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

Global Travel Alliance

Jeff Peterson
Founder and President
Global Travel Alliance

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 and his family moved to Florida, where he was Headmaster of a private school, 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 Bible, 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 trips to Washington, D.C. and New York City, expeditions to Costa Rica and Montana, student get-a-ways to Florida and cultural trips to Europe, and much more. Whether you are a seasoned veteran or just getting started in the world of travel, his staff can take you to any destination and develop a trip experience that is eye-opening and life-changing.



The Global Team

  • 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: Science and Adventure

    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 and Marketing

    J.J. graduated from Billings Senior High School in 2005 and then spent four years earning two Bachelor's degrees in Digital Media Art and Biblical and Theological Studies from the University of Northwestern - St. Paul. During Summer breaks he would guide for our American Heritage Program. After college graduation he moved to Orlando, Florida and spent two years teaching Visual Art 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 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. 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.

  • Marlene McCave

    Marlene McCave

    American Heritage Coordinator

    Marlene is a guide and coordinator for the Global Travel Alliance American Heritage Program. She is a licensed tour guide in Washington, D.C. and New York City, but also loves travel associated with parts of Europe (e.g. London) and the American West (e.g. San Francisco). When Marlene isn't planning one of our trips, guiding, or discovering more efficient group travel tactics, she likes to take road trips with her husband of 40 years.

  • 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.

  • Mari Walker

    Mari Walker

    Customer Service and Accounts Receivable

    Mari lives in Billings, Montana and has a passion for travel, nature, world cultures, and service. She leads our customer service department and coordinates for our American Heritage Program. Mari has traveled all over the world and even though she really liked a recent trip to Belize, she will always claim that anywhere in Montana is the most beautiful travel spot. She enjoys hiking, fishing, skiing, entertaining, gardening, and spending time with family.

  • 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 enrolled in and graduated from the International Tour Management Institutes Travel Director Certification Program. Her most recent professional experience comes from the Discovery Student Adventures in Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. Tanya is also a licensed tour guide in Washington, D.C. and New York City.

  • Allison Cassie

    Allison Cassie

    Program Coordinator

    Allison grew up 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 gets excited to challenge current educational practices while working with teachers, students, and parents. She 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 Developement

    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 masters’ degree in 1971. Larry returned to Montana and began a teaching and administrative career with St. Labre Indian School, working at the St. Charles Mission School campus and the Pretty Eagle Catholic School in the subject areas of English and Social Studies. In 1999 Larry changed gears and became a planned giving officer for St. Labre. He also became a grant writer and editor of the St. Labre Newsletter, Morning Star. 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, and kayak. He also loves music and plays piano in his church.

  • 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.

  • 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.