Jill Cruse: Using Travel to Serve Diverse Communities
We all do a certain amount of code switching, acting and speaking the way we’re ‘supposed to’ for the sake of others, as opposed to truly being ourselves. And though we may understand the benefits of a ‘to thine own self be true’ philosophy, it is easier said than done in a world where your authentic self may or may not be accepted. Today’s guest has spent her career providing a safe space where lesbians have the freedom to be out and authentic as they vacation in locales all over the world.
Jill Cruise has been with Olivia Travel for the past 28 years, serving as the Vice President of Guest Experience. Olivia trips have afforded her the opportunity to see the world, and she has served as Cruise Director for more than 280 excursions and visited all seven continents. The company began as Olivia Records, a label exclusively for women. In 1990, it shifted its focus to the travel industry, and since then Olivia has served nearly 200,000 women on cruise, resort, adventure and riverboat vacations all over the world. The first cruises featured entertainment by artists from the Olivia record label, and they continue to deliver elite speakers and performers, including Patti Label, Lily Tomlin and Billie Jean King.
Cruise pursues photography as a hobby, and she has received much recognition for her work, including a first-place win in a national competition for InterContinental Hotels/National Geographic. She also serves as an OWN Ambassador, promoting the Oprah network via social media and attending several shows with Oprah herself. Cruise appeared as a special guest on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, and worked on the promo team for the Belief series. Today she shares why it is essential to have a community where you are empowered to be your authentic self, how Olivia Travel is changing global attitudes toward lesbians, and the necessity for activism in the current political climate.
Key Interview Takeaways
Being part of a community in which you feel comfortable enough to be completely who you are is an incredibly empowering experience. Olivia Travel affords lesbians the freedom to be their authentic selves as they travel the world.
The best way to change perceptions of the LGBT community is to share your authentic selves as a community. Cruise explains that people from all over the world have a new attitude toward lesbians as a result of working with Olivia travelers.
Cruise is a proponent of living with intention and gratitude, as your authentic self. These principles led her to work as an OWN Ambassador, promoting the Oprah Winfrey Network and programming she believes in like Super Soul Sunday and the Belief series.
Though many young women feel comfortable traveling with the general population and don’t see a need for the safe space provided by companies like Olivia Travel, Cruise feels that the service is as necessary as ever in the current political climate.
What the world needs is kindness – and activism. Olivia Travel has incorporated an element of political engagement in its travel experiences, holding a leadership summit on its last cruise to discuss the current political landscape and what women can accomplish together.
Connect with Jill Cruise
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