Chris Cavanaugh: Founder, Magellan Strategy Group

Prior to founding Magellan Strategy Group, Chris served as vice president of marketing for The Biltmore Company in Asheville, NC, the owner of Biltmore Estate, America’s largest home. For nearly 10 years he guided the company’s marketing planning, strategy, and execution. During his tenure, Biltmore doubled its annual revenue and became the most visited historic house attraction in the U.S. Cavanaugh also directed marketing for the Inn on Biltmore Estate, a four-star hotel on the property, and the Biltmore Estate Winery, the most visited winery in the nation.

Chris was appointed by the Governor of North Carolina to the state’s travel and tourism board in 2003 and reappointed in 2010. He is past chairman of that board, and also past chairman of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (overseeing the work of the Asheville CVB) and Blue Ridge Mountain Host, a regional marketing association. Chris received the 2014 Southeast Tourism Society Shining Example Award  and in 2015, the Travel Industry Association of North Carolina presented him with the Tourism Excellence Award for an Individual for outstanding contributions to the development of the travel industry in the state.

Justin Belleme: Director of Strategy, JB Media Group and Co-Founder, JB Media Institute

A serial entrepreneur, Justin founded is first business, an online magazine about the Asheville area for visitors in 2003. He continued to work in tourism marketing, holding interim positions in online marketing with Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau and City of Asheville in 2010 before launching Internet marketing agency JB Media Group in 2011. As Director of Strategy, Justin oversees the strategic direction for projects in SEO, online advertising, social media, event marketing, email and public relations for clients ranging from the Eastern Band of The Cherokee Indians to the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, Holistic Holiday at Sea and the Social Capital Markets conference.  He, along with Sarah Benoit, have also provided strategic consulting and training for Harrah’s Cherokee Casino.

In 2012, Justin saw a need for training for marketing professionals and business owners in Internet marketing from industry professionals. He teamed up with Sarah Benoit to found the JB Media Institute shortly thereafter and under his vision and leadership, the program has trained more nearly 200 students in its first three years. Justin is also a frequent presenter on the more technical elements of Internet marketing including Google advertising for businesses and non-profits, SEO and social media advertising. The recipient of the 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Asheville Chamber of Commerce, Justin is a strong advocate for entrepreneurship, He has served on the Board of Directors of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce since 2015 and is a previous Board Chair for the NC Stage Company.

Sarah Benoit: Co-Founder and Lead Trainer, JB Media Institute

As the Lead Instructor for the JB Media Institute, Sarah leverages her 13 years of experience as an online marketing, SEO, and social media strategist to create training content that get results. She is dedicated to making the field of Internet marketing accessible and understandable to business and marketing professionals with timely, relevant, and engaging classes and seminars. Her Internet marketing experience includes work in the travel and tourism field for websites such as, the visitor site for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and, the official site for the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.

In 2013, she co-founded the JB Media Institute, an Internet marketing training program with Justin Belleme. Last year, Sarah was instrumental in adapting the original curriculum offered in Asheville three times each year to an online program accessible to students from around the world. She now teaches sessions in both the in-person and online Institute programs and oversees continuous curriculum updates to keep up with the ever changing world of Internet marketing. Sarah has presented to groups local and national. She was inducted into Asheville’s Forty under 40 in 2013. A graduate of Leadership Asheville, Sarah is dedicated to supporting and enhancing the local community.

Chris Cavanaugh
Justin Belleme
Sarah Benoit

Special Panelists

Jane Anderson: Executive Director for Asheville Independent Restaurant Association—AIR

Jane joined AIR is 2013 as its first Executive Director. Before being employed by AIR, she was one of the three initial ‘At Large’ board members elected  in 2008.

Prior to her role at AIR, Jane served as Vice President of Membership & Communications for 10 years at the Asheville Chamber of Commerce, building the organization’s membership to 2100.  She developed hundreds of sponsorships and mutually beneficial partnerships.

Before moving to Asheville in 2001, Anderson spent 20 years in numerous roles at Saint Vincent Health System in Erie, PA.  As Senior Vice President, she was responsible for strategic planning, marketing and advertising strategy; clinical operations including service line management of both heart and women’s services; organizational development & system-wide education; community & employee relations; alternative medicine and customer service and satisfaction

A native of Titusville, PA, Jane is a graduate of Allegheny College, Meadville , PA, with a BA in Political Science and minor in Art.  She attended the Deming Institute for Continuous Quality Improvement;  The Center for Creative Leadership and Southwest Airline’s University for People.  She has presented at numerous healthcare marketing, customer service and leadership programs nationally.

W. Ken Stamps: Founding Partner, Navitat Canopy Adventures

W. Ken Stamps is the founding partner of the aerial zip line company Navitat Canopy Adventures.  Almost immediately upon it’s opening in 2010, Navitat-Asheville was widely lauded as one of the best canopy tours in the nation. In 2011, Navitat opened a second location in the mountains above Los Angeles (subsequently sold in 2014), and in 2015 a third location was opened in Knoxville.  As the leader of Navitat, Ken envisioned the Navitat brand promise of “Thrill-Educate-Inspire,” and has guided every aspect of the creation, marketing and delivery of the Navitat brand. Prior to founding Navitat, Ken had a 27-year career in the architecture/engineering industry, and in 2000 founded and led an innovative management consulting company with offices in Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles. A graduate of Michigan State University with a background in landscape architecture and urban planning, Ken also studied architecture, real estate development and was a licensed real estate professional. Asheville is now home for Ken and his wife Allison Jordan.  He is a very active supporter of Asheville tourism and is a member of the Tourism Product Development Fund committee, which recommends tourism grant recipients to the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority.

Dodie Stephens: Director of Communications for Explore Asheville

Dodie Stephens has been a destination storyteller with Explore Asheville since 2007. As director of communications for the convention and visitors bureau, she works with top-tier media and digital influencers to bring Asheville stories to travelers around the world, in addition to strategic support of integrated marketing and content initiatives. As a board member of the Public Relations Society of America Travel & Tourism Section, Dodie helps develop programming and leads sponsor relations for nation’s premier organization supporting PR professionals in the hospitality sector. Prior to Explore Asheville, she cut her chops in the marketing agency world and led public information efforts for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s southeast district. She is also a twin mom, a bird nerd and highly unlikely to turn down a sour beer.

Oscar P. Wong: Vice President, Highland Brewing Company, Inc.

After obtaining BSc & MSc engineering degrees from the U of Notre Dame, and spending 25 years in engineering, Oscar took a four year break. He founded the first legal Asheville brewery since Prohibition in 1994. Highland Brewing Company started operations seven years after he sold his Charlotte North Carolina nuclear waste engineering company in 1987. The transition from engineering to brewing was facilitated by his background as a licensed professional engineer, business owner, and beer aficionado. Over the 22 years of operation Highland grew to be the largest North Carolina based brewery, set the stage for the existence of over 20 other breweries in Buncombe County and helped garner the title of Beer City USA for Asheville four years in a row.

Small business of the year awarded by NC Business in 2014, North Carolina Small Business Person of the Year 2012 award by SBA. Savannah Craft Brew Fest 2010 Pioneer Award. Other awards are local to the City of Asheville.

Oscar Wong