RTS Board

New Board Elections (2015-2017)

Several members of the current board are stepping down this year so there is space on the board for three new members plus one student representative. Below is some information on candidates interested in becoming board members and serving our community of recreation, tourism, and sport geographers. Terms are two years in length with the possibility to renew for another term in 2017.

Board Members should be:

  • researchers or educators interested in recreation, tourism, and sport geography
  • members of the AAG in good standing
  • intending to attend the Annual Meeting in 2016 (San Francisco) and 2017 (Boston)
  • interested in serving as Secretary, Treasurer, Communicator, or Student Representative
  • willing to commit 12-24 hours per annum to Board activities

Candidates for the AAG-RTS Board

Kathleen Seal, Ph.D.

I am a geographer specializing in research and teaching in outdoor recreation planning. My research interests include GIS applications in outdoor recreation planning, analysis of user preferences, and therapeutic notions of outdoor recreation. Along with my academic experience, I have worked professionally in travel, tourism and outdoor recreation in several appointments including regional director for the Texas Heritage Trails Program and as a community development planner and professional grant writer.

I am interested in contributing to my academic discipline by serving on the AAG’s Recreation, Tourism and Sport Specialty Group board. While I am willing to serve in whatever capacity is needed at this time, I would be especially interested in working with grants and paper competitions.  Additionally, I would like to be involved with our group’s sponsorship and organization of field excursions during the AAG annual meeting, believing that this is a unique opportunity to showcase our group’s affinity for planning recreational experiences.

Sarah Quinlan Cutler

I am in my final month of doctoral studies with  research focused on tourist experiences. During my PhD, I have been involved on Graduate Student Committees and acted as the Graduate Student representative in the University Senate. These have been very rewarding experiences.  I am keen to be more involved in AAG RTS activities and I look forward to helping and connecting with recreation, tourism, and sport geographers. I would like to work towards making the RTS specialty group a more visible community and to further develop connections with recreation and sport researchers within the group or through new membership.

Michael Clancy

I am a professor and chair of the Department of Politics and Government at the University of Hartford in Connecticut, USA. I am the author of two monographs on tourism and development as well as several journal articles and book chapters. I served as a resource editor for the Annals of Tourism Research from 2001-13 and have been a referee for that journal,Geoforum and many others. I joined the AAG and the RTS section four years ago and presented at New York and Chicago. I found that political science conferences marginalize tourism studies. Here I’ve found a home. I have administrative experience including budgetary experience as both a department chair and director of an interdisciplinary program. I would bring those skills along with considerable enthusiasm to the board. Thank you.

Dr Piotr Niewiadomski

Lecturer in Human Geography University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK

I am an economic geographer interested in the development of the tourist production system and the impact of tourism on economic growth. As a board member of AAG-RTS I would like to contribute to the further popularisation of tourism research within geography – for instance through organising more sessions highlighting the value of tourism research for different subfields of geography. Connected to this, I would like AAG-RTS to attract more young researchers. A mentoring scheme in which experienced researchers would help their younger colleagues who come to AAG for the first time with organising their time at AAG effectively would not only add new value to how the Group functions but could also contribute to the overall growth of new generations of tourism geographers. More panel sessions in which established scholars could exchange their ideas with younger researchers and some organised help with applying for conference funds might also prove beneficial.

Steven Ericson

I am entering my third year as an instructor at The University of Alabama.  I completed my PhD at Oklahoma State University in 2014.  Part of my dissertation covered the use of athletics and addition of a varsity football team to improve students’ sense of community and increase place attachment at Georgia State University in downtown Atlanta.  Some of my other RTS-related research has examined recruiting patterns of women’s collegiate basketball in the American Southwest and changing recruiting patterns based upon NCAA conference realignment.

I am interested in serving as a board member because I want to see sports geography come reborn as an important subdiscipline within geography and flourish within AAG.  However, sports geography cannot grow if people like myself sit idly by waiting for someone to pick up the mantle and make a difference.

Vanessa Leon

Currently I am a Ph. D. student at Florida International University (FIU). I can do this study through the Fellowship of the Ecuadorian National Secretary of Sciences and Education. Since 2006 I am a full time professor at Tourism Program at ESPOL, one of the best universities in my country, Ecuador, South America. I work also as a consultant in several projects. My research interest is focused in Tourism Development in coastal areas, mainly the effects of Second Home Tourism growth, how natives and communities get involved in Second Home Tourism and the tourist initiatives (entrepreneurship, community-based tourism, sports) emerging from the inhabitants in villages located in the coast.

As a board member I would like to strengthen the network of tourism geography among AAG-RTS members; firstly, gathering the topics on tourism, presented at the last AAG Annual Conference in order to share them directly with all participants. Following, I would promote of a formal meeting in San Francisco.

Candidates for position of Student Representative

Stephanie Verkoeyen, PhD Candidate, University of Waterloo

I am a second year PhD Candidate at the University of Waterloo, with an interest in understanding tourists’ resilience to global change, and a passion for enhancing the education experience in Higher Ed. My interest in serving as a student representative stems from this year’s experience in Chicago. A first time attendee of the conference, I was quickly overwhelmed by the number of attendees and breadth of research topics presented. I believe new graduate students would benefit from a greater social media presence for communication purposes as well as opportunities for mentorship within the RTS membership, two goals that I would work towards if elected as representative.


Kaihan Yang
University of Derby, UK, PhD Candidate; M.A. Tourism, Environment and Development, King’s College London; B.SC. Business Studies and International Hospitality Management, National University of Ireland


I am a PhD student in tourism geography. Through seven years of experiences across Singapore, Ireland and the UK, Khan has developed considerable knowledge and skills in hospitality, events management, project planning, tourism development and research.

As a student I am extremely humbled to have the opportunity in my early career to join the largest and the probably the best tourism research groups in the world at the AAG. I wish to contribute more to the community in the next couple of years so that scholars, researchers, and students could enjoy the conference as much as I did.

Current Board

Chair: Patrick Brouder (Brock University) pbrouder@brocku.ca

International Liaison: Tometi Gbedema (University of California, Davis)

Member at Large: Friedrich Zimmermann (University of Graz, Austria)

Member at Large: Mary Mostafanezhad (University of Hawai’I at Manoa)

Past RTS Chairs