Meet The Executive Team
President & CEO •
Behind every successful business is a gutsy entrepreneur. At the helm of Global Connections, Inc. is Tom Lyons. Tom’s drive and determination took him from a door-to-door salesman for what was then a buying service in 1975 to co-founder and CEO of what is now Global Connections, Inc., a leading leisure travel company and travel club fulfillment center with the highest member satisfaction in the industry.
Tom is both a successful business owner and humanitarian. In addition to Global Connections, He is co-founder and CEO of TITLE Boxing Club, the fastest growing fitness franchise in the country, a co-owner in Invicta FC, as well as many other small businesses. Next to success, Tom likes nothing more than giving his time, talents and resources, to raise awareness and funds for an array of causes and organizations.
CPA, Chief Financial Officer •
Rick Washburn is partner and founder of Walsh Washburn, LLC and serves as the Chief Financial Officer and tax director for Global Connections and related companies. He is responsible for the management of the accounting department, issuing financial statements, Federal and State tax returns, tax planning, banking relationships and all financing requirements.
He is instrumental in strategic and tactical budget management, cost-benefit analysis, forecasting needs and securing new funding. Rick advises the CEO and ownership, and leads a strong team of professionals to ensure the integrity and the accountability of all of the companies under the Global Connections umbrella.
Prior to founding Walsh Washburn, LLC, Rick was with Deloitte LLP for 15 years where he served as a director in the Kansas City Tax Department.
Chief Information Officer •
Frank Zawojski has been with Global Connections since its inception. He began working with Tom Lyons 23 years ago in sports management before coming onboard when Global Connections opened in 1996.
Today, Frank is responsible for implementing new ideas and solutions, as well as managing the company’s Technology Services Department and Executive Merchandising Services. With more than 30 years of experience in systems analysis and process development, Frank brings his talent for making the impossible not only possible, but profitable.
He has led numerous initiatives designed to provide better functionality and service to Global Connection’s members, partners and affiliates. He led the development of the company’s proprietary software for reservation and inventory control, contract administration, product purchasing and sales, and other web-based application, all specifically designed for Global Connection’s customized travel and buying services.
Chief Operating Officer •
Catherine Wunder has been with Global Connections since its inception in 1996. She helped launch Global Connections after her successful tenure as vice president of Travel Investors, Inc., where she co-developed the company’s travel club and spearheaded the growth of the company from five to more than 100 employees.
Cathy brings her passion for travel and extensive travel club experience to her current role of Vice President of Operations, in which she is responsible for ensuring projects, people and departmental objectives align with Global Connections’ strategic goals and overall mission, while also developing new business opportunities. Cathy’s many accomplishments include: earning the Bill Sowers Award for outstanding accomplishments in the vacation industry; playing an integral role in opening all of the offices and resorts that have fueled the growth of Global Connections; lecturing at Travel and Tourism college; and serving on the World Conference/Portugal panel for The American Society of Travel Agents.
Cheif Strategic Alliances & Brand Officer •
Melanie Gring joined Global Connections, Inc. in 2004. She is responsible for corporate communication, brand management, and strategic growth of the company through the development and support of its independent distributor sales and marketing model. Melanie also plays an integral role in product development and enhancement.
With more than 40 years of experience in the vacation, travel club and timeshare development industries, Melanie continues to share her expertise through various mentoring opportunities. She has conducted accredited classes and lectures on vacation club membership and ownership as an adjunct professor for Lynn University College of Hospitality Management in Boca Raton, Fla. as well as Lucerne, Switzerland, educating students from around the world.
Vice President Resort Acquisitions & Development •
David M. Dawson is Vice President, Acquisitions and Development, responsible for overseeing the management, acquisition, development, and disposition of Global Connections’ owned inventory of condominium resorts and individual units located throughout the U.S.
David’s real estate career spans more than 30 years in commercial, residential, and resort property management, leasing, and sales. Prior to joining Global Connections he served as Director of Property Management and Acquisitions for Travel Advantage Network.
He is an active member of the ARDA Resort Management and Membership Committees. He also serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Cooperative Association of Resort Exchangers.