Speakers

Anna Alfano

Services Coordinator

With a degree in Hospitality Administration, Anna has been actively involved in client services, negotiation, coordination, and planning in her roles at hotels, DMCs and embassies. She has extensive experience in trip execution and event planning for groups as well as local and international corporations.

Kristin Carlson

Managing Director, Tahiti Tourisme United States

Kristin Carlson has served as Managing Director of Tahiti Tourisme United States (TTUS), the destination marketing organization for The Islands of Tahiti, since 2017TTUS oversees all business and consumer outreach for the destination, working regularly with prospective business developments such as airline, hotel, resort, tour operators and cruises in addition to conducting all business and consumer outreach through marketing, advertising and public relations initiatives and programming.
Carlson had held the position of Director of Marketing for TTUS from 2011 until her appointment as Managing Director. She has more than 25 years of professional experience in the tourism industry, including her role as Global Brand Manager at Mering Carson, for the agency’s Visit California account with an emphasis on and brand advertising in China, Mexico, the UK and Australia. She also served as Director of Strategic Partnerships at Signature Travel Network and enjoyed a 13-year tenure at Crystal Cruises in both Marketing and Hotel Operations for the luxury line. The beginning of her career was in marketing communications for The Fontayne Group and Korean Air.
She has a BA in International Studies and French from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) and a Masters in International Business from Pepperdine University (The George L. Graziadio School of Business and Management).

Angel Castellanos

World Travel Expert, Writer/TV Host AngelsTravelLounge.com

Angel Castellanos, (www.AngelsTravelLounge.com) is a passionate world traveler, travel writer, influencer, multi-media personality and nationally recognized speaker dedicated to helping people travel smart, well and often. Traveling to over 85 countries on 5 continents (and counting), Angel travels 12-14 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. He bridges the gap between the practical, common sense advice he’s learned by traveling the world and the new savvy tips and experiences that have helped his generation revolutionize travel. Angel has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Fox News, Univision, Frommers Radio, USA Today & Travel & Adventure Show as “America’s Newest Travel Expert”.
Since you’ve last seen Angel, he has visited The Philippines, Colombia, Honduras, Singapore, Laos, UK, France, Ireland, Italy, Bosnia, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.
His favorite travel memories include camel trekking in the Sahara, traveling overland by train from Beijing to London, Horse trekking in Mongolia, Hot Air Ballooning in Laos and sailing down the Nile River.
When not in Italy or Paris, Angel is home in Pasadena, California where he is a proud volunteer with the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association.

Sarah Dandashy

Award-Winning Travel Concierge and Travel Expert, Ask a Concierge

Sarah Dandashy is a verified travel expert and former award-winning Les Clefs d’Or concierge with over 18 years of luxury hotel experience. Going beyond the traditional concierge desk, Sarah brought her travel advice to the digital space establishing a 200+k social media following and continues to work with some of the leading brands in the travel industry. People seek her out for her travel tips, advice, and knowledge of trends from the “frontlines of travel.” Sarah has been featured in numerous publications from the New York Times, Nerdwallet, Business Insider, USNews, Reader’s Digest, and Thrillist. She can be seen sharing travel advice and trends on TV, on ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX.

Julian Douglas

Travel Writer, Photographer  and Experience Curator, Listen, Journey, Savor

“Listen, Journey, Savor with Julian Douglas”… is exactly what he asks of his family, friends and especially his readers to do with him.
As an experienced traveler, Julian has traversed the globe since he was a child. From treasured moments with his flight attendant mother growing up, to his years in the music industry, to just vacationing with his wife Nicole for pleasure. It has all inspired Julian to write about his passions for music, food and especially his love of travel.

Matthew Félix

Author, Podcaster, Speaker

“Matthew Félix is an author, a speaker, and the producer and host of multiple podcasts, including the “San Francisco Writers Conference Podcast,” and three travel-related ones, two based on his books and a third, “A Month with Matthew: In Croatia.” Matthew has also appeared as a guest on Peter Greenberg’s “Eye on Travel,” “RMWorldTravel” with Rudy Maxa, Jeff Greenwald’s “Ethical Traveler,” and elsewhere. Matthew’s With Open Arms has topped Amazon’s Morocco category four times and his latest book, Porcelain Travels, was a bestseller in four categories, won Gold for Humor in the Readers’ Favorite Awards, and was a Foreword INDIES Humor Book of the Year Award finalist. Matthew was also awarded a Solas Grand Prize for Travel Story of the Year for his “The Citroën & the Pomegranate.” In addition to his own projects, Matthew edits, designs, publishes, and markets books for other authors.

Paul Girouard

Senior Director of Sales – North America, Atlas Ocean Voyages

Paul Girouard is Senior Director of Sales, North America for Atlas Ocean Voyages. His travel industry experience spans over 40 years, with the past 35 years in Cruise Sales and Cruise Leadership. Prior to joining Atlas Ocean Voyages, Paul rose from a District Sales Manager position to Director of Sales – North America, leading a 15-person Sales team with a renowned luxury cruise line. His passion for his past travels and those yet to come drive him in assisting his Travel Advisor partners as they help their well-travelled clients experience bucket-list destinations.

Peter Greenberg

Emmy Award-Winning Investigative Reporter and Producer and CBS News Travel Editor

A multiple Emmy-winning investigative reporter and producer, Peter Greenberg is America’s most recognized, honored and respected front-line travel news journalist. Known in the travel industry as “The Travel Detective,” he is the Travel Editor for CBS News, appearing on CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News and CBS Sunday Morning. And his national CBS EYE ON TRAVEL radio show is broadcast from a different location around the world each week.
The consummate insider on reporting the travel business as news, Peter Greenberg also hosts the weekly public television show The Travel Detective with Peter Greenberg. And, for more than 20 years, Greenberg has produced and hosted The Royal Tour, historic, precedent-setting shows, where sitting heads of state become Greenberg’s tour guide for very personal journeys to and through their countries, for one hour global prime time specials. The Royal Tours range from King Abdullah in Jordan to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the President of Mexico, the Prime Minister of Israel, the President of Rwanda and many others.
Travel Weekly named Peter Greenberg one of the most influential people in travel, along with Bill Marriott and Sir Richard Branson. He was inducted into the U.S. Travel Association’s Hall of Leaders for his contributions to the travel industry. Among his other honors, Peter Greenberg received a News & Documentary Emmy Award as part of the NBC News Dateline team for outstanding coverage of a breaking news story, “Miracle on the Hudson.”
Peter Greenberg began his career in journalism as West Coast correspondent for Newsweek in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He won a national Emmy Award for Best Investigative Reporting for the 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.
And when he is not reporting all over the world, Greenberg is an active volunteer fireman in New York.

Francia Haces

New York Director, Dominican Republic Tourism Board

Francia is the Director of the Dominican Republic (DR) Tourism Board based in New York City responsible for the Northeast Region of the US. She is multicultural/multilingual, thirty-year veteran of the hospitality and tourism industry. Prior to joining the Ministry of Tourism, Francia held several Executive positions in DR, across the Caribbean, Mexico, and Latin America. Francia served as the CMO of PriceTravel in Cancun and Managing Director for Online Marketing and Digital PR at the Mexico Tourism Board.
Early on, she started her career at American Airlines and later moved on to a 20-year stint with Sabre Travel Network and Travelocity holding various marketing roles in the tourism/tech industries.
She earned her BA from Endicott College in Massachusetts and studies in Integrated Marketing and Tourism from Tec de Monterrey have been invaluable for her career.

Russell Hannon

Ultra-Economical Travel Expert, Break the Travel Barrier

Once feeling unable to afford to travel, Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He has been on CNBC, FOX, CBS, USA Today, Women’s World, Around the World Travel TV, and nationally broadcast lifestyle and personal finance shows. Russell worked as a CBC Budget Travel Columnist, founded BreakTheTravelBarrier.com, and is the author of ‘Stop Dreaming… Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More & Spending Less.’

Elaine Lee, Esq.

Editor of “Go Girl: The Black Woman’s Book of Travel and Adventure”

Elaine Lee is one of America’s leading experts on travel. She has shared her expertise and love for travel via through her travel book, her work as a freelance travel writer, travel radio/tv host/guest as well as served as a keynote speaker at several recent national travel conferences. This San Francisco/Bay Area based journalist has visited 65 countries and completed two solo trips around the world. She is the editor of “Go Girl” The Black Woman’s Book of Travel and Adventure”. Her travel writing has been showcased in numerous national magazines, anthologies, and webzines. Her website ugogurl.com is a leading portal for information on black travel, black travel writing and travel media information. She developed and hosted one of the Bay Area’s first travel radio shows, which aired regularly on the KPFA-FM for seven years.

Rudy Maxa

Rudy Maxa

Travel Journalist & Broadcaster

Rudy Maxa is well known as public radio’s “Savvy Traveler” and was an award-winning contributing editor with National Geographic Traveler magazine for 17 years. He’s been a contributing editor to Delta’s SKY magazine and Artful Living, the Twin Cities’ lifestyle magazine. He’s also the voice of National Geographic Traveler’s “Walks of a Lifetime” podcasts and co-hosts America’s most widely-syndicated travel radio show, “RMWorldTravel with Rudy Maxa and Robert & Mary Carey,” that airs weekly on 385+ news/talk stations in North America and via its own TuneIn.com channel 24/7/365.
As a writer for Traveler, Maxa’s articles have earned him two Lowell Thomas Awards for Excellence in Travel Writing from the Society of American Travel Writers. He’s contributed travel articles to GQ, Worth, Forbes, Modern Maturity, USAToday, the Washington Post, Town & Country Travel, the Los Angeles Times, as well as USAToday.com, MSNBC.com, and ABC.com. He’s a frequent guest on national television networks and shows, including CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, and “The View.” And he speaks frequently to both public and industry groups.
Episodes of the “Rudy Maxa’s World” television series have garnered dozens of awards, including five regional Emmy Awards. He was named “best regular columnist” by the Florida Magazine Association for his columns in Ocean Drive magazine. And as a Washington Post reporter, his investigative reporting was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and he won the John Hancock Award for Excellence in Business and Financial Journalism for a series of stories unmasking an international Ponzi scheme.
Following 11 years at the Post, he was a senior writer and columnist at Washingtonian, the city magazine in the nation’s capital. His alma mater, Ohio University, gave Maxa the L.J. Hortin “Distinguished Alumnus Award” in 2002. He is the author of two non-fiction books.

Beth Mercier

Regional Sales Director and Expedition Cruise Specialist

Travel and tourism have always been a part of Beth’s life as her father was a commercial airline pilot and she spent her early years traveling the world with him. Originally from Northern California and now residing in the Pacific Northwest, Beth’s love of trees and awe-inspiring nature have been a pillar of her life. Starting her career in hospitality, she quickly transitioned to the cruise industry after being introduced to expedition and adventure cruising. She became fascinated with viewing the world from a small ship and the amazing experiences that unique, less populated destinations offered. With a total of 11 expedition voyages now completed (of which 6 have been to the Polar regions) and over a decade of experience in the expedition cruise industry, Beth feels honored and inspired to be able to encourage others to explore the world through this style of travel.

Katy Ouellette

Tourism Sales Associate, Alaska Land & Sea Adventures

Originally from Florida, Katy has been an Alaskan for the last 7 years. She went to Alaska for a summer job and fell in love with the 49th state. She enjoys soaking up every minute of the midnight sun in the summer by camping and going to the many Alaskan music festivals. In the winter she likes to fat tire bike and cross-country ski the many miles of trails in Anchorage. She has a passion for Alaskan tourism and can’t wait for you to experience Alaska.

Richard Peterson

President & CEO, U.S. Cultural & Heritage Marketing Council

Richard’s passion for cultural experiences, museums, music, food – and all things history are not only a business focus, but a personal one as well. And as President & CEO of the U.S. Cultural & Heritage Marketing Council he has a front row seat. At the center of Richard’s work and travel is the balanced approach to communities and the diverse cultures they represent. His professional contributions are complemented through his engagements with leading industry organizations such as the Americans for the Arts, American Alliance of Museums, Destinations International and World Travel & Tourism Council and U.S. Travel Association; and partnered with Legit Productions on the documentary Americart 2019. Richard’s mantra: “The living history we share today – connects us to the stories of our collective past – and to the diverse experiences we will discover together as curious cultural travelers.”

Steve Wellmeier

Managing Director, Poseidon Expeditions USA

A 30-year veteran of the expedition cruise industry, Steve has actively been involved in polar expedition cruising since 1997. This includes five years as Executive Director of IAATO, the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators. In that capacity, he represented the Antarctica tourism industry, helping to ensure best practices and environmental stewardship by all Antarctic tour operators. A resident of Providence, Rhode Island since 2005, Steve currently manages the North American office of Poseidon Expeditions, which he opened in 2014.