Spokane-based Ambassadors Group Inc. announced that company President and CEO Jeff Thomas, and his wife, Margaret “Peg” Thomas, the company’s executive vice president, resigned Monday.
Jeff Thomas has been head of the publicly traded Ambassadors Group since 2001, when it became a separate company from Ambassadors International Inc. He became chief financial officer of Ambassadors International in 1996, as well as president of subsidiary Ambassador Programs.
Peg Thomas has been executive vice president since 2001 and previously was chief financial officer and chief operating officer of Ambassador Programs.
Ambassadors operates the student-focused People to People travel program. Last year the company arranged educational tours for 21,200 travelers, compared with nearly 24,000 in 2011.
The resignations were effective Monday, the company said in a news release.
Anthony Dombrowik, senior vice president and chief financial officer, is interim chief executive officer. The board of directors has said it will start a search for a new CEO.
In a phone interview, Jeff Thomas said he felt the company had developed a solid leadership team. “This was just a great time for a leadership transition,” he said.
He and his wife, both 46, want to spend more time with their six children, he said. The couple have 5-year-old twins, plus children from respective earlier marriages.
Thomas said he’s considering a number of new career choices. “I plan to stay in Spokane. It’s a great place to live,” he said.
Ambassadors Group has four office locations, including its headquarters near the Spokane airport. The other three are in Seattle; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing. The global headcount is roughly 230, with 195 in Spokane.
Jeff Thomas said his tenure was marked by significant challenges that forced the company to navigate through global turmoil and economic reversals. Until 2001 more than 60 percent of the travelers who paid Ambassadors for guided tours went to Europe. After 9/11, that number dropped to less than 50 percent.
According to the 2012 Ambassadors Group proxy statement, Jeff Thomas’ total compensation in 2011 was $775,031. Peg Thomas’ total compensation during that period was $455,031.
Both executives will also receive compensation packages as specified in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Jeff Thomas’ separation agreement states he will receive more than $823,000 from the company, not including company stock.
His wife will receive more than $362,000, not including company stock she accrued during her tenure.