Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Cathy Backus

Cathy Backus, Founder and President of Send Me On Vacation (SMOV), a 501(C)(3) charity, had the vision of using the concept of vacation rejuvenation to support emotional healing for breast cancer survivors who had recently undergone treatment after her best friend battled breast cancer for the second time. She brings together travel industry professionals to contribute accommodations, airlines, cruises, and dollars to change the lives of survivors.

Mrs. Backus is Vice President of VacationGuard, a travel insurance company based in Bellevue, Washington.  Wherever her business takes her, she takes SMOV along for the ride in recruiting more and more sponsors to provide more vacations and wellness experiences to survivors.

In 2015, Send Me On Vacation raised 100% of all donations through events in Canada, Mexico and the United States. These events and resources have raised sufficient funds to send over 300 survivors on healing vacations in 5 years. Because of her endeavors, Send Me On Vacation has awarded richly-deserved vacations to women throughout the United States, Mexico, Canada and Bermuda.

Not only has Cathy brought this homegrown charity to national prominence in the last three years, but she has engaged in many other philanthropic endeavors as well….from founding a “collegeship” program for Girls Inc in Harlem, New York providing the opportunity for smart, bold and strong inner-city girls to go away to college …. to raising funds and orchestrating medical missions in the Bahamas. Her efforts funded the purchase a mammogram machine for the residents of Abaco, Bahamas. Cathy’s energy is boundless and her mind is creative in coming up with tremendous fundraising ideas to support her charitable dreams.

The beauty of Cathy is that she has the ability to energize people from every walk of life throughout North America and truly is a woman who makes a difference in lives of survivors striving to become thrivers.

Leland Eugene “Gene” Backus, ESQ.

Leland Eugene (Gene) Backus is a native Nevadan and graduate of UCLA School of Law. He has been chief trial counsel or regional counsel on some of the largest complex cases in the country from the MGM Fire Litigation where he was appointed Liaison Counsel to Agent Orange, asbestos, Dupont Hotel Fire Litigation, Pepcon Plant Explosion, Bone Screw Litigation, tobacco, diet drug and other medical/pharmaceutical complex and class action litigation.

When asked what he specializes in, his answer is often the “complex and ugly.” He has been recognized as a Super Lawyer in 2007, 2008 and 2009 for Nevada and the Mountain States. His law firm, Backus-Carranza Burden represents hotel, construction, health care, real estate, and insurance clientele.

Mr. Backus is an arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association in complex construction and commercial matters and has been selected as panel chairman in many large-scale disputes. He has authored several articles in the field of litigation, including ABA survey publications on pharmaceuticals and medical device litigation issues. Not only has he educated others in healthcare law and products liability internationally, he has lectured in construction law at the national level at both the esteemed Super-conference and the ABA Forum for the Construction Industry. He has helped educate judges and lawyers on civil rule practice; his peers refer to him as a “lawyer’s lawyer.”

Shawnah Sheehy

Ms. Sheehy is Chief Operation Officer of iMDirect Marketing and Co-Founder of All Digital Rewards. She has over 20 years of experience and is recognized as an industry leader in the development, execution and management of B2C direct response marketing campaigns. Her innate ability to dissect complex business flows and her passion for emerging technologies allows her to develop successful acquisition and retention systems for her customers.

She has served on many boards at the executive level that supports youth development, cancer survivors, and commerce. In the past, she has volunteered as a youth soccer and basketball coach for close to a decade. She is a proud mother of three adult sons. She enjoys sharing great wine with friends, reading, hiking, traveling, cross fit, boating, and cycling. She resides with her family and three dogs in Phoenix, AZ.

Brad Dance

Mr. Dance is the Chief Customer Officer of TuGo Insurance, one of Canada’s leading providers of travel medical insurance.

Travel Underwriters is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia and also has offices in Toronto, Ontario, Montreal, Quebec and Tijuana, Mexico.

In his role as Chief Customer Officer, Mr. Dance has overall responsibility for all customer facing operations of the company, including, Sales, Business Development, Claims, Customer Service and Customer Operations.

Prior to joining Travel Underwriters, Mr. Dance was Vice-President of Marsh Canada, one of the world’s leading insurance brokerage firms.

Greg Crist

Mr. Crist leads the National Timeshare Owners Association (NTOA) with over a decade of professional experience in association management and non-profit development. He had established solid working relationships with key stakeholders in the resort community. Under his leadership, the organization has expanded into Canada and created a comprehensive new member education series that promotes the use and benefits of vacation ownership in North America.

As a member of both CRDA and ARDA, Greg often asked to write about vacation ownership and speaks at various conferences on consumer/owner related topics. Greg’s collaborative nature in working with other organizations who are equally committed to improving timeshares both as a product and an experience has allowed him to bridge complex issues with beneficial solutions.

Pam Horwitz

Ms. Horwitz  is a two-time breast cancer survivor and the inspiration behind Send Me On Vacation. Cathy Backus and Pam became fast friends over 29 years ago when they instantly bonded over their love of travel and family.

As well as being a Board Member, Pam is the Chair of the Survivor Committee for SMOV. This position evokes special bonds with the survivors blessed by Send Me On Vacation and having someone there who understands what it means to be a survivor is a crucial part of the recovery process.

Pam helps them to understand life after treatment, before getting a vacation of a lifetime. She is passionate about yoga, holistic healing, clean eating and the power of positive thinking which all play a part in brightening the future life of a survivor.

Wally Halicki Jr

Mr. Walter (Wally) Halicki Jr. is the president of Reputation Maxx, and also oversees sales and marketing for JW Maxx Solutions-Latin America division. In his current role with JWM, Wally currently manages a team of account managers and sales consultants serving clients throughout Latin America.

Wally is also the current board President of Amigos de Los Ninos, a charitable organization based in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico where he resides. He has served as board member, secretary, and as mentioned is the current president of this association, all over the past eight years. Wally has over a decade of sales and marketing experience from the vacation ownership industry, accrued at multiple vacation ownership properties in Los Cabos.

Wally is a devoted husband to his wife of 11 years, Diana, and a proud father of sons Eric, William, and son number three come October 2016.

Rebecca Taylor Shaw

Mrs. Shaw is Chief Executive Officer and Clinical Director of the Charleston Hypnosis Center located in South Carolina. She is also a Certified Master Trainer in Clinical Hypnosis and Guided Imagery and the Official Hypnotherapist for Charleston’s Mix96 Radio. Having conducted over 50,000 hours of one-on-one sessions and group workshops, she is a leading authority on personal development, stress management, and peak performance.

Mrs. Shaw is the creator of “The Mermaid’s Journey,” an experiential workshop developed for SMOV breast cancer survivors to provide them self-help tools for emotional healing and mental resilience which she believes is an essential skill set for minimizing the role stress plays on healing, health, and immunity, as well as our ability to live to our fullest potential. Msr. Shaw believes that breast cancer survivors can turn their biggest challenge into their most profound gift to the world by learning to actively foster their own emotional fitness and, thus, become role models in their circles of influence.

Geoff Howes

Mr. Howes is the CEO of KixPay Inc a merchant services provider delivering payment solutions through a proprietary gateway to insurance, legal and accounting firms in Canada and the USA.

KixPay has its head office in Vancouver B.C. and the US business is located in Columbus GA operating under the trade name Securfee LLC.

Mr. Howes is an avid traveler for business and pleasure, a board member of his local minor hockey association, fisherman, sports fan, father to 3 young men and husband to a great woman.

Dr Dave Altman

When people ask me what I do for a living I usually tell them, “I’m a chiropractor”. That often yields some entertaining answers. What I really want to tell them is, “I help people who struggle to get through the day with chronic pain and desperately want a healthy, vibrant body. I show them how to get more out of life, while at the same time making it feel simple.” explains Dr Altman.

Dr Altman has a D.C. degree. D.C stands for Doctor of Chiropractic. A lot of people don’t realize that it takes more class room hours and more National Board exams than a medical degree and has been featured in two published books. He spent the winter of 2012 as the official chiropractor of Snowbird Ski Resort.

After practicing for the last 19 years, Dr Altman learned a lot about simplifying life and health using chiropractic adjustments, whole food nutrition, and whole food supplements. He regularly educates patients with email lessons, podcasts (he interviews really interesting people from millionaires to refugees), and online classes.