Speakers

Jeff Anderson

Jeff Anderson

Jeff Anderson is a partner in Great Southwest Moto Adventures. He’s had a successful 30-year career in service and corporate service management.

  • 3 time National Technical Service Award winner for Lanier Worldwide Inc
  • 3 time National Service Manager Award winner for Lanier Worldwide Inc
  • 2 time National Service Manager Award winner for Konica Minolta Business Solutions Inc
  • 4 time presenter at National Service Management Advisory Council for BestPractices
  • Current Managing Partner with Great Southwest Moto Adventures, LLC

Jeff has over 45 years of off-road riding experience.

He assisted Curtis Cummings in the development of the Nevada BackCountry Discovery Route

Jeff was a farmer growing up in Wisconsin. This lifestyle has helped his understanding and love for the small rural communities of Nevada.

Sue Barton

Sue Barton

Sue Barton, Senior Vice President of Administration and Operations for the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, serves as Chair of the Reno-Tahoe Territory. She joined the LTVA in 2001 and her responsibilities include sales and marketing programs in addition to overseeing special projects such as the annual American Century Celebrity Golf Championship and the Lake Tahoe portion of the Amgen Tour of California.

Prior to joining the LTVA Sue spent 17 years with the M.S. Dixie II Paddlewheeler at Zephyr Cove where her roles ranged from Sales to Vice President & General Manager.

Her path to Lake Tahoe was a well-traveled one. Born in England, her parents returned to the tropical island of Barbados when she was just one year old. She was educated in Barbados and England, moving to London full-time in 1976 where she became Personal Assistant to the Chief Executive of Bowater China Limited – the first Western company to establish a bilateral trade agreement with the People’s Republic of China. She moved to South Lake Tahoe in 1983 with her Hungarian-born husband and began her career in tourism sales and marketing.

Sue was the recipient of the Reno-Tahoe Territory VolunTourism Award in 1992 and again in 2004. In 2008 she received the Nevada Commission on Tourism’s Excellence in Tourism Statewide Award.

Roger Brooks

Roger Brooks

Roger has assisted nearly a thousand communities, as well as many states, provinces, national parks, and countries with their branding, product development, and marketing efforts. And beyond the public sector, Roger has worked with trade associations and businesses in the lodging, retail, and restaurant industries as well as attractions, tour operators and providers, marketing agencies, and the travel media. He is the go-to expert for anyone with ties to the travel industry or in downtown development where most travel spending takes place.

One of the most recognized and frequently quoted experts in the travel and tourism industry, Roger inspires and empowers audiences around the world to achieve their highest aspirations. He is extraordinarily dynamic. He’s also very funny, combining humorous video clips and fascinating real-life stories while providing steps, rules, and ingredients – bottom line solutions – that every audience member can implement today to make a positive difference tomorrow.

Roger began his career in the concert industry providing tour management services for international recording artists including The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Chicago, Earth Wind and Fire, and others, culminating in the famous Saturday Night Fever Tour with the Bee Gees.

From there he spent ten years assisting in the development and marketing of acclaimed destination resorts including Whistler Resort in British Columbia; Harbour Town on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina; Sunriver Resort in Central Oregon, and several others. He founded Roger Brooks International in 1981, and from there has been continuing his work to fulfill the goal of making every city he works in a sought-after destination.

A former board member of the U.S. Travel Association, a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), and author of the popular book “An Amazing Destination – The 25 Immutable Rules of Successful Tourism,” Roger has become one of the world’s most popular keynote speakers and authorities in the travel industry.

It’s not surprising that Roger’s personal motto is Ralph Waldo Emerson’s statement: “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

Larry Burton

Larry Burton

Larry Burton is based in Carson City Nevada and has been taking photographs of Nevada for almost 40 years. His education into the art of photography began in 1980 in the Owens Valley with the purchase of a 35mm Nikon SLR and continues to this day. He started his business “Outdoor Adventures” in 2008 in order to share the hidden treasures of Nevada. He has worked for The Nevada Indian Territory, Elko Convention & Visitors Authority & Lander County Tourism, shooting events, landscapes & wildlife. His photos have been published in Nevada Magazine, Wells Ruralite, Audubon Magazine, Ducks Unlimited and assorted brochures for tourism agencies.

Guy Clifton

Guy Clifton

Guy Clifton is a public relations specialist for the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs dedicated to the cultural affairs divisions of the department: the Division of Museums & History, the Nevada Arts Council and the Nevada Indian Commission.

A longtime Nevada journalist and author of seven books on Nevada History, he joined the department in January.

Clifton studied journalism and history at the University of Nevada, Reno. He began his career as sports and news editor at the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and has served in various editorial roles at The Record-Courier, the Tahoe World, and Fishing & Hunting News. Clifton is perhaps most known in Nevada for his work at the Reno Gazette-Journal, where he served for 22 years as a reporter, columnist, and editor.

Nevada history is the focus of Clifton’s multiple book titles, including “Dempsey in Nevada,” “Johnson-Jeffries: Dateline Reno,” “Reno Rodeo: A History,” “Prospectors’ Club of Reno: A History,” and two humorous volumes of “You Know You’re a Nevadan If…”

As public relations specialist, Clifton manages all public communication for the cultural affairs divisions and oversees the social media outreach of each division. He works in tandem with the Division of Tourism to promote the state’s cultural offerings to visitors and residents alike.

Curtis Cummings

Curtis Cummings

  • A successful entrepreneur in the construction and development field for 45 years in Nevada
  • Co-Founder of the following businesses and organizations:
    • Eberhard Southwest Roofing & Waterproofing
    • The Roofing Contractors Association of Nevada
    • AJB General Contractor, Inc. – current CEO
    • Angler Development, LLC – current Managing Member
    • U.N.L.V. – Rebel Alumni Business Network
    • Great Southwest Moto Adventures, LLC – current Managing Member
  • Past CEO & President of the North Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce
  • Off-Road Racing and Recreational Achievements:
    • 5 Year racing career compiling various local and regional motorcycle championships.
    • Past President of the Dunes & Trails Off-Road Organization
    • Assisted with creation of Nevada’s off-road (OHV) vehicle registration program in 2008.
    • Aided in development of the Toiyabe Off-Road Trail System along the Spring Mountain Range.
    • Helped develop the 400-mile off-road trail system in south-central Nevada called the Silver State Trail System near Caliente.
    • Sat on the Clark County OHV Apex Development Task Force
      • Created development plans for an approximate 8,000-acre riding area within the Las Vegas Valley.
      • Assisted with the pre-planning for, and the re-conveyance of, approximately 11,000 acres from BLM to Clark Country for future development for the Apex Off-Road Recreation Area.
    • Route Development Leader for the Nevada Backcountry Discovery Route (NVBDR)
      • Route co-developed primarily with Jeff Anderson and other team members.
  • Held many Executive, Board and Director positions with dozens of various Community Organization and Charities over the years to bring about positive influence, positive change and to make a real and meaningful difference to the Las Vegas community.

Bethany Drysdale

Bethany Drysdale

Bethany Drysdale joined the Nevada Division of Tourism in 2005 as a public relations specialist and has served as the director of public relations since 2011. She oversees all external communications for the Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs and all communications for the Division of Tourism’s integrated marketing efforts. Additionally, Bethany works with the agency’s 10 international representative offices to tell the story of Nevada around the globe.

Bethany received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and dual minors in journalism and psychology from California State University, Chico. She began her career in journalism working as Features Editor for the Auburn Journal, a daily newspaper in Auburn, Calif., where she earned a First Place award for best section design from the Suburban Newspapers of America.

When she moved to Nevada, she worked for RAD Strategies, a public relations agency in Reno that represents a variety of tourism clients. In 2010, she received the Mark Curtis Sr. Professional of the Year award from the Public Relations of America, Sierra Nevada Chapter.

Bethany lives in Dayton, Nev., with her husband, two daughters, and golden retrievers, Rusty and Rosie. As a family, they enjoy hiking and camping in the remote mountains of Nevada, soaking in hot springs, and exploring dirt roads.

Larry Friedman

Larry Friedman

Larry Friedman spent more than 26 years at the Nevada Commission on Tourism, now TravelNevada. During his tenure, he developed that annual Rural Roundup conference; helped educate the industry through the Nevada Tourism University; assisted with the creation of Nevada’s National Scenic Byways; and expanded the rural grants program, resulting in special events and historic building preservation across rural Nevada.

Janet Geary

Janet Geary

Janet Geary has been a publisher of Nevada Magazine for the past nine years. She has more than 30 years of publishing experience, including former publisher of the Record-Courier in Minden/Gardnerville. She earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and has lived in Nevada most of her life. She has traveled extensively throughout the state and is especially interested in the state’s history.

Janet is past president of the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Minden Rotary Club and has also served on numerous boards and committees throughout Carson Valley. She and her husband Dennis reside in Minden. They have three sons, seven grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Juanita Gonzalez

Juanita Gonzalez

Juanita Gonzalez brings over 32 years of hospitality experience. With her diverse background, expertise and passion for the tourism industry, she assists in guiding leisure groups and corporate clients to exciting and unique ways to enjoy her native state of Texas. Utilizing her creative instincts in sales and operations, destination management is her strong point which ensures executing her client’s vision and delivering exceptional service.

Catherine Heeg

Catherine Heeg

Catherine Heeg is a tourism, travel, and hospitality industry expert with over three decades experience. Her popular workshops and seminars earn rave reviews and drive results that clients can see in their marketing ROI.

She is committed to helping clients quickly learn the best ways to leverage the power of social media and other relevant marketing tactics. An engaging speaker, workshop leader and social media marketing and communications expert, Catherine delivers proven tools that help companies reach their target audience, differentiate themselves from the competition and achieve authentic visibility that translates into winning results.

Catherine designs and delivers customized interactive workshops with big picture ideas and valuable implementation tips.

She takes the mystery out of marketing by providing the step-by-step guidance that helps clients succeed. Catherine enjoys leading webinars and workshops and consulting with clients to help them build their social media buzz.

Social Media Solutions clients can opt to have their social sites built and maintained by a group of tourism professionals. Coaching and customized programs deliver ongoing market intelligence and support with simple tools and techniques that can be implemented immediately. Outcomes are monitored and results are measurable.

Professionals who are serious about taking consistent, winning actions every day to build their business and achieve measurable results love working with Catherine.

Evan Hirsche

Evan Hirsche

Evan Hirsche is a 25-year veteran of the public lands conservation field. A former President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, program director for several non-profit organizations, and winner of multiple conservation awards, he has a longstanding commitment to encouraging public enjoyment of the outdoors.

Jay Jones

Jay Jones

Jay Jones is an award-winning journalist who succumbed to wanderlust as a teenager when he traveled to Switzerland as an exchange student. Since then, he has never stopped traveling, having visited more than 45 countries on six continents.

Since 2007, Jay’s been a full-time travel writer and photographer, regularly contributing feature stories and photos to a wide variety of magazines and newspapers. He writes regularly for the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune group of newspapers, which – in addition to the Tribune – includes the Hartford Courant, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and others.

Based in Las Vegas, Jay also blogs about Southern Nevada for the Times’ travel website.

Earl Jobson

Earl Jobson

Earl Jobson is an Air Force Veteran where he was a pilot and Air Traffic Control Officer. He entered the Tourism industry in 1993 upon relocation to Las Vegas from Kansas City, MO and began his tourism career in the Visitors Center at Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).

After 10 years’ service with the LVCVA he spent 8 ½ years with Pink Jeep Tours Las Vegas, as Tour Guide, NV Transportation Authority liaison and ultimately International and Leisure Sales Manager. Earl managed over 149 accounts with an estimated annual gross revenues of 1.5 million. He spent 1 year as General Sales Manager at Lake Mead Cruises.

He is currently employed with Sweetours as Corporate Representative and handles accounts with Las Vegas hotels, works customer service issues, provides published and charter tours in commercial vehicles, and liaisons to Hualapai tribe at Grand Canyon West. Earl is the current Chair of the Las Vegas Territory and was a former President of SKAL Las Vegas.

Tom Lester

tom-lester-speakerTom Lester

Tom Lester has worked in the tourism and hospitality industry for over 30 years. He has been employed with the Elko Convention & Visitors Authority for the past 13 years, where he is the Tourism & Convention Manager. His responsibilities include developing and marketing programs to promote the Elko area as a convention and tourism destination. He conducts familiarization (FAM) tours for tour wholesalers, travel writers, meeting, and convention planners and other appropriate groups.

Prior to joining the ECVA Tom spent 12 years with Full House Inc. as the Director of Catering, Sales and Restaurant Operations. Tom has served on various boards and committees such as the Elko Chamber Board, Carlin Equestrian Board, and the Ruby Mountain Balloon Festival Marketing Committee to name a few. He was instrumental in starting the Elko Motorcycle Jamboree and the Carlin Chili Cook-Off.

Tom is currently the Chairman for Cowboy Country Territory and has sat on the Territory Advisory Committee for over 10 years. He was the recipient of the Cowboy Country Territory VolunTourism Award in 2011 through the Nevada Commission on Tourism.

David Lusvardi

David Lusvardi

David Lusvardi works with TravelNevada as the Sales Manager Latin America and Australia . He promotes travel to Nevada by working with tour and travel professionals who book individuals and groups to Nevada. He attends various trade shows and events to generate business and sustain interest in traveling to our area.

David has worked in the hospitality and tourism industry for over 30 years. He started his career working as a tour guide and becoming Director of Tour Operations for Educational Field Studies. He has worked in Convention Sales at Town & Country Hotel in San Diego, Convention Sales at Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and as Manager of Leisure & Corporate Sales at Hilton Grand Vacations in Las Vegas and Orlando. He has a B.S. in Travel and Tourism from Brigham Young University. He has lived in Nevada for 17 years and has been with TravelNevada for 9 years.

Dan Marriott

Dan Marriott

Dan Marriott is Principal and founder of Paul Daniel Marriott + Associates, a historic and scenic road preservation planning office located in Washington, DC. Established in 2004, the firm specializes in historic preservation, corridor studies, regional planning strategies and analysis for historic roads, scenic byways, community gateways and linear corridors. Prior to establishing the firm, Dan was the Director of the Rural Heritage/Historic Roads Program at the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, DC. He is the author of Saving Historic Roads: Design and Policy Guidelines (Wiley and Sons, 1998) and Milestones to Mile-Markers (Federal Highway Administration, 2004). He was awarded a prestigious Fitch Foundation fellowship for historic preservation in 2009.

Dan holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Landscape Architecture from the Pennsylvania State University, a Master of Regional Planning from Cornell University and a Ph.D from the University of Edinburgh. He has worked with communities across the United States and overseas in defining their identity, preserving their past and managing their development. This will be his third Rural Roundup.

Marty McDonald

Marty McDonald

Marty serves as EVP for Fahlgren Mortine, TravelNevada’s integrated marketing agency of record. With an extensive background in travel and tourism, she is responsible for leading the firm’s tourism practice, including program management, public relations, advertising and digital. Throughout her career, Marty has led marketing efforts for many destinations, attractions, restaurants and entertainment venues, and is a frequent speaker at tourism conferences and events. Her work has won many awards from the U.S. Travel Association, Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association, Travel Weekly, Travel + Leisure, PRWeek and many others.

Michele Michalewicz

Michele Michalewicz

Michele J. Michalewicz, CTP is President and Co-Owner of Western Leisure, Inc. Western Leisure Inc. are experts at customizing group tours, incentive programs, and special events.

Michele started her career working in Yellowstone during the summer while attending South Dakota State University. In 1983, she accepted a full-time position with TW Services at Yellowstone National Park in the Group Tour Department. In 1987, Western Leisure, Inc. hired Michele as Director of Operations. In the time that followed she rapidly rose through the organization to the position of President and Owner.

A long-time supporter of the travel industry, Michele has actively served the National Tour Association on various committees and has volunteered in many roles since 1988. She served as chairman of NTA in 2009 and served on the NTA board for seven years. She served on the Best Western Tour Advisory board and has served on the Amtrak Tour Advisory board. Michele was the Tourism representative on the National Park Service Concessionaire Management Advisory Board from 2010 – 2015. She has also been a featured speaker at many industry functions. She was awarded the NTA Certified Tour Professional designation in 1991.

Marvin Minnick

Marvin Minnick

Marvin has worked at R&R partners in Las Vegas for over 20 years. In that time, he has worked on multiple tourism related accounts such as the LVCVA and the rural outlying communities of Primm, Mesquite, Boulder City and Laughlin. He has been the chairman of the Nevada Silver Trails since 2009 which includes Death Valley National Park and five of the state’s 16 state parks.

Brenda Nebesky

Brenda Nebesky

Brenda Nebesky joined TravelNevada as Art Director, and became the Chief Marketing Officer in 2016. Brenda oversees the creative and media strategy for TravelNevada’s campaigns and cooperative programs, as well as promotion of the other agencies within the Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs.

Brenda has a degree in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno and has been a marketing professional for over twenty years. Her career has included jobs in both the public and private sectors, and she brings a diverse set of skills to her leadership role at TravelNevada.

Teresa O’Neill

Teresa O’Neill

Teresa O’Neill knows a lot about travel. She racks up more than 100,000 miles per year circumnavigating the globe to promote international tourism to her adopted home state of Oregon. Teresa is currently the Vice President of Global Sales for Travel Oregon after beginning her tenure there as the Director of International Sales and Marketing in 2005. Before that time, she honed her international marketing and sales skills at Travel Portland as the European Sales Manager and as Director of Sales at Kimpton Group Hotels. Teresa is passionate about growing the international leisure market for Oregon and enjoys traveling the state to communicate the best ways to accomplish this task. She has chaired the International Marketing Partners (a group of Oregon state agencies engaged in international trade) and was the U. S. Travel Association Coordinator for the Travel Trade Program Development Network. Currently, she serves as an Advisory Council Member of North American Journeys, Brand USA Marketing Roundtable, and USTA IPW Committee. In her leisure time, Teresa enjoys biking, hiking, golf and relishing in all of the culinary and cultural diversity activities available in Oregon. Teresa O’Neill hails from Montana, where she attended the University of Montana and majored in political science.

Patrick Pharris

Patrick Pharris

Patrick Pharris has lived in Northern Nevada for over 50 years, growing up in Lake Tahoe and moving to Reno in 1976 to attend school.

He has enjoyed hunting, camping and fishing in Northern Nevada and even “Cowboyin’ in his youth and entered the advertising field shortly after achieving his Associates Degree in Business in 1978 from Western Nevada Community College.

He resides in Reno, and is the owner of PATRICK MEDIA, a full-service Advertising Agency (PatrickMediaLLC.com) and has experience in virtually every aspect of advertising and marketing including Television where he worked for the local ABC, NBC and CBS affiliates.

His passion is in Photography and video production. Pat is a two-time Emmy nominated Video Producer/Director, multiple American Marketing Association finalist as well as the recipient of the 2015 Nevada Commission on Tourism Pony Express Territory Award and the 2016 Rural Round Up’s People’s Choice Award for State’s best Tourism Video.

Pat travels the state often and specializes in promoting tourism in the State of Nevada.

Sherry Rupert

Sherry Rupert

Sherry is the Executive Director of the State of Nevada Indian Commission, appointed by Governor Kenny Guinn September of 2005. On October 10, 2013, Sherry was sworn in by Governor Brian Sandoval as the first American Indian woman to be appointed a member of his cabinet.

Mrs. Rupert is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and is past President of the Native American Chapter of the University of Nevada, Reno Alumni Association.

Sherry is the Chairwoman of Nevada’s Indian Territory, a marketing arm of the Nevada Commission on Tourism, and was awarded the 2007 and 2008 Excellence in Tourism Award as well as the 2011 Excellence in Toursim Award.

Statewide Excellence in Tourism Award from the Nevada Commission on Tourism for her success in promoting and advancing tourism in Indian Country. She was also awarded the 2009 Human and Civil Rights Award from the Nevada State Education Association for her work in the advancement of Indian education in the state.

Mrs. Rupert was elected President of the Board of Directors for the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA), January 2014. The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association is a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit association incorporated in 2002 to advance Indian Country tourism.

Mrs. Rupert was named to the prestigious U.S. Department of Commerce Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (US TTAB) in June 2013 and is currently serving her second term. The Board, established in 2003, serves as the advisory body to the Secretary of Commerce and the White House on matters relating to the travel and tourism industry in the United States.

Sherry is an American Indian of Paiute and Washoe heritage. She is also a proud Native Nevadan, born in Carson City and raised on the Washoe Reservation in Gardnerville, Nevada.

Sam Serebin

Sam Serebin

Sam Serebin is an award-winning designer and art director with approximately twenty years of professional experience. He has worked for Fortune 500 companies, non-profits and universities, and designed magazines (LIFE, Money, TV Guide, Business-Week) and magazine prototypes (National Geographic Adventure, Alpinist, Broker/Dealer) that have won numerous awards. Sam has a passion for conservation, the outdoors and education.

Ed Spear

Ed Spear

Ed Spear has been involved in tourism for almost 40 years. As a local businessman, he believed that tourism could be the economic driver to infuse a different industry into the county in 1978 when the local mine and major employer was slowly shutting down. As a native Nevadan, he started his tourism crusade when the White Pine Chamber of Commerce formed a tourism committee. Ed served as a City of Ely Councilman for 5 years during which time he continually promoted tourism. From 1983 to 2004 Ed served as Chairman of the Pony Express Territory and Chairman of the Territory Advisory Committee.

Ed is currently serving as Chairman of the Pony Express Territory. Ed is a strong proponent for tourism. At every opportunity, he encourages tourists and locals to discover the many historical, cultural, and natural attractions throughout the Territory and State of Nevada. Ed has been on the board of the Grand Circle Association (a marketing organization whose sole purpose is to promote the National Parks, Monuments, Scenic Byways and other attractions throughout the Four Corner States and Nevada). Ed is also the President of the Grand Circle Association and has held that office for the past 6 years.

Ed is the Executive Director for the White Pine County Tourism & Recreation Board.

Shoshana Zeldner

Shoshana Zeldner

Shoshana (Shosh) is an artist, passionate about engaging art as a tool to inspire social change and community participation. As the Nevada Arts Council’s Community Arts Development Program Coordinator, Shosh supports artists, administrators, and leaders statewide to elevate and increase access to Nevada’s arts and cultural opportunities.

Prior to joining the Nevada Arts Council, Shosh worked with the Crocker Art Museum’s arts engagement initiative, Block by Block, to implement participatory arts initiatives in Sacramento and developed a workshop series for artists focused on social practice art. In addition to this role, she designed and coordinated a teen program focused on public art with a community art gallery in Davis, CA. Shosh has over ten years’ experience in the nonprofit field which includes program management, evaluation, and fundraising. She holds an MA in Coexistence and Conflict from Brandeis University, focused on peacebuilding through the arts.