Keynote Speakers

Discover Puerto Rico

Tuesday, May 3 from 1:30pm to 2:15pm

Picture of Davelyn Tardi

Davelyn Tardi

Davelyn Tardí Reyes is a passionate communications professional with experience in developing integrated marketing communications strategies in different industries. She is a communications manager at Discover Puerto Rico, a not-for-profit entity charged with promoting the Island. Previously, Davelyn worked as a communications and operations Manager for an educational startup in Puerto Rico. She graduated with honors from Universidad del Sagrado Corazón with a Bachelor of Arts in communications specializing in journalism. Also, she has a master’s degree in public relations and integrated communications. Currently, Davelyn is a Puerto Rico Public Relations Professionals Association (ARPPR) member and is certified by the Public Relations Specialist License of Puerto Rico.

Picture of Jose Arana

Jose Arana

José is a marketing manager for Discover Puerto Rico, the Island’s Destination Marketing Organization. José provides guidance, assistance, and support at the organization’s tradeshows, conventions, and events. Also, liaises and collaborates with the organization’s LGBTQ+ market strategy and marketing efforts. José counts with 10 years of experience. His tourism industry expertise includes back-of-the-house and front-of-the-house guest experience management, group, conventions, and tradeshow planning support. He is part of the Destinations International 30 under 30 class of 2017. José has a master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras and a bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the University of Puerto Rico in Carolina.

Professional Development

Preparedness + Agility: Learnings in Crisis Communications

Tuesday, May 3 from 3pm to 4:15pm

Picture of Leah Chandler

Leah Chandler

Leah is the Chief Marketing Officer for the Puerto Rico Destination Marketing
Organization, Discover Puerto Rico. As CMO, Leah is charged with providing strategic
marketing leadership for the organization; responsible for the oversight of the DMO’s paid
media, creative, public relations, brand development and management, and digital
strategy.

Prior to her move to San Juan, Leah was the Chief Marketing Officer for Explore Branson,
where she led the growth of the community’s tourism industry for five straight years,
repositioning the destination’s brand and posting back-to-back years of record ROI for the
organization’s marketing program. In previous years, Leah led the Missouri Tourism
account at H&L Partners, the agency of record for the Missouri Division of Tourism. In this
role, Leah developed and guided the strategic direction of the Division’s marketing,
managing paid and earned media, creative and interactive development, and campaign
implementation. Leah led Missouri Tourism’s brand repositioning effort in 2013,
introducing a new brand identity and corresponding campaign featuring “Enjoy the Show.”
Leah is a veteran of the travel and tourism industry, having directed the Indiana Tourism
account for five years prior to joining H&L Partners. Leah earned her Certified Destination
Management Executive (CDME) credential in 2014. This designation, from Destinations
International, is the tourism industry’s highest individual educational achievement.

Picture of Bettina Garibaldi

Bettina Garibaldi

Bettina Garibaldi is the Managing Director of Ketchum’s Travel, Hospitality & Leisure sector. She brings years of experience leading integrated marketing communications campaigns and is an expert at building and elevating travel, hospitality and leisure brands through corporate communications, media relations, consumer engagement, and strategic partnerships and events. She has a Masters from NYU in corporate communications and has received numerous best-in-class awards for campaigns she’s spearheaded — including Ketchum’s most awarded PR-led campaign for one of her destination clients. She’s originally from Argentina and fluent in Spanish. Bettina is a PRWeek 40 Under 40 2020 recipient and a 2021 HSMAI Top 25 most extraordinary marketing leader recipient. Her motto is: Collect moments, not things.

Press Trips: Etiquette and Expectations

Tuesday, May 3 from 3pm to 4:15pm

Picture of Francesca Donlan

Francesca Donlan

Francesca Donlan serves as the communications director for Discover Newport. She recently left a position with Fort Myers - Islands, Beaches and Neighborhoods and hosted many journalists. She is also an adjunct professor who teaches kindness and civility remotely for Florida Gulf Coast University. Prior to her position in public relations, she spent 20 years as a journalist working at newspapers throughout the country. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rutgers University and a master’s degree for journalism from the University of Missouri.

Picture of Kathryn Farrington

Kathryn Farrington

Kathryn’s career at Discover Newport, began over thirty years ago developing many non-peak seasonal events (both local and international) and packaging travel programs throughout the industry. She went on to develop sponsorship programs for the organization and championed the lucrative film industry in the destination, working cooperatively with the municipalities and the Rhode Island Film & Television Office. Later in her tenure, she headed the Communications/public relations efforts at the DMO, ultimately being promoted to Vice President of Marketing. She proudly leads an all- female team of dynamic marketing professionals, tasked with marketing the nine coastal communities in the destination. She also manages the Discover Newport Visitors Services program.

Picture of Gustavo Rivas-Solis

Gustavo Rivas-Solis

Gustavo is co-owner of ENroute Communications and is currently celebrating 20 years in the public relations world. He has ran PR and marketing campaigns for clients as diverse as the Mexico Tourism Board and the OCVs of Medellin, San Miguel de Allende, India, Quito, Morocco, Zambia, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta.

He has coordinated an anual average of 150 international media visits focusing on tourism, adventure travel, gastronomy and LGBTQ travel.

Picture of Barbara Golden

Barbara Golden

Since 2005, Barbara Golden has been the communications/media manager for the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau (VCB) where she shares responsibility for marketing Florida’s Historic Coast as visitor destination through media communications and promotional programs. Her primary role is media relations, hosting more than 100 journalists in destination each year.

For more than thirty years Barbara has played an important role in marketing Northeast Florida as a vacation destination. In addition to her current role with the VCB, her experiences include Marketing Executive for Florida Living Magazine, Florida Market Manager for Amtrak, and served as the Vice President of Tourism at Florida’s Putnam County Chamber of Commerce.

Barbara has served on Visit Florida Public Relations and Cultural, Heritage, Rural and Nature Committees as a committee member and in leadership roles; the Advisory Board for the Women’s Food Alliance, is an active member of North American Travel Journalists Association where she serves on the Advisory Board; and a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SAATW) serving as an Association Member on the SATW Eastern Chapter Board of Directors

When not promoting Florida’s Historic Coast as Florida’s most unique vacation destination, Barbara can be found on her paddleboard exploring Florida waterways, scanning the beaches for fossilized sharks teeth, or whipping up something tasty in her kitchen. And almost always with one of her Darling grandchildren in tow.

How to succeed in the travel and publishing industries when hard times hit

Tuesday, May 3 from 3pm to 4:15pm and 4:30pm to 5:45pm

Picture of Lina Zeldovich

Lina Zeldovich

Lina Zeldovich shimmied with belly dancers in Turkey, cooked a zebu stew in Madagascar, fished for piranhas in the Amazon, sipped a drink made from a venomous snake in Peru—and always lived to write the story. Along the way, she survived Siberian winter, Jordanian summer and Columbia J-School. Her work appeared in AARP, BBC, NPR, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Atlas Obscura, Newsweek, AFAR, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, TravelAge West, Orbitz, CheapTickets, Saturday Evening Post, Reader's Digest and in-flight magazines. In addition to travel, she also writes about health, medicine, ecology, food and tech and was a science editor at the Nautilus magazine. She holds several journalism awards including NATJA’s gold, silver and bronze. Her popular science book, The Other Dark Matter: The Science and Business of Turning Waste into Wealth was published by Chicago University Press in 2021 to rave reviews by Mary Roach and Elizabeth Colbert. She is a culture shock junkie, and she lives in New York so she can fly nonstop to almost anywhere.

Picture of Julie Bielenberg

Julie Bielenberg

Julie Bielenberg is a Colorado-based writer producing over 75 pieces a year for outlets such as AAA, Rachel Ray in Season, Cayman Airways, Caribbean Journal, Cowboys & Indians, USA Today, Vail Daily, and numerous others. She has been the State’s #1 agritourism for ten consecutive years and is always in search of field, farm, forest and forage. Julie has three children, a pandemic puppy, and an avid, outdoors husband.

Picture of Sandra Foyt

Sandra Foyt

Sandra Foyt is a storyteller, road trip junkie, and award-winning travel photographer. A veteran of many cross-country road trips, she drove Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the Fossil Freeway, the Extraterrestrial Highway, and even “The Loneliest Road in America.”

She is the co-publisher of GetawayMavens.com, a collection of romantic getaways in the U.S., and is currently launching TravelPhoto101.com, a guide to earning an income from travel photography.

A firm believer in not putting all your eggs in one. basket, Sandra is a writer, photographer, and teacher. Find links to her creative projects on SandraFoyt.com.

Picture of Jen Ruiz

Jen Ruiz

Jen Ruiz is a lawyer turned full-time travel blogger and author. She is a 5-time Amazon bestselling author, 3-time TEDx speaker and 2-time award winning travel journalist. She has been profiled by The Washington Post, Forbes and ABC News and is the solo female traveler behind Jen on a Jet Plane. Jen has over 250,000 social media followers and has worked with brands like Airbnb, Samsonite, and Visit Jordan. She is part of The Points Guy's Travel Advisory Panel and a resident expert for the Wanderful women's travel community.

Inclusive Marketing: Reaching Diverse Communities

Tuesday, May 3 from 4:30pm to 5:45pm

Picture of Ian Fitzpatrick

Ian Fitzpatrick

An award-winning travel journalist and podcaster, Ian has traveled the world with his wife Tonya as the co-founder of World Footprints—a social-impact travel media organization founded in 2007. Having covered Olympic and Paralympic games in Vancouver, Sochi and Rio as well as traveling to places around the world and sharing them through powerful human-interest stories, Ian and Tonya have developed a reputation as immersive and interactive travel storytellers.

A veteran travel radio broadcaster, he and Tonya hosted consumer travel radio programs in Washington, DC on WMAL-AM and WWRC-AM. He has done live reporting from festivals, travel trade shows and has interviewed some of the leading travel personalities and celebrities. In addition, he and Tonya have won multiple awards from NATJA, SATW, and the Caribbean Travel Organization for their excellence in travel podcasting and writing. Ian is a member of NATJA’s DEIA Committee.

Ian graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law, where he was an editor of the Buffalo Law Review. He graduated from the University of Michigan, where he received a bachelor’s degree in political science and an MBA. Ian continues to practice law and holds membership in the Maryland and District of Columbia bars. He is a member of NATJA’s DEIA Committee.

Picture of Vickie Ashford-Thompson

Vickie Ashford-Thompson

Vickie Ashford-Thompson has worked at the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau for 31 years, twenty-five as Director of Travel Media. The director of travel media duties involves meeting content creators from all over the world by attending media marketplaces and cultivating relationships through one-on-one communications. Her relationship with media members has landed awards from the Alabama Tourism Department and other community organizations in the Birmingham area including Alabama Tourism Professional of the Year and Top 50 Over 50 awarded by Positive Maturity. Professional organization memberships include the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) and Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) among others. Vickie serves on the board of directors and advisory board for organizations focusing on Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO) and travel media relations. She is highly active in SATW and is a founding member of the organization’s Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion committee (DEAI) where she shares the lead position. Vickie has aided in leading the committee presenting dynamic webinars about diversity to SATW’s 1,050 members along with countless non-members. She has also served on panels focusing on diversity in various organizations. Vickie holds the current SATW board position of Associate-at-Large, where she continues to champion DEAI causes to fellow DMOs as well as corporations worldwide.

Picture of Nancy Besharah

Nancy Besharah

Nancy Besharah is a freelance writer and blogger at Luxe Travel Family. Nancy covers cultural, luxury, adventure, and family experiences within the travel industry. When she is not at home in beautiful British Columbia (and training for her next triathlon), Nancy travels the world, often with her husband and two boys.

Nancy is a member of the NATJA Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Committee and NATJA Advisory Board.

Picture of Yanira Leon

Yanira Leon

Yanira is the Vice President, Operations for the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA). She has been with NATJA since 2010 where she began as an administrative assistant and worked her way up to her current executive position. Yanira’s responsibilities include overseeing the staff and day-to-day office administration, coordinating all programs, activities, and events internally and externally, as well as providing support to NATJA’s CEO. Yanira is a native of Los Angeles and is mom to a 14-year old chihuahua named Sir Peanut.

Picture of Troy Petenbrink

Troy Petenbrink

Troy Petenbrink has nearly two decades of experience as a travel journalist. His work has been published by The Miami Herald, Travel & Leisure, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons, TravelChannel.com, CruiseCritic.com, Newsweek.com, and many others. He also wrote a chapter in Fodor's "535 Best Beaches in the U.S., Caribbean, and Mexico." He is currently a contributor to NatGeo.com, MetroWeekly.com, and MensLife.com, appears regularly on WTTG-TV, maintains a personal website, TheGayTraveler.com, and is active on social media(@thegaytraveler). An active member of the North American Travel Journalists Association, International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association, and International LGBTQ+ Travel Association, Troy is very knowledgeable of industry trends and needs – having presented at the VA Tourism Summit and provided strategic counseling to multiple destinations and hospitality companies including Durham, N.C.; Santa Fe, N.M.; Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino; and Destination Hotels.

Instagram for work: how to use social media to build your rep as a writer

Tuesday, May 3 from 4:30pm to 5:45pm and Wednesday, May 4 from 11am to 12:15pm

Picture of Suzie Dundas

Suzie Dundas

Suzie Dundas is a Lake Tahoe-based freelance writer and editor with a general focus on travel and the outdoors. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Outside Magazine, AFAR, TheKnot, SkyLife Magazine, TripSavvy, the San Francisco Chronicle, Playboy, Frommer's, Fodors, and many more. She's the outdoor editor at Matador Network, the author of "Hiking Lake Tahoe," and a contributing author on Lonely Planet’s "Sustainable Travel." Some of her favorite recent articles include a story on the ethics of Narcos-themed tourism and a round-up of the best places to spot bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest. Follow her on Instagram or explore more of her work at suziedundas.com.

The Editors Panel

Wednesday, May 4 from 9:30am to 10:45am

Picture of Adam Pitluk

Adam Pitluk

Adam is the co-founder of Midwest Luxury Publishing and Groom Lake Media and is the former editor in chief of American Way magazine and the former group editorial director of American Airlines publishing.

Picture of Suzie Dundas

Suzie Dundas

Suzie Dundas is a Lake Tahoe-based freelance writer and editor with a general focus on travel and the outdoors. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Outside Magazine, AFAR, TheKnot, SkyLife Magazine, TripSavvy, the San Francisco Chronicle, Playboy, Frommer's, Fodors, and many more. She's the outdoor editor at Matador Network, the author of "Hiking Lake Tahoe," and a contributing author on Lonely Planet’s "Sustainable Travel." Some of her favorite recent articles include a story on the ethics of Narcos-themed tourism and a round-up of the best places to spot bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest. Follow her on Instagram or explore more of her work at suziedundas.com.

Picture of Theresa Medoff

Theresa Medoff

Theresa G. Medoff is the editor of AAA World, a bimonthly magazine sent to 2.6 million members of AAA Club Alliance in 13 states (CT, PA, NJ, DE, MD, VA, WV, KY, OH, IN, KS, OK, SD) and the District of Columbia. Some AAA World articles appear online as well, sometimes with supplemental editorial content, videos and slideshows. Medoff also edits a second AAA travel magazine, AAA Traveler Worldwise, which focuses more extensively on international travel; it has a circulation of 160,000 frequent travelers. Medoff writes regularly for both AAA publications.

Before joining AAA full time in 2014, she was a long-time freelance writer, so she understands that challenges of life as a freelancer.

Picture of Starlight Williams

Starlight Williams

Starlight Williams, a National Geographic Travel editor, focuses her time on national parks, adventure, history, and culture. Before joining National Geographic as a research editor in 2018, Starlight worked as a staff reporter, covering education, business, and city government at Community Impact Newspaper in Texas and as a culture and festival contributor for The Times-Picayune and NOLA.com. When not on the hunt for engaging pitches (send yours to starlight.williams@natgeo.com), you can find Starlight on her yoga mat working on her niyamas and yamas.

Nature-based Solutions and the power of communities

Wednesday, May 4 from 11am to 12:15pm

Picture of Neida Pumarejo Cintrón

Neida Pumarejo Cintrón

Neida Pumarejo Cintron has been the Land Conservation Director and Legal Counsel of Para la Naturaleza,( PLN) since 2004, where she is the head of the Acquisitions Division. Her work with the Land Acquisitions Unit has led to the successful acquisition of parcels, representing over 60% of the properties held by the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust (PRCT) and managed by PLN.

She represents PLN and PRCT in international nature conservation organizations such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Ms. Pumarejo also represents PLN in regional forums such as the Caribbean Regional Committee of the IUCN, in front of ORMAC (Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean Office for IUCN), and Nature Caribé.

Former member of the Human Rights Commission of the Puerto Rico Bar Association where she worked on cases related to discriminatory actions against residents of public housing projects, and other unprivileged communities.

Picture of Therel Santos

Therel Santos

Therel Santos is the Certified Interpretative Guide, Certified Interpretative Guide Trainer for Para la Naturaleza.

SEO 101: Create Engaging Content That Gets Found By Search Engines

Wednesday, May 4 from 11am to 12:15pm

Picture of Kimberly Hickok

Kimberly Hickok

Everyone has a superpower. For Kim Hickok, her clients speak of an almost magical ability to demystify digital marketing and build the best structure to get found online. In 2016, after 15 successful years working with web technologies, she launched Marketing Kangaroo to fill a void in the marketplace. Kim saw too many small businesses and entrepreneurs who were delighting their customers, but struggling to create the kind of digital content that attracts more business. A brand strategist, Kim is as passionate about boosting web traffic, engagement and sales and she is about maximizing a client’s budget to achieve optimal results. 

Proudly certified as a New York State Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise, Marketing Kangaroo specializes in Brand Strategy, Digital Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Marketing Communications, Search Engine Optimization, eCommerce and Information Architecture. 

In addition to Marketing Kangaroo, Kim maintains Kimversations.com, an online resource for food, recipes, home and garden tips.

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