Youngest American to Visit Every Country in the World, Entrepreneur, TV Personality & Contributing Editor for Men’s Fitness
Lee Abbamonte is the youngest American to visit every country in the world. He’s visited 319 total countries plus both geographic poles and is one of the world’s most-traveled people. Lee is a successful entrepreneur, travel television personality, speaker, travel writer and global adventurer. Lee appears regularly on air on several National TV channels as a travel expert. Lee is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of the Travelers Century Club. He’s also a sports fanatic and loves the New York Yankees. Lee lives in New York City when he’s not traveling the world!
Australia and New Zealand Specialist, Director of Sales, Down Under Answers – Africa Answers – Asia Answers
Jeff Adam is our resident Australia and New Zealand specialist, hailing from Adelaide Australia, Jeff moved to the USA prior to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games to promote travel to Australia and New Zealand, and stayed on to bring attention to the America’s Cup in Auckland. He has been instrumental in creating the travel industry’s most comprehensive training program for Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, Cook Islands, Papua and New Guinea titled the South Pacific Travel Symposium and went on to assist the Travel Institute (then called ICTA) in updating their Destination Specialist South Pacific program with pertinent travel information. His presentation style is both educational and entertaining, leaving all who attend excited at the prospect of traveling Down Under!
“Famous Dave” Anderson
America’s Rib King
“Famous Dave” Anderson is the founder of the legendary family of Backyard BBQ restaurants, Famous Dave’s of America. Famous Dave’s does it like nobody else, serving up authentic, pit-smoked BBQ & made-from-scratch sides, resulting in over 700 awards for ‘The Best of the Best’ in every category imaginable, including the prestigious honor of “Hottest Concept in America”, bestowed by Nation’s Restaurant News. Dave was recently crowned “Smoked Champion” when he took home the top honors in a BBQ Battle Showdown on Destination America’s popular BBQ Competition show Smoked.
The BBQ magic begins with our time-tested recipes and certified pitmasters, who hand-rub the meats with a custom blend of spices before smoking them for hours over genuine hickory logs in live-wood smokers to extract the natural flavors before serving them to fans in communities across America at our 179 restaurants.
Growing up in Chicago, Anderson remembers his father coming home from work with a lunch pail full of street vendor ribs. Those early flavors inspired a lifelong passion, one that’s taken Anderson from barbecue novice to one of the foremost authorities on the art and craft of meat, heat, and smoke.
Anderson spent 25 years exploring his passion in barbecue capitals of America, from Kansas City to the Carolinas. His goal was to create the best BBQ America had ever tasted. His dream came to fruition when the first Famous Dave’s BBQ opened in Wisconsin in 1994. Over the course of his career, Anderson has shared his BBQ wisdom everywhere from The Food Network, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Travel Channel, and CNBC to Washington, D.C., and a special Presidential appointment.
He’s devoted his talents not only to feeding a nation but to charitable causes, including leadership work with at-risk youth. This highly successful entrepreneur was in the bottom half of his high school class, but earned his Master’s Degree from Harvard University (without an undergraduate degree), as well as an honorary Doctorate degree for his life’s work.
In addition to his role as the founder of Famous Dave’s, “Famous Dave” Anderson is a well-known media personality, inspiring speaker, philanthropist, successful entrepreneur, and best-selling cookbook author, whose “Against All Odds” story is living proof that the American Dream no longer has to be just a dream!
For more information: www.famousdaves.com.
Travel Channel Host
Samantha Brown has spent more than a decade at Travel Channel. Living in airports, hotels and out of a suitcase, she’s taken viewers on intimate, off-the-beaten-path journeys discovering exotic destinations – whether around the world or in their own backyard.
Brown has hosted a number of shows on the network including “Passport to Europe,” “Passport to Latin America” and “Passport to Great Weekends.” She served as co-host of “The Trip: 2014,” and will also co-host “The Trip: 2015,” which premieres on January 26 at 8:00 p.m. ET on Travel Channel.
An inspirational resource for prospective travelers, Brown has truly enjoyed showing the Travel Channel audience how extraordinary it is to be a part of everyday life in another part of the world. Brown’s travel goal is to prove that if she can do it, you can do it. Viewers passionately follow Brown and her advice not only because of her experience and knowledge, but because of her warmth, genuineness and love for travel.
Travel Ambassador, AngelsTravelLounge.com
Angel Castellanos, Travel Ambassador (www.AngelsTravelLounge.com) is a passionate world traveler, travel writer, influencer and nationally recognized speaker dedicated to help people travel smart, well and often. He has over 15 years of experience in the travel industry as a tour guide, retailer, buyer, travel consultant and brand agent. Traveling to over 49 countries on 5 continents (and counting), Angel travels 6-8 weeks internationally each year and draws on his experience and frequent travels to teach “Smart Travel” and equip travelers with the skills they need to make travel easy and enjoyable. Angel has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Fox News, Univision, Frommers Radio, USA Today & Travel & Adventure Show as “America’s Newest Travel Expert”.
Audrey De Monte
Travels with Audrey
Born in New York City, but raised in Senegal, I consider myself fortunate to have studied, lived and worked on three continents (Africa, Europe and North America), and to have traveled extensively throughout the world. Together with my Italian husband we speak 6 languages and I consider Western Europe to be my backyard, in particular Spain, France, Netherlands, Germany, and of course, Italy, where I have spent a lifetime visiting family, friends, studying and working. I possess over 30 years of experience in the travel and aviation industry, leading tours for over 11 years in Canada, the United States and Europe for the following companies, including: Collette Travel, Sunquest Vacations, Gray Line, Canadian Tours International, Hapag Lloyd, Story Land and Sea. I obtained certification in International Tour Management, and as a Tico Travel Agent, and in 2012, I founded my own company, first as a home-based travel agent, and later as Travels with Audrey, a National Tour Association registered tour operator, specializing in unique small group tours to France and Italy. Being a small company, it gives me the opportunity to nurture my relationships with guests and in-country associates, focus on the details and create unique itineraries in places I know well and lead each tour personally.
Travel TV Personality
Julia Dimon is an on-camera travel TV personality, travel expert and hard core travel journalist who has been around the world to over 80 countries, all seven continents. She’s the co-host of Word Travels, a 40-episode TV series about the real lives of travel writers, broadcast worldwide on National Geographic Adventure, Travel Channel UK in over 100 countries and 21 languages. She has hosted online and network TV travel shows for Outside Television and MSNBC. Julia has been featured as a regular travel expert by such media outlets as CNN, ABC Nightline, New York Times, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel & Leisure, Forbes Traveler, MSNBC, E! News, Outside Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Budget Travel, etc. Julia is the author of a book called “Travel Junkie: A Badass Guide to Solo Female Travel,” featuring tried-and-true travel tips and advice for the next generation of adventurers. From the depths of the Great Barrier Reef to the top of Machu Picchu, she’s hiked with silverback gorillas in Uganda, snorkeled with whale sharks in Mozambique, climbed The Great Wall of China, dog-sledded in Greenland, camel trekked in Jordan, slept with lions in the Serengeti, snacked on local delicacies such as silk worm, goat brain, six-inch scorpions, snake blood and severed human toe. Check out her blog www.traveljunkiejulia.com
Social Media Links:
Website: Travel Junkie Julia
Emmy Award-Winning Investigative Reporter and Producer and CBS News Travel Editor
A multiple Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter and producer, Peter Greenberg is Americaʼs most recognized, honored and respected front-line travel news journalist. Known in the industry as “The Travel Detective,” he is the travel editor for CBS News, appearing on CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, and Sunday Morning, among other broadcast platforms.
The consummate insider on reporting the travel business as news, Greenberg hosts the television show, “The Travel Detective with Peter Greenberg,” airing on Public Television. The series offers 42 half-hour episodes with cutting-edge travel information and insider tips you need to know before you ever leave home, plus in-depth reports on the good, bad, and yes, even ugly aspects of travel.
Greenberg also produces and co-hosts an ongoing series of acclaimed public television specials, “The Royal Tour,” featuring personal, one-on-one journeys through countries with their heads of state. Along with such figures as the King of Jordan, Prime Minister of New Zealand and presidents of Mexico and Peru, Greenbergʼs newest special features the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Among other television projects, Greenberg is creator, co-executive producer and host of CNBCʼs specials “Inside American Airlines: A Week in the Life” and “Cruise Inc: Big Money on the High Seas,” and is co-executive producer of “Baggage Battles,” airing on the Travel Channel, and The History Channelʼs two-hour special “Lost Magic.” On radio he hosts the nationally syndicated show “Peter Greenberg Worldwide,” broadcast each week from a different remote location worldwide, and is heard on hundreds of radio stations across the U.S.
Greenberg is also author of The New York Times best-selling Travel Detective series. His most recent book, The Best Places for Everything, comes in the wake of such titles as Donʼt Go There! and The Complete Travel Detective Bible. Currently editor at large of Global Business Travelmagazine and a contributing writer to Watch, he has also been a featured guest on CNN, “The OʼReilly Factor,” “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and “The View.”
Travel Weekly named him one of the most influential people in travel, along with Bill Marriott and Richard Branson. In 2012, he was inducted into the U.S. Travel Associationʼs Hall of Leaders for his contributions to the travel industry. Among his other honors, Greenberg received a News & Documentary Emmy Award as part of the “Dateline” team for outstanding coverage of a breaking news story, “Miracle on the Hudson.”
He began his career in journalism as West Coast correspondent for Newsweek in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He won a national Emmy Award (Best Investigative Reporting) for his ABC “20/20” special on the final orphan flight out of Vietnam, “What Happened to the Children?” He also is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin, and an Excellence in Broadcasting Award from the Aviation Space Writers Association of America.
Greenberg is a sought-after expert speaker and moderator. He is a keynote speaker at annual summits for the World Travel and Tourism Council, the Global Business Travel Association and Virtuoso. He is also one of the chief moderators at the World Economic Forum and the Global Tourism Economic Forum. Along with a recent TED talk, he is a guest speaker at events which have been hosted by Visa, Bloomberg, AARP and numerous other B2B and B2C organizations.
His website, PeterGreenberg.com, is one of the leading travel news resources for consumers and industry insiders alike. When he is not traveling the globe, Greenberg also serves as an active volunteer firefighter in New York.
Tourism Sales Manager, Visit Anchorage
Born in Branson, Missouri and raised in 13 different states, to say Jara was groomed for a career in the travel industry is an understatement. For the past 4 years Jara Haas has worked as a tourism development and sales manager for Visit Anchorage. Her focuses are adventure travel, student/youth travel, family travel, and the Russia and Latin America markets. In her spare time Jara enjoys hiking, biking and pack rafting her way through the wilderness of Alaska with her two children in tow. Jara loves sharing Alaska with the world and considers herself lucky to call the land of the Midnight Sun home.
Johnny Jet travels around 175,000 miles and visits over 20 countries each year. He and his website JohnnyJet.com have been featured over 3,000 times in major publications, including USA Today, Time, Fortune and The New York Times, and he has appeared on ABC, CBS, CNBC, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, NBC, PBS and recently hosted “Hot Spots 2012” on the Travel Channel. JohnnyJet.com has been named “one of the top best money-saving web sites for travel” by Budget Travel Magazine, while the L.A. Times calls it “one of the top 10 essential travel resources on the internet.” Sign up today for Johnny Jet’s free weekly travel newsletter at JohnnyJet.com and follow him live on Twitter.
Trade and Promotions Manager, Tahiti Tourisme
Tekura Kelley, Trade & Promotions Coordinator, oversees the Tahiti Tiare Program®, the official destination specialist program for the Islands of Tahiti. She is Tahiti Tourisme North America’s primary liaison with Travel Advisors, and engages with the agent community through promotional events, tradeshows, familiarization trips, network/consortia events, and special events sponsored by Tahiti Tourisme North America, Partners and Travel Advisors.
Raised on the island of Moorea, Tekura is passionate about promoting tourism for her beloved home. Tekura graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in International Business, specialization in Spanish and a minor in French. She has worked for Loews hotels in San Diego and most recently in the San Diego office of a logistics company, based in Guadalajara, Mexico. Tekura is fluent in English, French and Spanish.
Kay Milliner Kitchens
Director of Sales of the North American Sales Team for the U. S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism
Kay Milliner Kitchens is the Director of Sales of the North American Sales Team for the U. S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism. She has held that position for the past 6 years. Prior to becoming Director of Sales, she held the position of Regional Manager, Midwest for the U. S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism. With these two positions, Mrs. Milliner Kitchens has over 13 years’ experience.
Senior Director of Training and Strategic Partnerships, Cruise Planners
Cathy Kusuma is Senior Director of Training and Strategic Partnerships at Cruise Planners where she manages the new franchisee training class held six times a year, boot camps and regional meetings as well as spearheads the company’s annual Convention – the largest training and development event of the year. Kusuma also oversees the continual development of Cruise Planners University, and secures value-add and training partnerships for Cruise Planners agents. Kusuma was the recipient of the 2013 Rising Star Award by Vacation Agent Magazine.
Associate Editor and Co-Author, Atlas Obscura
Ella Morton is an Australian-raised, New York-based non fiction writer specializing in the strange and wondrous. She has written for Slate and CNET. As the host of travel show Rocketboom NYC, she uncovered New York’s underground oddities and interviewed Cookie Monster and Elmo on the set of Sesame Street. Visit Ella online at @ellamorton.
Author, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die
Patricia Schultz has a dream job: traveling the globe and writing about it. She is the author of the international #1 bestsellers, 1,000 PLACES TO SEE BEFORE YOU DIE (with over 3.5 million copies in print and translated into 25 languages) and 1,000 PLACES TO SEE IN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA BEFORE YOU DIE. With these works, she has reinvented the idea of travel book as both wish list and practical guide. She was chosen by Forbes as one of the 25 most influential women in travel, and was executive producer of the Travel Channel’s TV show based on her first 1,000 PLACES book.
The second edition of 1,000 PLACES TO SEE BEFORE YOU DIE came out in 2011, with 200 entirely new destinations, 28 new countries, full-color photographs, and more than 50 percent new material woven into the revised and expanded entries. It was completely updated in 2015.
Patricia’s own wanderlust began on the beach at Atlantic City, when she set off from the family beach blanket seeking adventure and was returned to an apoplectic mother several hours later. “I had heard the siren call of the great, global beyond,” she recalls, “and I had answered. I was hooked. I was four years old.” Fast forward many decades, and Patricia embarked upon her first 1,000 PLACES book, spending eight years compiling experiences and anecdotes. How did she winnow it all down? “The common denominator I chose was a simple one: that each place impress upon the visitor some sense of the earth’s magic, integrity, wonder, and legacy. And sometimes places that were just plain fun.”
Patricia Schultz has written about travel for publications including The Wall Street Journal, Everyday with Rachael Ray, for guides such as Frommer’s and Berlitz and is a contributing editor for Travel Weekly. She is a popular speaker in both the U.S. and abroad. In more than 25 years of travel writing, she has never lost her curiosity or passion. “Some people can speed from New York to L. A. without registering a thing,” she writes. “I can walk around my mid-Manhattan block and come home with a carton of milk and stories to tell. The inherent beauty of the world and the discovery it promises are all around us.”
Chef Ryan Spicknell
Head Chef – Earls Kitchen + Bar Tysons Corner
Ryan, who is currently based in Virginia, started his career over a decade ago in Vancouver Canada. Ryan worked his way up from dishwasher to Head Chef and loves the teaching and development aspects of his current position. When Ryan is not at work he enjoys CrossFit and attending local sporting events. Earls offers a made-from-scratch globally inspired menu using local ingredients with irresistible flavors, craft cocktails and wine in a stylish, design forward setting.
Founder and Editor of Wanderlust and Lipstick Wander Tours
Beth Whitman is the Chief Wanderer at Wanderlust and Lipstick (http://wanderlustandlipstick.com) and WanderTours (http://wandertours.com). For nearly 30 years, she has been traveling the globe as a contemporary Wanderer: combining her love for travel with volunteer work, adventure trips, travel writing and business. Beth has completed (twice) the 25-day, 220-mile Snowman Trek in Bhutan (considered the most difficult trek in the world); ridden a motorcycle solo from Seattle to Panama; spent a year traveling through Pacific Rim countries before it was fashionable; and is the founder of the WanderWorld Foundation (http://wanderworldfoundation.org) which helps women and children around the world. Most recently, at age 50, she’s taken up running and during her 50th year completed five marathons including one ultra. This talk is sponsored by ExOfficio and LOWA Boots.