KEYNOTE SPEAKER BIOGRAPHIES
Janet Stovall, The UPS Foundation
As Senior Director, Social Impact and The UPS Foundation, Janet works to advance UPS’s global philanthropy, social impact, and community engagement efforts and leads UPS’s DE&I communications. A popular speaker and workshop facilitator, Janet’s work tackles systemic racism, focuses on understanding the value of diversity, and offers straightforward solutions to unlock that value. Her TED talk challenging business to get serious about inclusion has been viewed over 1.8 million times. Janet holds a bachelor’s in English from Davidson College, a master’s in Integrated Marketing Communications from Georgetown University, and post-graduate certificates in D&I from Cornell University and Yale University.
Adam Sacks, Tourism Economics
Adam is the president of Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company dedicated to analytically based consulting to the tourism sector. For more than two decades, he has worked with destinations, industry associations, and companies around the world in the areas of opportunity and risk assessments, policy analysis, and economic impact. Adam also supports trade associations in the aviation, hotel, and broader travel arena with forecasts widely considered to be an industry standard. And by examining the economic merits of travel facilitation, taxation, and tourism promotion initiatives, Adam’s work has influenced critical government policies. He is an authority on measuring the economic impact of visitor activity and has analyzed the impacts of cruising, gaming, timeshare, hotels, new attractions, and destination marketing.
Mikah Meyer, Travel Beyond Convention
Mikah is a national parks expert and LGBTQ rights advocate. In April 2019, he completed a nearly 200,000-mile, three-year road trip to visit all 419 U.S. National Park Service sites. His adventure, inspired by the loss of his road-trip-loving father, set a world record when Mikah became the first person to visit all NPS sites in a single journey. Mikah uses his comprehensive knowledge of the park system and his love of travel to encourage others to find common ground and inspire them to live “beyond convention.”
SEMINAR SPEAKER BIOGRAPHIES
John Ayo, Travel Balance
John is a professional speaker, author and naturopath focused on inspiring and empowering professionals to stay energized, healthy, and balanced while traveling and at home. He spent more than 30 years working in sales and sales training at IBM, where he achieved remarkable results as a seller, sales trainer, and speaker. As a result of his extensive travel experience, he wrote a book called Travel Balance, which helps business travelers stay energized, healthy, and balanced while traveling. John is a traditional naturopath and has a thriving natural health practice in Plano, Texas. John holds a BS in civil engineering, an MBA and a doctorate in naturopathy (ND), and he spends countless hours researching diverse health issues to find solutions that impact the lives of people, especially as it relates to business.
Bill Caldwell, Caldwell CPAs
With his extensive knowledge of tax codes combined with strong accounting skills, CEO William J. Caldwell is able to help his clients realize their dreams. His own firm exemplifies the business management strategies and growth principles he shares with his clients. Over 10 years, Caldwell CPAs has grown to encompass a team of 17 experts who provide valuable financial services to an array of clients—from successful professionals to expanding nonprofits and fast-growing companies. Bill is an innovative problem-solver who serves to minimize his clients’ financial burdens and maximize their growth opportunities.
Lisa Curtin, Caldwell CPAs
Lisa joined Caldwell CPAs in March of 2016, bringing 25 years of process management and client service experience to the firm. Prior to joining Caldwell CPAs, Lisa was the vice president of operations for a major corporation and has extensive experience in managing the back-end process of company acquisitions, while remaining focused on the client experience. In her spare time, Lisa enjoys travel and anything related to the outdoors, from hiking Virginia’s trails to kayaking area rivers and creeks.Lisa’s alma mater is the University of Wisconsin, and she remains a Badgers fan. She is an active member of CPAFMA, an association dedicated to the profession of CPA firm management.
Lori Erickson, author
Lori Erickson is one of the country’s top travel writers specializing in spiritual journeys. She’s the author of Holy Rover: Journeys in Search of Mystery, Miracles, and God, which was named by the Associated Press as one of the top travel books of the 2017 holiday season. Her follow-up book, Near the Exit: Travels With the Not-So-Grim Reaper, won a silver award for best religion book of 2019 from Foreword Reviews.
Lucas Ennis, WeTravel
Lucas has been a part of the WeTravel team for the past three years. He is currently leading WeTravel’s growth initiatives in the U.S. and international markets. Prior to joining the WeTravel team, Lucas had a 10-year career in finance, while also coaching youth basketball and traveling regularly with his wife.
Eliz Greene, Embrace Your Heart
With a surgically repaired heart, Eliz knows stress management isn’t a “nice-to-have,”’ but rather an essential survival skill. Surviving a heart attack at age 35 while seven months pregnant with twins propelled her on a mission to share her story to inspire other busy people to pay attention to their health. Eliz firmly believes she is responsible for showing others how to manage stress and find contentment. She is dedicated to leading others on a path to low stress and great success.
Thomas Hunter, Williams Hunter Wealth Group
With almost two decades of experience in the financial services industry, Thomas dedicates himself to addressing the unique financial goals of each of his clients. He specializes in serving multigenerational families, providing sound counsel and developing tailor-made wealth-management strategies. Thomas has attained the prestigious CFP certification, one of the most respected financial planning credentials among consumers and the recognized standard of excellence in personal financial planning. Additionally, Thomas was recently recognized on the 2020 Forbes Top Next Gen Wealth Advisors national list and the 2020 Forbes Best-in-State Wealth Advisors list, as well as being named to the RJFS Leader’s Council each of the three last years. Before joining Raymond James, Thomas was a first vice president at Wells Fargo Advisors and a financial advisor with Northwestern Mutual Financial Network. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with concentrations in finance and supply chain management from the University of Tennessee.
Cathleen Johnson, Cathleen Johnson Tourism Consulting
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.
Dr. Robert Li, Temple University
Robert is a professor and Washburn Senior Research Fellow at Temple University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management. He has authored more than 120 scientific publications and serves on the boards of 10 journal/book series. His research on China and Japan outbound tourism has been widely cited by American and international media.
Peter Maidhof, Aon Affinity
Peter joined The Berkely Group in 1993, which was then acquired by Aon in the mid-’90s. 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.
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: tour operators, vendors, DMCs, travel agents, transportation companies, and trade associations. Jeff 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. Jeff’s background in the travel industry includes working as a travel agent, a tour guide, and a sales manager for two airlines.
Julie Payne, CTP, Hershey’s Chocolate World / Attractour
Tourism is not only Julie’s profession, it’s also her passion. After beginning her career as a group tour manager for a Pennsylvania-based tour company, Julie eventually took the skills she developed during her years there and started Attactour, a company focused on business development in the tourism industry. Her relationships with tour operators and industry leaders remain strong today. Her focus at Attractour has been on strategy and utilizing data and research to create successful sales and marketing plans.She specializes in groups, student, international, FIT, and sports tourism.
Shawna Suckow, The Buyer Insider
Shawna was a million-dollar B2B buyer in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years. In 2008, she founded an association of B2B buyers, which now has more than 2,600 members across North America. Shawna began studying B2B and B2C behaviors in 2009 and speaking to audiences of salespeople, marketers, and retailers who were frustrated with the shifting marketplace and influences of technology. She has written three books, two of which became best-sellers.
Mya Surrency, Digital Edge Marketing
Mya is Co-Founder of Digital Edge, an agency focused on working with DMO’s with a specialty in meetings and group marketing. Mya utilizes her 10+ years of DMO experience creating cutting-edge marketing techniques from our work with San Francisco Travel, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, Visit Park City among others. Mya has led the agency to be honored as Inc. Magazine’s 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America in 2019 & 2020 and made the Jacksonville Business Journal’s list of 50 Fastest Growing Companies three years in a row. Prior to starting Digital Edge Marketing, Mya was the Interim President & CEO and Vice President of Tourism Marketing and Development for Visit Jacksonville. Before her time at Visit Jacksonville, Mya was the Deputy Director for St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors & Conventions Bureau.
Michael Weinberg, CTP
Michael is a 20-year veteran of the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries – and a regular at Travel Exchange. His broad industry work experience includes stops at Destination DC, Amtrak, United Airlines, Mayflower Cruises & Tours, and Hilton Worldwide. Michael was NTA’s 2016 Volunteer of the Year, and has served as a Travel Exchange ambassador and webinar panelist. A regular facilitator of the Power Hour seminar, Michael’s industry knowledge, and engaging presentation style is certain to produce robust conversation, best practice sharing, and actionable ideas to wrap up your week of appointments and educational seminars.
Sam Whitehorn, Elevate
Sam has spent his 30-plus-year career addressing tough legal and policy issues. He has been deeply involved in infrastructure, transportation, and technology sectors and their intersection for years. As a co-founder of Elevate, he continues to collaborate and craft responsible solutions to those issues. Additionally, Sam has worked on behalf of Alaska Native Corporations to advocate for opportunities for their members. His work today continues to drive decision-makers to solution-driven outcomes, as evidenced by his selection as a Top Lobbyist by The Hill for the past several years. Prior to his time on Capitol Hill, Sam was a senior attorney at both the United States Department of Transportation General Counsel’s office, focusing on motor carrier safety and aviation issues, and at the Civil Aeronautics Board, where he focused on antitrust issues oversight, aircraft noise policy, and slot-controlled airport regulations.
Erik Wolf, World Food Travel Association
Erik is the founder of the food travel trade industry, and founder and executive director of the World Food Travel Association, the world’s leading authority on food and beverage tourism. He’s also the publisher of Have Fork Will Travel and the author of Culinary Tourism: The Hidden Harvest. Erik has been featured in The New York Times, Newsweek and Forbes, and on CNN, Sky TV, the BBC, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, PeterGreenberg.com, and other leading media outlets.
Beth Zeisenis, Your Nerdy Best Friend
Beth is an author, speaker, technology consultant, self-proclaimed nerd, and the founder of Your Nerdy Best Friend. She keeps up with all the new online applications and downloads that help you look like you’re working with a team of marketing, computer, and productivity experts … even if you suffer from a shrinking staff and disappearing budget.