Genesis of a Traveler’s Alliance

Ethical Traveler is a nonprofit organization, founded to “empower travelers to change the world.” We seek to use the economic clout of tourism to protect human rights and the environment.

The seeds for Ethical Traveler were planted in 1996, when author and journalist Jeff Greenwald—Ethical Traveler’s founder—wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post supporting the boycott of tourism to Burma. In the essay, he called upon the community of travelers to “vote with their wings,” and use their combined power to chastise the military government that had imprisoned Aung San Suu Kyi.

In August 2002, at a reading promoting his anthology Scratching the Surface, Greenwald was asked about Burma. A lively discussion ensued, and the idea of a travelers’ alliance to address such global issues was greeted with great enthusiasm. The idea was researched by Krista Haimovitch, who discovered there was no such organization in existence.

An active and respected member of the world travel community for over 25 years, award-winning author of six travel books and hundreds of articles, Greenwald was compelled to direct his passionately humanitarian voice towards creating such a traveler’s alliance. In recent years, Greenwald has been joined by a team of committed others to bring this idea to life.

Ethical Traveler is a project of the Earth Island Institute, based in San Francisco. We maintain our own staff, and a Board of Advisors possessing a broad range of expertise in the fields of travel, environment, economy, health and world policy.

For more details about what Ethical Traveler is and what we do, consult our FAQ page.

The Ethical Traveler Team

Ethical Traveler is a project of the Earth Island Institute, based in San Francisco. We maintain our own staff, and a Board of Advisors possessing a broad range of expertise in the fields of travel, environment, economy, health and world policy.

Core Team

Jeff Greenwald, Executive Director | @strangetravel

Jeff Greenwald is an Oakland-based author and activist with six books and hundreds of print, radio and Internet features under his byline. His journalism career began in 1979, when he reported on his experiences as a water engineer at the Khao-I-Dang refugee camp on the Thai/Cambodian border. Since that time he has traveled throughout the world, reporting on prison labor in China, female circumcision in Africa, human rights in Tibet, Nepal’s environmental challenges, wildlife stewardship in Vietnam, and coral reef conservation from Belize to Palau.

His books include The Size of the World (for which he created the first Intenet travel blog), Snake Lake (set in Nepal during the 1990 democracy revolution) and Shopping for Buddhas, recently released in a newly updated 25th Anniversary edition. Jeff co-founded Ethical Traveler in 2003, and has served as Executive Director since its inception.

Michael McColl, Communications Director | @travelinsider

Michael is a seasoned marketing and public relations professional, specializing in consulting for travel-related organizations. An inveterate world traveler, he has visited over 50 countries on all seven continents. McColl has over 25 years of experience in branding, direct marketing, internet marketing and public relations. His award-winning marketing efforts have been recognized by Forbes magazine (“Best of the Web,” Summer 2000). To learn how he can help your organization, visit

McColl also teaches travelers how to get more value for their money at

Gregg Butensky, Technologist |

Gregg is a professional web developer and an avid traveler. He has spent nearly three years exploring developing countries in West Africa, the Middle East, and most notably South and Southeast Asia. He founded a public lending library in the Philippines and is a long-time Burma activist.

Andy dePasquale, Technologist | @webakimbo

Andy has been developing web software for over a decade, currently under the Code Refactory banner, a partnership he co-runs. His fingerprints are all over every iteration of the Ethical Traveler website since the organization began. His travels have taken him to four continents and he’s not done.

Natalie Lefevre, News Editor | @natalielefevre

Natalie Lefevre lives in Belgium, and is the general manager of . Natalie serves as both the Editor of Ethical Traveler News, and as the Director of Research for our annual Ethical Destinations Awards.

News Team

Natalie Lefevre, News Editor


Allison Yates 
Karen Blansfield
Erin Morris
Linda Ballou
Rashaad Jorden
Rebecca Campbell
Sharon Marshall
Stephanie Grace Loleng

Advisory Board

Ellen Bruno, Documentary Filmmaker
V. Carroll Dunham, Writer and Anthropologist
Elliot Marseille, PhD, Public Health Economist
Malia Everette, Director, Altruvistas
David Pablo Cohn, Senior Research Scientist, Google
Gail Feldman, M.P.A., Senior Management Analyst for the City of Berkeley
Anthony Sandberg, Director of OCSC

Grateful Acknowledgment To
Samantha Chen, Annika Hipple, Kirstin Williams, Krista Haimovitch, Dennis Ivan, Chuck Toombs