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Hickory Team

Executive Team

   Christopher J. Dane, CTC, CTIE


Mr. Christopher (“Chris”) Dane brings over 40 years of experience in the Travel industry to his role as President of Hickory Global Partners, where he is passionate about pursuing a leadership role for the company through innovation, relationship-building with decision-makers and other stakeholders – on all sides of the business, and driving change.  Across his career, Chris has consulted in a wide range of capacities for a variety of traditional and new economy travel-related entities, including at Hickory Global Partners in 2005 through early 2006. Previously, his roles included acting as interim COO for two dot-com travel-related start-ups and consulting on strategic planning initiatives for Sabre, Travelport, and other mega-corporations in the industry. Other projects have included developing and directing sales, marketing planning and implementation functions for a number of other travel-related companies.  Chris has also held key executive positions in the airline, travel agency, tour operator, and consortia sectors.   


             Mark Miller

  VP, Industry Relations

Mark Miller has built a career spanning 30 years, proving his value as a top management executive by leveraging his notable strengths in change management, strategic planning, P&L/finance, customer relationship management, business process operations, and motivational team leadership.

Mr. Miller has served in key operational leadership roles, directing critical turnaround and growth initiatives. His career began with a tour operator in Boston GWV Travel and has been with industry leading organizations including Garber Travel and American Express. Most recently as an independent consultant with Beacon Travel Consulting where he provided business management expertise to firms seeking to control costs, improve operational processes, upgrade systems, implement automation/technology, better serve the customer base, and effectively manage growth. In this capacity, Mr. Miller served as a hands-on business partner to develop policies and procedures, implement improvements and recommend products, tools, and services aligned with the customer’s needs and short- and long-term goals.

Mr. Miller has earned the respect of a multitude of corporate firms and national suppliers throughout his career, noted by numerous awards and honors. He relies on his strong communication, interpersonal, and consensus-building skills to forge productive, sustainable relationships across all levels. His core leadership competencies include the ability to devise strategies that position operations to thrive in the face of challenges, the capacity for discovering new opportunities to generate revenue, and a proven record of delivering significant gains in earnings, performance, and financial results.   


Michael E. White, CTE, CTC, CMP

Managing Director, Business Development and Partner Care

Michael White leads HICKORY’s global business development efforts, bringing more than 30 years of travel industry experience to the role. He has held a wide-range of travel industry roles that have provided him with a unique perspective in his quest for client and sales excellence. This includes business development, account management and leadership tenures at Air France, Northwest Airlines and most recently Delta Air Lines, where he held a key position in Global Sales charged with the energy sector channel.  Michael advocated for products and services for this highly specialized revenue stream as well as shaped global sales strategy in partnership with Delta Air Lines and its joint venture partners including Travel Management partners which resulted in significant incremental revenues and client satisfaction.

Michael has lived abroad in Toronto, Canada and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and, as a child, his family moved to New Delhi, India, which proved to inspire his love for travel and adventure. He earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration and has attained travel industry designations, including: Certified Travel Consultant (Travel Institute), Certified Meeting Planner (Meeting Planners International), and certified Travel Executive (Global Business Travel Association). Michael lives in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.


      Annette Bonavito

  Director, Hotel and Supplier Relations

Annette Bonavito brings more than a quarter century of travel industry experience to her position as Hotel Partners Manager. After attending college and advanced courses in Travel Industry Management, she began her career with Hickory Travel Systems in the 24-hour emergency call center where she excelled. Identified as a steadfast and conscientious team player with excellent customer relations and problem solving skills, Ms. Bonavito was appointed to create, implement and manage the Hickory Travel Systems hotel help desk to provide services to agency members and hotel partners. Additionally, Ms. Bonavito managed the hotel program daily operations as well as marketing and advertising initiatives.

In her current role with HICKORY, Ms. Bonavito remains dedicated to the continual advancement and improvement of the HICKORY hotel program. She is responsible for the HICKORY hotel program daily operations, customer relationship management and product implementation.


     Christopher C. Lieber

  Director, Finance and Data Management

Mr. Christopher (“Chris”) Lieber joined Hickory Global Partners in early 2012.  In addition to leading Accounts Receivable and Finance, he provides data analyses for the company’s Partner agencies and suppliers alike.  Chris received his B.B.A. from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY.  An area of focus for Chris is preparing consumed hotel data analyses for Partner travel agency participants in Hickory Global Partners’ Revenue Share program.  He has over 13 years of experience identifying, collecting and analyzing information.  When not glued to his computer, he enjoys spending time with his wife and children, working on an M.B.A. degree and providing support and leadership to a local youth group.


           Bill Furman

    Director, Operations

Bill Furman brings 34 years of travel industry experience to his role of Director of Operations at HICKORY. After receiving an Associate’s Degree in Travel and Tourism from Central Pennsylvania College, he worked for several airlines in various capacities before transitioning to the travel agency side of the industry. Mr. Furman’s broad agency tenure encompassed corporate, government, entertainment and leisure/group travel. He also played a key role in the implementation of the travel operations for the TSA/Federal Air Marshal program. Mr. Furman has managed small to large travel companies where he was responsible for business development, sales and support. His extensive agency experience proves valuable when working with the HICKORY team on day-to-day operations and when supporting Agency Member Partners. Mr. Furman relocated from Boston to Delray Beach to join HICKORY. A committed volunteer, he enjoys working with foreign exchange students in the U.S. and abroad as an academic coordinator with the Northwest Student Exchange program.


           Emmanuel Wabeke

    Director, Information Technology

Emmanuel Wabeke brings 13 years of Information Technology experience to his role as Director of Information Technology at Hickory Global Partners.  After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, he worked as a Teaching Assistant in the University before transitioning to the IT industry. Emmanuel pursued a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration from University of Abuja and Master of Science in Computer Science from Nova South Eastern University in Davie, Florida. Prior to joining HICKORY, Emmanuel worked as an IT Web Manager at the British Broadcasting Corporation Media Action (BBC MA), where he played a key role in overseeing Web Initiatives, Information Technology, Partner Station Monitoring, E-learning Systems, and Graphics & Software Development.

Since joining HICKORY in 2017, Emmanuel has made numerous contributions to the IT Department. He is responsible for developing and directing software system testing and validation procedures, programming and documentation, coordinating software installation and monitoring equipment functioning to ensure specifications are met.


       Gregg Gantwarg

    Director, Global Marketing and Growth

Gregg Gantwarg has over 25 years of proven client-side and agency marketing leadership experience in establishing and building brands, launching new products/services, expanding market share, driving sales and growing early-stage startups, mid-sized companies and large publicly-traded global B2B and B2C organizations, both in-house and for two marketing agencies he founded and built from the ground up. His deep and diverse skillset encompasses everything from strategy, branding, creative direction/production, content writing/storytelling/messaging and project management, to business development, account management and leadership. Additionally, he has significant expertise in all traditional and digital marketing channels.

At Hickory Global Partners, Gregg is responsible for leading all marketing efforts. This includes the development, execution and measurement of marketing programs that help both the company and its partners and suppliers ensure a successful ROI and cultivate growth.

Gregg was born in Queens, New York and resides in Delray Beach, Florida. He is a graduate of the State of New York College at Buffalo with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Advertising, Marketing, PR, Graphic Design).


           Miria Phillips

   Manager, Partner Care                                 

Ms. Miria Phillips leads Hickory Global Partner Care, account management and membership engagement strategy.  Miria Phillips brings over a quarter century of travel industry experience to Hickory Global Partners. In her role as Partner Care Manager, Miria provides innovative account management strategies and is focused on increasing profitability and deepening client relationships membership-wide. Ms. Phillips duties include extensive membership interaction which provides strategies for growth and identifying systems and process barriers to generate ideas for improvement. With a vast travel industry career, Ms. Phillips has held key leadership roles in all aspects of travel agencies including management, group travel, VIP Travel, GDS training and more.  Miria was born in North Finchley, England where she attended Travel & Tourism College and moved to the United States in 1990.


        Janelle Quinlan

   Hotel Sourcing and Supplier Marketing Associate 

Janelle Quinlan joined Hickory Global Partners in June 2018 as the Hotel Sourcing & Supplier Marketing Associate. She brings 23 years of travel industry experience and broad product knowledge to her new role in the Hotel and Marketing departments at HICKORY.  Janelle is responsible for supporting the production and ongoing management of HICKORY’s supplier programs. She successfully integrates her travel experience by helping support marketing initiatives for agency and supplier partners along with her hotel sourcing responsibilities for HICKORY’s Global Hotel Program.   
Prior to joining HICKORY, Janelle worked as a corporate and leisure travel consultant and managed group tour operations.  Janelle holds a B.S. degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI and a Travel Agent Certification from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL.   She lives in Wellington, FL.  

        Francesco Virgone

   Business Development and Member Engagement Associate 

Francesco Virgone joined Hickory Global Partners in the fall of 2018, in the role of Business Development and Member Engagement Associate.  Francesco brings over 10 years of exceptional customer service experience that will impress our membership. He is directly responsible for our engagement activities for our valued members.  Additionally, he keeps a keen eye on account management, prominently promoting HICKORY products, services and our unique value proposition.
Francesco enjoys speaking to the HICKORY membership by building relationships with existing and potential members. Francesco hails from Brooklyn, NY and holds a bachelor’s degree in Arts from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL. He proclaims himself a foodie who equally loves pizza & exotic foods from around the world.  His other passions include photography. Francesco lives in West Palm Beach with his beloved Maltese Nico.