Michelle Morgan, president and CEO of Signature Travel Network, passed away on September 17, 2013, following complications that arose during her recovery process following a bone marrow transplant. Morgan had been battling breast cancer since 2009.
Morgan’s accomplishments were many: She celebrated 22 years with Signature Travel Network, growing what had been a California travel cooperative from $30 million in agency sales to over $5 billion in 2013. Her determination and drive made the organization blossom, as did her never-ending quest to keep the travel advisor cooperative ahead of the curve by providing members with cutting-edge technology and value-added services and amenities for their clients....all with the goal of helping them to remain viable as business owners.
When I interviewed Morgan for a cover story in Luxury Travel Advisor, sister publication to Travel Agent, I was more than impressed with her intense desire to keep Signature as democratic an organization as possible. “There is no grandstanding internally—no turf protection—we work collaboratively with a common mission,” said Morgan at the time.
Just a few years later, Morgan was diagnosed with breast cancer, yet never did she let the disease daunt her efforts to lead Signature. She pushed herself even during difficult times to appear vibrant and active at its member meetings.
A video tribute to Michelle Morgan from Signature's recent Owners' Meeting. // Video by Signature Travel Network
“Nothing prepares you to hear the words, ‘You have breast cancer,’ ” she told Travel Agent back in 2011 when she generously shared the story of her battle in our annual Pink Issue. Nevertheless, Morgan accepted the fight head on. “I made a decision that I would not, under any circumstances, let this disease define me, or disrupt my real life. Everyone deals with these medical challenges differently. I’m not saying my approach is best or better than how others handle their diagnosis…I was determined to live my life,” she said.
Indeed, when I saw Morgan last year at the group’s Owners’ Meeting in San Diego, she was bubbling and joyous over Signature’s accomplishments and of the life she enjoyed with friends in the San Diego area. And while Morgan’s friends were many, her dedication to her family was inspirational. “I have two loving, accomplished daughters, and four grandchildren very dear to my heart. I’m fortunate to have many friends and business colleagues with relationships that go back decades,” she said in October 2011. “Life is good!”
Morgan’s many accomplishments include being the godmother of Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Silhouette and an inductee into the Cruise Line International Association’s Cruise Industry Hall of Fame. She will be sadly missed by the team at Travel Agent; we consider her a dear, dear friend and send our condolences to her two daughters, Alisa and Deirdre, her four grandchildren, Edward, Jack, Hana and Bing, and to her cherished family at Signature Travel Network.