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Trip Sisters Logo from email.pngTravel Channel's "Trip Sisters" Colleen Kelly and Catie Keogh

Monday, April 23. 1:30pm.

Colleen KellyColleen Kelly
Colleen Kelly is the host, creator and executive producer of the popular National PBS Television Series "Family Travel with Colleen Kelly". The national hit series airs to over 96%of the country to 17 million viewers, and is currently in production of its 5th season. As an Emmy-nominated executive producer, family travel expert, and engaging television personality, Colleen Kelly has been a featured and keynote speaker at high-profile travel industry events and has appeared in numerous radio and television broadcasts, presenting the latest and greatest travel tips, products, services, and hotel/vacation deals for all types of travel. In addition to “Family Travel," Kelly is also the Co-Creator and Co-Host of their newest series, “Trip Sisters", where they work for the Travel Channel as the live contributors for Travel Channel's Facebook and Instagram.

Catie KeoghCatie Keogh
Catie's extensive broadcasting background includes a 2015 Regional Emmy win for Best Magazine Program as Executive Producer/Host, a 2012 Emmy win for On-Air Talent/Host and 11 additional Emmy nominations across her production company & team. Catie's insight for creating 24/7 City Secrets was to provide a much-needed insider view of the sights, sounds and experiences of her dynamic home town, Chicago. She is the co-creator and co-host of the newest girlfriend getaway series “Trip Sisters" alongside her sister Colleen Kelly.

Opening Session and Welcome

Rich Funke
New York State Senator
55th Senate District


Opening Session and Welcome
Monday, April 23. 1:30pm to 2:30pm

Senator Rich Funke chairs the Senate Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks & Recreation and serves as Vice-Chair for Science, Technology, Incubation & Entrepreneurship Task Force. He also serves on seven other committees, including the Aging, Agriculture, Cities, Commerce, Economic Development & Small Business, Environmental Conservation, Consumer Protection, and Higher Education Committees. In addition, Senator Funke is a member of the New York State Senate Heroin Task Force. A Hall of Fame broadcaster and trusted community voice, Rich served on-air at News10NBC Rochester for over 40 years until his retirement in December, 2012. He has devoted his time and energy to Golisano Children's Hospital, Cancer Action, Ronald McDonald House, Camp Good Days and Special times, and other charitable causes. Rich is also a member of the Monroe County Sheriff's Foundation and serves as a Lector at St. John of Rochester Church.He is a Graduate of Adelphi University, where he played quarterback and earned a degree in business. Rich is married to his wife Pat of 48 years.

Daniel O'DonnellDaniel O'Donnell
New York State Assemblymember
Assembly District 69

Opening Session and Welcome
Monday, April 23. 1:30pm to 2:30pm

Daniel O'Donnell, the first openly gay man elected to the New York State Assembly, has been a progressive voice advocating for fair and sensible legislation since he was elected to represent the 69th District, located in Manhattan's Upper West Side, in 2002. He has been the prime sponsor of several trailblazing bills, including the Marriage Equality Act and the Dignity for All Students Act, New York's anti-bullying law. He currently serves as the Chair of the Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development Committee and the Chair of the Codes Subcommittee on Criminal Procedure.

General Sessions & Lunch Presentation

Laura DiBettaLaura DiBetta
Director of Outdoor Recreation

General Session: Adventure Travel: Trends, Initiatives, Adventure NY, and the 2019 ATTA AdventureELEVATE Conference
Wednesday, April 25. 9:00am-10:00am

Laura DiBetta is Director of Outdoor Recreation at the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, overseeing the agency's Adventure NY initiative launched by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in 2017. Through Adventure NY, DEC is expanding access to healthy, active outdoor recreation; connecting people with nature and the outdoors; protecting NY's natural resources; and boosting local economies. Laura has 20 years of experience working for nonprofit organizations on environmental issues, program development, and communications. Laura has an undergraduate degree in Public Affairs and a Graduate Certificate in Urban Policy from the University at Albany.

Ross LeviRoss D. Levi
Vice President & Executive Director
Division of Tourism - I LOVE NEW YORK

General Session: I LOVE NEW YORK 2017 Year in Review
Wednesday, April 25. 10:30am-11:30am

Ross Levi leads the iconic I LOVE NY tourism program and coordinates marketing initiatives to promote visitation across New York State. He manages all state tourism staff, coordinates with local Tourism Promotion Agencies and works closely with the NYS Tourism Advisory Council. Ross joined ESD in 2012 and helped launch tourism efforts established by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo like the Tourism Summit, Adirondack Challenge, Path Through History and I LOVE NY LGBT. Ross was previously Executive Director of New York's statewide LGBT advocacy group, a legislative director in the NYS Senate and a marketing professional in the motion picture industry.

Toni-Marie Ciarfella
Deputy Director for Special Needs
Dutchess County

Lunch Presentation: ThinkDIFFERENTLY
Tuesday, April 24. 12:30pm-1:50pm

Toni-Marie Ciarfella serves as Dutchess County's Deputy Commissioner for Special Needs, the first such position in New York State. She is an advocate for individuals and families with special needs and abilities.

Russell WaltersRussell Walters
Strategic Director North America
Adventure Travel Trade Association

General Session: Adventure Travel: Trends, Initiatives, Adventure NY, and the 2019 ATTA AdventureELEVATE Conference
Wednesday, April 25. 9:00am-10:00am

Born in the U.K. Walters has been involved in the adventure travel industry since the early 1980′s. An accomplished outdoorsman and registered Maine Guide. Walters become president of Northern Outdoors, a four-season Adventure Resort located in The Forks, Maine, in 2000. In addition to his role as Strategic Director North America for the Adventure Travel Trade Association, Walters serves on a number of local, regional and state organizations including as a board member of Maine Huts & Trails, the current Chair of the Maine Sports Commission and past terms on the governor appointed Maine Tourism Commission.

George ZimmermannGeorge Zimmermann
Longwoods International USA, Inc.

General Session: Tourism Powers Economic Development
Tuesday, April 24. 8:30am-9:30am.

George Zimmermann brings more than two decades of experience in tourism destination marketing and research to the Longwoods team and its clients. He was the Vice President responsible for Travel Michigan at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation from October 2001 until April 2014. In 2012, the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) named George one of the “Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality Sales and Marketing". In 2011, the National Council of State Tourism Directors named him State Tourism Director of the Year for his work at Travel Michigan. Prior to joining Travel Michigan, George served as Ohio's Tourism Director, and he was named State Tourism Director of the Year in 1997. George served on the U.S. Department of Commerce Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, the Board of Directors of the U.S. Travel Association and the Board and Executive Committee of the National Council of State Tourism Directors.

Field Trips

Ken CrandallKen Crandall
Education Director
New York Bicycling Coalition

Field Trip ($): Let's Ride: Keeping the Bike Tourist Safe and Happy!
Monday, April 23. 10:00am

As the Education Director for NYBC, Ken is working with their education team to build a statewide education program for all road users focusing on bicycle and pedestrian safety. Ken is a nationally certified cycling instructor with the League of American Bicyclists and a board member of the Troy Bike Rescue in Troy, NY.

Tom PolkTom Polk
Regional Education Coordinator
New York Bicycling Coalition

Field Trip ($): Let's Ride: Keeping the Bike Tourist Safe and Happy!
Monday, April 23. 10:00am

Tom Polk is a life-long cyclist and enjoys road cycling and commuting as well as mountain biking. At NYBC since 2016, he is responsible for developing bicycle safety curriculum and conducting bike safety classes for youth and adults. Tom is a League Certified Instructor (LCI) with the League of American Bicyclists. He is also a certified Ride Leader through the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA).

Breakout Session - Tech Track

Travis BortTravis Bort
Owner/Creative Director
ABC Creative Group


Session: When New Technology Kicks You in the Budget.
Tuesday, April 24. 10:00am and 11:30am

What's an idea worth? Travis Bort has spent the last 20 years pursuing the answer to that question as a marketing agency owner and creative director...with no documented success to date. That's because after many award-winning destination marketing campaigns covering everything from niche craft food and beverage tourism to broader community branding, he's discovered that ideas are far more valuable than project or retainer fees. The invaluable nature of the idea inspired him to engineer the idea-based marketing philosophy practiced faithfully at ABC Creative Group based in Syracuse, NY. He has spoken on this idea-based process to many different audiences across a variety of industries.

Read Travis Bort's blog, "Early Adoption of Technology: The Good, Bad and Ugly Faces" for background related to the update to his morning tech sessions.

Roger Rosenbaum

Roger Rosenbaum
Brand-News-Team, Inc.

Session: Don't Crash & Burn: Drone Technology for Legal Tourism Content Creation.
Tuesday, April 24. 2:00pm and 3:30pm

Roger Rosenbaum has led PR, brand and partnership campaigns on the statewide and national levels. He coordinated the PR launch of a resort hotel and gained national media attention for a New York state tourism event that draws 150,000 a year. Roger specializes in brand visibility through content creation using aerial drones. He is an FAA part 107 certified drone pilots with multiple federal authorizations to fly in controlled airspace throughout New York

Breakout Sessions - Digital & Social Media Track

Debbe resized.jpgDeborah Garry
President & CEO
BBG&G Advertising & Public Relations, Inc.


Session: Live Storytelling Through Social Media.
Tuesday, April 24. 2:00pm and 3:30pm

As head of BBG&G since 1997 and a Certified Account Planner and Marketing Automation Specialist, Deborah sets strategic direction and maps out brand tactics for clients; oversees market research and creative implementation; and makes sure all campaigns stay on target and drive successful attainment of client objectives. The BBG&G team presenting this workshop also includes specialists in destination marketing, technology, and social media.

Sara Mannix
Founder and CEO
Mannix Marketing

Session: "Why Aren't We #1 for...?" Tired of Hearing that Complaint? What Impacts Search Engine Ranking and What You Can Do To Immediately Improve Your Ranking, Traffic and Tourism Impact.
Tuesday, April 24. 10:00am and 11:30am.

Sara founded the company in 1996 with a focus on organic search, to help businesses “get found on the web". Since then the company has evolved into a full-service digital marketing agency with a core focus of helping business grow by growing their website traffic, leads and sales and measuring that success. Mannix Marketing is a three-time winner of the Industry's top award for organic Search - the US Search Awards. The company specializes in tourism marketing and employs a team of 30 digital marketing specialists serving over 1000 clients from Albany to the Adirondacks.

Breakout Sessions - DMO Track

Tiffany GallagherTiffany Gallagher
Eastern US Branch Manager


Session: Tourism Improvement Districts: A Stable Funding Source For Local & State DMOs
Tuesday, April 24. 10:00am and 11:30am

Tiffany Gallagher began her career in hotel operations, rising through the hotel departmental leadership chain, finally managing large, full service, conference hotels. Throughout her career, Ms. Gallagher has shown strong commitment to the tourism and business communities. She brings an in-depth knowledge of the New York market and a proven record of strong leadership and civic involvement. Most recently, Ms. Gallagher served as the President of the Greater Syracuse Hospitality and Tourism Association and currently serves on the New York State Hospitality and Tourism Board of Directors. Experience includes; serving on the Board of Directors of Destination Marketing Organizations, Strategic Planning Councils, and Business Improvement Districts.

Julie GilbertJulie L. Gilbert, CTP
Vice President
Marketing & Brand Management
Destination Niagara USA

Session: Building a Defense for Your Marketing Strategy: Why Analytics are Essential in Justifying Existence
Tuesday, April 24. 2:00pm and 3:30pm

Julie L. Gilbert leads Destination Niagara USA's marketing, communications and branding functions throughout all departments to increase visibility of Niagara County and its assets as a leisure and meetings destination. Gilbert joined Destination Niagara USA in 2014 and managed the initiative of re-positioning the globally recognized Niagara Falls USA brand. Julie came from National Park Reservations where she served as Director, Sales & Marketing for the oldest and largest provider of reservation and information services for the National Parks. Julie started her career as Executive Director for a small West Virginia CVB, then became Director of Sales & Marketing for the State. Gilbert then established a full-service travel, tourism and hospitality agency providing strategic marketing, sales and management services to a wide range of travel-related companies including: Disney, US Dept of Commerce, American Society of Travel Agents, Questex Media Group, etc. Julie currently serves on the Travel & Tourism Research Association's Board of Directors, the USTA ESTO Planning Committee, and Destination International's Research Advisory Committee.

Don JonesDon Jones
Senior Sales Manager, Tourism Analytics

Session: Building a Defense for Your Marketing Strategy: Why Analytics are Essential in Justifying Existence
Tuesday, April 24. 2:00pm and 3:30pm

Don Jones is the Analytics Sales Manager for ADARA. Don's early introduction to data started with his first job out college working as a data research analyst for the national rep firm Katz Communications. He published a research study Working Women and Radio that appeared in many major publications. After radio, Don moved over to the digital world and has worked for 24/7 Media, Equifax and e-Miles. Don has been at ADARA for 2 years and enjoys helping destinations improve their marketing by utilizing ADARA's revolutionary tourism analytics product Impact.

Breakout Sessions - Marketing & PR Track

Linda AyaresLinda Ayares
Senior Partner
Finn Partners

Session: Harness the Power of the Media
Tuesday, April 24. 2:00pm and 3:30pm

Linda has worked with New York State tourism for six years, traveling to every region of the state, building close ties with regional partners and developing strategies to help build tourism throughout Upstate New York. She has over 25 years of experience with tourism public relations and marketing with a focus on destinations as well as transportation companies, gastronomy and sports clients. Her clients have included: Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Australia, Monaco, Brazil, Portugal, Connecticut, , VIA Rail Canada, Interjet Airline, Taste NY, New York Distillers Guild and the Kentucky Distillers Association

Josiah BrownJosiah Brown

New York Sherpa
New York Welcomes You

Session: The Travel Guide of Tomorrow
Tuesday, April 24. 10:00am and 11:30am

After traveling over 600,000 miles across New York visiting tourism destinations and experiences, Josiah has lived up to his nickname of "The New York Sherpa". As the President/CEO of New York Welcomes You and the founder of the "New York's Best Experiences" brand he has never left his foundations of brand and marketing consulting. Although Josiah has traveled all over the country speaking he is no happier then when he is in the state he loves: New York.

Philip NovoaPhilip Novoa
Assistant Vice President
Finn Partners

Session: Harness the Power of the Media
Tuesday, April 24. 2:00pm and 3:30pm

Phil is passionate about designing and implementing captivating Public Relations programs that both generate buzz and a strong return on investment. As an Associate Vice President, Phil prides himself on developing strong relationships with his clients rooted in a straightforward, honest and fun approach to achieving marketing goals. Phillip has a strong understanding of how to promote diverse destinations through his work with New York State and Riviera Nayarit in Mexico. Phil has a keen eye for savvy brand activations and brings strong media relationships across the nation. Phil headsup the Finn Partners' Travel Division Social Media Committee.

Lisa SotoLisa Soto
Director of Tourism Marketing, Licensing, and Public Relations
Division of Tourism - I LOVE NEW YORK

Session: Harness the Power of the Media
Tuesday, April 24. 2:00pm and 3:30pm

Lisa Soto manages marketing and public relations efforts for the I LOVE NEW YORK tourism program in an effort to increase media awareness and coverage of destinations and attractions statewide. She oversees all media relations, press releases, familiarization tours and media events for New York State tourism. Lisa also supervises licensing of the iconic I LOVE NEW YORK logo, the statewide Path Through History program and collaborates on division-wide tourism initiatives, strategies and marketing plans. She previously worked in the International Division of ESD, the NYS Senate, for U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and on numerous political campaigns.