MPG Panelists – Inspiration Part 2

We recently highlighted a few of our 70+ Meet, Plan, Go! event panelists – all of whom will be sharing their inspiring stories across the country on October 18, 2011. And since there are so many, we thought we’d share a few more!

Shaun Henderson
As a typical adolescent, Shaun’s imagination was boundless. As a teenager in 1980s era New Jersey, somehow the ocean inspired him. Searching for waves along the Jersey Shore and eastern United States is what first introduced Shaun to exploration. The roots of his passion for travel are part adventurous and part philosophical. Adventurous in the sense of exploring mountains, rivers, oceans and trails through various sports. Philosophical due to a growing interest in trying to understand how people develop their cultural identity. The rest of the story is a mixture of adventure travel, soul searching, and a long list of ridiculous jobs in faraway places.

The word ‘career’ was not part of Shaun’s vernacular until much later in life. Nor was the word ‘vacation’ for that matter. Instead, a book titled “Work Your Way Around The World”, by Susan Griffith served as his trail map. Consequently, Shaun has traveled extensively and worked a variety of jobs including guiding multi-day mountain bike tours, freelance illustrator, and hot air balloon chase crew. Unburdened by any singular mission in life, he was able to spend most of his second decade on planet earth seeking adventures, learning about new cultures, falling in and out of love, and living life to the fullest as any selfish, idealistic, privileged middle class citizen of a developed country should.

Nowadays, Shaun takes vacations. And he is no longer afraid of the word ‘career’. He still travels more often than most, and still has his life lists and wild dreams. Most of his journeys are still centered around some adventure or another. His knees hurt a bit more than they used to, but they still work. Currently, Shaun lives in Hawaii with his beautiful lilikoi vine and two loving fish.

Want to attend the Honolulu event?

Julie DuRose
When Julie quit her teaching gig at The Ohio State University to travel the world for a year, she let her appetite guide her. She shucked oysters at the Russian River; picked cranberries in the Arctic; tried stingray in Malaysia; ate jellyfish in Singapore (that was revenge); popped oven-roasted tarantulas in Cambodia, and ate fruit she’d never heard of – jackfruit, salak, rambutan, and the sexiest of all, the delicate mangosteen. All of it surprised her, as did the hospitality of her fellow humans. From Carmel to Anchorage to Kona, HI, throughout New Zealand, India, and S.E. Asia, she never imagined how many folks would be part of her extended travels – not to mention her life thereafter.

Julie DuRose is former chef and current M.F.A. candidate in nonfiction, currently writing a memoir entitled Wake Me For Meal Service. She lives in St. Paul, though she dreams of Myanmar.

Want to attend the Minneapolis event?

Charlotte Piper
Charlotte grew up in Canada, the United States and the UK. She believes international travel is an important educational experience and has prioritized it in her life. In May 2010, she left her corporate job in NYC to begin an open-ended, solo backpacking adventure. In 7 months, she made her way through 10 countries, mainly in South East Asia. Upon her return, Charlotte worked as business development manager at Wanderfly, a travel start-up based in NYC. She is currently developing a personal website of travel photos and journal entries.

Want to attend the New Orleans event?

Rita Foley
Rita is a co-author of the recently published book Reboot Your Life. Energize Your Life by Taking a Break. After her first sabbatical, in 1982, Rita changed careers and entered the burgeoning computer industry with Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), where she held increasingly responsible positions over 17 years. Her sabbatical nine years ago, ended in another career change when she became President of MeadWestvaco’s $1B+ global consumer packaging business. Her most recent sabbatical led her into a portfolio career.

Today, Rita spends one third of her time serving on corporate boards, PetSmart and Dresser-Rand and leading Crenshaw Associates Board Director’s practice, one third on her passion — the nonprofit field where she has been chair of a microfinance organization, Pro Mujer, and serves as a trustee of Healthcare Chaplaincy and the final third on having fun which consists of lots of travel and delivering workshops and consulting on the topic of Rebooting.

Website: Reboot Break | Twitter: @RebootBreak

Want to attend the NYC event?

Ben Reed
Ben is an Orlando-based Travel Blogger that will try (almost) anything once. His travel blog, Adventures with Ben, encourages readers to do the same as they learn how to plan, explore and enjoy some of the world’s top destinations. Ben also hosts a weekly podcast about Florida Travel & Tourism called Florida Travel Cocktail – available for download on iTunes.

Ben’s travel expertise has been highlighted in,, and VISIT Florida – Florida’s official tourism portal. He also writes a monthly travel column for an Orlando-area newspaper and in 2009, was selected as one of five winners in a social media travel competition sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

In addition to his writing, Ben launched the Central Florida Chapter of Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX) and operates an online travel store. Ben will never eat Jellyfish again and counts bungee jumping in front of Victoria Falls one adventure everyone should try… but he won’t do it again. And for the record, he planned his “Epic Trip to Australia” way before Oprah did.

Website: Adventures with Ben | Twitter: @adventureswben

Want to attend the Orlando event?

Kim Dinan
Kim & Brian moved to Oregon in their early twenties with $700 in their pockets, two dogs, a car, two spoons, two forks, two plates, a mini television, a bag each of clothing, and a few boxes of mementos. Five years later they’d built an entire life: married, bought a house, and filled the house with stuff. They’d climbed our way up our respective ladders and were earning good salaries.

Knowing that the 9-to-5-in-a-cubicle kind of life is not what their lives are for, they decided to “give it all up” to travel the world. Kim & Brian are in the middle of planning for their big trip departing in the next year.

Website: So Many Places | Twitter: @RTWsomanyplaces

Want to attend the Portland event?

Spencer Spellman
Spencer is a traveling writer and blogger, originally from North Carolina and outfitted with a fierce Southern drawl, who currently calls San Francisco home. While he has traveled around the world, Europe is his first love, a love that is sustained back home by micro brews, fish and chips, soccer and golf.

Spencer took a more non-traditional approach to his career break, choosing to use writing to support himself while traveling, instead of saving money to travel. This allowed him to travel indefinitely, spending most of his time road-tripping across the U.S. and living and traveling in Central America. When he arrived somewhere he didn’t want to leave, San Francisco, he decided to settle down until the road calls again.

Website: The Traveling Philosopher | Twitter: @spencerspellman

Want to attend the San Francisco event?

Ryan and Jen Fuller
Ryan and Jen are recovering management consultants who recently returned to the US after quitting their jobs, getting married and taking a six month career break in Argentina and Chile. Prior to hearing the term ‘career break’ they just called what they were doing ‘rehab.’ Since returning in Sept. of 2010, They have been getting reacquainted with real life in Seattle.

Website: Consulting Rehab

Want to attend the Seattle event?

Stephanie Sappington
In October 2006, Stephanie left with her family to go on a round-the-world backpacking trip. They traveled to 15 countries in 11 months and camped for a good part of the way. They took their 2 daughters, aged 12 and 14, whom they had been homeschooling. In fact, the main reason that they homeschooled was so they could travel more during the school year.

They called it The Ultimate Field Trip and got to view platypuses, koalas and kangaroos in the wilds of Australia, and hiked miles to see seals on the beaches of New Zealand. They learned a lot of history in the temples of SE Asia, where they got to pet wild tigers, and the cathedrals and castles of Europe. They read The Odyssey while cruising on Greek ferry boats, and worked on the Pythagorean Theorem while cruising from the Isle of Samos – which was the home of Pythagoras. If they had a chance to go again, they certainly would!

Want to attend the St. Louis event?

Rick Storey
The # 1 goal on Rick’s Bucket List was to travel the world for a year with his wife and three young children. They traveled to 36 countries in 11 months and returned a happier and closer family. Rick was between careers and his wife took a career break. They even coordinated schooling in two languages for their children.

Rick will share some of his adventures and experience, and answer your questions. He says: “the great news, it’s a lot easier than you may think!

Want to attend the Toronto event?

Kinnari Patel
Kinnari graduated from the University of Maryland in Physiology/Neurobiology. Before beginning med school, she took a year off to visit India, her homeland. This led to a decision not to pursue medicine and instead she went on to work in Internet technology for almost 10 years, for companies such as Marriott and Conde Nast Publications.

After surviving the rat race in NYC and the economic downturn in 2008 she left to travel the world. On her journey she explored Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Boliva, Chile. She also spent a month in Nepal volunteering at an orphanage and traveling through Tibet. She lives a spiritual life, practicing meditation and yoga, and believes in self realization and making life choices that fulfill your own personal truth.

Currently, Kinnari is the owner of Be Healthy Vending, a company that provides natural, healthy food options to schools and gyms in the DC metro area, a cause she is very proud of. And, as always, she continues to realize her bliss.

Want to attend the Washington DC event?

Check out all of our 17 event locations on October 18th!

Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go