Jorie Butler Kent, Vice Chairman
August 05, 2009
An astute businesswoman, conservationist and professional photographer, Jorie Butler Kent has travelled the world from the lamaseries of Tibet to the rainforests of Uganda and turned her travels into the continued worldwide expansion of the luxury travel firm Abercrombie & Kent with co-owner and business partner Geoffrey Kent.
Born in Chicago, Jorie is the daughter of Paul and Marjorie Stresenreuter Butler, who founded the village of Oak Brook, Illinois in 1964. This is currently the fifth generation of Butlers in Illinois.
Jorie Butler attended the Avery Coonley School in Downers Grove, the Latin School in Chicago and graduated from Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut. She received a degree in commercial art from Finch College in New York City.
Her great loves are sports and travel -- two passions she has been able to combine successfully throughout her life. Jorie's parents had her on a horse before she could even walk, leading to championships in numerous horse shows and jumping events including timber and flat races by the time she was 17. She hunted with her mother, father and two brothers, swam competitively and played tennis and polo.
The travel started early as well, on journeys with her parents throughout North America, Europe and Central America. They fostered in young Jorie a respect for different cultures and the beauty of the world's natural landscapes. That she should find herself Vice Chairman of one of the world's foremost luxury adventure tour companies was only natural.
Out of regard for other lands, peoples and wildlife evolved yet another passion, wildlife and community conservation. In 1982 Jorie Butler Kent and Geoffrey Kent founded Friends of Conservation (FOC), an organization formed to preserve and enhance the ecology of the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya. Very results-oriented, FOC has successfully involved the local Masai people in conservation and education projects, creating a model for sustainable tourism. H.R.H. The Prince of Wales recognized this pioneering effort by becoming FOC’s Patron in 1988.
In 1999, Jorie Butler Kent received the Chevron Conservation Award for her efforts to preserve Kenya’s and Tanzania’s wildlife and habitat through global outreach initiatives and for setting the standard for cooperation between environmental preservation and responsible capitalism in the tourism industry.
Today A&K’s worldwide conservation efforts are coordinated by Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy, guided by Jorie Butler Kent. The organization facilitates A&K’s commitment to socially and ecologically responsible travel worldwide, as well as helping our guests to become actively involved in these efforts. Details can be found at www.akphilanthropy.org.
It never occurred to Jorie Butler Kent and Geoffrey Kent that a travel company should be anything but totally dedicated to responsible tourism. This philosophy is carried through from the small group-size of A&K tours and special training for the guides, to the tree planted in honor of every person booking a trip with Abercrombie & Kent USA, LLC.
When it comes to managing and directing a company as interesting as Abercrombie & Kent, Jorie Butler Kent's business acumen and devotion to style compliments Geoffrey Kent's entrepreneurial spirit. Integral involvement in her family's businesses developed this sense -- a licensed pilot, she served, among other responsibilities, as controller for Butler Aviation, a company her father started as a hobby, which grew into the nation’s largest fixed-base operator. She also served as Executive Vice-President for Butler Overseas, a company she owns today.
As director of the Butler's Sports Core, she built and managed the Oak Brook Bath and Tennis Club and Oak Brook Polo Club from 1967 to 1979. Jorie continued her interest in polo and became the first woman member of the United States Polo Association (USPA). She organized the USPA Polo Pony Championship and helped to establish the rules & registry. Jorie's equestrian interests extended to coaching the Rolex/Abercrombie & Kent Polo Team, as well as owning and operating horse breeding ranches in Montana and South Carolina.
In 1972 Jorie bought an interest in Abercrombie & Kent, helping to expand the business worldwide. As co-owners of the Abercrombie & Kent Group of Companies, Geoffrey Kent and Jorie Butler Kent spend several months every year on reconnaissance in outlying areas of the world, to evaluate new locations for the company's tours. Once known primarily for its African safaris, today Abercrombie & Kent offers travel in more than 100 different countries on all seven continents.
Jorie's photographic expertise has become an integral part of Abercrombie & Kent. Her photographs grace the pages of A&K's brochures as well as numerous trade and consumer magazines including Fortune and Vogue.
During her travels Jorie has photographed some of her most unusual and exciting experiences, from tracking gorillas in Uganda, climbing the Great Wall of China, swimming in the hot springs off Deception Island in Antarctica, viewing tigers from elephant-back in Nepal, whalewatching in Husavik, Iceland, and watching the sun set at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.
Her interest in photography led Jorie to establish, in 1986, her own commercial slide bank, International Geographic Images (IGI). IGI is based in Florida within the offices of DHI, an award-winning commercial graphic design firm Jorie founded in 1983. Firmly established with offices in Vero Beach, Florida and Chicago, Illinois, DHI has clients of national and international renown. Jorie serves as Chairman and is deeply involved with DHI in all areas of management and design.
Between her travels, Jorie finds time to be involved in numerous charitable and civic organizations. She is a Trustee of the Indian River County Environmental Learning Center located in Vero Beach, Florida and is on the Advisory Board of the International Center for Tropical Ecology (ICTE) located in St. Louis, Missouri. Additionally, she has served on the Environment Committee of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). She was a founding Director of The Green Globe, a World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) subsidiary, and of the World Travel and Tourism Ecological Research Center (WTTERC). Furthermore, she is a Member of The Explorer’s Club, New York, and a Fellow of The Royal Geographical Society, London. Most recently she became a founding member of the Sustainable Travel Leadership Network.
Jorie has one daughter, Reute Butler, who is a published photographer and serves as President of Friends of Conservation. They work very closely together on conservation projects around the world where local communities share their natural habitat and eco-systems with endangered species.
Jorie's personal philosophy about travel is that it should be an adventure without sacrificing the comforts of home. This commitment, her attention to detail and continued architectural supervision of all A&K properties, give Abercrombie & Kent a unique style that attracts clientele like the Rockefellers and the Pillsburys, Bill and Melinda Gates, Johnny Carson, Tom Hanks, Warren Buffett and Jane Seymour.
She received the Conde Nast Traveler World Savers Award for “Doing It All,” honoring Abercrombie & Kent’s industry leadership in social responsibility. This year A&K was recognized for funding health care and education from Ecuador to India. “It is with tremendous pride that I share this recognition of A&K’s dedication to preserving natural habitats, protecting wildlife and supporting indigenous peoples,” said Jorie Butler Kent, who guides A&K Philanthropy. “Working with our guests, we have pioneered a new form of community development assistance by forging informal partnerships with grassroots initiatives and compassionate travellers who want to give something back to the places they visit.”
In 2010, Abercrombie & Kent was honored with a Global Vision Award from Travel + Leisure for leadership in Philanthropic Travel.
Abercrombie & Kent's U.S. headquarters are in Downers Grove, Illinois. The Abercrombie & Kent Group of Companies comprises 50 offices around the world employing more than 2,200 travel professionals. For more information, please call (800) 323-7308 or go to www.abercrombiekent.com.