Meet Our Staff
Curious about who we are? Read on...
As a high school student, a part-time job at the travel agency near her home helped pay her tuition. After graduating with a BS in Management from DePaul University in Chicago in 1976, she followed her passion for travel and opened The Travel Gallery. From a modest start, the business has grown to include more than 30 travel associates assisting travelers worldwide.
In addition to the daily operations of the agency, Kathy specializes in coordinating all facets of Meeting, Incentive and Group Travel. Negotiating the "best deal" and creating win-win trips is her passion. She escorts the annual Spring Break trip with local families; a fall trip to a new and exotic destination (Scandinavia and Russia, France and Belgium, and Turkey to name a few); an adult November trip now in its 30th year to a beach locale (all over the Caribbean and Mexico as well as on several cruises).
Kathy truly enjoys traveling and anxiously awaits her next adventure. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering at Avenues to Independence, a local organization that assists mentally and physically challenged adults. She is also active at her church along with all of her children's and grandchildren's activities
Lynne Marie Hjelmberg
Senior Travel Consultant
Specialties: Italy/Germany/Greece, Australia, Exotic Far East, Canada
Lynne has been a travel consultant with The Travel Gallery for more than 25 years specializing in international and exotic travel. Making those very important honeymoon plans, co-ordinating involved itineraries, planning for memorable celebrations (think birthdays, anniversaries), Lynne's enthusiasm excites you throughout the travel process. Of course, Lynne can send you to the beaches in Mexico, the Caribbean or Hawaii, but what she would really likes to do is send you to the exotic islands of French Polynesia (Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora and beyond!), to dine under the stars in the Sahara Desert...zipline through the rain forest in Costa Rica...or explore the ancient temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Some of her favorite destinations include Italy, France and Thailand. Lynne's extensive knowledge of cultural and historical sightseeing ensures your trip is tailored to your tastes and interests. Lynne can make your travel dreams become reality!!
Specialties: Family Vacation Planning, Disney Destinations, All inclusive resorts
She loves what she does!! Over 25 years finding families the perfect spot to spend quality time together are just, well, FUN! Lots of hard work, too, as she checks with many of the finest suppliers to obtain the best value for every one of her clients whether they travel near or far. Disney is a favorite and she's "earned her EARS" Sending hundreds of travelers to enjoy and experience the magic only Disney offers. This knowledge and experience helped Travel Gallery become an AUTHORIZED DISNEY VACATION PLANNER. Other favorites are the all-inclusive resorts found throughout Mexico and the Caribbean. They truly offer a vacation where you pay upfront and then have nothing to worry about once you arrive; everything's included!!! Be sure to ask her early for Family Spring Break trips as the flights fill up so quickly. Sure hope she'll be able to help you create some great family memories!
Specialties: Alpine Countries in Europe Germany/Austria/Switzerland, Australia, Ireland
Born and raised in Chicago, Cooky attended Kobelt Travel School where, in 1989, she earned her Certification in Travel. She owned her own Travel Agency with her sister's in Skokie/Niles from 1993-2001. After closing the agency she joined The Travel Gallery. Cooky has traveled to Europe more than 50 times, often escorting groups to Germany for the Oktoberfest and Christmas Markets. She has also escorted groups cruising the Caribbean, Mexico and through the Panama Canal. Cooky enjoys working with clients on individualized, detailed itineraries to destinations both near and far. Cooky is active in the German community in Chicago and is the first female President of the Rheinischer Verein (the German American Mardi Gras Club). She also serves on the board of Niles Sister Cities. Additionally, Cooky is a Certified Massage Therapist.
Domenica "Dee" Lasaponara
Senior Corporate Consultant, Marketing Assistant
A graduate of the prestigious Echols Travel School, she has spent the majority of her 20+ year travel career in the Corporate World efficiently assisting business travelers with their air, car and hotel accommodations. Dee has assisted some of the same travelers for more than 10 years making her an invaluable member of "their team" as well as Travel Gallery's. When Dee wants to get away, she almost always heads for the sun and beach enjoying family destinations including all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico (Beaches Resorts are a favorite of her kids) or aboard the newest cruise ships.
Assistant Group Manager
Martha has been at The Travel Gallery since 2001 supporting our Group Department answering client questions about their group travel arrangements, researching and confirming various travel arrangements, creating flyers that describe our many exciting group trips, sending out confirmations, and putting together travel documents. Her organization and attention to detail assure all trips run smoothly from beginning to end. Her family enjoys traveling and they frequently travel as a group - anywhere from 12 to 25 persons
The Travel Gallery has a number of people 'behind the scenes' who help make the agency run. The staff above is just the tip of the iceberg!