2018 Conference Speakers 


Cathy Alford
Facilitator, The Leadership Institute at Columbus State University - Columbus, GA

Cathy Alford, MA, PCC, is a Leadership and Strengths Coach credentialed with the International Coach Federation. She works with individuals and teams to identify strengths, team dynamics and growth opportunities for success. She is the CEO of LifeWorks Coaching in Columbus, Georgia, and is a founding member of the Columbus Coaching Collaborative. Her certifications include: Myers-Briggs, Clifton StrengthsFinder®, Prepare-Enrich and Workshop Facilitation. She is a facilitator for The Leadership Institute at Columbus State University, has taught Coach Training at CSU and served in pharmaceutical sales management for over 23 years. She is a contributing author in the book, Inspired Women Succeed and the author of If Only We Could Talk: 3 Simple Steps to Parent-Teen Conversations. 

Jade Broadus
Creative Director, Travel Mindset - Chicago, IL
Jade Broadus is the creative director at Travel Mindset, a niche marketing agency that specializes in influencer marketing for the tourism industry. Jade has managed more than 200 influencer marketing campaigns for clients like Fairmont Hotels, Virgin Atlantic, Celebrity Cruises, Airbnb, and DMOs from all over the country. 

In addition to her role at Travel Mindset, Jade is an award-winning travel blogger with more than 75,000 Instagram followers. Jade’s unique background grants her the rare ability to understand both the marketer’s and influencer’s perspective. Learn more at www.travelmindset.com.

Kim Cantrell
CEO, 2 Impact; Facilitator, The Leadership Institute at Columbus State University - Columbus, GA

Kim Cantrell is an experienced Senior Executive, with an extensive background in leadership, non-profit operations, strategic planning, team building and finance. She currently serves as the CEO of 2 Impact, a coaching and consulting firm dedicated to equipping individuals and businesses to reach their maximum growth potential.

Kim was previously the Senior Vice President of Mission Services for Goodwill Industries of the Southern Rivers, (GWISR), headquartered in Columbus, Georgia. She joined the organization in 2000 as the Chief Financial Officer, after a successful career in retirement plan administration.  Kim holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting and a Masters in Organization Leadership with a concentration in Servant Leadership from Columbus State University. She holds the designation of Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coach Federation. Kim is a firm believer in the value of servant leadership and is committed to its practices.  Committed to the local community, Kim serves on the boards of: Enrichment Services Program, Boy Scouts of America (Chattahoochee Council), Wells Fargo Advisory, and North Columbus Rotary.  

Coach Bill Curry - Atlanta, GA

Bill Curry has spent his entire adult life as a leader and communicator. His NFL career included two Super Bowl titles and a stint as the President of the NFL Players Association. Bill served as head football coach for Georgia Tech (’80-’86), the University of Alabama (’87-’89), and the University of Kentucky (’90-’96). In 1989, Bill was recognized as the nation’s top coach with the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year Award.

From 1997 to 2008, Bill came into millions of homes each football Saturday as an analyst for ESPN. In September 2006, the American Football Coaches Association announced Bill as the recipient of the 2007 Amos Alonzo Stagg Award in honor of his outstanding service toward the advancement of the best interests of football.

In June 2008, Bill was selected to be the inaugural head coach of Georgia State University’s new football program. Bill’s book – “Ten Men You Meet in the Huddle” – was released in August 2008 by ESPN books and was praised by author Pat Conroy as “the best book about the NFL” that he ever read.

In 2014, Bill joined former player Pete Wellborn and communications expert Jeff Battcher to form AIM Sports Reputation Management, LLC (“AIM”). AIM provides crisis handling and leadership and success training to universities, professional franchises, and other members of the sports industry.

Governor Nathan Deal, State of Georgia

Since taking office in 2011, Gov. Nathan Deal has led Georgia to become the No. 1 state in the nation for business for four years in a row - a first in Georgia history - and helped create nearly 600,000 private sector jobs. In the last six years, Georgia’s job growth has outpaced the national average while its population has jumped from 10th to 8th nationally.

Through tax reform, workforce development initiatives and investment in education and infrastructure, the state continues to grow local small businesses and attract top companies from around the world. During Gov. Deal’s tenure, Georgia has become a global destination for companies in a wide range of industries. Under Deal’s leadership, Georgia has produced seven balanced budgets, saved millions of taxpayer dollars by maintaining Georgia’s AAA bond rating and grown the Rainy Day Reserve Fund to more than $2 billion.  Read more...

Jeffrey Eslinger
Senior Director, Client Insights; DK Shifflet & Associates - McLean, VA
Jeffrey joined DK Shifflet in 2006. He has been working in market research for more than 10 years, with eight of those in the travel industry. His responsibilities as senior director of client insights include identification of research needs, analysis of data, client support and presentation of research findings. Jeffrey is responsible for AAA, the State Tourism Offices of Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and Delaware, as well as the CVBs of Atlanta, Ft. Lauderdale, Washington, D.C., New York City and Los Angeles.

Before joining DK Shifflet, he worked for US Airways as the manager of customer insight and research. Jeffrey was also director of research for NORTHSTAR Travel Media, the publisher of Travel Weekly. Prior to his travel industry experience, he worked for Standard and Poor’s and Citibank Private Bank in New York City.

Jeffrey holds a Bachelor of Art in communication from the University of Dayton and has completed graduate work in advertising and communications at Astor College, London as well as history and political science at the Austro-American Institute, Vienna.

Jody Farrar
Vice President of Marketing, Chute - San Francisco, CA
Jody has been in marketing and social media for over 15 years, and currently runs marketing at Chute. Prior to Chute, she worked for digital pen company Livescribe where she ran global communications and social media. Prior to this she spent nearly a decade in public relations and advertising agencies, including Edelman and PRACO, where she managed clients including The Broadmoor Hotel, Symantec, Adobe and the Colorado Tourism Office.

Jody presented at Phocuswright, Florida Governor's Conference for Tourism, Mountain Travel Symposium, ITB, Eye for Travel, Travel Tech Con and the Digital Travel Think Tank.

Amrita Gurney
Vice President of Marketing, CrowdRiff - Toronto, Canada

Amrita Gurney is the Vice President of Marketing at CrowdRiff, where she leads a team responsible for brand, content, product marketing and demand generation. Prior to CrowdRiff, Amrita served in leadership roles at Audiobooks.com and innovation design firm Normative. Amrita holds an MBA from Babson College in Wellesley, MA. She loves digital marketing, contemporary art, drinking tea and travelling. You can find Amrita on Twitter @amritagurney

Cody Hicks
President, Bread N Butter Content Studio - Atlanta, GA
Cody Hicks is a proven entrepreneurial leader having built two successful media & advertising companies. Hicks co-founded and currently serves as President of Bread n Butter Productions and Atlanta Eats, both innovative and forward-thinking companies that help brands accomplish their business objectives through integrated content marketing programs.

Hicks quickly became recognized as one of the early pioneers in the native advertising/branded content movement. Hicks has been at the helm of the brand integration and content marketing movements long before they became industry buzzwords. Bread n Butter Productions with a vision to tell food, dining, and travel stories using the power of video to help their partners achieve their marketing objectives. Hicks created an influencer marketing division within the company working with the biggest names in the industry such as Mario Batali, Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, and Hugh Acheson.

Kevin Langston
Deputy Commissioner, GDEcD's Tourism Division - Atlanta, GA

Kevin Langston is Deputy Commissioner for the Tourism Division at the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Working with the Commissioner, Kevin oversees the activities of the department’s Tourism Division. Mr. Langston has served as Assistant Commissioner for theTourism division since May 2007, returning to the division after serving as Director of International Operations and Director of Projects, managing the state’s offices in ten locations around the world.

Mr. Langston previously served as Assistant Deputy Commissioner for the Tourism Division, where he oversaw marketing, sales and product development initiatives. He has also previously served as Director of Communications for the agency and in a number of roles in the department’s International Trade Division. Originally from northeast Missouri, Mr. Langston graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Kansas State University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Georgia State University. Kevin serves on the board of directors of Travel South USA, and is the chair of their international committee. He is also a member of the National Council of State Tourism Directors. Kevin is an active member of the Georgia Economic Developers Association, a Certified Economic Development Finance Professional, and serves with numerous other industry and civic organizations.

Eric Lopez
Government Research & Survey Program Coordinator, Georgia Dept. of Community Affairs - Atlanta, GA

Eric Lopez joined the Office of Research at the Georgia Department of Community Affairs in 2014, and has worked broadly with the various local government surveys and reports conducted by that office. He is directly responsible for overseeing reports and responding to questions involving the Hotel Motel Tax, as well as the Report of Local Government Finances and Report of Authority Finances. Eric also oversees the tax-exempt bond allocations program for DCA. 

He holds a Bachelors Degree in Political Science and International Affairs from Auburn University, and a Masters of Public Administration from Kennesaw State University, graduating Summa Cum Laude. During his final semester of Graduate School, he served as the policy intern for the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG), where he remained on staff in a fellowship role until receiving his current position as the Government Research & Survey Program Coordinator for DCA.

Lisa Love
Division Director, Georgia Department of Economic Development's Tourism Division - Atlanta, GA

Lisa Love is the Division Director for the Tourism Division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) overseeing operations. Prior to that, she spent six years managing music marketing and development initiatives for both Tourism and GDEcD’s Film, Music & Digital Entertainment division. For more than 12 years, she served in successive capacities, including executive director, at the Georgia Music Hall of Fame museum in Macon, and she spent two years as Director of Marketing and Communications for the Macon-Bibb County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Love is the guiding force behind the Georgia Music Foundation’s Board of Directors and is a member of the governing board for DREAM Academy, a music- and arts-integrated charter school.

Derek Price
Director, North America; Expedia Media Solutions - Miami, FL

Derek’s focus as Director for North America at Expedia Media Solutions is working with his team to develop and deliver on custom designed digital media campaigns. The team works with travel and non-travel advertisers and their strength comes from their deep partnerships and relationships with DMOs, Airlines, Hotels and Attractions and being able to exceed their expectations utilizing the vast network of Expedia’s travel brands and global points of sale.

Derek has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. The last 10+ within the online space, much of it at OTAs, including Travelocity, Orbitz, and now Expedia. Derek has previously held roles from travel product manager, hotels sales, market management to media sales at OTAs and travel marketing companies including Sojern, in locations from San Francisco, New York City, Las Vegas and South Florida.

Tracie Sanchez
Tourism Product Development, Georgia Department of Economic Development

Decades of exploring trails are living proof that ‘all who wander are not lost’ because here she is. Tracie also happens to be a map lover (hence the not getting lost part).  Her career path to Tourism Product Development at GDEcD includes roles as a graphic designer, Lake Tahoe park ranger and ski bum, UGA leadership coordinator, and Georgia Trail Summit director, with an MPA from UGA. Noting the gap in trails leadership and the need for statewide resources, she aims to support all of Georgia's trail endeavors. Her daily bike ride or run with her husband Jeff is along the South Peachtree Creek Trail in a Decatur neighborhood connected to Emory University.


Kate Skidmore
Senior Director of Membership Engagement, Destinations International - Washington, DC

Kate Skidmore joined Destinations International as Subscriber Services and Engagement Manager for the empowerMINT product in October 2013. Prior to her role at Destinations International, Skidmore spent seven years at the San Diego Tourism Authority. Her background includes marketing, digital media, advertising sales, IT implementation, and CVB/Hotel sales training for iLead. Skidmore is responsible for growing the adoption of member engagement, resulting in increased number of engaged individuals within a member organization and an increase in use of Destinations International  products, educational events and research.

Shawna Suckow, The Buyer Insider - Minneapolis, MN
Shawna Suckow, CMP, was a million-dollar buyer in the hospitality industry for over 20 years. In 2008 she founded an association of B2B buyers, which now has over 2,500 members across North America. She began studying buyer behavior in earnest in 2009, and speaking to audiences of salespeople who were frustrated with the shifting marketplace and the influences of technology. She wrote her first book on the subject in 2012. Her third book is an Amazon best-seller called Don’t Become Extinct – Join the Sales Evolution.

She now has spoken on 5 continents in 15 countries, helping salespeople and businesses to understand the ever-evolving buyer landscape.  Honors include being named to the Global Top 100 Women Business & Tech Speakers, Planners' Favorite Speakers lists of 2014 and 2015, and Top 8 Speakers of 2013.