Conference Speakers

Sheri Castle

Author, Culinary Instructor

Sheri Castle is an award-winning professional food writer, and culinary instructor. She is known for melding storytelling, humor, and culinary expertise. She is the author of The New Southern Garden Cookbook: Recipes for Enjoying the Best from Homegrown Gardens, Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands and CSA Boxes, The University of North Carolina Press, 2011. Among the accolades, this book was selected as the 2012 Cookbook of the Year by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA). Sheri is the author of The Southern Living Community Cookbook: Celebrating Food and Fellowship in the American South, released October 2014 by Oxmoor House with foreword by Matt Lee and Ted Lee. This book was a finalist for a 2014 International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) excellence award. She is the author of Rhubarb, Short Stack Editions, 2016. Short Stack is a series of small-format cookbooks authored by America’s top culinary talents. She is the co-author and recipe tester for The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook, published by The University of Georgia Press, 2010. This book was a finalist for a 2009 International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) excellence award. Sheri won the 2011 AIWF Foundation Scholarship for Recipe Writing presented in honor of Julia Child. Find out more at

Sheri will be a panelist on "What Every Author Needs to Know about Working with a Publishing House" on Wednesday, May 17 during the General Assembly.


Lucas Church

Associate Editor
UNC Press

Lucas acquires books for the Press’s regional trade list along with scholarly work in fields including literary studies, sociology, social medicine, and business and entrepreneurship. He received his B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and M.F.A. in creative writing, concentrating in fiction, from North Carolina State University.

Lucas will be a panelist on "What Every Author Needs to Know about Working with a Publishing House" on Wednesday, May 17 during the General Assembly.



Tamra Jane Corbin

Media Relations Manager

Branson Convention & Visitors Bureau

Tamra Jane Corbin has served as the Media Relations Manager for 6 years at the Branson/Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. A graduate of College of the Ozarks, with a degree in Mass Communications and Public Relations, she enjoys working in the Branson area tourism and hospitality industry. Tamra Jane loves building long-lasting relationships with members of the media and helping them find that interesting and unique story about Branson. Dog mom to Wrigley, she was in Chicago and overjoyed when the Cubs won the World Series!

Tamra will be presenting "How Being an Award-Winner Can Enhance Your Brand." on Wednesday, May 17 at 9:40 AM and 11:05 AM.



Georgann Eubanks


UNC Press

Georgann Eubanks is the author of the three-volume Literary Trails of North Carolina series commissioned by the NC Arts Council and published by UNC Press.  She is a writer, teacher, and consultant with more than 30 years of experience in the nonprofit sector.  Since 2000 she has been a principal with Donna Campbell in Minnow Media, LLC, and an Emmy-winning multimedia production company that primarily creates independent documentaries for public television. A graduate of Duke University, Eubanks has served as president of Arts North Carolina, chair of the NC Humanities Council, and is one of the founders of the NC Writers Network. She is current president of the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association. Her next book, The Month of Their Ripening: North Carolina Heritage Foods, is due out from UNC Press in 2018.

Georgann will be a panelist on "What Every Author Needs to Know about Working with a Publishing House" on Wednesday, May 17 during the General Assembly.


Tonya Fitzpatrick, Esq.

Executive Producer/Host/Editor
World Footprints Media

Tonya Fitzpatrick loves talking about the transformative power of travel and she has done so on several stages including TEDx, the Women’s Economic Forum in India, FestiGals conference in New Orleans, Higher Education Learning Forum in Dubai and more.  She has also served as moderator for the Environmental Film Festival and a film presentation at the National Press Club.  Tonya is a lawyer by training but an intrepid traveler and global citizen by heart and the latter inspired her to create World Footprints Media where she produces and co-hosts the multi award-winning World Footprints podcast with her husband, Ian. World Footprints is a Lowell Thomas award-winning show that stands on the foundation of social responsibility and inspiring life journeys..   Listeners have been inspired by World Footprints interviews with prominent figures like the late Dr. Maya Angelou, Ken Burns, Jack Hanna, Stefanie Powers, David Rockefeller, Jr., Robert Kennedy, Jr., and others.

A published author, Tonya has contributed a chapter in a career inspiration book with Stephen Covey, co-created a Baltimore travel app and authored an e-itinerary guide for Washington, DC. Her professional career is diverse and ranges from a fundraising executive for a theatre to a politico. Under President George W. Bush, she received an appointment as a Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education; she was placed as a federal contractor as Senior Legal Advisor in the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and, Tonya has served on Capitol Hill and other in other political positions.

Tonya received a Masters degree from the London School of Economics and a law degree from Wayne State University. She has lived, studied or worked in England, Russia and China. She is a popular media personality who has appeared on public radio, the CBS and NBC networks and Retirement Living. Tonya has also been featured in Black Enterprise, USA News Report and several books including “This Is NOT The Career I Ordered”. When she is not crossing the globe, Tonya lives in the metro Washington, DC area with her husband Ian and their cat, Irwin.

Tonya will be presenting "How Being an Award-Winner Can Enhance Your Brand." on Wednesday, May 17 at 9:40 AM and 11:05 AM.


Nando Grancelli


Nando Grancelli is a not the typical content creator, producer and director. He brings a unique creativity to each project that seeks to enhance the subject and tell the most compelling of stories. He uses multiples process of conceptualization to develop a clear creative and concise message for his audiences and clients.

Nando pursued studies in cinema at the University of Sciences and Communications and in The University of Buenos Aires. He quickly went on to be a professor in cinema for directing at the University of Chile, while also launching his career as a series television director for the national TV channel in Chile.

In 2012, Nando came to the United States and was immediately hired by a major advertising agency and worked on projects for major corporations such as Verizon Wireless, L.A. Care and the L.A. Zoo.

USC hired him to produce and direct a documentary on Autism where for 3 months he followed a family, day and night, to chronicle their challenges by having two autistic children. This program aired on the ABC Los Angeles station and has been used by USC for educational purposes.

Nando has created, produced and edited videos for the North American Travel Journalists Association  destinations on Puerto Vallarta, Shreveport, LA; Huntsville, AL; and Oxnard, CA. He has also produced independent documentaries on Madrid Spain, Copenhagen Denmark and Bari, Italy.

For the last 6 years, he has served as a producer for the annual Imagen Awards, honoring positive images of Latinos in television in film which is broadcast on PBS. . This project has brought him into direct contact with television producers Norman Lear ( All in the Family)  and Kenny Ortega (High School Musicals and Descendents) as well as actors such as Gina Rodriguez, Edward James Olmos, Danny Pino, and Rita Moreno to name a few.

He is currently working on a short web documentary series on the migration of French people from Bearn, France to California. This is a 5-year long project on the website It connects Californian families with their ancestors in France. In addition, his current projects include a short documentary on Salvadoran muralist, Rafael Escamilla and a short documentary on the Chilean-Canadian singer, Angela Roa.

Nando will be presenting "Tips and Tricks on Creating Your Destination Video." on Tuesday, May 16 at 2:45 PM and 4:15 PM.


Joe Bob Hester

Associate Professor
UNC School of Media and Journalism

Associate professor Joe Bob Hester teaches advertising in the school. His research interests include advertising, interactive media and media agenda setting.

Before coming to the UNC School of Media and Journalism in 2001, Hester taught at Texas Tech University where he won several teaching awards, including the Ex-Students Association New Faculty Award.

He is co-author of a chapter in the textbook "Advertising & The Business of Brands." He has published research articles in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Newspaper Research Journal, Journalism and Mass Communication Educator and other journals.

Joe Bob will be presenting "Grow Your Audience with Better Headline Writing" on Tuesday, May 16 at 2:45 PM and 4:15 PM.


Gary Kayye

Adjunct Professor
UNC School of Media and Journalism

Gary Kayye has worked in technology branding and marketing for more than 25 years. He was the founder of Kayye Consulting, a technology consulting company, and currently serves as president and CEO of rAVe [Publications], a publishing and digital strategy and communications company that he founded in 2003. 

Prior to that, he served as the vice president of sales and marketing for Extron and an executive VP at AMX Corporation. 

A graduate of the UNC School of Media and Journalism, Kayye teaches courses in the school that address new media and its impact on the future of advertising, marketing and public relations, as well as a personal and professional branding class. He is recognized as a social media and new media technology expert, especially in the B2B markets.

Kayye has been the keynote speaker at more than 1,000 technology shows and events because of his extensive marketing and branding expertise as well as his entertaining and approachable speaking style.

He has either assisted or helped create a number of branding campaigns for dozens of tech companies (including brands such as Cisco, NEC, HP, InFocus, Sony and the University of North Carolina) and has served as an expert witness in branding court cases.  

In 2004, he was recognized as InfoComm’s Educator of the Year, and in 2007 he was given the NSCA Instructor of the Year award. In 2014, he was named to the list of the Top 100 People in the Triangle You Should Connect With.

Gary will be presenting "The Branding of Me" on Wednesday, May 17 at 9:40 AM and 11:05 AM.


Jock Lauterer

Senior Lecturer & Director, Carolina Community Media Project
UNC School of Media and Journalism

Jock Lauterer teaches community journalism, photojournalism and newswriting classes. He is the founding director of the Carolina Community Media Project, which is based in the school. Prior to returning to his alma mater in 2001, he created and ran the photojournalism program for 10 years at Penn State where he was an associate professor.

Prior to teaching at Penn State, he taught photojournalism for three years at UNC-Chapel Hill. Subsequently, he designed the journalism program at Brevard College (N.C.), where he was also in charge of the college news bureau, publications and public relations.

He has 15 years journalistic experience as co-founder, publisher and editor of two newspapers, the McDowell Express in Marion, N.C., and the Daily Courier in Forest City, N.C.

Lauterer is the author of six books, including "Only In Chapel Hill" (UNC-CH Journalism Foundation, 1968), "Wouldn't Take Nothin' For My Journey Now" (UNC Press, 1980), "Running on Rims" (Algonquin Books, 1986) and "Hogwild: a Back-to-the-Land Saga" (Appalachian Consortium Press, 1993). The third edition of his textbook, "Community Journalism: Relentlessly Local," was published in January 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. He writes a regular column for the Chapel Hill Herald and Carrboro Citizen. Lauterer was also the 1998 winner of the National Geographic Magazine Faculty Fellowship, the inaugural winner of the Ed Vick Prize for Innovation in Teaching at the School of Media and Journalism, and a 2005 winner of a Bryan Award for Public Service at UNC-Chapel Hill. He is also the founding head of the Community Journalism Interest Group within AEJMC.

Jock will be presenting "Photo and Videojournalism on Your Smartphone: Tips, Tricks and Mistakes to Avoid" on Tuesday, May 17 at 2:45 PM and 4:15 PM.


Tim Leffel

Author, Freelance Writer, and Editor/Blogger
Cheapest Destinations Blog and Perceptive Travel

Tim Leffel is the author of several popular books, including Travel Writing 2.0 (now in its second edition), a freelance writer, and the editor/blogger at five websites. He has run the Cheapest Destinations Blog (a former NATJA Gold winner) since 2003 and his Perceptive Travel online magazine and blog has won Gold awards from NATJA, SATW, and the Solas Awards, as well as getting stories into multiple "best travel writing" book anthologies. He splits his time between Tampa, FL and Guanajuato, Mexico. See his portfolio at

Tim will be presenting "How Being an Award-Winner Can Enhance Your Brand." on Wednesday, May 17 at 9:40 AM and 11:05 AM.


Don Mankin

Travel Writer & Author
Adventure Transformations

Don Mankin has filled many roles in his professional life: aerospace engineer, business consultant, psychologist, educator, and now travel writer. The Wall Street Journal called his book, "Riding the Hulahula to the Arctic Ocean: A Guide to 50 Extraordinary Adventures for the Seasoned Traveler" (from National Geographic Press) one of the best travel books of 2008. Don has won several awards for his travel writing including first place every year from 2011 to 2016 for 50+Travel in NATJAs annual competition. Don’s specialties are transformational travel and adventure travel for active seniors.

Don will be presenting "How Being an Award-Winner Can Enhance Your Brand." on Wednesday, May 17 at 9:40 AM and 11:05 AM.


Amanda Martin

Lawyer & Adjunct Instructor
UNC School of Media and Journalism

Amanda Martin is a communications lawyer, representing traditional and social media as well as corporate communicators on issues related to the libel and privacy, the internet, intellectual property, and other speech-based concerns. Ms. Martin is general counsel to the N.C. Press Association, an organization of approximately 200 N.C. newspapers. For more than 20 years, she routinely has counseled reporters, editors and news directors about avoiding libel suits, gaining access to closed government meetings and records and resisting subpoenas. With the advent of the internet, Ms. Martin expanded her practice to include counseling and representing non-media individuals and organizations with social media issues.

Ms. Martin is the co-author of the North Carolina section of the Media Law Resource Center’s annual survey on privacy law, co-author of the North Carolina section of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Open Government Guide, and co-editor of the North Carolina Media Law Handbook, to which she also contributes the chapter on access to public meetings. She is a frequent speaker and panelist at media law forums and workshops and regularly contributes articles to legal, media and other publications.  Ms. Martin has taught as an adjunct instructor of media law at the UNC School of Law, the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Campbell Law School.

Ms. Martin’s professional activities include serving as a member of the Newsgathering Committee of the Media Law Resource Center, former chairman of the N.C. Bar Association’s Constitutional Rights and Responsibility Section Council and a former director of the Wake County Bar Association and editor of its newsletter.  She enjoys reading, cooking, and travel and is an active member of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church.

Amanda will be presenting "Knowing Your Social Media Legal Rights" on Tuesday, May 16 at 2:45 PM and 4:15 PM.


DG Martin

North Carolina Bookwatch, UNC-TV

D.G. Martin has conducted more than 1000 interviews on Chapel Hill’s WCHL radio station’s “Who’s Talking” and interviewed more than 350 North Carolina authors as host of UNC-TV’s “North Carolina Bookwatch,” the state’s premier literary series. A graduate of Davidson College and Yale Law School and a former Green Beret, Martin practiced law in Charlotte for 20 years before joining the University of North Carolina, where he served as Vice President for Public Affairs and chief legislative liaison. About 40 North Carolina newspapers carry his weekly newspaper column that features books, politics, and related topics. He has written numerous book reviews and feature articles for newspapers, journals, and magazines. UNC Press recently published his travel and guidebook, “North Carolina’s Roadside Eateries: A Traveler’s Guide to Local Restaurants, Diners, and Barbecue Joints.”

DG will be presenting "Welcome to North Carolina" on Wednesday, May 17 during the General Assembly and will be a panelist on "What Every Author Needs to Know about Working with a Publishing House" on Wednesday, May 17 during the General Assembly.


Laurie Paolicelli

Executive Director
Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau

Paolicelli has been the Executive Director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau since 2005. Today tourism is a $184 million industry in the Chapel Hill/Orange County, communities of North Carolina. Laurie began her career in marketing in 1987 with the Palm Springs, California Convention and Visitor Bureau and also served as marketing director for the Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. Laurie is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Superior and is currently completing a graduate certificate at the University of North Carolina’s School of Mass Communications and Journalism. Paolicelli has been published in numerous city magazines and is the recipient of several tourism marketing awards for travel campaigns focused on tourism. She credits the appeal of the greater Chapel Hill communities to its strong creative class, including numerous authors, illustrators and publishing houses.

Laurie will be moderating "What Every Author Needs to Know about Working with a Publishing House" on Wednesday, May 17 during the General Assembly.


Gustavo Rivas-Solis

Public Relations Director

Gustavo is a Public Relations Director at LATITUDE where he heads the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board’s PR initiatives in the US and Canadian market.

During his tenure, the Puerto Vallarta account has doubled its media coverage every year and has resulted in a campaign worth millions of USD. He was responsible for bringing the NATJA conference to Puerto Vallarta in 2015 and the campaign has been awards with the Gold HSMAI Adrian Award and the NATJA Silver Award.

With 15 years of experience he has also headed campaigns with the Mexico Tourism Board, Chef Patricia Quintana, the Ritz-Carlton, the Four Seasons hotels and the OCVs of Quito, Morocco, Zambia, Cancun, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco as well as the tourism ministries of Guatemala and Ecuador.

Gustavo studied at Ithaca College and Cornell University and holds a BA in Journalism and a Master’s Degree Communications.

Gustavo will be a panelist on "How Being an Award-Winner Can Enhance Your Brand." on Wednesday, May 17 at 9:40 AM and 11:05 AM.


Daniel Wallace

J. Ross MacDonald Distinguished Professor of English

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Daniel Wallace is author of six novels, including Big Fish (1998), Ray in Reverse (2000), The Watermelon King (2003), Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician (2007), The Kings and Queens of Roam (2013), and most recently Extraordinary Adventures (May 2017). His children’s book, published in 2014, and for which he did both the words and the pictures, is called The Cat’s Pajamas, and it is adorable. In 2003 Big Fish was adapted and released as a movie and then in 2013 the book and the movie were mish-mashed together and became a Broadway musical. His novels have been translated into over two-dozen languages. Daniel Wallace is the J. Ross MacDonald Distinguished Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his alma mater, where he directs the Creative Writing Program.

Daniel will be a panelist on "What Every Author Needs to Know about Working with a Publishing House" on Wednesday, May 17 during the General Assembly.