Get to know your fellow passenger
What do you do for a living?
After spending years in the medical industry with companies including Eli Lilly and Boston Scientific, I saw that we could prevent many diseases if people ate better and exercised. In 1996, my wife, Meaghan, and I started Connoisseur Creations, Inc., a social entrepreneurial plant-based food company. We have won several awards for our innovative products and sustainable business models. The Quick Pickle Kit was our first product, and we still sell it today.
November 14 is National Pickle Day. Where have you had the best pickles?
My mother’s pickles are the best I’ve ever had—I utilized her recipes when we were developing the Quick Pickle Kit—but the widest variety of pickled vegetables I have enjoyed was in Japan.
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten on your travels?
One of my favorite meals was shojin ryori [a plant-based cuisine eaten by monks] at a temple in Japan’s small Buddhist community of Mount Koya.
What’s your next planned trip?
My wife and I will be celebrating our 30th anniversary together. We are avid hikers and will be meeting friends in Australia to trek across Tasmania. I can’t wait!
What place is at the top of your bucket list?
I want to visit Iceland, the Galápagos, and more of New Zealand. I love nature, water, and hiking, and these areas are full of natural beauty.
What’s the most transformative trip you’ve taken?
We celebrated Christmas 2010 and New Year’s 2011 in India. One of the most transformative days was in Varanasi. We walked toward the Ganges River with thousands of pilgrims who were arriving to wade in the river. Many had waited their entire life for this opportunity to seek salvation from the eternal cycle of life and death. India changed my life: I learned so much about their culture, but I learned even more about myself.
What’s your favorite United flight you’ve been on?
Being a woman who believes in empowering other women, I always notice how many women on flights occupy business- or first-class seats. On July 4, I flew from California to Pennsylvania, and all of the seats in business class were occupied by women. As we flew over the fireworks, I felt a sense of freedom, being a woman and proud to have the other women around me.
What’s something surprising that you never travel without?
My Advance Health Care Directive and my marriage certificate. Not all people accept my lifestyle—it’s unfortunate but true—so I carry this legal documentation in case I need it to ensure that my wishes are carried out by the people that I have named.
Which famous person—living or dead—would be your dream seatmate?
I’m more impressed by what people do to help others than how famous they are. My paternal grandfather was one of the hardest-working people I knew—I learned my work ethic from him. Also, he was a steelworker in Pennsylvania and never flew on a plane, so I would want him as my seatmate.