Jeremy Sampson in conversation with Megan Morikawa, our new Board Chair

Our CEO, Jeremy Sampson welcomed our new Chair of the Board, Dr Megan Morikawa, with an informal chat about the current state of the industry, why Megan has become our new Chair and what success for the Travel Foundation looks for her. 

On becoming our Board Chair

Megan: “I’ve been in the sector now for about six years. I know folks who have been in the sector much longer have been a major part of pushing for alignment and pushing for action-driven ambition. And I think we all feel that there’s a tangible tipping point here where the decisions that we’re making in the next couple of years will cement a lot of the trajectory for our sector. So I’m very excited to have the Trustees supporting the Travel Foundation in that transition point.”

Jeremy: “In many ways, it feels to me like we are ready to capitalize on something that we’ve been building for the last several years. So it feels like a moment for me as well. When I joined the organization four and a half years ago, we set out to build a foundation for an organization that could play that leadership role that had credibility, visibility and alignment with key organizations to be able to set the agenda and bring people together and into alignment around action. Because from my perspective, the mainstreaming of sustainability and climate change, climate action and several other sorts of big drivers like diversity, equity and inclusion are starting to push the edges of the industry into action. But we believe that meaningful action really will come when there is alignment and collaboration and collective resources working towards collective solutions. And that kind of work needs facilitation and convening. And so we’ve set ourselves up to be an organization that leads on that.”

On the work Megan is doing and how it aligns with the Travel Foundation

Megan: “I feel like in this industry, we’ve got two flavours of people broadly, those that have been in travel and tourism their whole life, and those that really dropped in from a complete other sector industry. I fall in that second category. I met the owners of Iberostar seven years ago now when I was doing my PhD at Stanford on how we could restore coral reefs that were more resilient to climate change. And that background in science was itching for how the private sector could be a catalyst for scaling solutions very quickly. It took one conversation for me to be convinced to move from academia to the private sector with the hope and the bet that the private sector could really scale solutions much faster. I was overwhelmed by how true that ended up being and how I could do more in the span of one month on a platform like Iberostar than could be seen from some academic publications or recommendations.”

“Granted, it all needs to happen in a network and I think that’s one of the things that I’m really passionate about bringing to Iberostar and passionate to bring to the Travel Foundation’s next transition. No one has a single solution but everyone needs to coordinate in order to reach the correct systems changes. We need to do that as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

“And we all call for collaboration, actually doing collaboration can be really difficult! It requires time, empathy, working towards a collective goal and a collective good. We do a lot of that work with the ambitious goals that we set at Iberostar, which taught me the importance that a private sector entity can drive a lot of solutions, they need to drive that as fast and as ambitious as possible. But if you really want the holistic systems change, you need to step outside of the boundaries of your business and think about the destinations, think about the partners, both public and private sectors that are needed to coordinate in order to reach those tipping points. And I think I’m incredibly excited to support the Travel Foundation and to continue to grow the already incredible group of Trustees that can help us to kind of cement in ways that the Travel Foundation can really act on its successes and collaboration even further.”

Jeremy: “That’s very much a shared vision. And so, so nice to hear the talk around scaling rapidly. I remembered when we first met and you told me that you felt you could have more impact in the travel industry than you could as a climate scientist, and my jaw hit the floor. It’s so nice to hear someone say that because we have been working in the industry or industry adjacent for a long time, and have felt this opportunity to have an influence and for tourism to play its role in places as a force for good. I don’t believe tourism is a force for good by just showing up, it requires intentionality. And, that intentionality can be driven by actors who understand what that looks like, and how to align well with others in the system to create that meaningful change. So I absolutely see that shared vision and I think if we’re all playing our role, and that’s something we want to support too, it doesn’t always need to be the Travel Foundation doing everything, but we want to create a space for others to be able to act and to be able to bring their superpowers into that changemaking environment that we’re trying to facilitate.”

On what success looks like for the Travel Foundation

Megan: “You’ve always had a really strong vision of having the right people that are a part of the team of the Travel Foundation, which build up the real base of all of the incredible projects and services that the Travel Foundation provides. My vision would be for having it really clear how the Trustees add to the network that supports that team. So having the right people and their roles in place so that we can best support the team and support you in being able to realize the ambitious strategy that you have set out. And I think a second component would be exactly what you were touching on which is for the Trustees to serve as ambassadors so that we can help amplify the message of what the Travel Foundation’s mission is, where it plays a really important role, and where it fits in the broader network of organizations that are working on systems change.”

Call for Trustees

We are going to be actively recruiting a new cohort of trustees. If there are people that are particularly interested in a trustee role and would like to have a conversation about what that might look like and what they might bring to this organization, please do get in touch.


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