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Travel & Tourism Promotion Advisory Board


James A. Rasulo was named president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in September 2002. In his role as President, he is responsible for Disney’s renowned theme parks and resorts around the world, including Disneyland Resort in California, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Tokyo Disney Resort and Disneyland Resort Paris in France. Rasulo also manages the long-term growth and international expansion initiatives for the business, including the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort scheduled to open in 2005/06.

In addition, Rasulo, 47, oversees the following business units: the Disney Cruise Line; Walt Disney Imagineering, the organization that designs and builds Disney theme parks, attractions and other facilities; Disney Regional Entertainment, which includes the popular sports-themed restaurants, ESPN Zone; and Anaheim Sports Inc., the management company of the sports team franchises, and oversees the National Hockey League's Mighty Ducks.

In 1998, Rasulo moved to Paris to become executive vice president, Euro Disney S.C.A. and served as president and C.O.O. in 1999 until being named chairman and CEO in May of 2000 where he was best known for the many growth initiatives that transformed Disneyland Paris into the top tourist destination in Europe. Rasulo was also at the helm during the March 2002 opening of the Disneyland Paris Resort’s second park, Walt Disney Studios, which marked the beginning of a new and exciting era.

In January of 2001, Rasulo welcomed the 100 millionth guest to the Disneyland Paris Park and celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2002. During his tenure at Disneyland Resort Paris, Rasulo oversaw a massive period of real estate development and signed four major hotel deals with European tour operators and hotel chains for the construction of two thousand new hotel rooms on the Euro Disney property and surrounding area. Also under his leadership, the Disney Village retail, entertainment and dining center has expanded dramatically and seen record levels of revenue.

Rasulo first joined The Walt Disney Company in 1986 as director and later became senior vice president of Corporate Strategic Planning where he led strategy development for all real estate-based businesses in The Walt Disney Company portfolio. He was senior vice president of Corporate Alliances from 1993 – 1995, organizing the sponsorship activities into a company wide strategic business unit. Rasulo also spent three years with Disney Regional Entertainment where he was part of the development of ESPN Zone.

Prior to joining the Walt Disney Company, Rasulo worked for Chase Manhattan Bank in 1978 as an exchange rate/interest rate forecaster, and then in 1984 became a manager of corporate planning for the Marriott Corporation.

A native New Yorker, Rasulo graduated from Columbia in 1978 with a degree in economics. He went on to earn an MA in Economics in 1982 and an MBA in 1984 both from the University of Chicago.
Among Rasulo’s many interests and affiliations, he is the founding member of the Columbia University Club of France, and a board member for the American Chamber of Commerce in France. Rasulo is bi-lingual in English and French.

Rasulo is married with three children.

Noel Irwin Hentschel

As the co-founder, chairman and CEO of AmericanTours International (ATI) Noel Irwin Hentschel, together with Michael Fitzpatrick, has created one of America’s most successful travel organizations. ATI, which was founded in 1977, brings more than 500,000 people from 70 countries to North America each year. Headquartered at Los Angeles International Airport with offices in the major gateway cities across America, ATI is the third largest woman-owned business in Los Angeles and generates an estimated $3 billion dollars in revenues into the North America economy annually.

Recently appointed by the Department of Commerce to the U.S. Travel & Tourism Promotion Advisory Board, Noel will serve as one of 15 industry executives to advise Commerce Secretary Don Evans. This board will make recommendations on how to most effectively increase the number of international visitors to the U.S., including development of a $50 million marketing campaign to encourage inbound tourism. Noel spearheads strategic alliances with a multitude of international and U.S. based organizations. ATI recently entered into a long-term alliance with the AAA to be the Internet travel provider for their 46-million members. AAA is America’s largest retail travel network with $4 billion in travel revenues. ATI recently became the Internet provider travel provider for UNIVISION, the nations’ largest Spanish speaking media organization serving more than 20 million viewers.

Noel has served on many boards including the California Chamber of Commerce, the Travel Industry Association of America, Board of Regents at Loyola Marymount University, and the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.

In 1989, inspired by working with Mother Teresa, Noel established a foundation to create and fund projects devoted to helping women and families achieve financial independence. Since 1990, The Noel Foundation together with the United Nations honors international women leaders for their contributions for a better world and funds numerous projects in America and globally.

In 1998, Success magazine featured Noel as one of their “Top 100 Entrepreneurs” ranking just above Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart. She and Michael Fitzpatrick were awarded the California Travel Industry Association’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” Award, and Noel has been named several times as one of Travel Agent Magazine’s “Most Powerful Women In Travel”. Time magazine has recognized Noel as a “local hero,” while Inc. magazine honored her as “Entrepreneur of the Year.” The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) recognized her as its “1996 Woman Business Owner of the Year” and the California Mothers Association names her their “1998 Humanitarian of the Year.” 2002 Recipient of the “National Caring Institute Award” in Washington D.C.

Active in California and national politics, Noel co-chaired, will Bill Marriott, the “Solidarity USA” initiatives and works closely with The Bush Administration and Congress to improve our nations’ economy. Noel is a regular guest on the television program “Beyond the Beltway.”

A native of California, Noel is the eldest of 10 children. She and her husband Gordon live in Los Angeles, with their seven children. They own and operate Stonepine Estate Resort in Carmel Valley, California.