Sarah Towle, Founder & Creative Director
Sarah calls herself an “accidental entrepreneur,” having come to the startup world totally by chance through her work as an author, cultural historian, and professor of language, linguistics, and conflict resolution. That said, she’s shown a tendency to strike out on her own since her first business venture at the age of 14: braiding the manes and tails of show horses. When Sarah realized many years later, in 2010, that the time-traveling Paris treasure hunt series she was writing was “too interactive” for print, she began developing Time Traveler Tours: a new generation of tour guide for a new generation of traveler that combines the traditional power of storytelling with the latest in touchscreen technology to create portals to the past. The company's mission is to ensure that no young person says, "History is boring," ever again.
Sarah's debut Story Tour, Beware Madame la Guillotine, A Revolutionary Tour of Paris, launched in July 2011 to top industry accolades, but the app's critical splash was not matched by commercial success — not even close. This compelled Sarah to step back and make a study of the myriad challenges, and opportunities, unleashed by the digital revolution. Now she's back with a unique proposition to weave world-class storytelling into historic locations with gamification to teach about the past in a playful, engaging way. She then repurposes these stories to publish products that hook and hold across multiple formats. Sarah and Team TTT&T aim to revolutionize the discovery of history and culture for the benefit of youth — and the young at heart — by bringing the very best in interactive storytelling across multiple formats with the help of a consortium of writers.
A long-time expat, Sarah currently lives in London, UK, with her husband, their incredibly comic and wildly hirsute four-legged adopted dog, and her daughter, when she's home on University holidays.
James O’Connor, Co-Founder & Adviser
James has earned his living as a writer and editor for more than three decades. He has been to every continent in the world and more than 30 countries, writing stories about education, travel, and anything else he could be paid for. He's also been a front-line witness to both the growth of the travel and tourism industry as well as its disruption brought on by the digital revolution. He became an instant supporter of Sarah Towle's idea for creating story-driven tours to historic places from the moment he heard about it. Since then, he has helped drive the Time Traveler Tours concept forward every step of the way.
Emma D. Dryden, Publishing & Editorial Consultant
After twenty-five years as a highly regarded children’s book editor and publisher with Atheneum and McElderry Books, Emma struck out on her own. Founder of drydenbks, a premier children’s editorial and publishing consultancy, she consults and collaborates with authors, illustrators, agents, domestic and foreign publishers, students, and with app & eBook developers. With Newbery Medal, Newbery Honor, Caldecott Honor books and bestsellers to her claim, she brings to Time Traveler Tours & Tales both extensive knowledge of the world of "traditional publishing" as well as a desire to be a part of a media project charting a new path toward the future.
Emma speaks regularly on craft, the digital landscape, and reinvention, and her blog “Our Stories, Ourselves” explores the intertwined themes of life and writing. She is on the Board of Advisors of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and can be followed online at Twitter (@drydenbks), Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
Emma is a born and bred New Yorker and lives there with her family in the Upper West Side apartment in which she grew up.
Melissa Dusette, Community Manager & Client Liaison
With an MA in anthropology, a certificate in Museum Studies, and many years working in the field of cultural education under her belt, Melissa lives, breathes, and sleeps educational tourism. She's also an ace webinar and online tutorial packager, a skill she brings to bear in helping TTT&T develop online courses and other educational products to complement its titles. She manages the Team’s social media and is also actively introducing Time Traveler Tours' unique storytelling proposition to her museum colleagues around the world, thus helping to grow our future audience base.
"I am passionate about combining my love of museums with my skills in technology to educate others about history and culture," states Melissa. "Time Traveler Tours & Tales is the perfect conduit for that!"
Melissa lives in Ann Arbor, MI with her hunky new husband, dancing black dog, and insatiable orange cat.
Frank Totaro, Finance & Accounting Consultant
Before creating Taro Associates, Frank spent 20+ years with Simon & Schuster, Inc., including 15 years as Vice President and General Manager of the Children’s Division. Frank Totaro is an accomplished financial and operations executive with a pedigree in the publishing, media, entertainment and licensing industries. He has worked with companies and businesses of all size – from small to mid-sized to multinational organization – and in various phases of operation – from early start-up to growth oriented to mature business expansion. He now joins TTT&T to bring his considerable skill and knowledge in traditional publishing to the digital ecosystem with a company he affectionately refers to as a publishing “upstart.”
Kiri Martin, UX & UI Designer
Kiri I knew she wanted to be a designer by the time she started kindergarten at the age of 5. A couple of decades later -- with a degree in Industrial Design from Pratt Institute, and experience in Industrial, Graphic and UX Design -- she started Kiri Creative, her own User Experience & Graphic Design business. Shortly after moving to London from NYC, she met Sarah while the two happening to be walking their dogs in the same park. It was the epitome of serendipitous meet-ups because Team TTT&T was just then looking for someone to help improve the navigation and look of Buried Alive: The Secret Michelangelo Took to His Grave.
It was a the perfect match of shared passions and skills, and now Kiri joins the team as an equity partner. When not working, Kiri can be found exploring London, photographing Europe, or hiking with her husband and dog.
Jane Dixson-Smith, Design & Branding Consultant
JD Smith has worked in the graphic design industry for nearly twenty years and now specialises in branding as well as book cover design and typesetting. She began working with Time Traveler Tours after Sarah read her book, The Importance of Book Cover Design, and contacted JD about doing the layout and cover for Buried Alive: The Secret Michelangelo Took to His Grave. It wasn't long before she was also helping team TTT&T with their global rebranding efforts, as well as upgrading the look of the Buried Alive app. At that point, Sarah decided to make JD's involvement official, inviting her to join the team as Design and Branding Consultant.
JD lives in the English Lake District with her family of five. She is also the author of fictional titles Tristan and Iseult, The Rise of Zenobia, The Fate of an Emperor , The Better of Two Men and The Rebel Queen. Learn more about JD here: www.jdsmith-design.co.uk www.jdsmith-author.co.uk
Joe Bianco, Recording & Audio Engineer
Joe first joined team TTT&T as the voice of Michelangelo for Buried Alive: The Secret Michelangelo Took to His Grave. "It's been such a joy and a pleasure bringing the wonderful words of this story off the page and into your ears through Florence's most famous sculptor," he says. We all worked so well together, that he agreed to come onboard to help source and record our audio narration for years to come. He will also soon be helping Sarah to create a #HistoryHeroes podcast for Time Traveler Tours & Tales.
Joe is an actor (in almost every regard) who calls Chicago home. On stage, he has worked with The Chicago Shakespeare Theater, The House Theatre, Door Shakespeare and Lifeline Theatre. Recent voiceover clients include Ducati, Porsche, Lays, The Onion, Pfizer, Tostidos, Chuck Taylor & Dollywood Theme Park. TV credits include Chicago Fire (S4 E3 - I Walk Away). Visit www.actorjoebianco.com for more information.
Marcie Colleen, Curriculum Developer
Marcie comes to the world of children's literature and interactive media as a former New York State high school English teacher and theater educator. For her Masters degree, Marcie traveled abroad to study Process Drama in London, as well as teach in the London school system. Marcie joins Team TTT&T to bring to bear her many talents, as both classroom teacher and drama educator, in developing multifaceted and dynamic curriculum guides that make Time Traveler Tours & Tales stories jump off the screen and into the classroom. Her guides are dedicated to social studies educators, librarians, and drama teachers and all are aligned with national educational standards, such as theUS Common Core.
In addition to creating dramatic curriculum guides, Marcie is an author. Her books include THE SUPER HAPPY PARTY BEARS chapter book series with Macmillan/Imprint, as well as upcoming picture books THE ADVENTURE OF THE PENGUINAUT, to be published by Scholastic, and LOVE, TRIANGLE, which sold at auction in a two-book deal to Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins.
Marcie lives with her husband and mischievous sock monkey in San Diego, CA. But you can visit her at www.thisismarciecolleen.com.
OnCell is the leading digital storytelling platform for cultural destinations, connecting people, interesting places, and their stories, everywhere. For all these reasons, they are the perfect development partner for Time Traveler Tours & Tales.
Team OnCell joins Team TTT&T to marry their award-winning mobile app builder with Time Traveler Tours' unique storytelling proposition to create powerful ways for visitors to connect with the rich cultural heritage of historic venues, locations, and sites. This partnership allows Team TTT&T the opportunity not only to continue developing immersive placed-based story tours for the Time Traveler Tours brand, but also to develop story-driven tours to destinations worldwide at an affordable cost.