Meet the First™ team

Between last-minute airline cancellations, oversold hotels and complicated car bookings, executive travel can be incredibly involved. And we agree. It's often not a job for just one person, but it's definitely a personal job.

That's why First™ is supported by a team of travel professionals who make business trips their business. Each team member is a specialist with passion and expertise for a particular area of travel. Combined they make a complete comprehensive concierge, safety net, go-to team — whatever it is travelers need to plan a seamless trip.

An expert team behind you. A personalized service that works for you. Now that's travel, handled.

Karen O'Neil

Karen O'Neil

Service Performance Leader

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Karen brings 30+ years of travel experience with American Express Global Business Travel.  Most recent role as Client Specialists for Private Equity, Pharmaceutical and Entertainment portfolio of 70+ customers.

Karen has received several awards during her career at American Express.  The top AMEX award, Pacesetter for 2018, 2017 and 2011!   Pacesetters recognize the top 5% performers!  The Chairman’s Award for Quality 1998, Centurion Club Award 1998, Star Performer 2000, 2007, 2008.

Karen and her husband Peter have enjoyed 30 years of marriage and live in the quiet little village of Lanesville on the north coast of Gloucester, MA.  Karen has two children, Peter Jr, graduated from Bryant University and working with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.  Daughter Moriah graduated with BSW in medical social work from Gordon College currently working on Master’s degree, is married to Brian, the Head Coach for Lacrosse at their Alma Mata! 

A few of her favorite things:  cooking, enjoying the seasons in their little home in the woods and to be surrounded by family and friends.  Karen has been a consistent contributor to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, the American Cancer Society and frequently prepares meals and serves at a local food pantry near her home.

Beverley Field

Beverley Field

Team Operations Lead

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Bev was born in London and moved to the US in 1995. For as long as she can remember,she wanted to work in travel. Her first job was for a car rental company, followed by reservations for a leading UK-based Tour Operator. From there it was Leisure Travel and Membership Travel, taking care of the travel requests for Amex Gold Card members. When she moved to the US she crossed over to Business Travel,where she has worked ever since. Over the course of her time with American Express, she’s worked in all market segments, first as a VIP/International travel counselor and for the last 18 years as a Team Leader adn is proud to have been on the First Team since it was lauched 6 years ago. During her career with American Express she has been awarded the Pacesetter, Trendsetter and Star Performer awards. She has a passion for customer service and strives to coach her agents to exceed client expectations in each and every interaction. She is blessed to live in Southern California with her husband of 35 years . She has a 23 year old son and a 27 year year old daughter, both now living in New York. Addicted to travel, she is lucky to have had the opportunity to discover the cultures and beauty of many countries throughout the world.

Barbara Lynch

Barbara Lynch

Client Specialist – Existing Clients

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Barbara has been with Amex GBT for 21 years, and have held numerous positions. I look forward to another 21 years. I currently live back in my home town in Ohio with my fiancé of 1 year, but I have known him for over 30 years. I have lived in Los Angeles, Tucson, and Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.  I look forward to my future with my new husband and my new 3 kids, and our puppy of 10 years.

Melissa Scharr

Melissa Scharr

Client Specialist-New Clients & On-Boarding

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A native of Detroit, MI. Melissa has been with American Express for 15 years. Melissa has a passion for challenges, and rarely turns down an opportunity to expand her problem solving skills. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading and volunteering. Melissa’s dream destination is Bora Bora.

Beth Hitchcock

Beth Hitchcock

Travel Expert/Lead Office Counselor

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Beth has worked in the travel industry dating back to 1983. She began her career with the airlines.  Moving to the agency side of travel in 1995.  She has held many positions: from travel counselor, Team Leader, VIP agent, international VIP agent and now Travel Expert on the First™ team. Beth has been with American Express GBT for 22 years. She lives in Southern Illinois. She is married with two adult children and two dogs.  She enjoys camping and boating with friends. Beth is a huge sports fan and her favorite team is the St Louis Blues.

Yolanda Mestas

Yolanda Mestas

Travel Expert First™ Direct

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With over thirty years of travel experience, and, twenty-two years at American Express Global Business Travel, Yolanda has mastered all aspects of travel. During her career, she has been awarded Pacesetter, Trendsetter and Star Performer. Yolanda prides herself in her work and customer servicing skills. She loves what she does and strives to ensure that her clients are well taken care of. Yolanda lives in beautiful San Diego with her husband of twenty years, her two daughters Emma, 14, and, Lili 12 and their two dogs, a tortoise, a hamster and some gold fish. Her girls keep them very busy with folkloric dance classes and performances, Girl Scouts, school and any additional activities that always seem to pop up. In her spare time, she enjoys long walks, watching the sunset, and, spending time with her family and friends. Her favorite travel destination is Maui.    

Abhiyan Rajhans

Abhiyan Rajhans

Travel Expert

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I have been with AEGBT for 7yrs, prior to 1st  Desk all spent  at Canada Axcess. I’ve had the honor of being a pace setter only once, 2012.

At present I live in Vancouver after a long scenic drive from Montreal. If I could then I would love to drive around the world instead of flying, until then I am happy cooking. I love cooking and it is my stress buster. In Montreal I used to visit colleague’s house and cook for house parties, great way to unwind and get paid for it.

 

If you ever feel hungry and lazy, buzz me I am always ready to cook J.

Christina Failing

Christina Failing

Travel Expert

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Christina was born in California, and has lived in 4 US States, now residing in South Carolina.  She has worked in travel since 1993, and has been with AMEX GBT for 10 years servicing top level VIPs from various corporations.  She is a founding member of the First™ Desk.  Christina has traveled many places throughout the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, U.A.E, Italy and France.  Her passions include spending quality time with her husband and dogs, and photography.

Darlene Tagtmeier

Darlene Tagtmeier

Travel Expert

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Darlene has been with American Express for almost 20 years and has 35 years of overall experience in the travel industry. Her favorite travel destinations are New York, London and anywhere she has not been. Darlene enjoys reading and a fun fact is that she has stayed overnight in all 50 of the US states.

Diane Krause

Diane Krause

Travel Expert

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Diane has spent the majority of her 26 year travel career working in VIP and Emergency travel. She has been with American Express since 2002. Prior to that she worked in the Emergency travel department with Rosenbluth International for 10 years. Last year, she moved from Michigan to Trinity, Florida with her husband of 32 years, David. Their daughter, Kristen, is  graduating in May, 2015 with her Master’s degree  in  Public Health at New York University.  Her most memorable travel experience was being a passenger of the inaugural flight of the Boeing 777 from London Heathrow to Washington DC in June of 1995.

Gretchen Tarby

Gretchen Tarby

Travel Expert

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Gretchen has worked in the travel industry in some capacity for 30 years.  She started doing office work for a local charter company, then spent over 5 years in leisure and group travel.   Some of that time was spent working and going to college to earn her bachelor’s degree in Travel and Tourism.  The next 24 + years have been spent in corporate travel, either on a VIP desk, onsite, or dedicated account.  Over 23 of those years have been with American Express GBT. She has been a Pacesetter, Trend Setter, and American Express Customer Service Award recipient.     Gretchen lives in Eastern Pennsylvania where she spends most of her time with her pets, family and friends.

Jill Mees

Jill Mees

Travel Expert

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Jill was born and raised in Minnesota and a long-time Vikings fan.  She has an 18-year-old son that keeps her busy and fills her life with so much joy and happiness.  Jill has been in the travel industry for over 16 years, 6+ for American Express and 4 of those with VIP and First™.  Jill had never been on a plane until I was 23 and now can say that she has traveled all over the US but have yet to travel international. Her dream is to travel to Europe and Australia within the next 5 years.

Kathy Randolph

Kathy Randolph

Travel Expert

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Kathy (Lucy), which is a nickname that came from Charlie Brown, has been in the travel industry for 27 years.  She has spent the last 5 years in the  AXcess Afterhours Department.

In her spare time she has earned 2 Bachelor’s degrees, one in Business Management and the other in Marketing and a Master’s degree in Human Resources Management.

Her favorite destination is anywhere in the Caribbean.  She adores her family including her Bichon Frise’, which is French for (spoiled) curly lap dog and loves to shop.

Linda Dogan

Linda Dogan

Travel Expert

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Linda has worked in the hospitality industry dating back to 1983. Her career started in the hotel industry moving into travel in 1988. She has held many positions: from travel counselor, floater, trainer, VIP agent, international VIP agent and now Travel Expert on the First™ team. Linda has been with American Express GBT for 12 years. She lives in Chicago with her cat Ms. Miami. She enjoys redecorating her home, entertaining family and friends, travel, good food and fine wines. She recently traveled to Italy. It was her bucket list trip finally come true. Living in Chicago, Linda is a huge sports fan and her favorite team is the Chicago Blackhawks. She enjoys going to games at the United Center and travels to see her team play as well.

Lynnette Wilson

Lynnette Wilson

Travel Expert

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Lynnette started her travel career over 24 years ago, beginning with Reservation Sales for TWA.  A year later, she chose to move into corporate travel and has been there ever since.  After working her way from a domestic agent to international agent to VIP agent, she then moved into Operations and Account Management.   When the opportunity to work from home presented itself, she chose to return to an agent position to make more time for her children.  This virtual position also meant she could live anywhere, so she moved from her home near St. Louis MO to the beautiful mountains of northern Alabama.  When she isn’t booking her clients, and living vicariously through their adventures, she can usually be found on the lake, traveling, writing, or at a football game rooting for son’s high school team or the University of Alabama.  Roll Tide!

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