2019 Presenters and Guest Speakers

Chris Cavanaugh

Founder, Magellan Strategy Group
Full Bio

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
Co-Founder, JB Media Institute
Full Bio

A serial entrepreneur, Justin founded is first business, AshevilleNow.com 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
Full Bio

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 visitcherokeenc.com, the visitor site for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and BlueRidgeHeritage.com, 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.

2019 Guest Speaker – Hana Bieliauskas

Vice President, Inspire PR
Full Bio

Hana leads Inspire PR’s southern office from Asheville, North Carolina, as well as the agency’s digital practice, including social media strategy, influencer engagement, SEO and digital marketing and advertising. She is committed to using digital tools and tactics to design creative campaigns for clients that effectively tell their individual story and deliver results. Hana has planned 30+ digital campaigns that have won national and regional awards.

Hana regularly works with many prominent national bloggers and influencers on behalf of clients and has presented on social media and influencer relations at conferences and workshops hosted by BlogHer, the Public Relations Society of America, GroupHigh, and various food and agriculture groups. She regularly leads social media trainings and contributes to publications including PR Daily and SmartBrief.

Hana has more than 10 years of public relations experience, primarily working with food, restaurant, nonprofit and agriculture clients. She also oversaw communications at a national children’s advocacy organization in Washington, D.C.

Hana serves on the board of Girls on the Run of Western North Carolina, where she leads the organization’s PR and marketing efforts. An avid runner, she has helped plan many running events, including 5k events for Girls on the Run and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Hana is also active member of the Public Relations Society of America and served on the fundraising and awards-planning committees for her local chapter. 

Hana grew up in Cincinnati and has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, with a specialization in Political Science, from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She enjoys finding new running trails, any new fitness challenge, hiking, traveling at every chance and catching live music.

 

2019 Guest Speaker – Cam Barker

Digital Lead/Co-founder, Chair 8 Media
Full Bio

Based out of Raleigh, NC, Cam pushes the disruptive limits of fresh marketing campaigns to help businesses grow through his work at Chair 8. He’s a techie at heart, loves fly fishing, and is intrigued by innovative and unique ways to capture an audience. His experience in tourism and hospitality marketing extends back to his time as Digital Marketing Director for one of Conde Nast’s Top Ski Hotels in America where he helped lead the Hotel’s first brand overhaul and spearheaded their digital marketing efforts.

Hana regularly works with many prominent national bloggers and influencers on behalf of clients and has presented on social media and influencer relations at conferences and workshops hosted by BlogHer, the Public Relations Society of America, GroupHigh, and various food and agriculture groups. She regularly leads social media trainings and contributes to publications including PR Daily and SmartBrief.

Hana has more than 10 years of public relations experience, primarily working with food, restaurant, nonprofit and agriculture clients. She also oversaw communications at a national children’s advocacy organization in Washington, D.C.

Hana serves on the board of Girls on the Run of Western North Carolina, where she leads the organization’s PR and marketing efforts. An avid runner, she has helped plan many running events, including 5k events for Girls on the Run and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Hana is also active member of the Public Relations Society of America and served on the fundraising and awards-planning committees for her local chapter. 

Hana grew up in Cincinnati and has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, with a specialization in Political Science, from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She enjoys finding new running trails, any new fitness challenge, hiking, traveling at every chance and catching live music.

 

Amanda Ensinger InspirePR

2019 Guest Speaker – Amanda Ensinger

Senior Associate, Inspire PR
Full Bio

Amanda Ensinger serves as a senior associate at Inspire PR with a focus on media relations. A former reporter turned PR professional, Amanda has more than seven years of agency experience. Using her media connections and eye for the news, Amanda has leveraged her media relations skills to ensure her clients’ voices are heard. 

From coordinating experiential blogger trips to radio blitzes to satellite media tours, Amanda has experience working with all types of media in a variety of settings. A pro at public relations strategy, local and national pitching, social media strategy and event planning, Amanda can help any client tell their story through earned editorial coverage.

In her free time, Amanda can be found at the pool with her daughter, shopping, exploring new places or spending time with family and friends.

 

Peter Frisa JB Media

2019 Guest Speaker – Peter Frisa

Google Ads Strategist, JB Media Group
Full Bio

A New York native, Peter joined JB Media Group in early 2015 to manage online advertising projects including Google Grants, brand awareness, and shopping campaigns. Peter’s attention to detail and love of data make him particularly adept at keyword research, conversion tracking, and reporting.

He previously worked in Digital Ad Operations for Carat USA, a multi-national agency with industry accolades from Ad Age, Media Post, Ad Week, and RECMA. Peter’s background also includes serving as co-director of Rising Commons, a cooperative housing development dedicated to community, residential resiliency, and ecological entrepreneurship. With his unique experience he brings many useful skills to efficiently start, evaluate, and analyze a comprehensive digital advertising campaign.

Peter holds a BA in Film and Video from SUNY Binghamton and a Master’s Degree in TESL from Hofstra University, along with Google AdWords certifications in search, mobile, display, video and shopping.

Wolf Hoelscher

2019 Guest Speaker – Wolf Hoelscher

Technical Director, Status Forward
Full Bio

With code, there’s nothing like the power of the if/else statement. If something doesn’t work, try something else. Long ago, in the age of paper and PageMaker, Wolf was submersed in the land of gray cubicles. As an editor for several publishing companies, he learned that the fear of innovation and reinvention didn’t pan out so well for his employers.

But now, Wolf is in the “else” part of his career. As a web developer and a writer at Status Forward, every day offers new challenges, new technologies, and new opportunities to geek out in our current age of gadgets and gizmos.

Beyond the world of WordPress, Wolf is a rodeo clown in a family circus. He practices his lasso skills on his two kids and too many pets, while his art teacher wife reminds him of how good he has it now that the cubicle walls have fallen away.

2019 Guest Speaker – Rich Owings

Owner, Local Is Where It’s At
Full Bio

Rich Owings, owner of Local Is Where It’s At, has been involved in Internet marketing since 2005. He sold his tech blog in 2014 and now spends his time helping businesses improve their online presence. Based in Asheville, he spends his spare time mountain biking, gardening and listening to music.

Raquel Ponce iHeartMedia

2019 Guest Speaker – Raquel Ponce

Digital Content Manager, iHeartMedia
Full Bio

Raquel is passionate about creatively expressing business concepts in appealing visual terms.  For over 12 years, she has been designing impactful campaigns for businesses in a wide variety of industries to help them grow their customer base and bottom line.  She is currently the Digital Content Manager for iHeartMedia in the Virginia-Carolina Region.  She grew up in New York but has been enjoying life in South Carolina for the last 16  years.  When she is not happily submerged in the latest design project, you will find her whipping up culinary delights in her kitchen for family and friends, engaged in volunteer community work, or pursuing adventure and expanding her comfort zone by traveling the world.

Hart Roberts Chair 8

2019 Guest Speaker – Hart Roberts

Creative Lead/Co-founder, Chair 8 Media
Full Bio

Hart’s always searching for fresh & unique ways companies can interact, engage, and gain exposure with creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics while on the job at Chair 8. During his tenure in Telluride, Colorado, Hart worked as Digital Marketing Manager for Telluride.com and brought new life to the company’s tourism and marketing strategy with incredible content and powerful marketing campaigns.

Nick Romanos Status Forward

2019 Guest Speaker – Nick Romanos

Creative Director, Status Forward
Full Bio

As Status Forward’s Creative Director, Nick splits his attention between big picture thinking and the nuances of design. He believes that progress and prosperity happen most often when people are willing to seek deep understanding of a problem and pursue a solution with courage, creativity and intensity. “Never half-ass anything. Whole-ass one thing.”

Nick grew up in Asheville and mixes business with pleasure, making regular trips back. A graduate of NC State University’s College of Design, Nick has grown to love the Research Triangle and proudly calls Durham home.

Outside of the office, you’ll find him out and about with his wife (Tiana) and daughter (Rory) exploring Duke Gardens, taking in a Durham Bulls game or experiencing the euphoric whiplash that comes standard at the local trampoline park.

2019 Special Panelists

Julia Akers Omni Grove Park Inn

2019 Panelist – Julia Akers

Director of Marketing Communications, Omni Grove Park Inn
Full Bio

Julia Akers is the Director of Marketing Communications at The Omni Grove Park Inn.  Julia joined the Grove Park Inn with more than three decades of experience in advertising and marketing with 20 of those years in hospitality. 

Julia arrived at The Grove Park Inn in May of 2012 from KSL Resorts where she was Corporate Director of Marketing Communications. Her primary responsibilities prior to OGPI included creation and implementation of resort marketing campaigns and agency management for 10 resorts, acquisition transition and stabilization of marketing communications departments, rebranding of each new resort and recreational areas such as Squaw Valley.

Her advertising agency experience prior to working for KSL and Omni included Account Supervisor and New Business Development at 4 Ad Agencies (2 national/2 regional) and owning a graphic design firm for 7 years with Fortune 100 clients.

In her free time, she is active with the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina’s Women for Women as Steering Committee Chair and loves to sail and bike.

 

Jane Anderson Asheville Independent Restaurant

2019 Panelist – Jane Anderson

Executive Director, Asheville Independent Restaurant Assoc.
Full Bio
A native of Northwestern PA, Jane spent the first 23 years of her career in healthcare—PR & marketing; org development and clinical service management as senior VP.  Arriving in Asheville in early 2001, Jane spent 10 years at the Asheville Chamber as VP of membership and communications before joining AIR in 2013 as executive director.

Amanda Ensinger InspirePR

2019 Panelist – Amanda Ensinger

Senior Associate, Inspire PR
Full Bio

Amanda Ensinger serves as a senior associate at Inspire PR with a focus on media relations. A former reporter turned PR professional, Amanda has more than seven years of agency experience. Using her media connections and eye for the news, Amanda has leveraged her media relations skills to ensure her clients’ voices are heard. 

From coordinating experiential blogger trips to radio blitzes to satellite media tours, Amanda has experience working with all types of media in a variety of settings. A pro at public relations strategy, local and national pitching, social media strategy and event planning, Amanda can help any client tell their story through earned editorial coverage.

In her free time, Amanda can be found at the pool with her daughter, shopping, exploring new places or spending time with family and friends.

 

Lily Holden Chair 8

2019 Panelist – Lily Holden

Chair 8 Media
Full Bio

Originally from England, Lily grew up in Raleigh, NC and went to school in Greensboro, NC. Lily spent the first few years of her career exploring various cities and notable ad agencies around the country, working with big brands like Walmart, P&G, Unilever, Google, Domino’s Pizza, and many more.

Since returning from Colorado to a completely revitalized Raleigh, Lily has jumped into the start-up world, utilizing her skills to help a number of impactful entrepreneurs and small businesses grow and develop their unique brands. Chair 8 stuck out as the perfect marriage of her agency experience, entrepreneurial passions, and Rocky Mountain ties. With a huge heart for impact work, community, creative outlets, travel, wellness, and her dog, Moo, Lily loves her work and is always up to something fun.

Wolf Hoelscher

2019 Panelist – Wolf Hoelscher

Technical Director, Status Forward
Full Bio

With code, there’s nothing like the power of the if/else statement. If something doesn’t work, try something else. Long ago, in the age of paper and PageMaker, Wolf was submersed in the land of gray cubicles. As an editor for several publishing companies, he learned that the fear of innovation and reinvention didn’t pan out so well for his employers.

But now, Wolf is in the “else” part of his career. As a web developer and a writer at Status Forward, every day offers new challenges, new technologies, and new opportunities to geek out in our current age of gadgets and gizmos.

Beyond the world of WordPress, Wolf is a rodeo clown in a family circus. He practices his lasso skills on his two kids and too many pets, while his art teacher wife reminds him of how good he has it now that the cubicle walls have fallen away.

Jen Lauzon LaZoom

2019 Panelist – Jen Lauzon

Owner and CEO, LaZoom Tours
Full Bio

Jen Lauzon started LaZoom Tours in 2006 with nothing but a top hat, a broken down school bus, and a left of center husband. Combining their love of vaudeville and comedy, Jen and her husband Jim created a unique sightseeing adventure that encompasses Asheville’s rich history and vibrant art scene. 

The company has since grown to over 25 employees, three purple buses, and a funky comedy club. LaZoom has been recently featured in Lonely Planet, Thrillist, UpRoxx, Consequence of Sound, and Nylon magazine.

 

Ted Pate DigLocal Asheville

2019 Panelist – Ted Pate

Founder and CEO, Dig Local
Full Bio

Ted Pate has been called “One of the Greatest Marketing Minds in Modern History.” Then again, his mom says lots of nice stuff about him.

Ted’s career thus far has spanned from small to large advertising and digital agencies from coast to coast. This vast experience in marketing and moving was the inspiration for Dig Local.

Back in early 2014, Ted and his wife, Flori (a well accomplished Graphic Designer and Creative Director) created an innovative app and website called Dig Local. Dig Local is specifically designed to level the playing field for local businesses and connect them to people seeking authentic experiences. Dig Local has quickly become the “go-to” app and website for where to go and what to do every day in Asheville, NC.
 
Next up is the launch of Dig Local 3.0 with amazing updates and incredible new features all in preparation for expansion. Dig Local plans to offer their unique platform to other cities and connect the world to what makes their city like no other on the planet.

Ashley Rice Visit NC Smokies

2019 Panelist – Ashley Rice

Marketing Manager, Haywood County, NC
Full Bio

Ashley Rice is the Marketing Manager for Haywood County Tourism Development Authority. With over 15 years of experience in the travel and tourism industry, Ashley is passionate about the constant changes in marketing and advertising. She attended Western Carolina University and received her Tourism Marketing Professional certificate from Southeast Tourism Society Marketing College.

As the Marketing Manager, she is responsible for implementing creative campaigns, brand awareness, and inspiring people to visit Haywood County.

When she isn’t working you will find Ashley enjoying time with her son Aidan, husband Jerry, and furry child Luna. Ashley enjoys all kinds of music, quirky comedies, and talking to people.

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