standards.

The Global Team

  • Peace of Mind – we do it all for you.
  • Free your mind for adventure!
  • We personally ensure your trip success.

Our History

Jeff Peterson

Jeff Peterson
Founder and President

Jeff Peterson is the founder of Global Travel Alliance and lives in Billings, Montana with his wife Pam. He was born in 1956 and grew up in Northern Wisconsin, which is where he developed his first case of wanderlust while reading Lawrence of Arabia and Huckleberry Finn. In 1975 he moved to the Twin Cities of Minnesota, where he went to college and met Pam – the girl of his dreams. Within a few years Jeff was married and on his way to the Big Sky Country of Montana. From 1984 to 1993 he taught various grade levels and subjects on the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservations, and from 1994 to 1999 he taught at Montana State University – Billings.

During his time at MSU-B, he launched (with partners) the Rocky Mountain Language and Culture Institute and also started work as the Program Director for the International Studies Department at MSU-B. In 1997 he traveled to Japan, Korea, Egypt, and Kuwait to develop these programs for the university.

In 1999 Jeff became the Headmaster of a private school in Florida, with an objective and purpose to internationalize the school curriculum. Two years later he became an active member on the board of directors of an education and missions non-profit, and then founded Global Travel Alliance in 2004.

Jeff holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Christian Theology, History, and Education. He has taught full-time at the elementary, secondary, and college levels. His 30+ years in the field of education have been strongly influenced by a devotion to cross-cultural education. Today, Global Travel Alliance specializes in class trips to Washington, D.C. and New York City, science expeditions to Costa Rica and Montana, historical and cultural trips to destinations worldwide, and much more. No matter your travel experience, his staff can develop a trip experience for you that is eye-opening and life-changing.


The Global Core

  • Steve Maehl

    Steve Maehl

    Vice President of Educational Travel

    A native Montanan who now lives in Orlando, Florida, Steve is the most experienced traveler and guide on staff. As a young boy he spent hours spinning his globe and reading travel guides dreaming about all the places he could someday go. Now, he lives his dream and has led trips to more than 20 countries and visited every continent – except Antarctica. Steve earned a college degree in Elementary Education from Montana State University and studied Experiential and Outdoor Education at the University of New Hampshire. He is a former educator who taught English at a Maori school in New Zealand. Steve is married with two children, and like most Montana natives, enjoys a rugged outdoor lifestyle including rafting, kayaking, snowboarding, hiking and camping.

  • Daniel and Andrea Granados

    Daniel and Andrea Granados

    Costa Rica Program Directors

    Daniel and his wife Andrea direct the Costa Rica operations and act as lead guides for our GTrek: Science and Adventure program. Daniel holds Costa Rica Tourism Board licenses for general tourism and naturalism, and has received additional training in Biology Conservation in Latin America, Forest Interpretation, and Birds of Costa Rica. Daniel and Andrea have a vast knowledge of Costa Rica, along with outstanding naturalist skills, which make them the perfect guides for adventures through a cloud forest, the rainforest, along the Pacific Ocean beach, and around the local market. They have a heart for service and reside in Alajuela.

  • Paul Belanger

    Paul Belanger

    Director of GTrek

    Paul joined Global Travel Alliance after a ten year career directing place-based education programs in Montana for The Nature Conservancy and Montana Audubon. Born and raised in Southwest Ohio, Paul later moved to the Rocky Mountain West and has since explored a majority of the Northern Rockies national parks, including a one year study at the Teton Science School in Teton National Park. Paul believes that a good trip equals abundant wildlife, landscape vistas, and few traces of a human footprint. Paul has a passion for helping young people connect with the outdoors through recreation and learning. Paul now lives in Hamilton, MT in the Bitterroot Valley with his wife and two children.

  • Ryan Sparzak

    Ryan Sparzak

    Lead Educator

    Ryan is a committed and experienced educator with 10 years in school-based education. During this time he found himself spending more time with students out of the classroom than inside. He is passionate about changing the way students are educated in America and believes that educational travel is a key part of that change. After receiving a graduate degree in nonprofit management and a Masters in Education, he and his wife left Boston to work for Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City. Ryan worked alongside other committed educators to develop HCZ Promise Academy, both as a teacher and a school leader. Ryan also earned a Masters in Educational Leadership. After 7 years with HCZ, Ryan left New York City to work for Denver School of Science and Technology, where he was a founding science teacher at their College View Campus. In his spare time he loves hiking (especially with his wife and two kids), working long hours in his garden, and cooking.

  • J.J. Peterson

    J.J. Peterson

    Communications Director

    J.J. graduated from Billings Senior High School in 2005 and then spent four years earning Bachelor's degrees in Digital Media Art and Biblical and Theological Studies from the University of Northwestern - St. Paul. During spring and summer college breaks he would guide for our American Heritage program. After graduation he moved to Orlando, Florida and spent two years teaching Visual Art for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade within OCPS. Now full-time with Global Travel Alliance, his efforts are spent on marketing, branding, internal and external communication, guiding American Heritage trips, and the Global Doing Good program. J.J. lives in Orlando, FL with his wife Soo. His favorite hobbies include drawing cartoons, being a Packers fan, and reading books about sports.

  • Alicia McKittrick

    Alicia McKittrick

    Business Manager

    Originally from Alabama, Alicia moved to Montana in 1996. She is married with two children, and owns a small farm. Her passion for international travel sparked with her first trip to Jamaica in January of 2009. Alicia’s favorite travel spots would include sandy beaches and warm ocean waters. Ireland is on her bucket list and would like to learn more about her family heritage. She finds interest in travel, finances, and photography. Alicia also spends her free time hiking the Montana mountains with her husband and kids and researching tropical and exotic islands for their next adventure.

  • Brian Mathis

    Brian Mathis

    Special Projects Coordinator

    Brian grew up in Flint, Michigan. A Fulbright Scholar, Brian studied French and German at the University of Michigan and the Université de Caen in France. Brian has taught English, French, and German in schools located throughout Central Europe. At Global Travel Alliance, he works to grow our American Heritage, Global Doing Good, and adult travel programs. Many of his spring days are spent guiding adventures in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Boston. His favorite travel destinations are Prague (for the scenery), New York City (for the food), and the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming (for the fly-fishing). Brian also likes to downhill ski and watch documentaries about history and sports.

  • Pam Peterson

    Pam Peterson

    Quality Assurance

    After owning a decorating business for thirty years, Pam now concentrates her efforts towards Quality Assurance at Global Travel Alliance. Her world travel adventures began with Jeff after they married and she has become a key contributor to the many programs we offer. Pam oversees every aspect of our trips prior to departure. Growing up in Billings, Pam has developed a love for the fresh air, mountains, and the Big Sky. She one day hopes to star on The Amazing Race and loves to run, hike, ski, and drink coffee.

  • Judy Maehl

    Judy Maehl

    Accounts Receivable

    Judy was born in South Africa and raised in England. She developed a love of travel early in life growing up in a family always on the move. After working in London for ten years she ran into an American group touring the UK led by Steve Maehl and owner Jeff Peterson. As they say, the rest is history, and now she holds her 3rd citizenship in America. Judy lives in Orlando with her husband Steve and two children. When she isn’t busy handling incoming payments for trips, you may get the chance to catch her international accent as she directs incoming calls for our worldwide trips.

  • Jamie Jarvis

    Jamie Jarvis

    American Heritage Lead Instructor

    Jamie is a middle school History & Geography teacher in Billings, MT. Jamie brings great passion and teaching expertise to Global Travel Alliance while guiding throughout the United States and Europe every Spring. He is a firm believer that students should engage with the world around them and has since created the Two Roads Project: a micro-financed program that allows middle school students to create and manage small scale community outreach programs. Jamie grew up in Billings and has lived in Pennsylvania, Colorado and now lives in Billings with his wife.

  • Steven Fallsdown

    Steven Fallsdown

    American Heritage Lead Guide

    Steven grew up on the Crow Indian reservation in southern Montana. He has worked in educational travel for over 10 years and has led numerous trips to destinations including Washington, D.C., Arizona, Montana, New York City, and most of western Europe. He currently resides in Billings, MT with his wife and three kids, and spends his off-hours coaching varsity football and managing his family ranch.

  • Tanya Price

    Tanya Price

    Operations and Logistics

    Before graduating from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration, Tanya worked for the Dallas Cowboys in their Food and Beverage Department. This turned into a five year career where she mastered the arts of Event Planning and Logistics Management. She then worked as an Event Manager and traveled extensively while designing and executing film screenings and charity events. Tanya gained large-scale experience in film, television, sports, and travel management while working with Nickelodeon, the SPEED Network, and Fox. After meticulously managing many aspects of events and travel, she graduated from the International Tour Management Institutes Certification Travel Director Program.

  • Allison Cassie

    Allison Cassie

    Director of Educational Programs - Montana Region

    Allison grew up just outside of the Crow Indian Reservation and went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the University of Montana. She then lived in Portland, Oregon for twelve years working in Logistics at Nike. While coaching middle school sports, Allison learned to love working with kids. She then left her cubicle and pursued a Master’s degree in the Art of Teaching from Lewis and Clark College with a focus on Alternative Methods. She taught at one of Oregon’s first ever Charter Schools and trained in philosophies of Early Childhood Schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. Allison is passionate about the arts, cultural diversity, philosophy, environmental issues, yoga, chocolate, and laughter. She has two young daughters, a chi-mix dog named Poncho, and dreams to one day visit Mozambique, Buenos Aires, and Bhutan.

  • Larry Cunningham

    Larry Cunningham

    Program and Staff Development

    Larry is from Montana and brings vast experience to Global Travel Alliance. He graduated from Eastern Montana College in 1969 with a bachelors degree in English and History. He was awarded a teaching assistantship to Texas Tech University where he completed a master's degree in 1971. Larry returned to Montana and began a teaching and administrative career with St. Labre Indian School. In 1999 Larry changed gears and became a planned giving officer for St. Labre, a grant writer and editor of the St. Labre Newsletter. Now at Global Travel Alliance, Larry centers his attention on Program and Staff Development. He has traveled extensively in the United States and claims Alaska as his favorite destination. Larry has been married to his wife Priscilla for nearly 47 years and has three children and seven grandchildren. He loves to fish, bike, cross-country ski, backpack, kayak and play the piano.

  • Dan Porta

    Dan Porta

    Midwest Education Representative

    Dan was born in Northern Minnesota and graduated from Bethel College in St. Paul with a degree in Social Studies Education. He has been in education for over 12 years in various roles, including full time Social Studies teacher, outdoor educational director, class adviser, and skydiving instructor. He has traveled to Europe, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and all across the continental U.S. He currently lives in Shakopee with his wife and 2 small boys. He loves time with his family, being outdoors, exercising, and reading about all kinds of world history.

  • Ed Thurner

    Ed Thurner

    Chief Financial Officer

    Ed is from Montana and brings forty three years of accounting and financial experience to Global Travel Alliance. After graduating from Montana State University, Ed served four years as a U.S. Army officer. In 1980 Ed started his own accounting firm and sold it December 1, 2014. He has extensive experience with corporations, trusts, nonprofits and individuals. Over the years, Ed has served on many nonprofit boards, and is also the President of Global Doing Good, a nonprofit corporation associated with Global Travel Alliance. Ed has also travelled extensively in the U.S. and Europe. He has been married to Joy for forty three years and they have three children and four grand-daughters. Ed enjoys his grand-daughters, old cars and campers, bicycle touring and fishing.

  • Mitra Talarman

    Mitra Talarman

    Europe Coordinator and Lead Guide

    Mitra is originally from Sweden and has a degree in Business Finance and a Masters in Classical History/Art History. She eventually left a corporate desk job to be a tour guide several years ago. She moved from Stockholm to Rome, which she now calls her permanent home. She leads our tours all over Europe for any age group to any destination. She loves the educational aspect of our trips and hopes to get asked a lot of questions. In her free time, Mitra pursues photography, gardening, and cooking with her husband.

  • Roy Peterson

    Roy Peterson

    Guide and Program Support

    Roy is a fourth generation Montanan with a passion for the outdoors, travel and student tours. Roy graduated from the University of Montana with a B.S. in Accounting. After school he was instrumental in the growth of the American Heritage program at Global Travel Alliance. During that same time he also worked with his wife on their wedding and event photography business. Now Roy works with various businesses as a consultant to increase growth and financial strength. Roy is a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and is often involved in forensic accounting investigations working with government agencies on white collar crime. If he is not working on a fraud case or guiding an American Heritage tour in and around the Washington, D.C. area, Roy can be found enjoying the Big Sky of Montana with his wife Brooke.

  • Alex Chase

    Alex Chase

    Program Assistant

    Alex grew up in Montana and graduated from Billings Central Catholic High School in the spring of 2014. She is currently enrolled at Rocky Mountain College studying Exercise Science and Business on an academic and athletic scholarship. Alex also runs for Rocky as a member of the Cross Country and Track team. She enjoys exploring Montana by running trails throughout the state and participating in other outdoor activities. In addition to traveling much of the West, Alex was able to accompany her father on a few of his annual Washington, D.C. trips throughout grade school, and then as an actual student in middle school. These trips profoundly impacted Alex, learning important lessons of leadership, service, and scholarship. She also fell in love with the D.C. area! Alex is active in serving others in her local community, continues to excel in academics, and inspires younger students on her trips with Global Travel Alliance.

  • Timothy Smith

    Timothy Smith

    American Heritage Program Leader

    Born in Seattle, Washington, Tim was raised in Minnesota following his family’s return from living in Deschapelles, Haiti. He stayed in the Land of 10,000 Lakes to attend St. Olaf College where he played for the Ole men’s tennis team and studied History and Spanish. After college Tim spent some time abroad in the Dominican Republic, only to return to the Midwest to complete a Master’s of Arts in American History at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. Tim has held a variety of tennis coaching positions, both nationally and internationally, including seasons in France, Mexico, the College of William and Mary, and the College of Charleston. Tim resides in Charleston, SC with his new bride. While his interests are varied, Tim spends much of his time in theology, philosophy and history as well as dabbling in some woodworking, aware he has so much to learn in all of them.

  • Reo Boston

    Reo Boston

    Media Communications

    Reo was born and raised in Williston, North Dakota. After graduating high school in 2003 he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education with a major in History. He worked with at-risk youth at Williston High School before taking a job as an Eighth Grade U.S. History teacher at the Williston Middle School. Reo’s love for travel started at around the age of 16 while touring through America with his band. While music is still a very important part of Reo’s life, he also enjoys many other things including hunting, fishing, golf, and spending time with his wife and child. Reo believes strongly in the idea of bringing the classroom to life through student travel and loves to share those experiences with others.

  • Tori Soto

    Tori Soto


    Tori was born in Hawaii and raised just outside of Washington, D.C. She recently moved to Florida and has joined the Global Travel Alliance team full time. Prior to this position, she was the Operations Manager of a major brand-name hotel in Alexandria, VA, where she was responsible for the supervision of all staff and customer satisfaction. She carries an expert wealth of knowledge regarding hotel operations and of the entire Washington, D.C. metro area. Tori loves all kinds of music and traveling around the world - she continues to hope and look for more adventure and travel opportunities. Tori now lives near Orlando in Apopka, FL with her son Noah.