Meet Our Panelists

Mo Garkani, GCLA President & CEO, The COTS Group

Session: GCLA Stakeholder Report

Over the span of 30 years, Mo Garkani transformed a one-car operation into one of California’s largest “white glove” luxury ground travel services, with a total focus on the HNW (high net worth) sector. As the son of an ambassador, Garkani has seen the world, but Orange County has been home for 42 years—he attended elementary and high school in Newport Beach.

Garkani has a passion for helping others as evidenced by his dedication to the GCLA. “I love how everyone in this industry stands by each other,” Garkani says. “It’s a small industry where you can get to know everybody and fight battles together.” Mo oversees the largest regional association in the United States with 4 “Association of the Year” honors from 3 different magazines, spanning the last decade.

Alisa Walsh, CIS, President, EventWorks, Inc.

Session: Business Travel / Meetings & Convention Outlook

Alisa Walsh is the current president and co-owner of EventWorks, an award-winning design agency based in Los Angeles. Alisa is an expert in managed travel.

She currently serves as the president of the Society of Incentive Travel Executives, Southern California region. She has also served on the board of MPI/Orange County and has worked for hospitality brands including Hilton, Hyatt, Hard Rock, and Marriott. Alisa was listed on the “30 Event Professionals Under 30 To Watch” list.

Lisa Meller, CMP, CITP, CED, Meller Performance Events Group

Session: Business Travel / Meetings & Convention Outlook

For nearly twenty years, Lisa has been a third-party full-service event management entrepreneur and business leader. She holds professional credentials as a Certified Meeting Planner, Certified Incentive Travel Planner, and Certified Event Designer.

Lisa shares her expertise as an industry speaker, serves as an active volunteer on the Incentive Research Committee and is a Past President for MPI Orange County.

Her passions include performance events, wellness, and international travel programs. On a personal note, she is the current US Masters Diving reigning champion for Springboard & Platform diving.

Katie Webb Brundige, Owner, Intertwined Events

Session: Weddings & Retail Business Outlook

Katie is the owner of Intertwined Events – a luxury event planning firm. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management with an emphasis in Event Management from San Diego State University, Katie was a Meeting Coordinator planning events for three Fortune 500 companies planning events worldwide.

Today, Intertwined is a leading luxury wedding planning firm executing events from Orange County to the Amalfi Coast. Katie manages a team of 10 and produces events with budgets ranging from $150K – $1M+.

She has been recognized for her creativity, customer satisfaction and volunteerism, most recently being honored as one of Orange County’s Top 25 Most Influential by Riviera Magazine.

Mark Stewart, VP Business Development & Corporate Sales, Ground Logistics International (GLi)

Sessions: Moderator of the Day & Lead Speaker for the GCLA Legislative Update: Life After Prop 22

Mark is a US Army veteran who served the 11th Armored Calvary Regiment – 3rd Squadron for 5 years before returning from Germany to embark on a career in the luxury ground transportation industry. Since the early 2000’s Mark has worked in mobile logistics with a focus on the business, leisure and incentive travel market segments.

Mark is a past president of the GCLA and a current board member who leads the Legislative and Programs (education) Committees. In his tenure, Mark has also served as a member of the Los Angeles Business Travel Association, MPI Orange County, San Diego Business Travel Association and served on the Chauffeur Driven Magazine & Trade Show Advisory Board.

Sara Eastwood-Richardson, Executive Director, GCLA

Session: State of the Industry

Sara’s went from college to publisher of Luxury Coach & Transportation Magazine in 1994. For 25 years she produced the International LCT Show (largest limousine show in the world), the LCT East, and the LCT Leadership Summit. From 2001 – 2019 Sara oversaw the management team and directors and helped grow the National Limousine Association from 500 members and $70,000 in the bank to over $1.8 million and 2,200 members.

In the summer of 2019, Sara left LCT to create her own company – RAS International (named after she three sons Ryan, Alec and Spencer). Her company works with non-profits, like the GCLA, to help build membership, visibility and viability.

Victoria Zindell, Owner/Luxury Travel Advisor Luxury Ventures Travel; Protravel International

Session: Luxury Travel & Tourism Outlook

Victoria got her start in luxury travel in college. While attending Arizona State University she worked for some of the finest & most highly acclaimed hotels in the world. Through these unique experiences Victoria was led to her ultimate career path as a Luxury Travel Advisor.

Ms. Zindell began the Millennials in Travel chapter in Phoenix/Scottsdale. This group has had an impact on a global level and has helped to drive tourism through the creative thinking of its members. Today, Victoria owns a bespoke travel firm in Corona Del Mar, which is an independent agency of Protravel International and a Virtuoso member.

As an expert in luxury travel, she attributes her success to her strong relationships with her clients along with her partnerships with her suppliers. Victoria is excited to share what she sees are the coming luxury trends and the overall outlook of travel for the high net worth sector with you.

Lee Palmer Turner, Corporate Travel Manager, CCTE, GTP, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Session: Business Travel / Meetings & Conventions Outlook

A self-described travel industry “lifer”, Lee began his travel career of nearly 40 years as a decorated F-14 pilot in the Elite Special Weapons Division of the US Navy.

He would go on to pursue a career as a commercial airline pilot starting his newfound calling with storied Eastern Airlines before going on to “doing what he did best,” flying under the carrier flag of American Airlines.

After 17 years, Lee pursued a second career navigating the corporate side of the travel industry where he has built a well-deserved and highly successful reputation managing Global Travel programs for such diverse and high-profile companies as BMG Entertainment, (parent of music powerhouses including RCA and Arista Records,) the National Basketball Association, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Symantec Corporation and his current home as Corporate Travel Manager for Beverly Hills based MGM Studios.

An active and longtime member of the Global Business Travel Association, Lee also presently and proudly serves as President-Elect to the Executive Board of the Los Angeles Chapter of GBT.

John Ehlenfeldt, CDME, CMP, Director of MPI & Executive VP, VISIT Huntington Beach

Session: Luxury Travel & Tourism Outlook

With nearly 25 years of destination marketing experience, Ehlenfeldt has represented the sales departments at the Grove of Anaheim, Long Beach Convention Center, Canadian Tourism Commission and Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

While working within the Canadian market, he developed meeting and incentive programs for the Western United States, including Southern California, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Nevada. As a California native, Ehlenfeldt earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Fullerton.

He is a Certified Meeting Professional and served as President of the Southern California Chapter of Society of Incentive Travel Executives (SITE). He is also on the board of the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Southern California Chapter as an International Committee member, a RISE Awards judge, and is a past president.

Matthew W. Daus, Esq. Transportation Technology Chair at the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Transportation Research Center of The City College of New York

Session: State of the Industry

Matthew W. Daus, Esq. currently serves as Transportation Technology Chair at the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Transportation Research Center of The City College of New York, where he conducts research, and continues to be extensively published as an expert on ground transportation regulation and technology. As a CUNY Distinguished Lecturer for the past 9 years, he taught courses on transportation history, policy, sustainability, for-hire regulation and technology. Mr. Daus also continues to serve for the past 10 years as President of the International Association of Transportation Regulators (IATR), a non-profit educational and advocacy peer group of government transportation regulators from around the world promoting best regulatory and innovative practice. Commissioner Daus is the longest serving Chairman of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), serving for 8 ½ years. Prior to his tenure as Commissioner, Mr. Daus served in executive and other positions in NYC government for almost 20 years at several agencies including as General Counsel to the TLC and the NYC Community Development Agency, as Special Counsel to the TLC and NYC Trade Waste Commission, as a NYC Human Rights Prosecutor, and as Commissioner of the NYC Civil Service Commission. Mr. Daus is a partner and currently chairs the Transportation Practice Group at Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, LLP.