Conference Speakers

Sheri Castle

Author, Culinary Instructor

Sheri Castle is an award-winning professional food writer, and culinary instructor. She is known for melding storytelling, humor, and culinary expertise. She is the author of The New Southern Garden Cookbook: Recipes for Enjoying the Best from Homegrown Gardens, Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands and CSA Boxes, The University of North Carolina Press, 2011. Among the accolades, this book was selected as the 2012 Cookbook of the Year by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA). Sheri is the author of The Southern Living Community Cookbook: Celebrating Food and Fellowship in the American South, released October 2014 by Oxmoor House with foreword by Matt Lee and Ted Lee. This book was a finalist for a 2014 International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) excellence award. She is the author of Rhubarb, Short Stack Editions, 2016. Short Stack is a series of small-format cookbooks authored by America’s top culinary talents. She is the co-author and recipe tester for The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook, published by The University of Georgia Press, 2010. This book was a finalist for a 2009 International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) excellence award. Sheri won the 2011 AIWF Foundation Scholarship for Recipe Writing presented in honor of Julia Child. Find out more at

Sheri will be a panelist on the "UNC Press Book Publishing Panel" on Wednesday, May 17 at 8:20 AM.


Lucas Church

Associate Editor
UNC Press

Lucas acquires books for the Press’s regional trade list along with scholarly work in fields including literary studies, sociology, social medicine, and business and entrepreneurship. He received his B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and M.F.A. in creative writing, concentrating in fiction, from North Carolina State University.

Lucas will be a panelist on the "UNC Press Book Publishing Panel" on Wednesday, May 17 at 8:20 AM.




Bridgette CyrBridgette Cyr

Graduate Student
UNC School of Media and Journalism

Bridgette is a documentary photographer and audio producer. 

A native of Texas, she received a BFA in photography from Texas State University. After graduation she began working towards a certificate in multimedia at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke. A current resident of Durham, NC she has become involved with local documentary organizations. She has produced short radio stories for Audio Under the Stars and has worked with Full Frame Documentary Film Festival for the last 5 years, the last two on festival staff as the Artist Services Coordinator. Her work explores political and ecological influences on immigration.

Bridgette will be presenting "Smartphones: Your New Content Producers" on Wednesday, May 17 at 9:40 AM and 11:05 AM.


Georgann Eubanks


UNC Press

Georgann Eubanks is the author of the three-volume Literary Trails of North Carolina series commissioned by the NC Arts Council and published by UNC Press.  She is a writer, teacher, and consultant with more than 30 years of experience in the nonprofit sector.  Since 2000 she has been a principal with Donna Campbell in Minnow Media, LLC, and an Emmy-winning multimedia production company that primarily creates independent documentaries for public television. A graduate of Duke University, Eubanks has served as president of Arts North Carolina, chair of the NC Humanities Council, and is one of the founders of the NC Writers Network. She is current president of the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association. Her next book, The Month of Their Ripening: North Carolina Heritage Foods, is due out from UNC Press in 2018.

Georgann will be a panelist on the "UNC Press Book Publishing Panel" on Wednesday, May 17 at 8:20 AM.



Tonya Fitzpatrick, Esq.

Executive Producer/Host/Editor
World Footprints Media

Tonya Fitzpatrick loves talking about the transformative power of travel and she has done so on several stages including TEDx, the Women’s Economic Forum in India, FestiGals conference in New Orleans, Higher Education Learning Forum in Dubai and more.  She has also served as moderator for the Environmental Film Festival and a film presentation at the National Press Club.  Tonya is a lawyer by training but an intrepid traveler and global citizen by heart and the latter inspired her to create World Footprints Media where she produces and co-hosts the multi award-winning World Footprints podcast with her husband, Ian. World Footprints is a Lowell Thomas award-winning show that stands on the foundation of social responsibility and inspiring life journeys..   Listeners have been inspired by World Footprints interviews with prominent figures like the late Dr. Maya Angelou, Ken Burns, Jack Hanna, Stefanie Powers, David Rockefeller, Jr., Robert Kennedy, Jr., and others.

A published author, Tonya has contributed a chapter in a career inspiration book with Stephen Covey, co-created a Baltimore travel app and authored an e-itinerary guide for Washington, DC. Her professional career is diverse and ranges from a fundraising executive for a theatre to a politico. Under President George W. Bush, she received an appointment as a Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education; she was placed as a federal contractor as Senior Legal Advisor in the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and, Tonya has served on Capitol Hill and other in other political positions.

Tonya received a Masters degree from the London School of Economics and a law degree from Wayne State University. She has lived, studied or worked in England, Russia and China. She is a popular media personality who has appeared on public radio, the CBS and NBC networks and Retirement Living. Tonya has also been featured in Black Enterprise, USA News Report and several books including “This Is NOT The Career I Ordered”. When she is not crossing the globe, Tonya lives in the metro Washington, DC area with her husband Ian and their cat, Irwin.

Tonya will be presenting "How Being an Award-Winner Can Enhance Your Brand." Session date and time TBD.


Joe Bob Hester

Associate Professor
UNC School of Media and Journalism

Associate professor Joe Bob Hester teaches advertising in the school. His research interests include advertising, interactive media and media agenda setting.

Before coming to the UNC School of Media and Journalism in 2001, Hester taught at Texas Tech University where he won several teaching awards, including the Ex-Students Association New Faculty Award.

He is co-author of a chapter in the textbook "Advertising & The Business of Brands." He has published research articles in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Newspaper Research Journal, Journalism and Mass Communication Educator and other journals.

Joe Bob will be presenting "Grow Your Audience with Better Headline Writing" on Tuesday, May 16 at 2:45 PM and 4:15 PM.


Gary Kayye

Adjunct Professor
UNC School of Media and Journalism

Gary Kayye has worked in technology branding and marketing for more than 25 years. He was the founder of Kayye Consulting, a technology consulting company, and currently serves as president and CEO of rAVe [Publications], a publishing and digital strategy and communications company that he founded in 2003. 

Prior to that, he served as the vice president of sales and marketing for Extron and an executive VP at AMX Corporation. 

A graduate of the UNC School of Media and Journalism, Kayye teaches courses in the school that address new media and its impact on the future of advertising, marketing and public relations, as well as a personal and professional branding class. He is recognized as a social media and new media technology expert, especially in the B2B markets.

Kayye has been the keynote speaker at more than 1,000 technology shows and events because of his extensive marketing and branding expertise as well as his entertaining and approachable speaking style.

He has either assisted or helped create a number of branding campaigns for dozens of tech companies (including brands such as Cisco, NEC, HP, InFocus, Sony and the University of North Carolina) and has served as an expert witness in branding court cases.  

In 2004, he was recognized as InfoComm’s Educator of the Year, and in 2007 he was given the NSCA Instructor of the Year award. In 2014, he was named to the list of the Top 100 People in the Triangle You Should Connect With.

Gary will be presenting "The Branding of Me" on Wednesday, May 17 at 9:40 AM and 11:05 AM.


Tim Leffel

Author, Freelance Writer, and Editor/Blogger
Cheapest Destinations Blog and Perceptive Travel

Tim Leffel is the author of several popular books, including Travel Writing 2.0 (now in its second edition), a freelance writer, and the editor/blogger at five websites. He has run the Cheapest Destinations Blog (a former NATJA Gold winner) since 2003 and his Perceptive Travel online magazine and blog has won Gold awards from NATJA, SATW, and the Solas Awards, as well as getting stories into multiple "best travel writing" book anthologies. He splits his time between Tampa, FL and Guanajuato, Mexico. See his portfolio at

Tim will be presenting "How Being an Award-Winner Can Enhance Your Brand." Session date and time TBD.


Don Mankin

Travel Writer & Author
Adventure Transformations

Don Mankin has filled many roles in his professional life: aerospace engineer, business consultant, psychologist, educator, and now travel writer. The Wall Street Journal called his book, "Riding the Hulahula to the Arctic Ocean: A Guide to 50 Extraordinary Adventures for the Seasoned Traveler" (from National Geographic Press) one of the best travel books of 2008. Don has won several awards for his travel writing including first place every year from 2011 to 2016 for 50+Travel in NATJAs annual competition. Don’s specialties are transformational travel and adventure travel for active seniors.

Don will be presenting "How Being an Award-Winner Can Enhance Your Brand." Session date and time TBD.


Amanda Martin

Lawyer & Adjunct Instructor
UNC School of Media and Journalism

Amanda Martin is a communications lawyer, representing traditional and social media as well as corporate communicators on issues related to the libel and privacy, the internet, intellectual property, and other speech-based concerns. Ms. Martin is general counsel to the N.C. Press Association, an organization of approximately 200 N.C. newspapers. For more than 20 years, she routinely has counseled reporters, editors and news directors about avoiding libel suits, gaining access to closed government meetings and records and resisting subpoenas. With the advent of the internet, Ms. Martin expanded her practice to include counseling and representing non-media individuals and organizations with social media issues.

Ms. Martin is the co-author of the North Carolina section of the Media Law Resource Center’s annual survey on privacy law, co-author of the North Carolina section of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Open Government Guide, and co-editor of the North Carolina Media Law Handbook, to which she also contributes the chapter on access to public meetings. She is a frequent speaker and panelist at media law forums and workshops and regularly contributes articles to legal, media and other publications.  Ms. Martin has taught as an adjunct instructor of media law at the UNC School of Law, the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Campbell Law School.

Ms. Martin’s professional activities include serving as a member of the Newsgathering Committee of the Media Law Resource Center, former chairman of the N.C. Bar Association’s Constitutional Rights and Responsibility Section Council and a former director of the Wake County Bar Association and editor of its newsletter.  She enjoys reading, cooking, and travel and is an active member of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church.

Amanda will be presenting "Knowing Your Social Media Legal Rights" on Tuesday, May 16 at 2:45 PM and 4:15 PM.


DG Martin

North Carolina Bookwatch, UNC-TV

D.G. Martin has conducted more than 1000 interviews on Chapel Hill’s WCHL radio station’s “Who’s Talking” and interviewed more than 350 North Carolina authors as host of UNC-TV’s “North Carolina Bookwatch,” the state’s premier literary series. A graduate of Davidson College and Yale Law School and a former Green Beret, Martin practiced law in Charlotte for 20 years before joining the University of North Carolina, where he served as Vice President for Public Affairs and chief legislative liaison. About 40 North Carolina newspapers carry his weekly newspaper column that features books, politics, and related topics. He has written numerous book reviews and feature articles for newspapers, journals, and magazines. UNC Press recently published his travel and guidebook, “North Carolina’s Roadside Eateries: A Traveler’s Guide to Local Restaurants, Diners, and Barbecue Joints.”

DG will be presenting "Welcome to North Carolina" on Wednesday, May 17 at 8:00 AM and will be a panelist on the "UNC Press Book Publishing Panel" on Wednesday, May 17 at 8:20 AM.


Daniel Wallace

J. Ross MacDonald Distinguished Professor of English

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Daniel Wallace is author of six novels, including Big Fish (1998), Ray in Reverse (2000), The Watermelon King (2003), Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician (2007), The Kings and Queens of Roam (2013), and most recently Extraordinary Adventures (May 2017). His children’s book, published in 2014, and for which he did both the words and the pictures, is called The Cat’s Pajamas, and it is adorable. In 2003 Big Fish was adapted and released as a movie and then in 2013 the book and the movie were mish-mashed together and became a Broadway musical. His novels have been translated into over two-dozen languages. Daniel Wallace is the J. Ross MacDonald Distinguished Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his alma mater, where he directs the Creative Writing Program.

Daniel will be a panelist on the "UNC Press Book Publishing Panel" on Wednesday, May 17 at 8:20 AM.