Founder & Chairman, Alabama Civil Rights Tourism Association and the Center for Conservation and Community.
Steve is the visionary and co-founder of International Expeditions, one of the first ecotourism companies in the world at its inception in 1980. As a world leader in nature travel, International Expeditions was at the forefront of the sustainability movement, using conservation- and education-based tourism to fund projects in tropical rainforest locations.
In 2010, Steve began initiatives to apply the same concepts practiced in ecotourism and sustainable travel to benefit his home state of Alabama, home to some of our nation’s richest Civil Rights history yet its caretakers were some of the nation’s poorest people and communities. Forging collaborations with Alabama Tourism, The US Civil Rights Trail, and through building personal relationships with the Foot Soldiers and Activists who lived the events of the 1950s and 60s, the foundation was laid for the establishment of the non-profit Alabama Civil Rights Tourism Association in 2019.
Prior to founding International Expeditions, Steve established a travel department for the regional publication Progressive Farmer Magazine, sister publication to Southern Living Magazine, and worked as a United States Senate Staffer. In these roles, Steve had unique experiences that firmly established his passion for connecting people through experiential travel while organizing delegations of business people and officials between the U.S. and China, and the U.S. and the former Soviet Union.
Steve earned his B.A. in Political Science from Auburn University. He and his wife, attorney Janet Pitts Cox, have two adult children, a standard poodle and live in Birmingham, Alabama.
Chief Product & Strategy Officer
Elaine Chu has more than thirty years of travel industry experience, spanning an extensive list of roles. Her passion for exploring the world began on a student choral performance tour of Europe, then was cemented during two years of study abroad in France while earning a bachelor of arts from Boston University. As a freelance tour manager for twenty years, Elaine traveled to every continent. Transitioning to in-house roles, she held a variety of positions at travel companies in sales, tour operations and quality. Prior to joining Conservancy Travel and the Alabama Civil Rights Tourism Association, Elaine was product development and contracting director at Road Scholar.
Chief Financial & Operations Officer
John Key operated more than forty international trade missions between the State of Alabama and governments and businesses in twenty-seven countries around the world. He developed and coordinated OFAC-compliant travel and trade relations between the U.S. and Cuba. John established a successful international programs division at the University of West Alabama. His transition from international business to travel began when he joined International Expeditions to expand authorized travel to Cuba, and manage tour operations for the Alabama Civil Rights Tourism Association and Conservancy Travel. John earned a bachelor of science in business administration and management from Troy University and a master of public administration from Walden University.