Mission & History

SAN FRANCISCO TRAVEL PROFESSIONALS—an organization fostering the promotion of travel, tourism and hospitality within San Francisco and throughout the world.  We are open to all professionals employed in these industries, unified to further the cause of bringing people across the globe together through understanding, education and the travel experience, here and abroad.


A History Then And Now

Click here to download a copy of the SFTP history.

Founding Members, The Travellarians 1928

Our organization was originally known as the Travellarians, a thirteen-letter word coined by Kitty Crabtree in recognition of the original 13 travel bureau girls. They agreed to meet on the thirteenth of each month. Their first outings in 1928 were hosted inspections by the Hotelman’s Association in Yosemite and along the Central California Coast. The purpose of the tour was to acquaint them with the hotels and points of interest along the route. It was on May 13,1928 that four of the ladies, including our chapter member, (Miss) Elsie May Kirker, discussed the formation of an organization composed of women, while on a 6-day tour from San Francisco to Santa Barbara. This enterprising group of ambitious women were up against the odds in a predominantly man’s world.

Their purpose for the organization was to develop a spirit of cooperation, to establish and maintain a means for the exchange of ideas and methods, to afford a mutually pleasurable getting together, and to promote better service to the public, employers and to those for whom the members of this organization would act as representative

The Original 1928 Thirteen Charter Travellarians and Patron

Donna Williamson—Hotel Whitcomb Travel Bureau President
Mildred Bolton—American Express Vice President
Ina Liebhardt—Peck-Judah Secretary
Elsie May Kirker—American Express
LeMoine Wright—Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Wood Railway
Eleanor Beck—San Francisco Convention & Tourist League
Mary Murphy—San Francisco Convention and Tourist League
Mildred Sperry—Californians, Inc.
Kathryn Switzer—San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
Mary Clifford—Oakland Chamber of Commerce
P.E. (Kitty) Crabtree—Crabtree Travel Service

Original co-writers of the Constitution and Bylaws:       
Mabel Johnson—San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
Mae McKeown—the Fairmont Hotel Travel Bureau

Mr. Jean Julliard—owner of the San Carlos Hotel in Monterey

On June 13, 1929, Elsie May Kirker, as a delegate, attended a meeting in Los Angeles where her mission was to encourage a Los Angeles affiliation to the San Francisco Travellarians. The Los Angeles chapter was subsequently organized with 13 charter members and officially became the Travellarians of Los Angeles. Permission to use the name of Travellarians was sold to the Los Angeles group for $25.00! On October 5, 1931, the Travellarians filed papers of incorporation to protect the name of the organization.

An article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, New York, February 1933, gave a glowing report of the Daily Eagle’s dinner meeting with the San Francisco Travellarians—“The liveliest lot of travel specialists you ever saw”! At the time, Stella M. Dill of Berkeley, chairman of the publicity committee, was corresponding with a Brooklyn group regarding the formation of a New York chapter of the Travellarians.

It must be remembered, the Travellarians worked at a time when it was not in fashion for women to work outside of the home. When World War II began this left the women in charge of many of the offices. The club was suspended from the summer of 1942 until March 1947 in recognition of the war.

In June 2000, (Mrs.) Edith Jones was interviewed for her perspective on the club’s origins and attended a meeting at our invitation and verified the information describing the beginning of the organization, and even pointed to her own image in the photo shown in this brochure. She stated she was very pleased to know that their efforts had not been in vain and expressed encouragement for the continued success of what they (the original 13) had started in 1928

The yearly history is richly recorded in our scrapbooks with the original history written by Elsie May Kirker in the 1930s. The second rendition of the clubs growth was updated and catalogued in the 1950s. There are several books with newspaper articles, club pictures and other memorabilia, which are displayed yearly at our organization’s Annual Business and Initiation Meetings.

—Excerpts from Elsie May Kirker’s Original History Document
And Excerpts January 5, 2003 by Ruth Gardner, CTC – American Express Travel,SFWIT Past President, 2002-2003 Club Historians

The International Federation of Women's Travel Organizations

The Travellarians didn’t stop with their original beginnings but in the year 1967, Blanche Berger and Marian Sullivan, two active Travellarian members, presented their idea to commence an organization for women in the travel industry throughout the
U. S. and the world that would be similar in nature to our own club. The idea was accepted with great enthusiasm and through the efforts an eager committee for the next two years International Federation of Women’s Travel Clubs (later to become IFWTO) was born in 1969 and continued for 38 years and consisted of chapters in over 90 countries throughout the world, including the U. S., Canada, Europe , Asia and Africa.

Eight organizations attended the founding meeting in Burlingame, California, for what was called the International Federation of Women’s Travel Clubs.  All the guest organizations joined along with the San Francisco Travellarians to become the charter members of the new organization:

San Francisco Travellarians
Philadelphia Women’s Travel Club
Travellarians of Los Angeles
South by Southeast Travel Women’s Club of Miami
Women’s Australian Travel League of Sydney
Chicago Women in Travel
41 Degree/74 Degree Club of New York
Association of Women Travel Executives of London

In 1977 the organizational name was changed from the International Federation of Women’s Clubs to the International Federation of Women’s Travel Organizations with the new logo of IFWTO. Other changes in the Federation brought modern clarity of purpose:

  • To improve and make more effective the status of women within the travel industry through the exchange of ideas and personal participation (1977).
  • To further promote international goodwill and understanding (1977)
  • To assist in the development of women’s travel organizations in areas where none presently exist (1977).
  • To prepare members through professionally and personally oriented educational programs to participate more fully in the positive growth of the industry (travel) (1981).

Also, in the period of innovations and in support of the worldwide women’s movements that lasted more than 2 decades, c.1960,the San Francisco Travellarians became SFWIT – San Francisco Women in Travel. Many of the Federation’s clubs also took up similar names.

In 1989, SFWIT – San Francisco Women in Travel hosted the 20th Anniversary International Convention. It was attended by 370 delegates representing IFWTO’s roster of then 64 member organizations from 14 countries. These conventions continued to 2006 when the 36th annual convention was held in Athens, Greece.

Other Federation innovations continued as its headquarters opened in Phoenix Arizona and annual awards were established: The Spirit Award recognized and honored a Federation member’s faithful service; The Berger-Sullivan Tourism Award, honored a person’s or company’s significant service to the travel industry; The Susan B. Thomas Award was presented to the most deserving Federation organization.

As we began the new century, the headquarters moved to Spain and IFWTO had in excess of 3100 members in 60 clubs representing 33 countries!

Sadly, in 2007 the Federation ceased to exist, and informed its membership that due to the many changes in the travel industry and declining membership, it could no longer financially operate.

Never shying from a challenge, under the direction of President Naydine Booth and with original Travellarians like Betty Shanahan and Blanche Berger on SFWIT’s 2007 Executive Board, it was decided to update our organization into a new business model: to become the premier travel networking organization in the San Francisco Bay Area, serving industry professionals of all genders. Our membership in February 2007 adopted a new Constitution and By-laws which extended our membership to all professions actively engaged in the selling of travel and/or travel promotion. To honor these changes a new name, a new logo and a new Mission Statement were adopted.  We are now proudly SFTP – San Francisco Travel Professionals. The new business model will be launched spring, 2007 with our new Mission Statement . . .

SFTP – San Francisco Travel Professionals is an organization fostering the promotion of travel, tourism and hospitality within San Francisco and throughout the world. We are open to all professionals employed in these industries, unified to further the cause of bringing people together through understanding, education and the travel experience here and abroad.

Submitted by Naydine Booth & Members of the Executive Board 2007- SFTP

Naydine Booth, President, Park Place Travel
Beth Ringhofer, Vice President, Publishing & Marketing, Roster, Siemer & Hand Travel
Maureen Manuel, Corresponding Secretary, Qantas Airways
Stephanie Spears, Treasurer, Blue World Travel
Christina (Tina) Liadis, Bylaws, History & Electronic Distribution, Geographic Expeditions
Betty (Ty) Shanahan, Membership, Portal World Travel (Retired)
Robin Morales, Programs and Venues, & Marketing, EmpireCLS Worldwide Chauffeured Services
Blanche Berger, Newsletter, Cable Car Travel Productions

Past Presidents of SFWIT

1928 Donna Williamson Whitcomb Hotel Travel
1929 Mildred Bolton American Express
1930 Lemoine Wright Thomas Cook & Son
1931 Grace Pew Panama Mail Steamship
1932 Kitty Crabtree Crabtree Travel
1933 Elsie Mae Kirker American Express
1934 Natalie Botteon US Intercoastal Conference
1935 Myrtle Nelson Yosemite Park & Curry Co.
1936 Laura Robins Redwood Empire Association
1937 Ruth Fitzer Greyhound Lines
1938 Lenore Norris National Automobile Club
1939 no listing
1940 Stella Dill National Automobile Club
1941 Louise Lawrence California State Auto Association
1942-1946 Inactive
1947 June Ross Southern Pacific Railroad
1948 Teresa Ted Isasca Californians, Incorporated
1949 Mildred Keith Matson Navigation Company
1950 Ruth Fisher Pan American Airlines
1951 Alberta Framer Oswald Southern Pacific Railroad
1952 Ivel Gerdes Pope & Talbot Steamship
1953 Mozelle Copeland Greyhound Lines
1954 Dorothy Golen Scandinavian Airlines
1955 Mary Ann Lockridge Culwell George Smith Hotels
1956 Frances Jung American Express
1957 Frances Croy Milwaukee Railroad
1958 Patricia Morey Hilton Hotels
1959 Edith Dalle-Feste Cartan Travel
1960 Yona Pahl Sabena Airlines
1961 Waun Sheetz Healey Portal World Travel
1962 Dorothy Wiseman Furness-Withy Steamship Company
1963 Evelyn T. Mulpeters The Gray Line
1964 Marion Mathis Peters American Airlines
1965 Blanche Berger Santa Fe Railroad
1966 Betty Ty Shanahan Portal Travel Service
1967 Viola Franke American Airlines
1968 Shellah Jacobs Cathy Pacific Airlines
1969 Rae Rutledge Redwood Travel Advisors
1970 Elana Andersen Hyatt Corporation
1971 Nancy Henry San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau
1972 Lorna Bridges New Zealand Government Tourist Office
1973 Carol Leone General Steamship Company, Ltd.
1974 Mildred Pierce Go, Go Tours, Inc.
1975 Marty Sarbey de Souto Cal-Farm Travel Services
1976 Mildred Pierce Go, Go Tours, Inc.
1977 Jodi M. Kuhn Tradewinds Travel
1978 Hela Campbell Air California
1979 Betsy Sanderson Caudell China Airlines
1980 Jodi M. Kuhn Malaysian Airlines Systems
1981 Ellen B. Metzger Super 8 Motels
1982 Christine Azevedo Odyssey International Travel
1983 Sheila B. Hyman, CTC Henderson Travel
1984 Sheila B. Hyman, CTC Henderson Travel
1985 Carole Wood Placerville Travel
1986 Sheila Gorsuch Hong Kong Tourist Association
1987 Marty Sarbey de Souto Unique Adventures
1988 Janet M. Denninger, CTC Close-up Expeditions
1989 Janet M. Denninger, CTC Close-Up Expeditions
1990 Loretta Lechich, CTC American Express
1991 Michelle Abrate, CTC Bryan International Travel
1992 Michelle Abrate, CTC Bryan International Travel
1993 Janette Rabin, CTC CTN/Executive Travel Advisors
1994 Janette Rabin, CTC CTN/Executive Travel Advisors
1995 Stephanie Spears Rascals in Paradise
1996 Stephanie Spears Rascals in Paradise
1997 Michelle Warren Adventure Express Travel
1998 Robin Morales Australian American Chamber of Commerce
1999 Ruth Gardner, CTC American Express
2000 Ruth Gardner, CTC American Express
2001 Dawn Roberts Hyatt Hotels
2002 Beth Ringhofer Siemer & Hand Travel
2003 Beth Ringhofer Siemer & Hand Travel
2004 Beth Ringhofer Siemer & Hand Travel
2004 Joanie Dragon El Al Israel Airways
2005 Joanie Dragon El Al Israel Airways
2005 Christina (Tina) Liadis China Travel Service
2006 Christina (Tina) Liadis Geographic Expeditions
2007 Naydine M. Booth Park Place Travel
2008 Naydine M. Booth The Cruise Experience
2009 Naydine M. Booth The Cruise Experience
2010 Rea Christina Franjetic Cosmopolitan Adventure Tours
2011 Rea Christina Franjetic Cosmopolitan Adventure Tours
2012 Rea Christina Franjetic Cosmopolitan Adventure Tours


Both SFWIT and IFWTO have honored selected members for their on-going contributions to the travel industry and or to the organizations by bestowing on such individuals Life Membership or Honorary Membership.  The following members are award recipients:

Blanche Berger
Ernestine Fruits
Evelyn Mulpeters
Betty (Ty) Shanahan
Eleanor M. Wilford
Carole Wood
Sheila Gorsuch
Elana Andersen
Faye Alexander
Ingrid Oakes
Richard Forster


SFWIT Life Membership and Honorary Membership designations are recognized by SFTP  for all active members.