Our Founders

To build a truly transformative company, it takes a unique group of leaders and a dedicated team willing to rewrite the playbook rather than simply follow the rules. One thing that unifies our team is that John, Randle, Patrick, Eric, and Tracy share a passion for travel and an understanding of the world. They are fascinated by culture, history, and cuisine. Their travel bucket lists are driven by curiosity, hope for a better tomorrow, and the belief they can come to a deeper understanding of a place and its people. You can read more about our team’s values and perspectives on our blog page.

Randle Roper

From his earliest days at Universal Studios to his years with Atlantis Events, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and later as President of RSVP Vacations, Randle has over 25 years of experience in entertainment, hospitality, and LGBT travel. However, he was actually a late bloomer in regard to his wanderlust passions. Growing up just outside New Orleans, his family’s idea of adventure was the occasional weekend trip to the Florida panhandle. While Pensacola and Panama City are certainly lovely, they didn’t exactly stoke his fire to see more of the world. All that changed at the age of 27 on a July day that would alter his life forever. It was hard to understand exactly what was happening in that life-changing moment, but the truth would quickly reveal itself: Randle was suffering a massive stroke. Laying in the intensive care unit of Burbank’s St. Joseph Medical Center, he couldn’t believe his travel experiences had been limited to Fort Walton Beach and one lucky trip to Walt Disney World oh so many years ago. So the life negotiations began! He made a promise to himself that if he recovered, he’d see the world. The thought of dying without ever having seen anything much beyond Florida and Southern California, where he currently lived, was just too much to bear. So he set two very specific goals that fateful day: to fully recover and then to visit 100 countries before turning 40. Ambitious? Absolutely. But the fire those goals set inside him burned brightly, powering him through the intense physical and speech therapy. After a year of recovery, his adventures began. He got his passport and set off for Turkey! That trip to mystical Istanbul was an eye-opener – so foreign, so completely new – and it started his life on its current wild and wonderful course. He’d beaten death. And now he’s become one of the most well-traveled people on the planet, having journeyed to all seven continents and 123 countries and counting. He’s now got his eyes set firmly on visiting EVERY country on the globe! To reach Randle, simply email randle@myvacaya.com. Follow Randle on Insta @ vacayarandle.

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John Finen

For as far back as he can remember, John has always had the travel bug. After moving from Nashville to NYC to pursue a career in the arts, he found his first professional gig touring around the US with the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble. Eleven thousand miles in a U-Haul truck that season was just the beginning. Combining his love of dance and travel, he spent 10 years on the road with the modern dance company MOMIX and many others. In the space of 5 years he’d visited and performed on 5 continents and over 100 countries. During his many years on the road, he was always able to find the most interesting places to eat and drink in any town. Dragging along fellow company members in his adventures earned him the nickname “Map Man” and he gained a trusted loyal following willing to share in his quests for adventure just off the beaten path. It was this international production experience and love of dance that ultimately led him to cruise ships and producing the largest LGBT parties on the seven seas. In fact, John has produced over 100 charter events with a diverse range of companies from Coachella and The Groove Cruise to Atlantis/RSVP. For John, email john@myvacaya.com. Follow John on Insta @ john_finen.

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Patrick Gunn

Patrick caught the travel bug while on a European tour in high school, which led to his interest in attending a college study abroad program called Semester at Sea. The semester consisted of a 100-day voyage by ship around the globe, stopping in 10 different countries along the way. Having his eyes opened during his first global circumnavigation, he volunteered to work on his second Semester at Sea a few years later. His job on the ship was to help the students plan their in-country travel. Patrick credits his travels with helping to find the courage to come out to his friends and family, a major step in any gay person’s life. Patrick has visited over 50 countries and grown from each experience. He now has a passion for traveling with his husband, Michael to places where being gay is less accepted. His hope is that living out and proud will lead to acceptance around the globe. Patrick holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from San Diego State University and an MBA from the University of San Francisco. Early in his career, he held various marketing leadership positions with Procter & Gamble, HP, EA, Disney, Yahoo!, and later with Atlantis Events and RSVP Vacations. Patrick can be reached at patrick@myvacaya.com. Follow Patrick on Insta @ carpe_diem_47.

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Tracy Terrill

For 18 years, 3 months, and 20 days Tracy dreamed of a world bigger than the one he knew. Tracy grew up in Boron, California, a remote mining town in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Boron doesn’t have traffic lights, has a population of less than 1000 people, and is 35 miles from the nearest grocery store. Tracy’s mother would often highlight AAA travel guides with dream trips. After considerable saving, Tracy and his mother embarked on a life-changing three-week vacation around the United States to celebrate his 14th birthday.  As a boy who always knew he was “different,” that vacation introduced Tracy to an entirely new world of possibilities. Life beyond Boron was full of complexity, diversity, and beauty. He returned from that vacation with a predisposition to ask, “why not?” and to reach further than he ever dreamed possible. Tracy particularly treasures two photos from that trip. The first is of himself and his mother in the heart of the French Quarter. The second is Tracy standing in front of the White House fence. 14-year-old Tracy could never have imagined that one day he would work on the other side of that fence, for the first African-American President of the United States, as an openly gay man.

Tracy holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Sonoma State University and an MBA from the University of Southern California. Early in his career, he held various marketing and technology leadership positions with Universal Music Group, Universal Studios, and Warner Brothers. Tracy spent nearly a decade as the Chief Technology Officer of LegalZoom and most recently served in the Obama Administration as the Chief Digital Officer of the Small Business Administration. Get in touch with Tracy at tracy@myvacaya.com. Follow Tracy on Insta @ tracy.terrill.
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Eric Hodgson

Eric was born and raised in Northern California. His passion for travel came early in life. At the age of 12, he stepped aboard his first cruise ship during a family trip to the Mexican Riviera. Two more cruises soon followed... a Caribbean trip out of Florida and a journey through the Panama Canal. It was through cruising that Eric was first introduced to the world, and it’s remained his favorite way to travel throughout his life. The idea of unpacking just once while having his room travel with him has always been his favorite thing about cruise life.

During a summer vacation while in high school, Eric traveled to Europe for the first time with a student tour group. Without the safety (or restrictions!) of his parents, Eric took his first steps out into a much larger world, spending two months discovering six countries through backpacking, riding public transportation, and interacting with as many locals as he could. It was a dream come true. In the years since, Eric’s love of discovering new wonders and his appreciation of the transformative power of travel has only grown. And it is with this passion that Eric joins VACAYA. He loves the idea of not just exploring the world with other like-minded travelers, but making new friends, learning from new experiences, and creating new memories that’ll last a lifetime. Reach out to Eric at eric@myvacaya.com. Follow Eric on Insta @ traveler.eric.
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The Vacayans

Each VACAYA trip is supported by a group of paid staffers affectionately called “The Vacayans.” This warm and friendly mix of gentlemen and ladies are a bit less Star Trek than their name might imply, but they are stars, nonetheless. They play the role of the ultimate camp counselors, there to ensure each and every moment of your vacation exceeds expectations. We’ll introduce your trip-specific Vacayans online shortly before we depart – giving you a chance to connect with them in advance. You’ll then meet them face-to-face on the first day of your trip. They’ll be ever present throughout your journey with us – ready to lend a hand in a moment of need, sensing and responding to everything going on around you, and adding to the general merriment (and occasional silliness) that is VACAYA.

Ronnie Jones Jr.

Ronnie has traveled the world over as a flight attendant. And as a veteran of over 20 all-gay cruises, he’s thrilled to witness the evolution in inclusivity with VACAYA. Born and raised in Ohio, Ronnie entered the travel industry right out of college and set off exploring the world. His first trip abroad was to Berlin, Germany in 2004 to celebrate his 30th Birthday. That trip was definitely an eye opener to new experiences! Since then, Ronnie has traveled far and wide, including seeing the Opera House in Sydney, the Mayan Ruins in Chichen Itza, and has sailed through the Panama Canal... twice! Living in Fort Lauderdale (cruise ship central), Ronnie has countless opportunities to cruise as often as possible, exploring new places, meeting new people, and sailing on all the latest and greatest cruise ships in the industry. Considered a “founder” at JetBlue Airways (going on 20 years), Ronnie enjoys everything pertaining to the customer service experience and loves being around people. When at work, he always makes it his goal to connect with as many customers as possible, ensuring they have a fantastic travel experience.

Ronnie is an accomplished musician, playing both violin and clarinet in the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble, and singing with The Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida. In his spare time, Ronnie enjoys riding rollercoasters, skydiving, theater, music, trying his hand as an amateur DJ, and basking in the warm South Florida sun. Not a shy guy at all, Ronnie will always approach you with an open mind, a warm hug and a big smile, which comes naturally to him since he loves to make people laugh and enjoy themselves. Ronnie is VACAYA. Follow him on Insta @ TopDawgFLL.

Justin Sprague

Justin grew up in the scorching hot deserts of Arizona soaking up the sun next to the pool and daydreaming of where he could travel next. In college (Go Sun Devils!), he discovered the crossroads of spontaneity and travel, planning quick weekend trips to California or last minute flights across the country to visit friends. And now that passion for travel has gone international! Living on the East Coast, he’s only a hop, skip, and a jump across the pond from Europe or a short plane ride away from his beloved Florida and the Caribbean. He’s got a hard case of FOMO when it comes to travel, so he’s always looking for that next adventure. He can’t wait to share that enthusiasm with fellow wanderlust travelers as a Vacayan! Follow Justin on Insta @ prezjustin.

Timothy Pappalardo

Tim is INCREDIBLY EXCITED to be joining us at VACAYA Oasis @ UNICO 20°87°! Tim hails from New York and grew up near the Port Jefferson Ferry, which takes passengers across the Long Island Sound to Bridgeport, CT. He credits those early ferry rides in fostering his love and excitement for travel and for being on the open seas. Before 2001, Tim never stepped foot off American soil, only ever really traveling to Green Valley, AZ and Pompano Beach, FL to visit his grandparents. But that all changed in 2005. Tim became the Event Manager for a non-profit called GLSEN (which works in safe-schools legislation and community engagement), managed 25 events a year, and began his career as a “Professional Traveler." Since then, Tim has traveled across the US and visited 35 states, Canada, Mexico, the US and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Peru,  UK, Portugal, Madrid, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, China, and Taiwan! When not supporting VACAYA, Tim is the Senior Director of Global Accounts for HelmsBriscoe and handles the hotel site selection for a variety of clients and programs, serves as the Vice Chair on the Board of Directors at CM Performing Arts Center (Creative Ministries, Inc) in Oakdale, NY, and is in his 6th season performing as a Supernumerary (actor) at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City! Follow Tim on Insta @ timothypappalardo

Jennifer Eaglin

Jennifer is thrilled to join The Vacayans. Born in Detroit, Michigan, as a young girl Jennifer moved around the state many times with her family. It was living in northern Michigan that provided unlimited outdoor experiences. Her summers were spent on Torch Lake swimming or tubing behind the family pontoon boat, climbing the Sleeping Bear Dunes, and hiking in the woods. During the long winters, she spent time downhill skiing, snowmobiling, and sitting fireside with friends. At the age of 18, she experienced her first Caribbean cruise, and it was this trip that inspired her to create a travel bucket list. Jennifer graduated from Michigan State University, earned her master’s degree, and has been an educator for 25+ years. She is passionate about learning and challenging herself to experience all life has to offer. Although the school calendar dictates when vacations can occur, she and her wife, Johanna, an elementary school principal, are determined to find time to travel somewhere new every year. They have cruised to Alaska three times, the Caribbean, Mexico, and have wonderful memories of their time spent on the beaches in the Dominican Republic, dancing in the streets of New Orleans and Puerto Vallarta,  visiting the pubs in Dublin,  relaxing on the patio of their houseboat in Amsterdam, touring the castles in London, and most recently hiking the mountains in glorious Palm Springs, CA. She and Jo are preparing to explore a new continent soon, as they plan their trip to Taiwan and Thailand this November. This flirty, fun, spontaneous Gemini is looking forward to meeting you and hopefully dancing with you to the wee hours of the morning! She's ready to step away from her teaching role and provide you with a VACAYA trip of a lifetime! Follow Jennifer on Facebook @ jennifereaglin.

Johanna Pscodna

“Travel... be adventurous and experience it ALL!!” is Johanna’s mantra heading into her life as a newly retired 49 year old elementary school principal. She grew up in Michigan with an athletic and adventurous family traveling around the United States to various tournaments, sporting events, and family vacations in their 32-foot Cruise Air motorhome. She's travelled across the US and visited 47 states, along with Mexico, Canada, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. Johanna especially enjoys traveling with family and friends and taking the lead as the unofficial “tour guide." She and her wife, Jennifer, recently found the love of traveling abroad as they explored Ireland, the Netherlands, and England. Now that she's retired, they're looking forward to traveling more... whether by kayak, jetski, cruise ship, plane, or their future RV. Jo thrives on entertaining others through her vivacious, charismatic, and fun-spirited personality. She often makes light of herself and has dreamed of being in the spotlight as a professional entertainer. However, lacking vocal talent makes that a challenge, but you'll have to judge for yourself at our karaoke. Jo has a contagious smile that will draw you in and a personality that lights up every room. She will surely brighten your day! Follow Jo on Facebook @ johanna.pscodna.    

Ryan Swisher

Ryan was born and raised in a tiny town in West Virginia. From a very early age, he developed a love and passion for traveling and considers himself to be a diversity addict. He took his love for travel and put it toward a career in which he could truly connect. He currently works in the hotel industry as a front desk associate, assisting guests and helping create amazing experiences. With multiple cruises under his belt, Ryan is very excited to join The Vacayans. He’s determined to travel all over the world, experiencing all the beauty it has to offer. Ryan will tell you he’s much more extroverted than a normal human being and he looooooves to talk, meet new people, and isn’t shy about sharing his story. In October 2018 after graduating college with a bachelor’s in Business Management, Ryan made the biggest decision of his life so far, packing everything he owned in his car and leaving the only home he’d ever known to move to Orlando. Ryan is Orlando’s newest up-and-coming drag queen and can’t wait to bring his art form onboard and to eventually make a career out of it. We know you’ll fall head over heels for this rising star and he’s beyond excited to make lasting memories with each and every VACAYA guest. Follow Ryan on Insta @ ryan_e_s.

Richard Graham

Meet Richard! He's beyond excited to join The Vacayans in our Inaugural Season! Richard grew up in a rural farm town in upstate South Carolina at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. During his childhood, his family rarely ventured further than a couple hours from their hometown, but Richard knew he wanted to explore and see new places. As one of the first members of his family to attend college, he chose to relocate to a different, coastal environment. Living away from home for the first time, the passion for learning and experiencing different places, people, and cultures really took hold. Beginning with a school-related trip to California and visiting a friend in NYC, Richard began finding opportunities to travel throughout the U.S. and then eventually international. Today, he's fortunate to live in Washington, DC, a cultural hub for the U.S., and an epicenter of domestic and international travel opportunities! Follow Richard on Insta @ instagraham_dca.

In Memoriam

Matt Palazzolo

In our earliest days, there was one individual who helped bring VACAYA roaring to vibrant and brilliant life. His name was Matt Palazzolo. Matt was an extraordinary light in a world which needs millions more like him. Kind. Gentle. Charismatic. Passionate. An advocate. An artist.

Matt died in January 2018 doing what he loved best – exploring this incredible planet of ours. He lived and breathed discovery. And he happily joined the VACAYA team because he could sense that same thirst for adventure within us. Matt’s final life works were VACAYA’s brand video and the video supporting our ReachOUT program. When we first explained VACAYA’s mission to Matt, he immediately understood us. He saw the vision and completely comprehended the story we were attempting to tell. His works were vital to our early success and we miss him every day. We make this promise to you, Matt… you will never be forgotten, and your spirit will live on within each of us as VACAYA strives to change the world one kindhearted act at a time. Meow.