Introducing the Thalassa Journeys team
George & Vasos Papagapitos
George and Vasos Papagapitos came to New York from the Greek island of Rhodes in the early 1960s to continue their education at American universities. George graduated from NYU and received an MBA from American University. Vasos studied philosophy at Hunter College.
In 1969, the brothers founded Travel Dynamics International and began working with leading academic, scientific, and cultural institutions to introduce the concept of educational travel aboard small ships to the American market. Over the following five decades, they gathered unparalleled experience in every aspect of ship operations and were quickly recognized as the preeminent designers of itineraries that allow travelers to engage deeply with the cultures they encounter along the way. They pioneered cruising to regions around the globe; they created programs of educational travel for multigenerational families; and they were at the forefront of efforts to make travel sustainable and supportive of local populations.
In 2018, after a brief hiatus following the sale of Travel Dynamics, the brothers returned to their lifelong passion and founded Thalassa Journeys in order to offer world-class educational experiences to a new generation of curious travelers.
Margaret’s thirst for travel was ignited when she studied in Florence, Italy, during a junior semester abroad. After graduating from Brown University, she landed a dream job as a Tour Manager with Travel Dynamics International, where she traveled to over 40 countries on five continents in the company of professors, curators and engaging travelers from America’s leading educational, cultural and scientific institutions.
This led to a sales position at Travel Dynamics, where she established relationships that continue to this day with travel directors who have become friends as well as professional colleagues in her work as Managing Director of Thalassa Journeys. She considers it a privilege to work in this rewarding field, helping others expand their appreciation for the world’s peoples and cultures through enriching, responsible travel.
Vice President, Sales
Carolyn, a magazine publishing executive for nearly three decades, began her second career in 2011 working at Travel Dynamics International. She passionately embraces the thoughtfully themed educational and cultural journeys created by George and Vasos Papagapitos. Other than three years representing African safari tours, all experience has been dedicated to cruises aboard small ships and custom land tours.
Carolyn works with several nonprofit organizations in addition to educational institutions, bringing musical performances and robust educational programming in a broad variety of disciplines, especially the sciences and classics.
Vice President, Sales & Engagement
Laurie brings a panoramic perspective to her work. She’s an intellectually curious dot-connector and creative problem-solver with significant expertise at the intersection of branding, marketing, communications, development and philanthropy to holistically drive impact and effectiveness in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.
A lifelong learner eternally interested in exploring the landscape of possibilities, Laurie founded a social enterprise while at a prominent women’s leadership organization and was instrumental in shifting the brand paradigm from design to value while at Interbrand.
Tim graduated from the University of California, Berkeley (BS 1973, MBA 1974) with a specialization in Applied Economics and a passion for software development. He used this passion to develop an innovative cruise/tour reservation system that was successfully marketed to several cruise and tour companies in the 1980’s. In 1998, he met with Travel Dynamics International and created their first automated reservation system.
In 2002, Tim moved from the field of software development to leading a major housewares and furniture retailer’s Information Technology department as CIO. He retired from Crate & Barrel in 2018, and invested in the new Thalassa Journeys LLC as a partner. As General Manager of Thalassa Journeys, he oversees the office and works closely with Colin Church and the rest of the Orlando team.
Manager, Guest Sales & Services
Colin began his working life in restaurants specializing in Mediterranean cuisine. Over the course of 17 years, he served as a chef in an Italian restaurant in Vail, Colorado, a Mediterranean restaurant in Miami, and at the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando, Florida. While in Orlando, Colin decided to switch the focus of his career from food to the broader hospitality industry and worked for Walt Disney World, running their Valet, Luggage, and Remote airline operations.
Throughout his career, Colin’s passion has always focused on guest satisfaction—on listening to understand what clients want and then making sure they receive it. Colin lives with his wife and children in Florida and enjoys coaching softball and baseball for kids ages 12 and 14.
Maria Christina Baklava
General Manager, Athens
An Athens native, Maria brings a wealth of knowledge from every corner of Greece. Her extensive connections with regional government officials, civil society leaders, citizen cooperatives, and academics allow her to arrange for special itineraries, activities and events that suit the needs of our partnering educational and cultural organizations, deeply enhancing the travel experience.
Maria Baklava holds a Master’s Degree in Journalism & New Technologies from Donau-Universitat Krems (Danube University Krems, Austria), as well as a Master’s Degree in Communication Studies & Crisis Management from the European Institute of Communications in Dublin. Maria serves as the Chair of the Committee on Culture of the European Union of Women, Greek Section.
Donna is an operations manager specializing in program development. Raised in a sparsely populated New England town, she spent her youth exploring the rugged nature around her.
Inspired by curiosity, Donna began a career in educational travel more than forty years ago. She is an experienced sales, destination, operations, and development specialist. Her passion for discovery has taken her from remote destinations in Asia, East Africa, and Central- and South America, to the Arctic, and Antarctica. Donna believes her most valuable lesson is that travel for the purposes of discovery is the greatest teacher of all.
Educated at Harvard University (AB 1972, PhD 1979) as an historian, Terry stayed on at Harvard as a lecturer and as a dean for the first ten years after receiving his doctorate. In 1989 he took over responsibility for alumni educational programming University-wide, and in the process of developing the travel-study program that was part of this portfolio, discovered and nurtured his passion for travel.
In 2003, Terry left Harvard to join the staff of Travel Dynamics International (TDI), the leading supplier of educational travel to American academic and scientific institutions. He has been engaged in the business of educational and expeditionary travel ever since, working for Ponant Cruise Line after they purchased TDI, and serving as Chair of the Executive Committee and then as Acting Executive Director of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators.
Terry retired at the end of June 2020 and now consults for a small number of select educational travel companies, chief among them Thalassa Journeys, where he works closely with senior management on a variety of projects.
Marketing and Editorial Associate
Heather is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz with a degree in visual arts. Her passion for design has led her to explore various jobs in glassblowing, fashion, and editing. At Thalassa Journeys, she relishes learning about foreign cultures while providing marketing support that contributes to creating remarkable experiences and extraordinary memories for travelers.
During her free time, Heather enjoys hiking and swimming with her dog in the picturesque Hudson Valley, volunteering at a local horse rescue, and practicing yoga.