Meet Our Founder & Chief Global Gal

Brenda McGuire

Every corner of the globe is home to Brenda, who has traveled the world extensively, living and working in many countries and building connections all across what she calls “this small world.” She is a #1 best-selling author, former Fortune 500 business executive, cross-cultural expert, seasoned expat and globetrotter and has launched two international businesses. Her current focus: helping women like you find success in global travel..

Full Bio

Alyce Howard
Alyce HowardGo-To Global Gal
Variety is a way of life for our Go-To Global Gal. She has a background in Japanese language and literature. She has taught English in places like Tokyo and Seoul. She now lives in San Diego with her husband and two dogs. And she handles the many things that come up in a global business, including coordinating across nearly every time zone on the planet. A variety of challenges, for sure!
Alyce Howard is based in Sunny San Diego, near the beautiful California Coast, where she lives with her husband and her two dogs. Originally from Iowa, she has a background in Japanese Language, Literature, and History from the University of Iowa where she got both her B.A. and M.A.

Between her junior and senior year of high school she took her first trip overseas, earning the first stamp in her passport at Japan’s Narita Airport before taking the bullet train down to Kansai prefecture, eventually making her way to her friend’s home in a rural mountain village. She spent a month in Kawakami-mura with her friend and her friend’s family, experiencing the generosity, warmth, and magic of Japan. She fell in love with the people, the history, and the culture and had officially caught the “travel bug.” Inspired by her trip, and her previous experiences with the Japanese Sister-City Association in her hometown, she decided to pursue Japanese Language and Literature studies when she started college a year later.

During her junior year of college, she flew to Japan for the second time—this time as an exchange student where she spent an entire year studying at Kanda University of International Studies in Kaihin-Makuhari, about an hour from Tokyo. After completing her B.A., she pursued her master’s degree in Foreign Language Education. Upon graduating with her M.A., Alyce moved to Taiwan for a year, teaching English to children ranging in age from 2 years old to 13 years old. She enjoyed pushing herself to speak with the locals, try as many traditional dishes as she could find, and immerse herself in the culture there. Next, after spending a year in Taiwan, she got a job in Seoul, South Korea, where she spent the next year—once again, teaching English to kindergarten, elementary, and middle school children. She threw herself into life in South Korea—trying spicy foods, shopping in the underground markets, studying Korean at a free class on the weekends, and spending time with her best friend’s family and her co-workers.

She eventually came back to the US where she met her husband and got a job teaching ESL at Drake University. Soon after, her husband’s work brought them to San Diego and Alyce’s appreciation for travel, and love of living abroad, inspired her to work for Global Gals. As a part of the Global Gals team she wants to help other women achieve their own travel goals—whatever they may be! She believes in the empowering, transformative power of travel—having experienced it firsthand—and wants to do what she can to help others find the inspiration to take that first step.

Colleen Kinsey
Colleen KinseyGlobal Gal on the Go
No matter where you are in the world, don’t be surprised to see Colleen Kinsey. Our “Global Gal on the Go” left her job, sold her belongings and headed out into the world with nothing but a backpack and a desire to share her lessons and experiences with you.
Colleen grew up in the state of Iowa, but always dreamed of exploring distant lands and cultures. Her first taste of adventure was a European trip with the French club in high school. Colleen continued to feed her wanderlust by studying abroad in Wales, and backpacking across Europe on three separate occasions.

Most recently, Colleen quit her corporate job to pursue the lifestyle of a digital nomad. She spent a year saving money, selling all her possessions, and gaining a client base that would allow her to work remotely. Colleen uses her skills to fund her travels. Her dream is to create a life where she can work from anywhere in the world, all she needs is a laptop and Wi-Fi.

Some of Colleen’s favorite travel memories include swimming in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, meeting her ancestors in Germany, sipping wine in the vineyards of Northern Italy, and riding a camel to the Great Pyramid of Giza. It’s hard for her to pick her favorite city, but so far the top of the list has been Budapest. Colleen’s adventures are never ending as she tries to collect experiences, instead of things.

Colleen will be sharing her first-hand experiences as a digital nomad so keep an eye out for stories of lessons-learned, adventure and more! We’re so excited to get to share this experience with her and hope that you’ll also enjoy and find inspiration in her story as it unfolds!

LaVonne Hammans
LaVonne HammansGlobal Writer and Advisor Gal
LaVonne’s title is Global Gals Writer and Advisor, but the 62-year-old former college instructor, and newspaper editor is so delighted about being a part of Global Gals that she says she would have taken any title they wanted to give her.
When asked about her role at Global Gals, LaVonne said, “I have been a writer since I was a little kid—I can’t ‘not write,’ and enjoying editing trails after that trait like the tail on a dog. Imagine how excited a dog gets over playing ball—the way they just vibrate with delight— that’s pretty much me when it comes to editing and writing. Despite the fact that my job at Global Gals lets me do the things I love to do, that’s not the best part of being a part of the Global Gals’ team.

What’s best is being a part of empowering and educating women so that they can fulfill their travel dreams. I believe heart and sole in the Global Gals mission for the most profound reason a person can have for believing in something. Global Gals helped me before I ever came to work with the wonderful team of women, who like me, are bent on seeing women travel safely and joyfully to wherever they want or need to go.”

LaVonne went on to explain how her battle with cancer caused her to retire from the workplace some years ago. Then she attended a Global Gals event where she got to listen to Chief Global Gal Brenda McGuire talk about her life of travel and the benefits of travel. “I am not one for clubs and joining, but the Global Gal get together was exciting and enlightening because you had a group of women together who had interesting travel experiences to share, or just interest in other cultures and travel. All my life I had a paralyzing fear of flying that limited what I could do, but after listening to Brenda talk about everything she had done and experienced in her young life, the bands of that old fear began to crack and crumble.

“One of the great things about being 62,” Hammans laughs, “is you’ve had time to experience many things. My early childhood was spent on a military base in the wilderness of north-central Alaska. This tiny community was full of people from different backgrounds and countries. In school, most of my classmates were American Indians. My sister and I explored the woods and learned about nature in the care of our Blackfoot neighbor, Mrs. Shoot. Summers were sometimes spent with our Iowan grandparents. I remember Iowa rural life as fun, yet so horribly hot that I knew I would never want to live there. Eventually my family moved from Alaska to the east coast where there was a rich mix of cultures including Appalachian mountain people, many ethnic groups, as well as a mix of urban and rural cultures. Because God has a great sense of humor, I married a sweet man from the one place I said I would never live: Iowa. His work caused us to move around the country from northern Minnesota to Houston. I have multiple degrees, so was able to find various jobs as we moved, teaching in public school and college, working as a journalist and editor, and being an artist in residence around the Midwest. I even worked as a clown when my husband was working on his internship for his cultural anthropology degree. He gave up going to China because he wanted me along, and I couldn’t fly. It was still an amazing experience. I did my clowning at a Chinese Community Center because I couldn’t’ speak a word of Chinese and the Chinese group that was sponsoring my husband wanted me to be involved too. I’m someone who finds clowns a little creepy, but they wanted a clown and one of my degrees is in theatre, so I rigged out a ‘happy clown’ costume and found out how much you can say without words.”

Shortly after Hammans attended the Global Gals get together she got on a plane with her sister and flew to visit her daughter in San Diego. Being able to fly was a life-changing experience for her. “In five hours,” she said, “ I felt like I was transported to paradise. Because I like colder temperatures, I had never traveled to somewhere like San Diego. It was love at first sight and smell—ocean sea salt in the air, fresh citrus and flowers.” When I got home, I knew I wanted to work for Global Gals. Between my age and my illness, I am very selective about what I invest my time and energy in. Global Gals isn’t like a normal business that was formed because someone thought they had an idea that would make them money. Founder, Brenda McGuire’s father inspired and supported her in her travels—both her parent did. When her father passed away suddenly from cancer, he had already given her the thumbs up on her idea to create a company that would give women the sort of support she had to make their travel dreams come true. Brenda went forward, dedicating the company to his memory. It’s a company about dreaming, about overcoming obstacles, and women in community helping each other to achieve their dreams. Every time I sit down at my computer to do some work for Global Gals I feel like I am doing something important because the mission of Global Gals is important. I love being a part of the dream, and I hope I can encourage other women to ‘step onboard,’ with Global Gals and find out that ‘the world’s the limit’ and nothing else is!”

EJ Philby
EJ PhilbyGlobal Film Gal
EJ Philby is a self-described explorer, dog lover, and future starship captain. A recent graduate of the University of Iowa with a degree in filmmaking and French, she also spent a year studying abroad in Lille, France. She is a native of Des Moines, Iowa, but also considers herself to be a casual citizen of any place she travels to. Her travel experience includes the entire Midwestern United States as well as several other states, the majority of continental Europe, England, and Iceland.
Besides sharing her expertise with Global Gals, she is busy working on films and TV commercials. Her hobbies include photography, astronomy, dog training, and generally fangirling about Star Trek and the Lord of the Rings. EJ keeps a collection of pocket watches, some of which she finds when she travels, and some of which are family heirlooms that date back to the 1800s. Wherever she goes, EJ tries to live by Mark Twain’s words: “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Ilene Hagen
Ilene HagenGlobal Hospitality Gal
Ilene may have gotten her passport when she was 47 years old, in order to visit her daughter was living abroad at the time, but since then she has visited over 25 countries around the world. Her daughter’s international travels led her and her husband to begin their own global explorations, taking them on many adventures together. Ilene’s favorite way to travel is by cruise—of which she’s been on more than ten—but she’s done everything from Fly Camping in Alaska, budget backpacking in Europe, road trips and camping in the US, to luxury European river cruises.
A little closer to home, Ilene has also traveled to most of the 50 states in the US, oftentimes enjoying the special brand of fun that comes with road trips. Out of all her travels however, her favorite destination was Egypt because of the welcoming people and amazing culture.

Ilene retired from the corporate world and now, as a widow, is always looking for a travel buddy to join her on her travel adventures. Because of this, she was quite happy when Global Gals launched its “travel buddy” communications for their members. Ilene loves travel so much because it gives you the chance to meet interesting people and see beautiful scenery, but she reminds would-be travelers to be flexible, do plenty of research before you leave, and make sure you go off-the-beaten-path.

Kayley Schwankl
Kayley SchwanklGlobal Techie Gal
Kayley Schwankl is originally from southern California. Kayley’s travels have taken her to over 18 countries! Her first international experience was traveling to Ireland, Scotland and England when she was 17, but it wasn’t until volunteering at an orphanage in the Philippines in college that the “wanderlust” set in.
On this trip she was confronted with true poverty for the first time, but saw that there is so much beauty in the midst of tragedy and grew immensely as a result of this experience. Having now been on several solo international trips to countries like Belize and Peru, Kayley has seen the positive effects traveling had on her life and those around her. She now has a strong passion to help women find their independence and push themselves outside their comfort zone through traveling and adventure.

Brenda and Alyce met Kayley about a year ago while she was working for a tech company, and Global Gals has been on her mind ever since. She is so excited to be a part of the team to help women all around the world explore.

She has a degree in Literature from CBU in Riverside, California is often seen reading Shakespeare or random books of poetry for fun. When she is not working, she is sailing, backpacking, traveling, volunteering or serving with the local search and rescue team.

Angela Carlson
Angela CarlsonGlobal Gal Adventurer
The only thing foreign to Global Gals Adventurer, Angela, is fear. After working professionally in the sales and marketing fields while attending college as a full-time business student, Angela grabbed her diploma and her bags. She set off to see the world with a goal of reaching every continent (aside from Antarctica) before arriving back home to North Carolina. She has almost completed her first tour around the world, but has discovered that she’s far from done with her travels. After coming home, she plans on hitting the road again shortly after!
Angela was born in Virginia and grew up in Iowa as her family moved to be closer to grandparents. While she loves Iowans and the Iowa State Fair, it didn’t take long for Angela to grow tired of Iowa winters. At a young age, she decided it was important for her to live somewhere within driving distance of a beach and somewhere that has minimal winters. After completing two years at community college she knew she had reached an impasse—either stay cold but comfortable and transfer to a university in Iowa or head back to the east coast as she’d always dreamed. Angela followed her dreams—and took a nice tour of parts of the U.S.A along the way. She packed up her stuff and her dogs and drove 1,200 miles home.

Having driven on various road-trips throughout the U.S.A, Angela was bit by the travel bug fairly early on in life—but it really bit when she took her first trip abroad on a summer-session study abroad trip to South Africa. She vividly remembers being ready to go home but not wanting to leave. It was a conflicting mindset but she’s since realized that it simply meant she was not done exploring the world. If that day will ever come is yet to be seen, but she’s happy to be living her adventure. So far it’s taken her to 5 continents and given her priceless memories. Some of her favorite memories include seeing the Cliffs of Moher, the Eiffel Tower, visiting small towns in Italy, flying in the balloons in Cappadocia, Turkey, racing a camel through the Pyramids in Egypt, and learning Muay Thai in Thailand.  Though she’d have to say her favorite part in all of her travels are the wonderful and diverse people she’s met and friends she’s made along the way.

Angela loves working with the Global Gals team because she believes in the company message of educating, inspiring, and empowering women to travel. Her personal goals align with the goals of Global Gals so it makes a great match! Along with working with Global Gals she also runs her own YouTube channel and enjoys videography, writing, and photography.

Strategic Global Partners

Good things come by working together. Global Gals has joined forces with some of the top talents and resources around the world. Teachers. Travel experts. Writers. Advisors. And so much more. Meet some of our colleagues who help make it all happen.

Our Expert Trainers & Cross-Cultural Specialists

Real experts. Real answers. That’s the Global Gals way. From things as simple as how to say hello, to how to arrange long-term stays in a country. Where to visit and when’s the best time to go. How to be safe. Cultural mistakes to avoid. Savvy travel insights.

Whatever your questions, our team can help. Global Gals works with a network of travel experts and coaches located all around the world. They come from a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and academic influences but they all deliver this: high-quality travel education, training, and coaching to get you where you want to be.

Real experts. Real answers. Ready for you.