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SPEAKER BIOGRAPHIES

Mary Abbajay, Careerstone Group

Mary Abbajay, author of the best-selling, award-winning Managing Up: How to Move Up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss is the president of Careerstone Group, an innovative organizational and leadership development consultancy that delivers leading-edge talent and leadership development solutions to business and government. As a sought-after speaker and consultant, Mary helps clients develop the strategies, skills and sensibilities needed for success in the 21st century. Mary is a frequent contributor for television, radio, and print publications. Her work and advice have appeared in the New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Forbes, The Financial Times, Money Magazine, Southwest Airlines Magazine, CNN, and the BBC.

Patrick Allmond, Focus Digital

Patrick is a veteran, pilot, and 20 year entrepreneur based in Oklahoma City. People come to his agency Focus Digital to learn how to get a great return on their marketing dollar. He is an expert in showing high achievers how to use the digital marketing for lead generation, social media and email marketing. In addition to consulting he travels the country speaking at events showing people how to generate results so they don’t waste their time or money. He is also a frequent television contributor on ABC/CBS/NBC/FOX, has a weekly web YouTube and podcast series.

Rosina Barbastefano, Brand USA

Rosina is director, consumer research for Brand USA, the nation’s destination marketing organization with the mission of increasing international visitation to the United States, fueling the nation’s economy, and enhancing the image of the USA worldwide. In her role she executes and supports a global market intelligence program that informs both internal and cooperative partner initiatives. Prior to her work with Brand USA, Rosina worked for NYC & Company. During her six-year tenure there, she designed and managed the organization’s market research programs.

Mark Bowden, Truthplane

World-renowned body language expert and founder of TRUTHPLANE® communication training company, Mark’s cutting-edge system of nonverbal helps audiences become more confident, collaborative, and credible in their communication. He was voted Global Gurus #1 Body Language Professional, and trains individuals, teams, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and Prime Ministers. Mark is on faculty for The Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA, and is President of the National Communication Coach Association of Canada. Mark’s TEDx talk reaches millions, he is a go-to body language commentator for many television organizations, is regularly quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and GQ, and has authored four books: Winning Body Language, Winning Body Language for Sales Professionals, Tame the Primitive Brain, and TRUTH & LIES: What People are Really Thinking.

Christian de Boer, Jaya House/Refill the World

Christian’s role as Managing Director of Jaya House hotel has seen the boutique hotel quickly become the No. 1 hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia. His commitment to environmental issues and the local community has seen the launch of tree-planting initiatives and trash removal, the zero-plastic policy of the hotel ensures that both staff and guests learn alternatives to plastic waste which will have long-term positive effects on the environment. Christian co-created the ReFill Not Landfill initiative, aimed at reducing the number of plastic bottles that are used by the millions of visitors to Siem Reap. He used his extensive network of business contacts and friends to ensure that the project progressed quickly to supply clean, drinking water to anyone requiring a refill, rather than have them buy another plastic bottle that would end up in a landfill site, in a local river or in the fields. The initiative has proved so successful that it has grown from a handful of refill stations to thousands of refill stations operating around the world.

Catherine Heeg, Customized Management Solutions

Catherine takes the mystery and mayhem out of social marketing. Delivering proven tools that help travel and tourism companies reach their target audience, differentiate themselves from the competition and achieve authentic visibility that translates into winning results. Catherine is a recognized social media trail blazer passionate about social media and marketing as well as a veteran in the tourism and hospitality industry. For decades she has trained and lead sales and marketing teams in our industry. She ties together experiences gained from this inside knowledge when providing social strategies.

Cathleen Johnson, Cathleen Johnson Tourism Consultants

Cathleen is president of Cathleen Johnson Tourism Consultants, one of the foremost authorities on travel and tourism marketing and communications. Prior to starting her firm, she created the travel and hospitality practice at the public relations firm Edelman, where she developed marketing campaigns for several countries as well as airlines, hotels, tour and transportation companies and associations. Cathleen received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University and her master’s degree from the University of Chicago.

Peter Kerr, KerrCommunications

Dr. Peter A. Kerr is President of KerrCommunications and an Associate Professor of Marketing and International Business at Colorado Christian University’s prestigious School of Business and Leadership. His degrees are in Engineering and in Leadership (from the U.S. Air Force Academy), an MA in Communications (University of Washington), an MDIV (Asbury), and a PhD in Business Administration with an emphasis in Leadership and International Business (Northcentral University). Peter served at the Pentagon training White House officials and senior DOD personnel, and led media relations for the 2004 Ronald Reagan State Funeral. He also served as the Chief Media Liaison Officer for all Outdoor Games in Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games. He was the primary media trainer for the 2010 World Equestrian Games, and has been interviewed by dozens of media outlets.

Alyssa Keshel, American Music Theatre

With over 6 years of experience in hospitality and sales management, Alyssa heads up a team of passionate theatre geeks dedicated to bringing the joys of live theatre to groups from around the world. Alyssa has an extensive background in the world of theatre, including professional improv performance, and is now working to share how those techniques can be applied to the business world to create a professional and organizational edge while having fun and embracing creativity. Alyssa currently serves as the Vice President of the Lancaster PA Tourism Alliance and as the Chair of the NTA Supplier Network.

Peter Maidhof, Aon Affinity

Peter joined The Berkely Group in 1993, which was then acquired by Aon in the mid-nineties. In 1994, he transitioned into the Professional Liability division and has been there since. As Assistant Vice President, Peter oversees the underwriting staff of the Travel Agents and Tour Operators Professional Liability Program.

Patrick Marsden, MaCher

Patrick is the head of travel for MaCher, a sustainable design and manufacturing firm. MaCher works with tour operators, cruise lines, air lines and other travel companies to create products that help their brands get noticed. As a certified B Corporation MaCher’s business is bigger than the products it creates as it is a purpose driven organization and a certified B corporation.

Jeff Ment, Ment Law Group

Jeff is the founder of The Ment Law Group. With more than 27 years of experience representing travel companies, he is able to best represent the many facets of the travel industry. Jeff represents tour operators, vendors, DMCs, travel agents, transportation companies and trade associations. He counsels clients on our industry’s best practices, including contract terms, compliance with government regulations, risk assessment, crisis response and employment issues. He also represents travel companies in litigation throughout the country. His background in the travel industry includes working as a travel agent, tour guide and as a sales manager for two airlines.

Jill Schiefelbein, The Dynamic Communicator

University faculty-turned-entrepreneur, Jill is an award-winning business owner, author, and recovering academic. She taught business communication at Arizona State University for 11 years, analyzed terrorist documents to provide counter-terrorism messaging strategies to the military, and was a pioneer in the digital education space, creating an office serving 60,000 students and—with no staff or operational budget—adding $1M in revenue in its first year. Today, Jill resides in New York City and runs The Dynamic Communicator®, providing custom communication training and strategies for her clients—through workshops, keynote speaking, consulting, and virtual training. She’s helped clients all over the spectrum learn dynamic communication skills: from Boomers, to Millennials, to Generation Z, from Fortune 500 companies, non-profit organizations, and even some reluctant professional athletes. She’s a VIP contributor to Entrepreneur, and a livestream video personality. She has a syndicated YouTube channel that teaches communication skills and reaches thousands each week. Her latest book, Dynamic Communication: 27 Strategies to Grow, Lead, and Manage Your Business, is in bookstores around the country.

Michael Schutes, Swift Tourism Digital Media

A travel and tourism verteran of over 40 years, Micahel has witnessed much chagne across the landscape of creating, packaging and selling tours. He began his career in Austraiasis and southeast Asia, followed by heading up marketing and operations for a major international tour operator in California, then Massachusetts. In 1995, Micheal created Swift Digital Media and Marketing and has developed a robust portfolio of services to help clients make significant strides online. An early-adopter of e-commerce, Micahel knows what it takes to be found, be seen and to take trasactions online.

Terry Soto, About Marketing Solutions

Terry is the CEO of About Marketing Solutions, Inc. and is one of the country’s top experts and advisers on topline revenue growth in multicultural markets. Companies like Disney, Verizon Wireless, Citibank, Walgreens, AutoZone, Coca Cola, ALDI and others seek out her advice on how to relevantly expand their strategies to gain positions of competitive advantage in multicultural markets. Terry is the author of, “Marketing to Hispanics – A Strategic Approach to Assessing and Planning Your Initiative” and the upcoming book, “The $3.5 Trillion Advantage – A C-Suite Guide on Growing Revenue in Today’s America”. Originally from Ecuador, Terry is passionate about traveling and learning about global cultures.

Clayton Whitehead, CTP, Sports Leisure Vacations

In the past three decades, Clayton Whitehead has worked for a CVB, two major theme parks and for the past 25 years as vice president of Sports Leisure Vacations. He has two degrees from the University of Georgia, and certificates from the International Guide Academy in Denver and the Centre Linquistique in Jonquière, Quebec. An active volunteer in the industry, community and church, he received NTA’s first-ever Volunteer of the Year Award in 2007 and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Volunteer Center of Sacramento in 2010.

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