GTC19 Speakers 

Allen, Vicki
Bennett, Raven
Delaney, Kate
Hall, Juliet
Heetland, Kristen
Hood, Meggan
Hughes, Lee
Jordan, Mike
Kageyama, Peter
Kemp, Governor Brian
Lilly, Jackson
Loebner, Josh
Love, Lisa
Markwalter, Jay
McCollum, Haile
McQuade, Sarah
Megan Miller
Owens, Michael
Pollow, Lauren
Powell, Chelsea
Reinagel, Tyler
Betsy Riley
Schmieder, Jon
Stephens, Representative Ron
Young, Shana

Vicki Allen
DK Shifflet

Vicki Allen is a Senior Research Manager at DK Shifflet & Associates, a company that specializes in syndicated and custom market research exclusively for the travel and tourism industry. Vicki’s work with the team at DK Shifflet affords her the opportunity to regularly do what she is passionate about- discovering and sharing insights about travelers.

Prior to joining DK Shifflet in 2018, Vicki worked at VISIT FLORIDA for 19 years. She started as an analyst and worked her way up to leading the research department on all market research including developing research programs, advertising testing and crisis research. Vicki earned her bachelor’s in advertising and a master’s in marketing communications from Florida State University.

Raven Bennett

Raven Bennett is a passionate influencer marketing professional fully dedicated to The Home Depot account at independent, full-service advertising agency 22squared. There, Raven leads a team through campaign strategy, influencer identification and vetting, contract negotiations, program execution and reporting. In partnership with The Home Depot’s dynamic social team, Raven identifies strategic ways to leverage influencers to drive business objectives for The Home Depot and its partners via custom content productions and social campaigns. As she prepares to enter her fifth year on the account, Raven continues to identify opportunities to optimize influencer marketing efforts while cultivating long-lasting relationships with innovative influencer partners across the industry. Raven is a proud alum of Elon University (B.A.) and American University (M.A.).

Kate Delaney
The Kate Delaney Show on NBC Sports Radio

Kate Delaney is an Emmy-award winning journalist and speaker who has interviewed more than 15,000 people, including U.S. presidents, top CEOs and Hall of Fame athletes. As a woman hosting a successful, highly rated radio talk show, she became a pioneer in broadcasting.
In addition to her popular speaking engagements across the country. Kate has hosted shows on the NBC Sports Radio Network, WFAN in New York City and KRLD in Dallas, Texas. Currently she hosts the Kate Delaney show that includes Forbes Books Radio a weekly feature showcasing movers and shakers in the business world. It reaches three million people

She’s the author of three popular books, Level the Playing Field (2011) and Invade the Man Cave (2016). Her latest business book published by Forbes, Deal Your Own Destiny, Increase Your Odds, Win Big and Become Extraordinary is receiving rave reviews.  As a successful business owner, she’s most proud of working with the Texas Rangers baseball club on closing a $25 million radio rights deal for CBS radio when she worked as Executive Sports Director. Kate has served as a Keynote speaker and consultant for companies such as: Deloitte, Stanley Oil and Gas, Forbes, UPS, Fox, AT&T, Cisco, and Exxon/Mobil, Kraft and many more. She also gave a TED style talk at the Forbes Insider’s Summit.

Kate is the Past President of the National Speakers Association in North Texas and serves on the advisory board of the Dallas Network Bar. DNB is millionaire Phil Romano’s high-tech members only Professional network hub.

Juliet Hall
Own Your Opportunities

Juliet Hall is the owner of Juliet Hall INC, a leadership consulting firm based in Atlanta, GA. She is a recognized, respected advisor and leadership consultant as well as an emerging voice on the topics of self-discovery, women's empowerment, servant leadership and entrepreneurship. Dedicated to igniting a purpose-filled passion in others, Juliet helps leaders who are at a professional crossroads to discover themselves, develop their unique and innate abilities, and dominate their sphere of authority according to their specialized area of gifting.

Juliet is a former 20-year corporate executive of two US billion-dollar brands, Chick-fil-A and Wachovia Bank (now Wells Fargo). Her diverse background in corporate America includes areas in banking operations, management consulting to restaurant franchisees, corporate storytelling and external affairs. Juliet is a graduate of Spelman College and the Terry College of Business at The University of Georgia. In her spare time, Juliet loves to travel internationally—she has traveled to over 20 countries—and can be found serving her best backhand on tennis courts in Atlanta.

Kristen Heetland
The Home Depot

Kristen Heetland is a social media professional working on content and influencer management at The Home Depot. She works across multiple departments to build THD’s organic content strategy, community management approach and influencer practice. Her team runs and facilitates campaigns with valued partners, most recently sponsoring the influencer-led Haven Conference in Buckhead for the eighth year. In previous roles, Kristen worked agency-side on Georgia brands like Carter’s, Coca-Cola and The Home Depot. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) and Atlanta native who now resides in East Atlanta Village.

Meggan Hood
Georgia Department of Economic Development Tourism Division

Meggan Hood is the director of brand strategy for the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Prior to joining the Georgia Tourism team in January 2019, Hood led marketing for the Jekyll Island Authority where she was responsible for the island’s rebranding campaign, resulting in record-breaking visitation and revenue numbers for the island. She is also the recipient of three Silver Anvil Awards from the Public Relations Society of America, including the most recent in 2016 for her effective leadership and crisis communications management during Hurricane Matthew.

Prior to joining the Jekyll Island Authority, Hood spent three years managing national advertising for The Home Depot and six years working on creative and brand strategy for the National Home Office of the American Cancer Society. Hood is an Atlanta native and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations at Auburn University.


Lee Hughes
Hughes Public Affairs

Lee began his career at the State Capitol in 1986 as a bill reader and data clerk, learning the legislative process from the inside. In 1989 he joined State Senator Pierre Howard’s campaign for Lieutenant Governor, handling a wide range of duties and traveling the state with the candidate. After the candidate emerged victorious from a field of 15 candidates, Lee was named to the Lt. Governor’s staff where he helped to manage the day-to-day operation of the Senate as well as coordinating his environmental legislation.
In 1993, Lee left the Capitol and Atlanta to become Regional Public Affairs Manager for what is now Georgia-Pacific Corporation. Lee handled local and state government affairs in as many as 8 eastern states, including Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas and the Virginias. Working in the state and local government affairs arenas, Lee successfully focused on tax relief and tax incentive initiatives, employment law and environmental policy. He has served in several leadership positions in his professional life including as President of the Georgia Pulp and Paper Association, Vice President of the Georgia Industry Association and on the Board of Directors for The Georgia Chamber of Commerce. He is a 1998 graduate of Leadership Georgia, and was named to Georgia Trend Magazine’s prestigious 40 Under 40 list in the Year 2000.

After almost ten years with the company, Lee left Georgia-Pacific in 2003 to create Hughes Public Affairs. After 20 years of working with state and local governments in various roles, Lee maintains his reputation as a resourceful, effective and trustworthy individual that is extremely familiar with the process. Lee currently provides legislative representation for the Georgia Association of CVBs.
A native of Savannah, Georgia, Lee earned a Bachelor’s Degree in History at Furman University, graduating in 1986. In recent years he has continued his education through programs like Leadership Georgia, SpeechWorks and the Savannah Chamber of Commerce Political Institute.

Mike Jordan
Thrillist Atlanta

Mike Jordan is an Atlanta-based writer who covers entertainment, food, travel and culture. He is currently Atlanta radio station V-103's digital program director, and Thrillist's founding Atlanta editor. He is also the co-author of former NFL linebacker Takeo Spikes' book, Behind the Mask, and has contributed stories to The Outline, Observer, Playboy, Eater, Atlanta Magazine, HipHopDX, Creative Loafing, The Huntsville Times and other publications. 

Peter Kageyama
Creative Cities Summit 

Peter Kageyama is the author of For the Love of Cities: The Love Affair Between People and Their Places and the follow up, Love Where You Live: Creating Emotionally Engaging Places.

Planetizen recognized For the Love of Cities as a Top 10 Book in 2012 in urban planning, design and development. He is the former President of Creative Tampa Bay, a grassroots community change organization and the co-founder of the Creative Cities Summit, an interdisciplinary conference that brings citizens and practitioners together around the big idea of ‘the city.’

Peter is a Senior Fellow with the Alliance for Innovation, a national network of city leaders that is dedicated to improving the practice of local government. Since speaking to them in 2013, Peter has become a special advisor to America In Bloom. He is an internationally sought-after community development consultant and grassroots engagement strategist who speaks all over the world about bottom-up community development and the amazing people who are making change happen.

Governor Brian Kemp
State of Georgia

Governor Brian Kemp is the 83rd governor of Georgia, in office since January, 2019. A member of the Republican Party, he previously was the Secretary of State of Georgia and a member of the Georgia State Senate. Brian Kemp is a conservative small businessman with a proven record of fighting – and winning – for Georgia.  In the State Senate, Kemp fought to cut fees, taxes, and mandates on job creators and Georgia families. As Secretary of State, Kemp used technology and innovation to cut bureaucratic red tape, slash spending, and streamline government. Kemp fought the Obama Justice Department and countless left-wing organizations attempting to undermine Georgia’s elections.

Kemp is not finished fighting for Georgia. As our Governor, Kemp will fight to make Georgia #1 for small business. He will ensure that all parts of our state – including rural Georgia – have opportunities to grow and thrive. Kemp will fundamentally reform state government and will always put Georgians first - not the special interests. While serving in public office, Brian Kemp has remained a small business owner with companies in agribusiness, financial services, real estate management and investment.

A lifelong resident of Athens, Kemp is a graduate of the University of Georgia, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture. Kemp, 53, is married to the former Marty Argo of Athens. They are the proud parents of three daughters and are active members of Emmanuel Episcopal Church.

Jackson Lilly
Georgia Department of Community Affairs

Jackson Lilly works as a Research Coordinator in the Department of Community Affairs Office of Research. He works on several programs including the Report of Local Government Finances, Wage and Salary Survey, authority registration and finance, and the hotel-motel excise tax. Jackson provides local governments and tourism organizations with programs of education and training on the hotel-motel tax and conducts research on how local governments are collecting and spending. He is a graduate of Oglethorpe University (B.A.) and will complete a Master of Applied Economics from Georgia State University in the Fall of 2019 with a focus in Urban, Regional, and Environmental Economics. 

Josh Loebner

Josh serves as Director of Strategy at Designsensory, is a contributing writer for Adweek and shares conversations across the country on diversity and inclusion in advertising. He is earning his PhD from Clemson University focusing on advertising and disability is also adjunct faculty at the University of Tennessee and King University. Josh serves on the City of Knoxville Mayor’s Council on Disability Issues, has spoken at the White House and shared insights to the American Association of Advertising Agencies and American Advertising Federation MOSAIC board. He is an inductee into the AAF Knoxville chapter Hall of Fame, served as the Diversity Chair for AAF District 7 and is recipient of the AAF National Silver Medal. He is partially blind and visually impaired, which gives him a unique perspective and he always clearly sees the best in everyone. 

Lisa Love
Georgia Department of Economic Development's Tourism Division

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.

Jay Markwalter
Georgia Association of CVBs 

Jay Markwalter, TMP, is the Executive Director of the Georgia Association of CVBs.  Jay has served in the DMO industry for over 15 years and is a leader in tourism-based economic development. Prior to GACVB Jay was the Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Director of Marketing Communications and then Director of Sales where he was an active member of the Georgia Society of Association Executives.   His previous positions include Executive Director of the Lawrenceville GA Tourism & Trade Association and Tourism Director at the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber & Visitors Bureau.

A 2007 Southeast Tourism Society Marketing College graduate, Jay has earned his Travel Marketing Professional (TMP) designation as well as certification as a Festivals and Events Planner. He has also received his GACVB Leadership Excellence Certification (LEC) and is a graduate of Leadership Georgia.  Jay served as a member of the GACVB board since 2013, most recently as the organization's President, before becoming their Executive Director.  Jay is currently serving on the Georgia Tourism Foundation and Southeast Tourism Society’s Boards of Directors.

Haile McCollum
Fontaine Maury Brand and Design

Haile McCollum is the Owner of Fontaine Maury Brand and Design. Her team brands organizations and products that connect people to a particular place. In 2015, Fontaine Maury led the successful re-branding work for Jekyll Island. She has also worked with many Georgia businesses on brand strategy and visual identity including Flowers Foods, Blackberry Patch, Sweetgrass Dairy, South Life, The Vine and the WWII Homefront Museum.

In addition to running her brand and design studio, Haile is the Creative Director of Thom, a bi-annual arts and culture magazine published by the Thomasville Center for the Arts.  Haile has a B.S. in Human Development from Vanderbilt University and an M.F.A. in Graphic design from The Savannah College of Art and Design.

Sarah McQuade
Hall County Planning Department

Sarah McQuade joined the Hall County Planning Department in February 2014 and has worked in various positions including Senior Planner and Principal Planner. She currently holds the position of Planning Manager in which she facilitates Hall County’s Development Review process. In this role Sarah coordinates the efforts of multiple county departments and state agencies to ensure development standards are met while bringing high quality residential and commercial development to the citizens of Hall County. Additionally, Sarah works closely with the Hall County Planning Commission; providing technical assistance to board members and guiding applicants through the rezoning, special use, and variance applicant process.

Megan Miller
Atlas Obscura

Megan Miller leads branded content production at Atlas Obscura, where the company's mission is to inspire audiences with wonder and curiosity about the world. As a strategic storyteller, she creates content that weaves a brand's values into the articles and videos that Atlas Obscura readers love to read and share. Previously, she's led branded content strategy at USA Today and the Chicago Sun-Times. 

Michael Owens
Savannah Area Tourism Leadership Council

Michael began his lifelong career in the hospitality industry while growing up in Atlanta and he made his home in Savannah over 16 years ago. For a decade, Michael worked for HLC Hotels, a local Savannah Hospitality company. At HLC, Michael was charged with overseeing the operations of multiple luxury hotels while also managing acquisitions and take-overs for the company’s expanding portfolio. In 2012 he was hired as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Tourism Leadership Council. He and his distinguished board of directors lead the largest trade organization representing the tourism community in the Coastal Empire through advocacy and government affairs. In 2013, he founded the Savannah Food & Wine Festival and he serves as the festival's CEO. The festival is now one of the largest in the region and has raised more than $300,000 for local non-profits and charities.

Michael serves on the City of Savannah's Tourism Advisory Committee, Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce, Savannah-Chatham CrimeStoppers, and is Vice-Chairman of EmployAbility. He is chairman of the Savannah Technical College Programs Advisory Committee. He is Chairman of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Foundation and serves as the State Chairman of the Georgia Travel Association.  He is an active supporter and volunteer for, The 200 Club of the Coastal Empire, The Savannah Harbor Foundation and the Coastal Hospitality Education Foundation.

Lauren Pollow
J. L. Morgan Company

Lauren Pollow is the new Legislative Director for the J.L. Morgan Company, bringing with her with seven years of experience in public policy, lobbying, grassroots advocacy and consulting. She has represented clients on a range of regulatory and legislative issues with a keen focus on healthcare and Medicaid reform.

Before moving to Georgia in 2018, she was the Legislative Director for the New York State Health Facilities Association where she led the regulatory and legislative agenda for 350 long-term care providers across the state. Before joining the association, she lobbied on a wide range of issues for one of the largest law firms in Albany, New York.

Since moving to Atlanta and joining the J.L. Morgan team, she has expanded her issue set to focus on the lodging industry and support the substantial advocacy work of the Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association as well as their allies.

Chelsea Powell
The Leadership Institute at Columbus State University

Chelsea has been proudly attending and then serving Columbus State University for the last 6 years. She enrolled in the prestigious counseling graduate school program in 2012, specifically looking to work with a variety of both clients and students. Upon her graduation in 2014 she immediately began working at the Academic Center of Excellence as an Academic Advisor. Here she was able to establish new programs for every major for which she was responsible. This was all while also establishing campus wide initiatives helping students understand better the necessary coursework for their specific educational paths. She now serves as the Assistant Director for Internal Leadership Development at Columbus State University. In this role she provides leadership development to all employees at Columbus State University. She is a National Certified Counselor and is also certified in a couple of self-assessment tools including MBTI, FIRO-B, and RightPath.

Prior to coming to CSU, Chelsea was a stalwart student athlete at Southeastern Louisiana University. Playing basketball and maintaining a constant presence on the Dean's List, she carved out a name for herself both academically and athletically. To this day she is still in the record books for her prolific 3 point shooting. When Chelsea is not working she can be found volunteering in the community, specifically with United Way and the Junior League of Columbus.

Tyler Reinagel
Georgia Department of Community Affairs

Dr. Tyler Reinagel is the Director of the Office of Planning and Research at the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, overseeing local comprehensive planning, service delivery strategies, annual management and financial reporting, tax-exempt bond allocations, and hotel-motel excise tax training and reporting.

Prior to joining DCA, Tyler served as an economist with a federal Office of Inspector General in Washington, DC and Senior Doctoral Fellow at the Fanning Institute at the University of Georgia. In addition, he has had an appointment to the Public Affairs and Policy faculty at Western Carolina University.  His published research focuses on state and local budget and finance, with particular emphasis on revenue diversification and intergovernmental relations.

Tyler is a native of Cherokee County with a B.A. from Fordham University in The Bronx, and an MPA and Ph.D. in Public Administration and Policy from the University of Georgia.

Betsy Riley
Atlanta Magazine

Betsy has worked with Atlanta magazine in various capacities for more than twenty years, becoming Editor in Chief in 2017. During her tenure, she has worked with nationally recognized writers such as Nathalie Dupree, Terry Kay, and Tina McElroy Ansa. Her own longform narrative has been featured on Betsy has served on the board of the Atlanta Press Club and was formerly a regular contributor to local NPR affiliate WABE. In 2015, she launched a quarterly shelter magazine, Atlanta Magazine’s HOME. Previously, she was a freelance writer, contributing to such magazines as O (Oprah’s magazine), Ladies Home Journal, Town & Country, Parenting, and Southern Living. With former Atlanta magazine art director Elaine Hightower, Betsy is the author of the award-winning Our Family Meeting Book (Free Spirit Press, 2002). She began her career as a medical journalist, serving on the Board of Directors of a division of Medical Economics. Betsy is an honors graduate of Wake Forest University.  

Jon Schmieder
Huddle Up Group

Jon is the Founder and CEO of Phoenix based Huddle Up Group.  With over 20 years of direct experience in the sports tourism industry having held senior leadership roles with three different sports commissions; Phoenix, Tulsa, and Denver, Jon brings a wealth of experience in sports tourism and economic development. Jon has twice served as Chairman of the National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC) and was on the organization’s Executive Committee for six years. While he served as the President of the Phoenix Regional Sports Commission, the NASC chose the organization as the 2012 Large Market Sports Commission of the Year.

Jon was named the 2012 CEO of the Year by the Phoenix Chapter of the Organization of Non-Profit Executives. In 2016, Connect Sports honored him as an industry “Game Changer”.  Jon holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree in higher education leadership from Northern Arizona University.

Chairman Ron Stephens
House Economic Development & Tourism Committee, Georgia House of Representatives 

State Representative Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) represents the 164th District in the Georgia House of Representatives. Rep. Stephens is the Chairman of the House Economic Development & Tourism Committee. Rep. Stephens has been a member of the House for twenty-one years. Rep. Stephens is also a member of the Appropriations, Rules, and Ways and Means Committees. May 24, 2013 Governor Nathan Deal appointed Rep. Stephens to the Georgia Tourism Foundation.

Representative Stephens is a graduate from Armstrong State & Mercer University with a degree in Pharmacy. Representative Stephens has spent thirty-eight years as a pharmacist. Before being elected to the House, Rep. Stephens earned a seat as a City Councilman in Garden City. Proven a consensus builder and a member who can reach across party lines, Rep. Stephens was selected as the Vice-Chair of the Appropriations Health subcommittee and as a member of the Economic Development subcommittee, under a democratic majority and leadership.

Rep. Stephens was selected as the Chair of the Economic Development & Tourism Committee because of his experience of seventeen years in the General Assembly. Representative Stephens is passionate about protecting and strengthening Georgia's tourism business. He has served on the Appropriations Committee for nineteen years. Representative Stephens is the co-author of the first floating homestead exemption in Georgia now applying in more than 50 taxing districts in the state which effectively freezes property taxes for the homeowner. It is known as the STEPHENS-DAY Bill HB 350. He also served and was pioneer on the original tourism study committee that led to the formation of the current Economic Development and Tourism Committee, which earned him the Leadership Award for efforts to bring non-traditional tourism industries over to the tourism side.

Shana Young
The Leadership Institute at Columbus State University

Shana is a certified Human Behavior Consultant focusing on helping individuals understand theirs and others personalities in order to improve communication and become a more effective leader. In addition, Shana is certified in a variety of self-assessment tools and a certified executive coach. She is the lead on research, development, and writing of strategic plans for many Leadership Institute clients, to include the ‘City of Columbus’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness’.

Shana coordinates the speakers for The annual Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum which boast past speakers such as Football great Peyton Manning, Entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban, Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg, Spanx Owner/CEO Sara Blakely, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Dr. Robert Gates; General Colin Powell; John Maxwell, Malcolm Gladwell, James Carville and Mary Matalin just to name a few.