2020 CONVENTION | Professional Development Speaker Bios

Annual Convention The SATW annual convention alternates
domestic and international destinations

Professional Development Speakers

Onward and Upward – Nuts and Bolts of Starting Your Own Business

Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon (aka JetSetSarah)

Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon (aka JetSetSarah) is a travel writer, on-screen host and self-described “Carivangelist,” who goes to the beach and beyond to share the culture, lifestyle and personalities of the Caribbean with the world. Based in Miami, she creates content for outlets including Travel + Leisure; Condé Nast Traveler; Islands.com; AARP; Essence magazine; the U.K.’s Telegraph and Canada’s Globe and Mail newspapers. Sarah is also jetsetter-in-chief at JetSetSarah.com where her passions – travel, style and fitness – meet. Follow her adventures on Instagram and Facebook @JetSetSarah.

Veronica Stoddart

Veronica Stoddart is an award-winning travel editor and content consultant with more than three decades in travel publishing. She provides content marketing solutions for travel clients via her consultancy, VS Content Strategies LLC, and as chief content officer of Percepture, a marketing communications agency. Previously, she was USA Today’s editor-in-chief for Travel. Under her leadership, USA Today’s  travel site grew into a comScore top 5 for travel news and information. She was also the founding editor of Caribbean Travel & Life magazine, which she edited for 10 years. She has worked as a contract editor for the National Geographic Society, as travel editor of Americas magazine, as stringer for Time-Life News Service in West Africa, and she was a faculty member of the SATW Institute for Travel Writing & Photography for five years.

Rick Sylvain

Rick Sylvain is a public relations director emeritus for Walt Disney World Resort. In a 20-year career, he was responsible for identifying and implementing numerous print and online publicity initiatives, overseeing media relations, the WDWnews.com news site for professional journalists, shaping publicity plans and coordinating and managing a staff of publicists and support staff. Transitioning in 2015 from his full-time role at Disney, Sylvain has remained active with The Mouse consulting, writing and editing news releases, working special projects and hosting media as a Disney contractor. Other PR clients have included Cirque du Soleil, the Hallmark Channel, Allied Integrated Marketing, Sachs Media, Celebrity Cruises and travel writing for the Orlando Sentinel and Edible Orlando Magazine. Before joining Disney, Sylvain was travel editor at the Detroit Free Press.  During his 17 years there,  he traveled to and wrote about destinations globally.  He also has helped write guidebooks and has written freelance articles for such publications such People.  Besides writing, Sylvain hosted travel segments on TV  and radio in Detroit.  Before the Free Press, positions included Michigan Broadcast Editor for the Associated Press, publicist with Ford Motor Co., and newscast writer for WXYZ-TV – ABC in Detroit. He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Detroit, is actively involved with SATW , past chair of the Orlando-Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau PR Committee, an officer with the Somerset Shores Homeowners Assn. Sylvain and his wife, Leesa, live in Orlando.

Michelle Rodriguez (Moderator)

Utilizing more than 20 years of experience in publicity, Michelle Rodriguez founded 360viewPR to offer clients an integrated public relations solution.  Before launching 360viewPR, Rodriguez was the director of media relations  and publicity at the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, overseeing all media relations outreach on behalf of the bureau.  Previously, she was head of communications for Visit Santa Barbara. Her PR career began in the music industry at Interscope Records, followed by a focus in film and television PR where she handled clients such as Miramax Films, Lionsgate Entertainment and CBC Television Canada.  Her love of travel led her to leave the entertainment industry and switch gears to travel, first as a journalist and then as a tourism PR professional.  She is a member of SATW and was chair of the organization’s 2017 Portland conference. Rodriguez, a native Angeleno, graduated from UCLA.

Crisis Management: Turning the Tide on Negative Stereotypes

Erik Elvejord

Erik Elvejord is the director of PR at Holland America Line, where he has been for more than 25 years. His areas of responsibility are crisis and incident management, media relations, event planning, internal communications, speech writing, social media, photography and video, reporting and fact checking. Before joining Holland America Line, he worked as a consultant, account executive at an environmental PR firm and at exploration cruise line Society Expeditions. He has published a few travel articles in an earlier life and played one season of semi-pro soccer, but not well, so had to get a job. He holds a degree in communications and Norwegian language and literature from University of Washington and returns to school frequently to talk crisis communications in PR classes. He has been a member of SATW for about 24 years and has served as Western Chapter treasurer and parliamentarian for the national board, among various other committees.

Edward Segal

Edward Segal is a crisis management expert, consultant, and author of the recently published book on crisis management titled  “Crisis Ahead: 101 Ways to Prepare for and Bounce Back from Disasters, Scandals, and Other Emergencies” (Nicholas Brealey). He has been featured in Fast Company, USA Today, Los Angeles Times and a variety of  trade publications. Segal hosts the weekly “Crisis Ahead” podcast that examines how companies and organizations in the news are dealing with a crisis. Segal has more than 30 years of experience helping employers and clients prevent, respond to, manage, and recover from a variety of crisis situations. For more information contact him at [email protected].

Jeff Chatterton

Jeff Chatterton started in risk and crisis communications as a journalist, winning several awards for his coverage of many “crisis-oriented” events. He fell into crisis communications the same way seemingly everyone gets into crisis PR: by accident. He focuses almost exclusively on the travel, tourism, attractions and aviation industries. Whether it’s the Ebola outbreak in Africa, privacy breach in Canada, a volcanic eruption in Ecuador or a hot air balloon accident in Las Vegas, he has been there and done that. He has clients from Stockholm to Sydney and in a normal year visits them on six continents.

Chez Chesak (Moderator)

Chez Chesak is the executive director of the Outdoor Writers Assn. of America, a family travel and adventure travel writer, 15-year veteran of the travel industry and has held several positions with outdoor recreation and conservation organizations. He is a member of the board of directors of the SATW. Chesak has  lived all over the U.S. and traveled to  35 countries. He’s an avid outdoorsperson and is happiest on a trail, on skis or nestled into a sleeping bag. He deployed to Iraq with a U.S. Army line unit in 2005. Learn more about him at chezconnects.com.

The Future of Cruise Travel

Arnold W. Donald

Arnold Donald is President and CEO of Carnival Corp. & PLC, the world’s largest travel and leisure company. It has nine cruise brands: Carnival, Holland America, Princess, Seabourn, AIDA, Costa, Cunard, P&O UK and P&O Australia. Donald has been President and CEO of Carnival Corp. since 2013 and served on the board for 13 years before that. He also serves on the board of Bank of America Corp.

Donald spent more than 20 years at Monsanto Co. as Corporate Senior Vice-President, President of Consumer and Nutrition and President of the Agricultural sector. After Monsanto, Donald was Chairman of Merisant Co. whose products included the sweeteners Equal and Canderel.  Before Carnival, Donald was President and CEO of Executive Leadership Council and President and CEO of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International. Donald received a bachelor of arts from Carleton College, a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Washington University in St Louis, and an MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

Brian Major 

Brian Major, a veteran travel journalist and media consultant, is executive editor, Caribbean and Latin America for travAlliance Media. His articles have appeared on Afar.com, Forbes.com and Fodors.com, and he was named the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s 2015 “Inner Circle King” Award winner for trade feature writing.

Adam Goldstein

Adam Goldstein is the global chair of Cruise Lines International Assn., a position he also held in 2015 and 2016. He has spent much his career in leadership roles with Royal Caribbean Group. Beginning in 1988, he served in numerous positions, including president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International from 2007–2014 and president and COO of RCL from 2014- 2018. He retired from his position as vice chairman of RCL in March 2020. Goldstein also was chair of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Assn. in 2017 and 2018.  In 2001, he was the national chair of the Travel Industry Assn. of America (now U.S. Travel Assn.) and has been inducted into the Travel Industry Hall of Leaders, as well as the International Maritime Hall of Fame. Goldstein graduated with honors from Princeton University and has a law degree from Harvard University and an MBA with distinction from INSEAD, a world leader in management education.

Jane Wooldridge (Moderator)

Jane Wooldridge is the business and visual arts editor for the Miami Herald. She has long been active in SATW and currently serves as president of the Society, among the many roles she has played in the organization. Her deep background in travel includes 26 years as travel editor for the Miami Herald.

Getting Out of a World of Trouble

Anietra Hamper

Anietra Hamper is an award-winning travel writer and photographer and owner of ThreeWordPress. She is the author of the award-winning book “Secret Columbus” (Reedy Press) and “100 Things to Do in Columbus Before You Die” (Reedy Press). She is also a contributing author to the bilingual book “Yangzhou Through American Eyes” written in English and Chinese. Hamper is a freelance travel writer with a niche in outdoor adventure and fishing for regional and national publications. She is a member of SATW and serves as the organization’s internal communications manager. Before starting her own content writing business, she spent nearly 20 years as a top-rated television news anchor and Emmy-nominated investigative reporter. Her stories ranged from investigations into the dangers of commercial popcorn flavoring to interviewing presidential candidates to pulling 9G’s in an F-16 fighter jet with the U.S. Thunderbirds.

Colin Pereira

Colin Pereira, safety specialist at the Committee to Protect Journalists, is the committee’s chief strategist on journalist safety. For more than 15 years, he has worked to shape the risk management model for journalists operating under threat. He is a director at HP Risk Management, a consultancy assisting companies and media organizations operating in fragile environments. Previously he was head of security for ITN and deputy head of BBC High Risk Team. Pereira has advised teams of journalists covering wars, natural disasters, terrorism and riots globally and has worked on high-risk investigations. Pereira was also an Emmy award-winning journalist for BBC Newsnight and BBC Current Affairs.

Jane Wooldridge (Moderator)

Jane Wooldridge is the business and visual arts editor for the Miami Herald. She has long been active in SATW and currently serves as president of the Society, among the many roles she has played in the organization. Her deep background in travel includes 26 years as travel editor for the Miami Herald.

New Communication Metrics for Job Security

Marcus Hibdon

Marcus Hibdon is the director of communications and public relations at Travel Portland. After joining Travel Portland in 2007, HIbdon became interested in the metrics and analytics used in the industry and started a quest to improve how the field measures and evaluates their impact. He brings a lifetime of media experience to his role at Travel Portland. He started as a reporter and copy editor in high school and later became the editor-in-chief of his college newspaper, ultimately spending 10 years leading newsrooms in various roles as city editor and managing editor. He also has served as SATW treasurer and Western Chapter treasurer. He lives in Portland with his wife, Emele,, son, Kainoa, and their dog, Hanalei. When he isn’t at work you can find him hiking in the mountains of Oregon, cycling Portland’s endless bike paths or searching out the city’s best craft beer.

Casey Barks

Casey Barks is the regional director of public relations for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in the Pacific Northwest. The son of a journalist mother, he is no stranger to storytelling and the power of the written word. During the past six years, he has spent his time sharing the iconic history and service of Fairmont Hotels, from Seattle  to Austin, Texas, and now in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Barks also is the 2020 chair of PRSA’s Travel & Tourism section and leads the team in planning and programming for the upcoming conference in Spokane, Wash. His love of travel and passion to communicate continues to drive his need to find new and exciting ways to tell stories and track who is listening.

Angela Berardino (Moderator)

Angela Berardino is the chief strategy officer at Turner, a creative communications agency that specializes in travel and lifestyle branding. Since joining Turner more than a decade ago, she has led an award-winning team of professionals in delivering innovative programming that combines traditional PR with a digital, social and experiential mediums. She serves on the national board of Public Relations Society of America Travel + Tourism Section. She splits her time between Denver and New York City and uses her free time to restore old homes.

Travel Writing in a Time of Crisis

Norie Quintos

Norie Quintos is an award-winning independent journalist and editor. She is an editor at large for National Geographic Travel Media, contributing content and representing the iconic brand. She is also a consultant for the travel industry on communications strategy, media relations, custom content and messaging. She helps clients find and tell their stories through seminars, coaching, and print and pixel projects. She has spoken and presented at conferences including the Adventure Travel World Summit, the New York Times Travel Show, International Media Marketplace, the International Indigenous Tourism Conference and the World Bank World Tourism Day Forum. Her areas of interest are cultural tourism, indigenous and sustainable tourism and transformational travel. She bikes, hikes and tweets @noriecicerone. www.noriequintos.com

Michael Luongo

Michael Luongo is a New York City-based freelance journalist and photographer and a writing instructor for UCLA who has taught at universities in the United States and China. He was a 2016 University of Michigan Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellow, examining rebuilding tourism in conflict zones. He has visited 100 countries and all seven continents, and is author or editor of 16 books, including Frommer’s Buenos Aires, Gay Travels in the Muslim World and “The Voyeur,” a novel. He was the 2013 Journalist of the Year for the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Assn., where he is Travel Writers Caucus Chair, and the 2010 and 2014 North American Travel Journalists Assn. Grand Prize Recipient, largely for work examining conflict zones, and is a Lowell Thomas Award recipient. Michael is also working for New York City’s Covid-19 Test & Trace team. Twitter @michaelluongo; www.michaelluongo.com.


Arnie Weissmann

Arnie Weissmann is editor-in-chief of Travel Weekly, the trusted source of news, research, analysis and opinion for the travel industry. He also serves as executive vice president/editorial director for its parent company, Northstar Travel Group, the world’s largest B-to-B travel media company.

Sharon Boorstin

Sharon Boorstin is a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times Travel section. She has written about travel for magazines including Smithsonian, Travel + Leisure and Town & Country Travel.  She is the author of “Let Us Eat Cake:  Adventures in Food and Friendship” and “Cookin’ for Love: A Novel With Recipes.”

Larry Bleiberg (Moderator)

Larry Bleiberg is an award-winning writer who has served on a Pulitzer Prize team, is an eight-time Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award winner, and was honored for editing the best newspaper travel section in North America. He is president-elect of SATW. Bleiberg writes columns for USA Today and Better Homes & Gardens, and has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, BBC, The Washington Post, Delta Sky, Afar, Westways, Southbound, CNN and others. He helped produce several National Geographic books and created CivilRightsTravel.com. He is formerly an editor with Time Inc.’s Coastal Living and travel editor of The Dallas Morning News. He is happiest when chasing his next story.

Performance and Charisma Coaching: Are You Ready for Your Close Up?

Lynn Mason-Pattnosh

Lynn Mason-Pattnosh is the executive producer and host of ConciergeQ Media. She is also a casting director and performance coach, who has worked on Emmy-winning TV (including casting the pilot of “Arrested Development”), film and media.  She is a member of SAG-AFTRA. ConciergeQ Media is a recognized and respected travel and entertainment brand, delivering award-winning “where travel meets entertainment” content to a luxury audience. The company produces URHere Travel all-access festival and event coverage from such events as the Sundance Film Festival, Sun Valley Wine Auction, Moogfest, The Mother’s Ball  and The WOWie Awards. She teaches professional and aspiring performers of all levels and ages, provides charisma coaching for media and business professionals, and is a college acting, journalism, and business instructor.

The Career Lattice: Staff to Self-employment Strategies that Preserve Your Money and Your Mind

Joanne Cleaver

Joanne Cleaver has been covering travel, business, personal finance, entrepreneurship, careers and women’s issues since 1981 as a freelance and staff journalist, content strategist and author of seven traditionally published books, including three travel books and three on small business growth. “The Career Lattice” (McGraw Professional, 2012), her seventh book, outlines proven lateral career strategies that propel lifelong professional and pay growth. Learn more at www.thecareerlattice.com; www.wilson-taylorassoc.com; and jycleaver.com.

Video Editing in the Palm of Your Hands

Robert Meeks

Robert Meeks is senior director of video for the Los Angeles Times.  Before the Times, Meeks served as the director of video for the Los Angeles News Group. There, he established video guidelines for the group’s nine newspapers, including the Los Angeles Daily News and the Press-Telegram in Long Beach. He started his journalism career at the Orange County Register, where he was a beat reporter covering Anaheim Hills and Villa Park. He has also written for The Compton Bulletin and The Inglewood Tribune. Meeks is an adjunct instructor at USC Annenberg and teaches a course on visual journalism that focuses on video, audio and mobile journalism.

Asking for a Friend: A Visit With SATW Attorney Anthony Elia

Anthony Elia

Anthony N. Elia III, Esq., has been SATW’s counsel since 2007. He has handled matters in copyright, contract, liability and more for the association and many of its members.  He practices in Ithaca, N.Y. ,focusing on litigation and general consulting.

Laurie Armstrong Gossy (Moderator)

Laurie Armstrong Gossy has represented and promoted major destinations and attractions including San Francisco, Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, Lake Tahoe’s South Shore, Marineland and the MGM Grand-Reno. She has been an Associate member of SATW since 1986 and was selected for Marco Polo membership in 2012. She is co-chair of the 2020 convention.

Expanding the Narrative: Telling Fuller Travel Stories (and Truths)

Cordell Reaves

Cordell Reaves serves as a historic preservation program analyst with the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, developing educational programming and events that enable sites to tell complete and inclusive stories. He has a master’s degree in museum studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program and a background in African American history with more than 20 years of experience working with historic sites and museums. He has also spoken extensively on the relationship between tourism and historic sites and has worked with tourism professionals to share NYS history with a broader audience.

Vickie Ashford

Vickie Ashford is the director of travel media for the Greater Birmingham, Ala., Convention & Visitors Bureau. She is passionate about connecting visitors to the stories of the supporting and, often, unsung people whose behind-the-scenes work helped to lead to Birmingham’s place in history regarding the Civil Rights Movement.

Matthew Maxey

Matthew Maxey is the associate director of public relations at Visit Franklin, Tenn. Acknowledging its past, Franklin is addressing its Civil War monument by telling the “fuller story” of the African American history that took place in the same town square. Although uncovering and discussing these events may be painful, the CVB and Franklin are committed to sharing the whole story without shying away from its darkest chapters.

Tonya Fitzpatrick (Moderator)

Tonya Fitzpatrick, Esq., is the co-founder of World Footprints, a social impact travel media platform that includes the award-winning “World Footprints” podcast.  She and her husband, Ian, have produced more than 300 episodes and distinguished guests have included Maya Angelou, David Rubenstein, Ken Burns, David Rockefeller Jr., Robert Kennedy Jr., and other celebrities, philanthropists, authors and thought-leaders. Through “World Footprints,” Fitzpatrick communicates the philosophy of “Ubuntu,” a Zulu word meaning “I am because we are,” by sharing stories that go beyond the surface and  support a truth about the transformative power of travel and the humanity we share.

Recruiting All Heroes: Protecting the Balance Between a Healing Planet and the Hunger for Travel

Ethan Gelber

For more than 30 years, Ethan Gelber has patrolled many parts of the tourism industry–as a bicycle tour operator, nonprofit manager, entrepreneur, destination marketer, digital marketer, communications strategist and, most often, editor and journalist. Throughout, he has specialized in and championed responsible and sustainable travel, diversity and inclusion in travel, and keeping things local. When his sons were born, he discovered the value of teaching the next generation through family travel.

Travel Media & Destinations: Recovering and Reconnecting

Claire Koenig

Claire Koenig is the senior media relations manager at Visit Milwaukee, where she has worked since 2017. At Visit Milwaukee, she has gotten to dabble in scriptwriting, kayaking, sangria-making and travel writer convention-organizing, besides helping writers from around the world tell the best, most accurate stories about her city. Before joining the team at Visit Milwaukee, Koenig worked as a senior editor at Milwaukee Magazine and worked in book publishing at Simon & Schuster. She is a proud Mizzou Tiger. Her favorite things to eat in Milwaukee right now are the spring rolls from Funky Fresh Spring Rolls in the unparalleled Sherman Phoenix. She is currently reading “Llama Llama Red Pajama” five times each day to her 1-year-old daughter Tess.

Joyce Kiehl

As Director of Communications for the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, Joyce Kiehl leads a team responsible for all public, media and film-industry relations for the nine-city region. Kiehl joined the organization in 2009 after having the privilege of being a stay-at-home mom for 18 years with her three (now-grown) children. Before that, she worked as entertainment publicist for KRON-TV in San Francisco after beginning her career in radio at KTAR in Phoenix. Kiehl graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in international relations and economics. A native Californian, she lives in La Quinta with her husband, Geoffrey, and dogs Chuck and Box.

Becca Bides

Becca Bides is the vice president of global communications for Visit Orlando, marketing Orlando, Fla., to visitors around the world through traditional media and digital/social channels. Besides driving publicity for the country’s most-visited tourism destination, she also oversees corporate and industry affairs for Visit Orlando as the region’s primary tourism association. She serves on the U.S. Travel Assn.’s communications committee for the U.S.  tourism industry. Before her role at Visit Orlando, she was a communications leader for the eight U.S. theme parks of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment for more than 20 years in marketing, corporate and issue communications, and also has worked in the agency world, leading PR for numerous Florida destinations and resorts.

Jody Halsted (Moderator)

Jody Halsted is an award-winning writer and podcaster happily based in the Midwest. Halsted has been a digital storyteller since 2004, and her “media empire” includes four websites, a podcast and two books. When not in America’s heartland, she can be found exploring Ireland (the home of her heart) or roaming America’s backroads and byways in her RV.

What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You: Understanding Digital Disclosures

Vanessa Chiasson

Vanessa Chiasson is an award-winning writer specializing in social media, travel, food, lifestyle and current events. Her bylines include USA Today, Canadian Traveller, Ontario Tourism, The Globe and Mail and more. Her blog, TurnipseedTravel.com, focuses on cozy, affordable travel adventures and was chosen by the White House in 2014 as one of the 100 most influential travel blogs in the world.

Jamie Lieberman

Jamie Lieberman, owner and founder of Hashtag Legal, has been a practicing lawyer for nearly 15 years. As an experienced entrepreneur, she understands the unique needs of business owners at different stages in their organization’s growth. Today, she partners with clients across verticals including influencer marketing, creative services and e-commerce. She is committed to making legal accessible and regularly speaks about legal matters, the art of negotiation and entrepreneurial topics at leading industry events such as Alt Summit, Podcast Movement and FinCon and also as an expert source for media such as Digiday and Forbes. You can catch her as a co-host on “The FearLess Business Podcast.”

Liz Hawks

Liz Hawks is a partner at FleishmanHillard and leads the firm’s global influencer group. She counsels clients across sectors, including retail, CPG, healthcare, tech, travel and food to strategically partner with influencers as part of viable integrated marketing communications strategies. Hawks has been a featured speaker on the national stage and has been interviewed by industry-leading publications including PR Week, Mashable and eMarketer on the subject of marketing to moms, the original influencers and founders of the blogosphere. She has a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree from Southern Methodist University.

Jody Halsted (Moderator)

Jody Halsted is an award-winning writer and podcaster happily based in the Midwest. Halsted has been a digital storyteller since 2004, and her “media empire” includes four websites, a podcast and two books. When not in America’s heartland, she can be found exploring Ireland (the home of her heart) or roaming America’s backroads and byways in her RV.

Stick With the Facts, Please

Susan Lanier-Graham

Susan Lanier-Graham holds a bachelor’s degree in government  and politics/comparative economics from the University of Maryland and a master’s in social science research methodologies from Regis University.  She worked as a translator in Germany for four years, where she began her freelance travel writing career. When she returned to the U.S., she began teaching community college and high school. After a decade, she left to pursue travel writing full time. She continues to freelance occasionally for other publications, but she spends most of her time on her online travel publication, Wander With Wonder, and as a consultant for ConnectingIRL. She is an award-winning travel writer, author of more than 75 books, a member of SATW, and a Certified Speak to Inspire Method Speaker and Facilitator. She owns the podcast “Wander Stories. ” She spent about 25 years in Arizona and began calling Dallas home about three years ago.

The End of Elegance in Writing?

Constance Hale

Constance Hale is a San Francisco–based journalist and the author of five books on language and literary style, including “Wired Style” and “Sin and Syntax.” She has worked on the staffs of theOakland Tribune, theSan Francisco Examiner, Wired andHealth magazines, and her freelance journalism has appeared in The Atlantic, Smithsonian, Los Angeles Times, Honolulu and many other publications. She wrote an eight-part series on writing a sentence for The New York Times. Hale has also edited three dozen trade books. She covers writing and the writing life at sinandsyntax.com.

Destination CEOs’ Perspectives on Promoting Anti-Racism in the Travel Industry

Melvin Tennant, CAE

Melvin Tennant, CAE, is president and CEO of Meet Minneapolis, Convention and Visitors Assn. The private 501(c)6 organization has about 70 employees who market, sell and maximize the visitor experience of Minneapolis for the economic benefit of the local community. Tennant also serves as the executive director of Sports Minneapolis. Under his leadership, Meet Minneapolis annually secures 700 large, midsized and smaller meetings, conventions and sporting events for the Minneapolis region and Minneapolis Convention Center. Tennant led the launch of a dedicated sports marketing arm of Meet Minneapolis– called Sports Minneapolis. Meet Minneapolis, Sports Minneapolis and its partners have secured major events such as the 2018 Super Bowl, 2019 NCAA Men’s Final Four, multiple years of ESPN’s Summer X Games and the 2022 NCAA Women’s Final Four.

Julie Coker

Julie Coker is the president and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority, where she oversees the organization’s efforts to promote and sell San Diego as a top destination. The SDTA is recognized as one of the best in the business and continues to set the standard. Previously, Coker was president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. Before joining Philadelphia’s CVB, she was the general manager for the Hyatt Regency Philadelphia, where she oversaw a 350-room hotel. She began her career in 1989 as a corporate management trainee. Coker serves on several boards, including the California Travel Assn., Visit California, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., Downtown San Diego Partnership, U.S. Travel Assn. and Destinations International. Coker graduated magna cum laude from Johnson and Wales University, where received a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management.

Megan Padilla (Moderator)

Megan Padilla is a freelancer writer who writes mostly about the Southeastern U.S. for Florida publications. She recently moved to Minneapolis for four-season living and new adventures with her family. She is a co-chair of SATW’s DEAI (Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion) committee and also serves on the professional development committee.

Redefining “Safe Travel” in a Post-Pandemic World

Katie Briscoe

Katie Briscoe is responsible for the development of core marketing services and talent, along with helping lead MMGY global’s strategic growth through acquisition. Besides being part of the global leadership team, Briscoe oversees the operation of the company’s integrated marketing communications brand, MMGY, which offers clients around the world full-service support, including brand planning, content and creative development, media planning and buying, marketing technology and data, CRM and analytics. She also oversees the company’s North American PR, social and experiential brand, NJF. She has spent more than a decade with MMGY Global, leading strategic work for clients including Club Med, Marriott International, Destination DC, Namibia Tourism, Sixt Rental Car and Wyndham Hotel Group. She is a member of the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Assn. International Americas Board as well as the recipient of the organization’s 2017 Chair’s Leadership Award. She has also served on Expedia’s Select Board and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences.

Dean Sivley

Dean Sivley is president of Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection. His travel industry experience includes serving as CEO  of Atlas Travel Technologies, vice president of marketing and chief information officer of Rosenbluth International, and COO at Orbitz.  Sivley  took his travel experience and combined it with insurance in 2009 as chief executive officer of AIG-Travel Guard.  He left insurance to continue building the revolutionary technology-driven car service company GroundLink as CEO, then returned to lead Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance’s travel insurance division in May 2015.  Sivley received his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, where he was later named 2011 distinguished alumni, and his MBA with honors from Columbia University. He also serves on the UStiA Communications Committee and  on numerous boards, including the United States Travel Insurance Assn.

Jeremy Palmer

Jeremy Palmer is an executive team member at Tauck, the U.S.-based tour operator serving all seven continents with more than 150 travel experiences and events for travelers on land, sea and river. Palmer oversees Tauck’s worldwide operations, brand management and marketing functions and is responsible for strategic planning.  As part of his operational responsibilities, he leads Tauck’s Global Response Team.  Before Tauck, he worked in sales and trading at JPMorgan and in the retail sector at Li & Fung, the world’s largest consumer goods sourcing company. Palmer graduated from Stanford University and the Kellogg Business School and serves on a variety of boards.  He lives in Manhattan with his wife and three children.

Catharine Hamm (Moderator)

Catharine Hamm recently retired  as travel editor for the Los Angeles Times, where she worked for more than two decades. She is a past president of SATW,  current president of the SATW Foundation and chair of the 2020 convention’s professional development committee. Other stops on her journey: editor of The (Salinas) Californian; city editor and managing editor of the San Bernardino County (Calif.) Sun; deputy managing editor, among other roles, including travel editor, at The Kansas City (Mo.) Star; and  reporter at the Johnson County (Ks.) Sun. She counts New York, Virginia, Hawaii, the Philippines, Kansas, Missouri and California among the places she has called home, which she thinks should always include a cat.

Travel Editors: Who’s Buying the Next Round

Melanie Lieberman

Melanie Lieberman is a senior travel editor at The Points Guy, where she oversees daily travel and lifestyle news, destination coverage, travel features and reports. Before TPG, she was an associate digital editor at Travel + Leisure magazine, and her work has appeared in Bloomberg Pursuits, Yahoo Travel, Jetsetter, Boston Common magazine, Luxe City Guides and Saveur magazine, among others. She has been featured as a travel expert on TV, radio, podcasts and in print, and she has been recognized for her journalism, poetry, prose and playwriting in various competitions and festivals.

Arianna Davis

Arianna Davis is the digital director of O, The Oprah Magazine, overseeing all of OprahMag.com‘s editorial, social, and video content and strategy. OprahMag.com launched in 2018 and reaches more than 10 million users each month. Davis is also the author of “What Would Frida Do? A Guide to Living Boldly,” out Oct. 20 but available for pre-order. She is an adjunct professor at New York University teaching writing and editing for digital for the master’s program. Previously, Davis was a senior features writer at Refinery29, specializing in features and topics relevant to Black and Latinx women. She began her career at O, before moving to Us Weekly. Her writing has been featured in New York Magazine, Glamour, Marie Claire, and PopSugar Latina. Davis has interviewed everyone from Hillary Clinton to Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey and John Legend, and has appeared on Access Hollywood, Tamron Hall, VH1 and TLC, among other outlets.

Jacqueline Gifford

Jacqueline Gifford has been editor-in-chief of Travel + Leisure, the preeminent voice and brand for the sophisticated traveler, since November 2018. Most recently, she was Travel + Leisure’s travel director and has held various senior editorial positions since she joined the brand in 2013. Before joining the team at Travel + Leisure, Gifford worked at various media outlets, including Brides and Vanity Fair. She was born in Japan and raised in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Philadelphia and has traveled the world. She graduated from Princeton University with a bachelor’s degree in English and lives in New York City with her husband and young son.

Ken Shapiro

Ken Shapiro is vice president, publisher/editor-in-chief of TravelAge West, Family Getaways and Explorer. He has overseen the growth of TravelAge West, the No. 1 travel trade brand in the Western U.S. He also launched Family Getaways, covering family and multigenerational travel, and Explorer, focused on adventure travel. Under his guidance, all three titles have received numerous editorial, design and online awards. TravelAge West also hosts the WAVE Awards for travel suppliers; the Future Leaders in Travel Retreat for the next generation of travel advisors; and Global Travel Marketplace West, the top face-to-face marketplace event for advisors. Shapiro is a member of SATW and has won writing awards from SATW and the North American Travel Journalists Assn., among others. He is also president of the board of directors of the Family Travel Assn. He lives with his wife and their two children in Los Angeles.

Fred Gonzalez

Fred Gonzalez is the managing editor for American Airlines’ in-flight publications, American Way, Celebrated Living and Nexos, which reaches 16 million passengers monthly, as well as the recently launched digital platform AmericanWay.com. Gonzalez, a graduate of the University of South Carolina, began his career as a sports writer at The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., before moving to The Washington Post. After three years as an assistant sports editor, he joined The Miami Herald in the summer of 2004 as the deputy sports editor, helping shape the Herald’s sports coverage during the Miami Heat’s 2006 run to the NBA championship and Miami-hosted Super Bowls in 2007 and 2010. Gonzalez also started writing for the features department, with his online-only Red Carpet Huddle (asking celebrities questions about sports) and his column, The Dating Game. In 2009 he joined Miami.com as it launched and was editor-in-chief from 2010 to  2016.

Jane Wooldridge (Moderator)

Jane Wooldridge is the business and visual arts editor for the Miami Herald. She has long been active in SATW and currently serves as president of the Society, among the many roles she has played in the organization. Her deep background in travel includes 26 years as travel editor for the Miami Herald.

Why Don’t My Photos Win or Sell? What SATW Pros Look For When They Make Photos

Eric Lindberg

Eric Lindberg is a travel and assignment photographer and writer who travels to familiar and remote corners of the world in search of the exotic, the exquisite and the offbeat. Through his photos and stories, he strives to convey the beauty and diversity of the world’s people, cultures and wild places on all seven continents. His award-winning work has been featured in magazines, books, calendars, newspapers, tourism websites and promotional travel publications nationwide and overseas. He has twice been honored as SATW Photographer of the Year, and he has been awarded one of the top three prizes in this prestigious competition for seven of the last 10 years.

Susan Portnoy

Susan Portnoy , formerly vice president of communications at Condé Nast, left her public relations career in 2018 to follow her passions for photography and travel as a full-time freelancer. Her site, The Insatiable Traveler, launched in 2014. This year, she was a finalist in the inaugural GTMA 2020 Global Travel Photographer Award, and The Insatiable Traveler was named a 2020 Webby-Award honoree for personal blog. She is also a multiple Lowell Thomas award winner for “Photo Depiction of Travel.”  Her work has been featured in Newsweek, USA Today, Globe & Mail, Brit & Co., Afar, Huffington Post, Wendy Perrin, The Associated Press, Thrive Global, among others. 

Donnie Sexton

A Montana native, Donnie Sexton spent 26 years with the Montana Office of Tourism, as staff photographer and as public relations manager. Her obsession with travel has morphed into seeking new angles for her photography and storytelling, preferably off the beaten path.  Sexton has twice won the Bronze Award for Photographer of the Year (2020 and 2015) in the Bill Muster Photo Competition. Her stories and award-winning photography have been featured worldwide, including www.budgettravel.com, Delta Sky Magazine, Sunset Magazine, Lee Newspapers, www.gonomad.com, Sing Tao Daily, and Travel & Safaris Magazine. Her work can be viewed at www.donniesexton.com.

Kerrick James (Moderator)

Kerrick James has photographed the American West and Pacific Rim for more than 25 years as a travel journalist, with more than 200 magazine and book covers and hundreds of features illustrated. His credits include National Geographic Adventure, Arizona Highways, Sunset, Condé Nast Traveler UK, Alaska Airlines Beyond, VIA, EnCompass, Outdoor Photographer, ExperienceScottsdale and many more.

In the past decade he has taught nearly 70 photo workshops in a variety of locations, including Arizona, Alaska, Montana, Utah, New Mexico, Hawaii, California, Baja California, Costa Rica, Panama and Zambia. He has taught for Arizona Highways Photo Scapes, and now, his own company, KJ Photo Safaris   He is an active member of SATW, TEOE (Through Each Other’s Eyes). He lives in Arizona with his sons Shane, Royce and Keanu. To see images: www.kerrickjames.com or  www.agpix.com/kerrickjames

Michael Snell

Michael Snell is a photographer/designer based in Lawrence, Ks. He has a BFA in visual communications (graphic design and illustration) from the University of Kansas and was an art director and publication designer for several ad agencies before going freelance in 1997. His photographs have appeared in National Geographic publications, Travel+Leisure, Moon Handbooks, Rough Guides, Tamron publications, USA Today, Forbes.comCNBC.com, Meredith books, AAA publications, Midwest Living, Kansas! Magazine, Michigan Travel Ideas, among others. Snell has been an SATW member since 2002, serving as Freelance Council chair, second vice chair of the Central States Council, and is currently FLC secretary and chair of the Photographers’ Sub-Council. He has served on the SATW board as an active-at-large and on committees for the New Zealand, Gulf Coast, and Iceland conventions, and was co-Chair of the 2016 Wenzhou, China, convention.

Matt Payne (Moderator)

Oklahoma native and Prairie Surf Media co-CEO Matt Payne has an impressive list of credits and achievements in numerous creative businesses. During 15 years in L.A., Payne wrote for such hit series as “Vegas,” “Defenders” and “Memphis Beat” and served on the production teams of “24” and “Without a Trace.” After returning to Oklahoma, he produced the award-winning TV series “Mosaic Oklahoma” and recently produced and directed the hit documentary “Storm Chasers.” He was a 2018 Emmy nominee for the OETA Foundation project “Rare.” He is the Travel Editor of 405 Magazine and, as a writer and photographer, has covered stories for National Geographic Traveler, Travel Age West and Explorer Magazine, among other travel publications. He received a degree in film from Oklahoma City University, where he also was an adjunct professor for three years. He is working to advance the streaming, TV and motion picture industry in Oklahoma.

Fun Squad

Michael Hodgson

Michael Hodgson is an award-winning travel writer photographer and lover of gin and tonics. You can find his writing, artwork and photos on HITravelTales.com, a travel blog he operates in partnership with his wife and favorite traveling companion, Therese Iknoian. Hodgson relies on his journalism experience (coupled with an uncanny ability to turn a simple stroll into an epic adventure of survival) to discover unique stories to tell, even in the most remote or highly visited destinations. Through his stories and photography, he seeks to connect readers to a place through the eyes of locals. He loves to focus on cuisine, culture, history, adventure, frequently flavoring them with a dash of humor.

Spud Hilton

Spud Hilton is a travel expert, consultant, featured speaker and editor for the SF Bay Area edition of the “Where Traveler” guide. In 20 years at the San Francisco Chronicle, he earned 13 Lowell Thomas Awards for travel journalism. He hosts the “Inappropriate Traveler” podcast, which was named one of the Ten Best Travel Podcasts for 2020 by the London Telegraph. His videos and campaigns have been featured by Peter Greenberg, NPR, Rudy Maxa, “Good Morning, America,” the “Today” show and “Quest Means Business” on CNN International.

Chez Chesak

Chez Chesak is the executive director of the Outdoor Writers Assn. of America, a family travel and adventure travel writer, 15-year veteran of the travel industry and has held several positions with outdoor recreation and conservation organizations. He is a member of the board of directors of the SATW, the Society of American Travel Writers. Chesak has  lived all over the U.S. and traveled to  35 countries. He’s an avid outdoors person and is happiest on a trail, on skis or nestled into a sleeping bag. He deployed to Iraq with a U.S. Army line unit in 2005. He is also co-chair of this year’s convention. Learn more about him at chezconnects.com.

Juliana Broste

Talented on both sides of the camera, travel video journalist Juliana Broste is a producer, writer, shooter, editor and on-camera host. She specializes in travel and lifestyle content, and her work has been featured on national networks and web series for CNN Airport, PBS, Travel Channel, Lonely Planet, Matador Network, Food Network, Cooking Channel, MTV, USA Today, Viator/TripAdvisor, DirecTV, Visit Denver, Colorado Tourism Board, Colorado Ski Country and numerous tourism boards. Broste’s adventures have led her across the globe, earning her the nickname “TravelingJules.” Broste has been designated a “fun expert,” receiving that title during Rand McNally and USA Today’s Best of the Road competition. She maintains her TravelingJules blog, which has been featured in Budget Travel Magazine. When not filming and photographing the world, she is tearing up the mountain on her snowboard. She is a fully certified snowboard instructor and enjoys teaching first-time riders through advanced shredders.