Elections and Volunteering

ASTA's Board of Directors and its non-Board member Regional Directors play an important role in helping to lead, guide, and advise your association.


Contact Information

Name: Kelly Bergin
Title: CEO
Agency Name: Duglin Travel Group

E-mail: Kelly@DuglinTravelGroup.com

Candidate Statement

I am Kelly Bergin, fellow ASTA member and I am running for my 2nd and last term as an at-large director on the national board.  My first term serving on the board began in August of 2021 and is now up for renewal. As always, I will continue advocating for all members with a unique perspective on professional independent travel advisors and agencies.  Having served one term, I am even better equipped to represent you now and work on your behalf. 

As I stated in 2021 when I was elected, I will be a strong voice on the board for you because: 

  • Having made the travel industry my career for over 35 years I have first-hand experience with marketing and selling travel as well as managing my own travel agency and all that goes with that ownership.  I also helped create and oversee a host agency with over 800 independent travel advisors when I was president of OASIS Travel Network for 12 years. I understand this business from an independent point of view and can represent that well. 
  • Learn > Earn > Return.  I have Learned so much from this industry and continue to do so every day.  I Earned a good living and I want to help others do the same.  So, it is now time for me to Return all that has been given to me. Time and effort and passion is what I can now give to this industry and the people in it that made my journey possible.  
  • Our industry is full of self-motivated entrepreneurs and I am one too.  I know what is required to run a successful business….: Resources, Technology, and Exposure.  And as an ASTA board member I want to make sure that our association continues to grow membership, expand our advocacy efforts, and keeps increasing consumer awareness.   By keeping these things top of mind your membership becomes more useful and valuable.     


I have served on the ASTA Board’s Financial Committee.  I am a past Vice Chair of CLIA’s STARboard.  I am currently the treasurer of PATH (Professional Association of Travel Hosts) and serve as president of the ASTA South Florida Chapter since the passing of Eddie Woodham, whom many of you knew.  I have been on the ASTA Independent Contractor Advisory Council and attended most of the annual ASTA Legislative Days since its inception.  I list these positions because I believe involvement in these organizations gives me the experience and knowledge to help highlight your viewpoints and needs.  


Thank you for reading this and I ask for and appreciate your vote!



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Contact Information

Name: Skip Fortier
Title: Vice President Network Expansion
Agency Name: Avoya Travel

E-mail: skip.fortier@avoyatravel.com

Candidate Statement

Having been in the travel industry for more than 30 years, I bring a unique skill set to the table that is second to none. My love for travel began while serving in the U.S. Navy and having the opportunity to travel to destinations around the globe. After my experience in the Navy, I worked for my father’s company for several years, owned my own restaurant, and after some time, my desire to get back into travel led me to working at Disney World as “Goofy”. From there, my next journey was with United Airlines as a reservation and gate agent, followed by selling junkets to the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

Following these ventures, I was hired by The Cruise Web, one of the first online sellers of cruises when the internet was just taking off. After four years as their Sales Manager, I was appointed Director of Leisure Travel at MacNair Travel American Express. In 2008, I made the decision to start my own Home-Based Travel Agency and joined the Avoya Travel Network. Utilizing all the experience and expertise I had gained in the travel industry and the Navy, I was able to achieve Avoya’s esteemed Best of the Best designation all four years I was part of the Avoya Network as an Independent Affiliate. In 2011, I was awarded by Travel Agent Magazine as one of the Top 25 Travel Agents.

It became clear to me early in my relationship with Avoya Travel that I wanted to be part of this amazing company and work for a family that is all about Integrity and Professionalism. After four years as an Independent Agency with Avoya, I was asked to join the Avoya staff. In January 2012, I started with Avoya in a role responsible for spearheading the growth of our Independent Affiliate Network. As Vice President of Network Expansion, I led our network expansion team in doubling the size of the Avoya Network and have had the great privilege of helping our organization continue to grow our Network year after year. In addition to my commitment to ASTA I serve on the Board of Directors for PATH, am Vice-Chair of the CLIA Starboard committee and I am a member of the Travel Leaders Network Host Leaders Alliance.

I represent Avoya Travel on the ASTA Corporate Advisory Council and actively take part in as many ASTA events as I can, including the ASTA Global Convention, ASTA River Cruise Summit, Legislation Day, and the Business Summit. During these past years facing the pandemic, ASTA has shown not only me, but the entire industry, what a strong trade association is capable of, motivating me to submit my name for consideration for National Director at Large. I am very proud to be able to say I am a loyal ASTA Member and an advocate for travel advisors everywhere. I believe that my vast overall experience in so many facets of the travel industry, my service time with the Navy, as well as my time as a highly successful agency owner, give me a one-of-a-kind perspective perfectly tailored to help me effectively serve as Director at Large for the ASTA Board of Directors. I am committed to leveraging my skills and experience to further ASTA's mission while ensuring the success of the travel advisor community.

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Contact Information

Name: Kareem George
Title: Principal; Founder
Agency Name: Culture Traveler, LLC

E-mail: kgeorge@culturetraveler.com

Candidate Statement

I am committed to serving the travel industry through our incredible trade association, the American Society of Travel Advisors. Among my many passions, I am particularly devoted to Education and Professional Development, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, and Sustainability. It was a privilege to contribute these past two years as one of your National Directors at Large, during which the Board celebrated many accomplishments: rescindment of the inbound testing rule, the highly successful, inaugural ASTA River Cruise Expo, the launch of the new, improved asta.org, the adoption of the ASTA credo, and much more. I humbly ask for your supportive vote to rejoin my dedicated colleagues on the Board of Directors to continue the advancement of ASTA and the travel industry. 
For those of you unfamiliar with my “story”, I began my transition to the travel industry in 2013 with ASTA as my first partner and resource. Pursuing a dream, I discreetly established Culture Traveler, LLC that November and learned of ASTA through a friend, now colleague, in the business. Those first several months were spent immersed in reading SmartBriefs, trying to learn as much as possible. It was incredibly challenging to balance an encompassing full-time job as a symphony orchestra executive while following an ambition to build a full-service luxury travel consultancy. Nevertheless, two years later, and only months after the inspiring ASTA Destination Expo in Marrakech, I concluded my tenure at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 2015 to fully embrace my passion for travel.  
ASTA provided me with the foundational resources, relationships and confidence to build a new career. And now, with sincere gratitude, some success, much energy and great optimism for the future, I aspire to earn your vote once again to serve ASTA as a National Director At-Large.  
Extensive destination knowledge and immersion have accelerated the growth of my business. The exposure Advisors gain through participation in Expos, Conventions, FAMs and other experiential events is invaluable to earning consumer confidence and loyalty. I wish to support the continued growth, diversification and accessibility of these very important ASTA programs. Travel is back, momentum continues to grow, and our Advisor community must lead the path forward with confidence. 
I am committed to annual participation in the ASTA Legislative Day in Washington, D.C., arguably our most important event of the year. In 2022, I was pleased to join fellow members in thanking our legislators and their teams for the rescindment of the inbound testing rule. Moreover, we lobbied for creation of the first ever cabinet level position focused on travel & tourism, which was successfully passed following our event. These lobbying initiatives are key to continued success and growth of our industry. I am also a proud supporter of our ASTA PAC as well as a personal donor in support of ASTA initiatives focused on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. 
Community is at the heart of ASTA. This was apparent to me as a neophyte in 2013 and even more palpable today. Advisors, suppliers and staff banded together to survive the traumatic COVID 19 crisis, however further challenges do and will lie ahead for our industry. We must remember to support each other more than ever to maximize the growth recovery at present. Now is the time to build better systems, to invest in the recruitment of diverse talent to our industry and to ensure sustainable practices in our organizations for the future. 
Thank you for your consideration, your commitment to our industry, and I hope to earn your vote to serve ASTA as a National Director At-Large. You may find more information about me in my ASTA profile. Moreover, an outline of my other leadership roles and ASTA service/participation is summarized below: 
Industry and Non-Industry Leadership Roles:  
  • Travel + Leisure Travel Advisory Board and A-List 
  • Hurtigruten Black Traveler Advisory Board 
  • German National Tourist Office Advisory Board 
  • Explora Journeys Travel Advisory Circle 
  • Travel Market Report Advisory Board  
  • Oasis Travel Network - Advisor Mentor and New to Travel Bootcamp Speaker
  • Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival – Board of Directors  
  • Detroit Symphony Orchestra – Governing Member 
ASTA Service and Participation:  
  • ASTA Global Convention Participant (2016, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022) and Speaker/Panelist (2019, 2022) 
  • ASTA Premium Business Summit (2021, 2022) 
  • ASTA Inaugural River Cruise Expo (2022) 
  • ASTA Destination Expo: Morocco (2015), Greece (2018)  
  • ASTA Global Live Participant and Panelist (2020)  
  • ASTA Legislative Day: 2020, 2021, 2022  
  • ASTA FAM Participant: Los Cabos (2021)  
  • ASTA China Summit Participant (2017)  
  • Contributor – ASTA Publications 


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Contact Information

Name: David R. Harris
Title: Executive Chainman 
Agency Name: Ensemble

E-mail: david.harris@ensembletravel.com

Candidate Statement

I love the business of travel and its global socio-economic impact. I have been privileged to see it evolve and serve the industry and consumers alike over the past 39 years through various roles and perspectives. 

As someone who has spent my employable life working exclusively in the travel industry as both a second-generation travel agency owner and in my current role as Executive Chairman of Ensemble, it’s not a stretch to say that travel is in my blood as much as it is my passion.  

Some of my earliest memories in the business are of working at my parents’ office as we developed a business together and where I’d stamp brochures and deliver travel documents.  As I grew older, my interests turned to business growth and there was literally no agency business function that I was not responsible for in the early years – systems and technology to bookkeeping, corporate business development and of course being a professional advisor. Eventually, I took over my parents’ agency until passing the torch to my daughter to continue the legacy as a third-generation travel agency owner in 2019.  

I have also had the opportunity to witness significant changes and challenges. Many of us will remember the headlines in the 1990s proclaiming that the travel advisor was dead with the introduction of online travel agencies - and also the elimination of airline commissions.   We have not only survived the many false predictions of the demise of our chosen profession, but I know that we have evolved into a more trusted and valued resource for all consumers. 

Concurrent with a rapid and encouraging recovery from the most unprecedented episode in our industry’s history, I am genuinely more confident about our future than ever before and that the value of and demand for our services has never been more sought after or appreciated. Yet as one of the smallest verticals in the travel industry, it has always been a challenge to have our voices heard and our interests addressed by elected officials.  To say that ASTA has done incredible work as the only American trade organization working exclusively on behalf of travel advisors and agencies is an understatement. But they can’t do it alone.  

When I assumed the role as CEO of Ensemble Travel Group in 2019, one of the first things I did was to require ALL of our members to join ASTA.  Why? Because I truly know the importance of advocacy and that it’s incumbent upon all of us to support their work, which is critical to our industry: whether it’s participating in grassroots advocacy efforts, attending annual Legislative Days to meet directly with elected officials or meeting with local representatives regularly to ensure that they understand our industry’s challenges and needs. 

I believe that there is more I/we can and must do to support ASTA’s mission. 

If I am elected, I will focus on four core issues. 

  1. Continuing to promote the value and importance of travel advisors for consumer awareness and benefit through various channels and platforms from speaking opportunities, participation in industry events, social media and grassroots advocacy activities.  
  2. Supporting advocacy and communications efforts to ensure that elected officials understand the economic impact of a well-functioning travel ecosystem and how all verticals contribute to and are essential to a strong travel industry for the benefit of consumers and industry businesses alike. 
  3. The importance and need to establish and promote a system that recognizes and designates a classification of travel advisors based on their productivity, professional experience and certification for the benefit of industry standards and consumer awareness.  
  4. To work with ASTA and the industry to bring forth important refinements with respect to regulatory requirements for agency registrants in the industry. This is an enormous but important challenge to ensure there are minimum financial and operational standards that apply to all Agencies and Advisors for the benefit of consumers and our industry alike.  
I believe the industry is poised for continued and significant growth as travel continues to surge and demand shows no signs of a near term decline.  While there are still challenges that we must address from a global labor shortage to attracting more people to consider careers as travel advisors, I am even more excited and optimistic about the viability and ongoing success for our entire industry. Change is not the enemy, complacency is. I am passionate about doing everything possible to help support and advance the potential for travel advisors and the agency distribution model everywhere.   

 If I am elected to serve as an ASTA Board Member at Large, I will do everything I can to ensure sustained prosperity while always being mindful of the need to plan for future challenges. 

 I am truly grateful and appreciative for the opportunity to be considered for this important role and I thank you for your consideration of my candidacy and the platform that I have set forth to support and advance our industry.


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Contact Information

Name: Pamela Irwin
Title: Vice President of Sales
Agency Name: ATB Travel

E-mail: pamelairwinctc@gmail.com

Candidate Statement

Please vote for me as your ASTA Director At-Large. I will truly be YOUR voice  with ASTA. I will listen to YOUR concerns and be YOUR mouthpiece.

As a Travel Advocate for 25+ years, my focus continues to be the success of travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public. Having worked extensively as BOTH a frontline travel  advisor and a supplier (i.e. Disney, Ensemble Travel Group, Hard Rock, CSA, Kempinski Hotels,  Mansour Travel etc.), I have the knowledge, broad perspective and expertise to be YOUR voice to 
help guide our organization in providing YOU with more opportunities, national and global 
visibility, consumer awareness and ultimately increased profitability.

After helping my children through college working full time and serving on the SoCal ASTA board, I applied and was accepted into Pepperdine University’s Graziadio Presidents and Key Executives  Program where I completed my Master’s degree in Business Administration.


I am now the Past President of The Southern California Chapter of ASTA where I served for 7 years. When I took over the chapter as President, both our chapter and National ASTA were experiencing financial challenges and a huge decline in  membership. With the support and partnership of key industry leaders such as Roger Block, Alex  Sharpe, Matthew Upchurch, Randy Garfield, Joe Waters, Jackie Friedman, Anastasia Mann, Wido  Schaefer, Andi McClure Myza, Steve Orens, Edie Rodriquez, Vicki Freed and countless others, we  turned both National ASTA and our chapter around and SoCal ASTA not only won chapter of the year,  the SoCal ASTA chapter became the third strongest financially sound chapter in ASTA and the chapter  membership increased substantially. We worked tirelessly to ensure the success of all ASTA travel  advisors.

Under inclusive, dynamic and inclusive leadership we held the most successful nationally recognized  events where we brought our industry together to celebrate the enormous contributions to it such as  Millennial & Mentors Mixers, Luxury Travel Showcases & Symposiums, Legislative Forums and “The  Diamond Awards”.

I am number 4 of 10 children raised by parents from the Midwest. I have 3 amazing and successful children and understand the importance of teamwork, transparency, communication, love and kindness.  During my professional career and ASTA leadership, I created or accessed all of the tools necessary  to achieve this for my travel industry colleagues and family and I will continue to do my best to 
keep you abreast of all industry knowledge and opportunities available. My life is and open door 
and you can find me on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

I believe in “Making a Difference”, the American Dream, supporting small businesses and entrepreneurship. I have volunteered with many charities, served on various non-profit boards and  was the founding member of an organization that assists women in leadership.

Prior to the Covid challenge, one of the most important aspects of ASTA was advocacy and 
legislation. During Covid and now post Covid, I believe Legislation and industry representation 
remains the most important aspect of ASTA. I have been privileged to lobby 8 years with ASTA in 
Washington, DC and meet with our national representatives on behalf of travel advisors on the 
issues affecting our industry and our businesses.

I will be in Washington DC again this year at my own expense with ASTA to continue this important work. In addition to my commitment to our industry and ASTA, I also held the role of Vice President  and Treasurer for CCTO, California Coalition of Travel Organizations, where I met annually with  legislators and representatives in California on crucial legislative issues that affected not only  the state of California but the entire travel industry.

Our industry and ASTA has been through challenging times and I was privileged to witness and 
participate in the re-growth of ASTA through strong and effective leadership under Zane Kerby, Eben 
Peck and the incredible ASTA National staff. I want to contribute to this momentum.

I would like to personally ask for your vote so that I can speak for you and make sure that YOUR organization, ASTA, is fulfilling YOUR needs and guaranteeing YOUR success.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call me directly at 310- 435.4705 or at my email, 

Thank you in advance and I would be truly honored to receive your vote to serve on the Board of 
Directors of the American Society of Travel Agents as

a Director AT-Large.

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Contact Information

Name: James J. Killen ("Jim")
Title: Travel Advisor
Agency Name: Tzell Travel Group- Long Island

E-mail: jamesjkillen@yahoo.com

Candidate Statement

Dear ASTA Election Committee,

It is with great enthusiasm that I enter my name to be considered for the National At-Large Director for this upcoming election!

As a young man, I entered this wonderful and exciting industry in 1977 and have enjoyed every moment thus far. I have had the good fortune to work with great companies, who relied on the travel advisor community to be their extended sales force. I worked closely with advisors daily and learned their needs to assist them to be successful.

Education, collaboration, and strong listening skills has always been my career mantra. Through the years I have enjoyed countless mutual successes working side by side with advisors, that created a strong bond, being their trusted advocate.

My career has been mostly on the supplier side, first as a sales representative / business development manager. I was able to catapult my career at each company I worked for, as I was always eager to better myself and those around me. I found that leading individuals and teams came easy to me, working strategically in unison for a common goal.

I have had a long and diverse career and have enjoyed incredible success. The commitment to excellence I brought to my work career and what I do now as President of New York ASTA (and in my own business at Tzell Travel – Long Island), blended with my experience makes me more than confident that I will be a very strong asset on the At-Large National Director team.

I pride myself with having a plethora of industry experience; I am high energy; I have no mixed messages; I am proactive; I have no hidden agendas and I refuse to be a victim. For decades, I have enjoyed intimate work relationships with owners of mega agencies, presidents/owners of consortiums, tour operators, tourist boards and airlines to name a few.

I have 4+ decades worth of experience involved with ASTA, being the official liaison for the companies I represented. I have been a staunch supporter of local ASTA chapters as well as ASTA headquarters. I have been on ASTA committees for the then World Congress, Eastern Regional (where I personally executed and hosted at Universal Orlando), chaired the Connecticut ASTA Make-A-Wish program, and was an original founding member of YPS.

Today, I am dedicated to revitalizing New York City ASTA and work diligently to ensure the chapter is not only successful, but relevant, exciting, informative and educational. My first order of business after I became New York City ASTA president was to have the chapter’s first ever YPS. After 18-months, the NYASTA YPS went from zero to 50 strong! We have 4-6 events per year, and we are thriving. Why was this so important to me? I was extremely involved getting the original YPS started; and my very strong belief that the YPS demographic is ASTA’s and our industry’s future.

Outside of the travel industry, I am involved in charitable and philanthropic organizations. One organization which I am the immediate Past president, where we annually raised tens of thousands of dollars to help those less fortunate, fed and clothed the hungry, poor and our veterans. Fiduciary duties, driving membership, creating, and balancing budgets, marketing and promotions were all my daily day to day.

I am a stable, well rounded family man, married 44-years and have 3 beautiful young grandchildren.

For your perusal, I have included my CV/resume, my experience and diversity speak for itself. My record in this industry working hand in hand with advisors is nothing short of stellar. I have excellent leadership skills; I am an exceptional team player. I always check my ego at the door, to get whatever job needs to get done.

My enthusiasm for ASTA, what it represents, it’s policies and procedures is ever growing. I know I will be an asset to the team, I ask for your confidence by voting for me.

Respectfully submitted,

Jim Killen


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Contact Information

Name: Anita Pagliasso
Title: Vice President of Industry Relations
Agency Name: KHM Travel Group

E-mail: apagliasso@khmtravel.com

Candidate Statement

I’m excited to announce that I am running for a seat on the ASTA National Board of Directors and would be most grateful for your vote on the 2023 election ballot.

 I took at leap of faith from owning a successful Silicon Valley manufacturing rep business when I ventured into the travel industry almost 30 years ago.  I went from opening a one-person home-based travel agency mentoring thousands of advisors to becoming a leading host agency.  Since that time, I have written two top selling books for travel advisors and have been a speaker at most of the major industry conferences.   Every unique door and opportunity that has opened for me solidifies that I made the right chose to follow my passion and I have never looked back for a moment.   

 It was ASTA that led me in the right direction during those early years of my career and helped me build a successful agency.  I’ve continued over the years to be a staunch supporter of everything that ASTA does for our industry.  Over the years I have participated in countless local and international ASTA events, ASTA CAC meetings, ASTA Premium Business Summits, ASTA Independent Advisor Committee, NorCal ASTA President, ASTA Leg Day, ASTA AGC, and as Vice President of CCTO (California Coalition of Travel Organizations) I was active in advocacy when successfully getting the exemption to AB5 which kept the independent contractor legal status intact.   Most proudly, I was humbled and honored when presented with the 2021 Barbara O’Hara Advocacy Award.

As KHM Travel’s Vice President of Industry Relations, I continue to stress the importance of ASTA membership to our 4700 advisors.  Most recently, my mission has been to be  “KHM Industry Strong” and to continue to educate advisors what it means to belong to an association that supports and defends their business model.  In fact, I have coined a phrase “Travel is your business – ASTA is your voice!” and have been using this at any opportunity that I speak to travel advisors.

If I am elected to a board position, I plan to continue to support and promote the association, the membership, and advocacy in all manners for the advancement of the industry and for ASTA.

Thank you for your vote consideration, and if given the opportunity, I will be most honored to serve as a proud member and  to represent you as a National Board member.

With kind regards,

Anita Pagliasso

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Contact Information

Name: Lee Thomas
Title: COO | President Business Travel & The Travel Authority
Agency Name: ALTOUR | The Travel Authority
E-mail: Lee.Thomas@altour.com

Candidate Statement

My name is Lee Thomas, and I am running for a Director-At-Large position on ASTA’s Board of Directors. I am a longtime ASTA member and supporter. I was an inaugural member of the ASTA Corporate Advisory Committee, and the development of the Premium Member category, and have previous experience on the Board: 

  • 2007-2009 - CAC (Corporate Advisory Committee) Secretary and Treasurer   

  • 2008 - Board of Directors alternate in 2008 

  • 2009-2011 - ASTA Board of Directors and CAC Vice Chairman  

  • 2011-2013 - ASTA Executive Committee and CAC Chairman where I helped with the hire of current ASTA CEO Zane Kerby.  

I have worked in the travel industry for almost 30 years and am currently employed by ALTOUR as its Chief Operating Officer, President for Business Travel, and President of The Travel Authority, an ALTOUR company., all part of Internova Travel Group.  

I have experience with a wide range of travel, from host agencies, independent contractors, and in-house travel advisor servicing in the leisure, corporate, meetings / incentives, and entertainment travel verticals. Although ALTOUR is a very large travel management company today, I started at a small local travel company, that has since been acquired four times. I have vast experience on both the buy and sell side of travel and travel agencies. These experiences built my understanding of the needs of travel agencies of all sizes, from small independent businesses to mega agencies.  

I have always been a champion of ASTA’s Advocacy work, and in 2012, I was honored to be the recipient of the Barbara O’Hara Advocacy Award for my work on a multi-state grassroots campaign related to proposed legislation of unfair taxes on agency revenues.  

In recent years I have regularly participated in ASTA Legislative Day on Capitol Hill and supported ASTA’s lobbying efforts to include legislation in the most recent Omnibus Bill. Locally, I have worked with ASTA to lobby the Kentucky Legislature to remove the proposed Travel Agency Tax. 

Outside of ASTA, I am currently a board member and Treasurer of the Young Presidents’ Organization (Bluegrass Gold Chapter) and have served on the board of the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville, where I make my home. I love to travel and explore Louisville and the world. It has been an incredible honor to spend my career helping travel advisors, and for that reason, I am declaring my candidacy for ASTA’s Board in hopes of continuing to help them. 

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