Founder/Director, Lotus Fitness
During a bucket list trip to Costa Rica, Ewunike Akpan, certified personal trainer with ACE (American Council on Exercise) learned to surf, explored waterfalls, hiked in nature preserves, practiced yoga and taught fitness to locals on the beach. Her experiences on this trip inspired her vision for LOTUS Fitness Retreats®. Today, LOTUS Fitness Retreats continues to expand its trip locations where Ewunike leads unique, curated itineraries of hand picked activities and teaches functional fitness classes in naturally made playgrounds. Each adventure retreat will immerse you in an active lifestyle filled with amazing experiences with a community of like-minded explorers.
Executive Chef, Carmine’s
Self-taught (and Dad-taught) chef with a passion for PEOPLE first…and the thing that brings them together most often…FOOD. Started my career with the Alicart restaurant group in 2010 @ Virgil’s BBQ in Times Square and have traveled for the company aiding in openings at the Atlantis resort in the Bahama’s, Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, and the newest carmines @ Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, NV. Settled down in DC as the exec chef in 2012, got married this past October.
Favorite things in life: Laughing & making people laugh, eating & making food for people to eat. Also Bucs football, happy hour, peanut butter & banana, air drums.
Executive Chef/Pitmaster, Myron Mixons Pitmaster BBQ
John has been cooking for the majority of his life, he has been an executive chef for over 25 years, has helped to open several restaurants in the Alexandria/Arlington neighborhoods. He has been doing bbq for over 12 years, and has competed on the bbq circuit.
Host, Places to Love
Travel expert and television host Samantha Brown has been hosting TV travel programs for 18 years. During her time at Travel Channel she created 10 original international and domestic travel series generating over 170 hours of television. In 2017 Samantha moved from the Travel Channel to PBS and her new series Samantha Brown’s Places to Love will make its premiere in January, 2018. In Places to Love, Samantha will feature the destinations, experiences and most importantly the people that make us the traveler feel like we belong to a place. In Season 1, Samantha will feature 7 U.S. and 6 international destinations including Houston, Switzerland, Brooklyn, China, Orange County and Big Sur, CA.
Samantha is known for getting to the emotional heart of travel by focusing on the people, their culture, and the privilege of spending time in their everyday lives. Viewers passionately follow Samantha and her expert advice not only because of her experience and knowledge, but also because of her warmth, genuineness and love for travel.
Samantha grew up in New Hampshire and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and 5 year old twins Ellis and Elizabeth.
President of Your Own Italy
Carmen Carbonell is founder and President of Your Own Italy. Carmen was born in the United States, where she obtained a degree in Architecture. Following college, she married an Italian and moved to Rome, where she raised 4 sons. She also developed a passionate love for Italy – its art, its architecture, its cities, its countryside, its culture and cuisines, and its people.
Now, after nearly 30 years living in Italy, Carmen wants to share her love for Italy with American travelers who want more than a standard tour…travelers who want to experience the real Italy, with the heart and soul of the nature and its people. She founded Your Own Italy as a boutique tour company that will provide private tours that take travelers deep into Italy’s heart and soul, with vacation packages that will be memorable for life, and shore excursions that will give tour ship guests a unique day in Rome, Florence, Venice, or the Amalfi Coast. –
The team works with boutique hotels, tested and proven restaurants, historic sites, museums, basilicas, plus individuals and tours that meet Your Own Italy’s standards – standards virtually guaranteed to ensure that Your Own Italy vacation or shore excursion will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience you will remember forever. And long to repeat with your new friends in Italy, Your Own Italy.
CEO/President, Hilton Head Health
CEO/President of Hilton Head Health (“HHH”), Kevin Carter is responsible for leading its acquisition earlier this year after spending time as a client of the resort. Prior to joining HHH, Kevin was the CEO of HAECO Americas, an aircraft maintenance and interior products manufacturer headquartered in Greensboro, NC with over 3800 employees around the world. Kevin has an MBA from Wake Forest University and a BA in Economics from Davidson College. Kevin and his family reside in Summerfield, NC .
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/hiltonheadhealth
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/hiltonheadhealth
Twitter – https://twitter.com/HHHealth_H3
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/hiltonheadhealth
Station Manager, Azores Airlines, Grupo SATA
Zeto Carvalho was born and raised in the Azores, where he’s been working for Azores Airlines – Grupo SATA since 2000. Since that time, he has travelled between all the islands getting to know all the nature and beauty. I’ve been in California since 2016 promoting and marketing the Airlines and the Azores.
World Traveler, Travel Expert, Writer, AngelsTravelLounge.com
Angel Castellanos, (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 consultant. Traveling to over 55 countries on 5 continents (and counting), Angel travels 8-10 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 has 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”. Most recently, Angel completed an around-the-world trip by traveling over 9,000 km overland by train from Beijing to London.
Allister Chang has curated luxury travel experiences for LGBT travelers around the world since winning the IGLTA’s student tourism award in 2012. With a degree in Public Policy from Harvard, Allister pays close attention to political trends that shape the experiences of LGBT travelers. He is particularly interested in sharing stories that reveal the many discrepancies before de jure gay rights legislation and de facto lived experiences. Allister writes about LGBT travel and politics in French, Chinese, and English. He lives with his husband in Washington, D.C.
Marketing Agent, Eeyou Istchee Baie-James
Marketing Agent, Victoria Crowe will share her First Nations roots and culture of the Eastern James Bay Cree. Victoria’s journey over the last 7 years has brought her through the Eeyou Istchee region and has made many connections both in tourism and on a personal level. She will introduce the region through captivating images and video of the unique region of the 9 Cree communities and surrounding areas in Northern Quebec, Canada.
Journalist, Founder/CEO Travel to Wellness, Program Director of the Travel & Adventure Show’s new Wellness Travel Experience, and Co-Founder of the new Wellness Tourism Association
Founder and CEO of TravelToWellness.com, launched in 2004 as a resource and online magazine for the wellness-minded traveler, Anne Dimon has been a professional travel writer and industry journalist since the early 1990s.
Prior to launching Travel to Wellness and her life as a journalist, Anne was president of her own public relations company specializing in hospitality.
As President of the newly established Wellness Tourism Association, she will help the non-profit organization fulfill its Mission to support and further the growth and development of this expanding travel sector.
Anne is considered a wellness travel expert and is often asked to speak and/or consult on the subject. Since May of 2017, she has been working with Unicomm to create the Wellness Travel Experience in four cities in 2018 – Chicago, Denver, LA and Washington, DC.
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 Travel magazine 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.
President, Strada Toscana
More than a decade ago, author and expert Italy travel consultant, Pamela Haack, took her wealth of experience as a public speaker, her intense studies of Italian culture and her vast connections with local Italians and followed her passion to create Strada Toscana – an exceptional small group tour company with a fresh approach to traveling in Italy, off the beaten path. In addition to hosting extraordinary, upscale tours in Italy, Pamela shares her unique approach to travel in presentations, articles and books.
Pamela’s newest book, The Niche Travel Approach: 11 Keys to Extraordinary Journeys is based on the author’s philosophy of travel and is written as a vacation roadmap for today’s discerning traveler – who prefers more than the average sightseeing tour.
Pamela and her husband live in Italy, along the border of Tuscany and Umbria.
Founder and CEO of ThePointsGuy.com
Brian is a leader and influencer in the industry of points, miles, and travel in general. As a passionate traveler since childhood, Brian used his knowledge and insight to start ThePointsGuy.com during his time as a Wall Street road warrior while traveling the globe for up to six months a year. Brian was able to book exciting and extravagant trips for next to nothing through his hard-earned loyalty points and airline miles, flying first class and staying at luxury hotels all for less than the cost of a coach ticket and a hostel bed.
Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Juno set off for the wider world to pursue her passion for travel and storytelling. Since leaving her engineering job, she has traveled the world as an award-winning travel blogger and photographer, witnessing the everyday life of different cultures. During her seven years of digital nomading, Juno visited Alaska and fell in love with the place instantly. Her passion for Alaska never stopped and she considered herself an unofficial brand ambassador to the Last Frontier. Finally, she and her husband packed their bags and relocated to Anchorage, the first place she called home after leaving South Korea. Juno now officially promotes the beauty of Alaska as part of the Tourism Development & Sales team at Visit Anchorage. Her goal is to spread her love of Alaska to the world, introducing hidden stories of her new home.
Award Winning Travel Journalist, Travel Expert, Radio & TV Host
Rudy Maxa, one of America’s premier consumer travel experts, is host and executive producer of “Rudy Maxa’s World,” the nationwide, Emmy Award winning, public television travel series that features destinations as diverse as Korea, Argentina, South Africa, Tuscany, and Thailand.
Many of Mr. Maxa’s 98 television episodes on the world’s great destinations have aired in 121 countries in 22 different languages on Travel Channel International. Public television’s national “lifestyle” channel, Create, also broadcasts “Rudy Maxa’s World” regularly as does AXS-TV in the U.S.
He also created and co-hosts America’s most widely-syndicated travel radio show, “Rudy Maxa’s World with The Careys,” that airs each weekend on 280+ news/talk stations in North America and via its own TuneIn.com channel 24/7/365.
After college, Mr. Maxa began his journalism career as an investigative reporter and personalities columnist at the Washington Post where he worked for 13 years. Political scandal reportage by Maxa was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize by the Post, and he’s the author of two non-fiction books. He then became a senior writer and columnist at the city magazine, Washingtonian, before becoming Washington bureau chief of SPY magazine for two years.
Well known as public radio’s “Savvy Traveler” and an award-winning contributing editor with National Geographic Traveler magazine, Mr. Maxa has been a contributing editor to Delta’s SKY magazine as well as the voice of National Geographic Traveler’s “Walks of a Lifetime” podcasts.
As a writer for Traveler, Mr. Maxa’s articles earned him two Lowell Thomas Bronze Awards for Excellence in Travel Writing from the Society of American Travel Writers. His travel series on the great hotels of the world appeared in GQ, and he’s written on travel topics extensively for 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 been a frequent guest on national television networks and shows, including CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, and “The View.”
A long-time resident of Washington, D.C., and New York City, Mr. Maxa currently lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Chef Matt McMillin
VP of Culinary & Beverage Innovation, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants
The culinary fire of Matt McMillin has been burning since he was 4 years old. Today, McMillin has fostered that fire into a career as a chef, educator, cookbook author, and most recently director of Cooper’s Hawk Food & Beverage Operations.
In May 2010, McMillin joined Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, the Midwest’s first and only winery and restaurant under one roof and winner of Nation’s Restaurant News’ “2010 Hot Concept Award.” In the ever-changing restaurant industry, McMillin has been charged with leading culinary operations of this concept for tomorrow, for guests to enjoy today.
In the year prior to joining Cooper’s Hawk, McMillin served as partner to a restaurant consulting company. And as an expert on Chinese and Southeast Asian cooking, he led the growth of Chicago’s famed Big Bowl restaurant for over a decade.
McMillin was a partner in Chicago’s prestigious Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group for 15 years, opening a number of concepts including Big Bowl, Ben Pao, Mity Nice Grill, Shaw’s Crab House, Vong’s Thai Kitchen, amongst others. He has also lent his skills to many of Chicago’s fine French restaurants such as Carlos, Le Francais, and Café Provencal.
In 2000, McMillin co-authored Big Bowl Noodles and Rice, a guide to making fresh, full-flavored cuisine accessible to the home cook. Passionate about teaching and being part of the Cooper’s Hawk communities, McMillin makes regular television, radio, and teaching appearances throughout the country and recently served as a judge on the Thanksgiving edition of Bobby Flay’s Throwdown.
Chef McMillin is a graduate of Kendall College, where he received the Escoffier Award for Culinary and Academic Excellence. He continues his work at Kendall as a frequent teacher, guest speaker, and Culinary Advisory Board Member.
A Chicago native, McMillin enjoys competing in triathlons, cooking for friends and family and volunteering his time with the Pathways Organization. He resides in Glenview, Ill. with his wife Susan and two children, Madeline and Michael.
Javier Cuesta Munoz
Executive Chef, Taberna del Alabardero
Over 21 years of experience in making delicious, healthy dishes in star hotels and leading restaurants. Expert in making food at reduced cost without compromising on quality and taste. Have training from chefs of various star hotels and also expertise in quality procedures and regulations to be followed while making food. Specializing in preparing menu for the day, with good combinations to attract customers. Can handle high pressure environments and make dishes of good taste and health for large volumes in stipulated time efficiently. Also efficiently managing a team of chefs and cooks and conducted training for them to handle tasks efficiently.
Travel Writer and TV Personality
Troy Petenbrink has more than a decade of experience as a freelance travel journalist. He specializes in identifying and promoting LGBT-friendly destinations and activities. His writings have appeared in many leading media outlets including OutTraveler, Queerty, Metro Weekly, TravelChennel.com, CBSLocal.com and more. Troy is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) and the International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA). Find him at The GayTraveler.com.
Travel Blogger and Social Media Influencer, My Life’s A Movie
Alyssa is a full time solo adventure traveler who turned her love for traveling and writing into a self-made career as a travel blogger and social media influencer. She’s been to 75 countries and 7 continents so far, as well as all 7 New World Wonders and 7 Wonders of Nature. Alyssa believes she has mastered the art of chasing waterfalls, traveling solo, packing light, and making budget-traveling look good.
Director of Business Development, Cruise Planners
Diana Riel is the Director of Business Development at Cruise Planners where she manages the Business Development team and their continued efforts at helping franchisees grow their business through training, marketing, and technology. She also manages the Group Department, CP Vacations, and the American Express Travel relationship. Diana comes to us with over 30 years in the travel industry managing both sales and operational teams. Her background is a perfect fit for building a strong team at Cruise Planners.
Carl C. Risch
The Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs
Carl C. Risch was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs on August 11, 2017.
Mr. Risch most recently served as the Acting Chief of Staff at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). He was previously the USCIS Field Office Director at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea. He also worked as an immigration officer for USCIS at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines. He started his career with USCIS as an immigration officer in the Administrative Appeals Office.
Mr. Risch is a former Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State, where he served as a consular officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Amsterdam. He had a highly regarded legal career in Pennsylvania in addition to his government service. Mr. Risch earned a BA from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and a JD from Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Director of Business Development, Art of Living Retreat Center & Shankara Ayurveda Spa
Kimberly Rossi has a lifetime of healthy living to share with you. As a young teen, she learned that poor habits lead to poor health, and she made an early choice to follow a healthy lifestyle and became a balance seeker. Her resulting confidence, clarity and openness have created an interesting personal and professional path in health and well-being.
She has completed the 500 hour Yoga Teacher Training from Kripalu Center in Lenox, MA in 1998, the Ayurvedic Health Counselor Certification with Kripalu School of Ayurveda in 2004, and the 500 hour Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training with the Kundalini Research Institute in Espanola, NM. More than that, she has a deep daily practice in yoga and meditation for almost twenty years, teaches and shares the wisdom, and continues to be a student. She has a deep gratitude to the Ancient Sciences of Yoga, Meditation, Pranayama, and Ayurveda as she believes these are the secrets for being happy, healthy, and whole. Her professional career has been leading wellness based businesses, in four and five star destinations, for over twenty years, across the country, in Europe, and the Caribbean. Currently, she is the Director of Business Development at the Art of Living Retreat Center and Shankara Ayurveda Spa, in Boone NC.
Editor in Chief of ManAboutWorld
Ed Salvato will moderate this lively panel. Ed is editor in chief of ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine, an immersive smartphone- and tablet-based mobile and digital publication bringing a rich world of travel opportunities to our readers 10 issues a year. He also co-authored the “Handbook of LGBT Tourism & Hospitality Marketing: A Guide for Business Practice,” published in 2017.
Bestselling Author, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and 1,000 Places to See in The USA & Canada Before You Die
Patricia Schultz is the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and 1,000 Places to See in the United States and Canada Before You Die. A veteran travel journalist with 30 years of experience, she has written for guides such as Frommer’s and Berlitz and periodicals including The Wall Street Journal and Travel Weekly, where she is a contributing editor. She also executive-produced a Travel Channel television show based on 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. Her home base is New York City.
Top Female Travel Vlogger
Nadine Sykora is one of the top travel influencers and travel videographers on YouTube where she has made over 800+ videos gaining over 40 million+ views. Over the last 7 years she has traveled to over 50 countries including all around her home country of Canada. She has worked on dozens of video campaigns for brands, tourism boards and companies around the world. She has appeared in Forbes, the Observer, Mashable, USA Today, CNN, BBC, Lonely Planet, BuzzFeed, Matador Network, Yahoo Travel, and The Huffington Post. In December 2014 she was invited as one of the Top 130 of the most inﬂuential travel bloggers and digital media outlets to the White House to attend the White House Travel Blogger Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship. Nadine’s passion for travel is contagious and she loves to share her experiences and travel expertise via social media, photography, and through her videos.
Trans Travel Writer
Brynn Tannehill is a former Naval aviator who has traveled to 27 countries and every continent but Antarctica. As a married transgender woman, a lesbian, and a parent of three children she has encountered a variety of … interesting … situations while traveling both related to being part of the LGBT community, and as someone with a security clearance to keep in mind. Brynn works as an analyst at a non-profit think tank in Washington DC, and writes on a variety of LGBT issues for The Advocate, Huffington Post, and LGBTQ Nation as a freelance editorialist.
CEO (Chief Experience Officer), PhotoEnrichment
Ralph Velasco is Founder and CEO (Chief Experience Officer) of PhotoEnrichment Adventures (PEA), as well as a travel photography instructor, author and international guide. As such he organizes and leads cultural tours, with a focus on photography, in destinations around the world, including to India, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Baltics, Spain, Romania, Bulgaria, Morocco, Iceland, Cuba, the Adriatic, Central Europe, Tuscany, Mexico and others.
Ralph is also the creator of the Tour Organizer Training free webinar and online course series where he teaches everyday people to make a living from travel. In this step-by-step program, he shows participants how to organize and lead their own special interest tours, around the world, or around the corner.
He’s the creator of the My Shot Lists for Travel app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch® (available for free on iTunes) and two years in a row he was shortlisted in the prestigious Travel Photographer of the Year awards.
Executive Chef at Lupo Verde
A native of Lake Como, Italy, Venini brings many years of experience working at restaurants in Washington, DC and Italy to his new position. Most recently, Matteo Venini served for a year and a half as executive chef of the notable Italian restaurant, Tosca, in Washington, DC. He began his career in the USA working at Tosca a decade ago, joining the restaurant as a pastry chef. After two years he was promoted to be part of the opening culinary team at Posto in 2008 before returning to Tosca to lead the kitchen.
Owner, and Director, Deerfield Health Retreat & Spa
Joan Wolff took over Deerfield Health Retreat & Spa in 1999 after the death of her mother who started the business in 1979. She graduated from Queens College in 1976 with a BA in Business. She worked in the accounting field for 24 years before taking over the family business which people return to year after year. www.DeerfieldSpa