Speaker Bios - 2014

Speakers/Schedule Subject to Change. Please check back often for updates.


Michele Bigley
Writer, Author & Photographer

Michele Bigley has danced on every continent but Antarctica. She is the award winning author and photographer of five travel guides, including Northern California: An Explorer's Guide (Countryman Press, 2009, 2013), Backroads and Byways of Northern California (Countryman Press, 2012), and the new Backroads and Byways of Hawaii (Countryman Press, Oct 2013). She contributes to Fodor's California, San Francisco, Hawaii, Maui, and Los Angeles. Her writing has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, CNN, San Francisco Chronicle, Away, Islands, Perceptive Travel, Priceline, Fodors.com, Orbitz, Oyster, Kia Ora, Huffington Post, AOL Travel, and more. She is a featured travel expert for CNN's On the Go. When not writing, Michele travels the world with her husband and their two young sons.

Samantha Brown
Travel Expert & Great Escape Artist

Click Here to Learn More About Samantha Brown on the Travel Channel.

Samantha Brown has spent more than 14 years living in airports, hotels and out of a suitcase. She’s taken viewers on intimate, off-the-beaten-path journeys discovering exotic destinations, whether around the world or in their own backyard. Samantha has hosted a number of shows on the Travel Channel including “Passport to Europe,” “Passport to Great Weekends” and the upcoming “The Trip: 2014”.

An inspirational resource for prospective travelers, Samantha has truly enjoyed showing how extraordinary it is to be a part of everyday life in another part of the world. Her travel goal is to always show that if she can do it, you can do it. People follow Samantha and her advice not only because of her experience and knowledge, but because of her genuineness and passion for travel. No matter where she takes you, Samantha will find delectable food, fabulous shopping and an authentic taste of the region you won’t find in a tourist guidebook.

Follow her at
website: www.samantha-brown.com
twitter: @samanthabrown
Facebook: www.facebook.com/RealSamanthaBrown

Angel Castellanos
Travel Ambassador, AngelsTravelLounge.com

Angel is an intrepid traveler that is passionate about where the next journey will take him. His first international trip was at an early age with his parents on a journey that lasted 3 months through the American Southwest, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Moved by his passion for art, music, history and architecture, Angel studied abroad in Europe in college. He has returned to Europe every year since. He also visited South America and spent 8 weeks traveling throughout Japan and South East Asia. Angel has over ten years experience in the travel industry as a tour guide, retailer, buyer and travel consultant. He is a consummate “light” packer, enjoys making new friends on the road and remains focused on achieving his travel dreams. Traveling to over thirty-five countries on four Continents, Angel draws on his experiences to teach “Smart Travel” and equip travelers with skills to make their trips easier and more enjoyable. His love of travel has motivated him to give hundreds of motivational travel talks throughout the country. Angel has appeared in the Los Angeles Times & USA Today.

Michael Cervin
Travel Writer

Michael Cervin is the contributing travel writer for the Santa Barbara News-Press, and author of four Moon guidebooks including California Road Trip, and California Wine Country. He writes for Forbes Travel, The Hollywood Reporter, Westways, Gayot.com, Skywest , Offbeat Travel, GoNomad, Front Desk New York, LA Weekly and many other print and on-line publications. He is the Central Coast contributing editor for The Tasting Panel Magazine, and is the founder of a series of new groundbreaking humorous travel books, Wise Guy Travel Guides, to release summer 2014. He writes two travel blogs: CervinsCentralCoast - dedicated to the California Central Coast, and Exploracation - a global travel blog.

Jim Cline
Jim Cline Photo Tours

Jim Cline is an award-winning cultural documentary and travel photographer based in San Diego, California. Jim is known for his willingness to shoot all around the edges of light, creating images with tremendous impact that capture the essence of a place or culture. He always strives to transcend ordinary travel pictures, and to convey a strong sense of place, and the spirit of the people in his photographs. Jim’s wanderlust and search for compelling images has brought him to many less-traveled areas around the world. He takes particular interest in the indigenous peoples and traditional cultures of developing nations, and in documenting these disappearing cultures. Through his images he strives to portray the dignity and timeless beauty of these people living in harmony with nature. As well as winning numerous awards, Jim’s work has been displayed in the San Diego Natural History Museum and the Museum of Photographic Arts, and in many galleries, both in the U.S. and abroad. He gives frequent slide presentation lectures of his travels throughout the world. Jim and his photographs have been featured in several books. His images have also been published in numerous magazines, newspapers, annual reports, tourist brochures, calendars, websites, and CD covers. Jim founded Jim Cline Photo Tours in 2002 – he currently leads small-group photo tours to various locations around Latin America. When not busy running his photo tour business, and leading trips to the best photographic locations in Latin America, Jim works on assignment as a photographer for humanitarian organizations. His images have graced the covers of annual reports for groups such as Freedom from Hunger, and have appeared on websites, brochures, postcards and other mediums promoting their efforts around the globe.

Chef Jason Collis

Jason Collis is the Chef owner of Plated Events by Chef Jason. Collis’ major accomplishments include winning the Cioppino contest held at Brander Vineyards in Santa Barbara, launching a catering venture with Limoneira’s agritourism special event division and earning best martini bar in Ventura honor the past five years for his J’s Tapas bar. While owner of Jonathan’s at Peirano’s, the restaurant was listed as a destination spot in state and national magazines such as Gourmet, Westways and The San Diego Tribune.

Collis apprenticed under world-renowned chef, Wolfgang Puck prior to taking ownership of Plated Events by Chef Jason. He worked at Spago and assisted Puck with special events, cooking more than 1,200 fine dining plates for the famous Governor’s Ball following the Academy Awards, as well as catering large charity events and high-profile weddings.

In addition to his work in the food and beverage industry, Collis has served as the Chair of the Downtown Ventura Organization (DVO), a grass roots organization composed of downtown Ventura property owners, merchants and residents dedicated to creating a vibrant cultural downtown district. He also currently serves on the Ventura County Unified School District Culinary Arts ROP advisory board and Consultative School Board for Holy Cross School. Collis donates his time, food, restaurant and staff for quarterly charity events, including the Special Olympics, Easter Seals and a Hurricane Katrina Benefit where he and other Ventura area chefs raised more than $20,000.

Collis earned his culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, Calif., one of only 12 facilities world-wide. He currently resides in Oxnard, Calif.

Melissa Currey

Melissa Currey is the President of Cooking 4 Life, Inc. which has been operating in San Diego since 2006. She has been in the Healthy Cooking industry for the last 20 years. Her main focus is a plant based diet, in which she received her certification from Cornell University. She is also a certified chef for the Cancer Project. Her passion for healthy living has given her opportunities to be interviewed by Cox News, Channel 6 and Union Tribune TV. She was also given the opportunity to speak on a morning radio show in Colorado. At Cooking 4 Life, we offer a full range of healthy cooking activities. From our Cooking Classes to Lunch & Learns to our Team Building Classes, each class are full of valuable healthy information as well as how to convert recipes into heart healthy tasty dishes.

Matt Greenham
Air New Zealand Vacations

Air New Zealand Vacations Matt Greenham is our resident Australia and New Zealand specialist. Hailing from Perth, Western Australia, Matt moved to the USA in 2007 and has worked in the travel industry ever since. After spending some time in the cruise industry, he now has the perfect role to fuel his passion ­ promoting the unique destinations of New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific islands. His presentation style is both educational and entertaining, with focus of creating excitement about New Zealand and the incredible South Pacific region.

Elizabeth Hansen
Travel Editor/Writer, Authentic Luxury Travel (
www.AuthenticLuxuryTravel.net) and Ranch & Coast Magazine

Elizabeth Hansen’s specialty is "authentic travel." In Ranch & Coast Magazine and on her Authentic Luxury Travel site, this veteran journalist helps readers find ways to wander off the beaten path and discover the joy of real – not touristy – experiences. Hansen says “I write about locally-owned boutique hotels, browsing in farmers’ markets, and watching resident wildlife, as well as ways to meet people in new destinations. My hope is that travelers will make memorable, maybe even life-changing, connections.”

Susan Irby, CFNS, ISSA

Host of the award-winning TV show, Wine, Dine and Workout, on national public television, independent cable networks and the award-nominated The Bikini Lifestyles Show on Talk Radio 790 KABC radio, health and fitness expert, Susan Irby is the creator of The Bikini Chef™, is an 8-time best selling author and healthy lifestyle expert known for her "figure flattering flavors". Susan has been highly recognized for her talent in interviewing celebrities, leading chefs and fitness champions, among them: Billy Bush, Gene Simmons, Bill Engvall, Wolfgang Puck, Giada De Laurentiis, Duff Goldman, Barbara Fairchild, Venus Williams, Olympic Gold Medalist and LA Sparks' DeLisha Milton Jones, LA Lakers Chef Sandra Padilla, Cincinnati Bengals' Coach Chip Morton, Cincinnati Reds Coach Matt Krause. Well-respected in media, Susan has been a guest on FOX11 Good Day LA, ABC7, CBS2, KCAL9, NBC and her work has been featured in national and international media such as Self, First for Women, CalorieCount.com, The New York Times, New York Post, The Mail on Sunday and BBC Radio. Susan is excited to launch her newest book, The Bikini Chef Diet – Bikini Ready in 3 Easy Steps and her new food line, Skinny Cuisine, March 2014.

Leon Logothetis
Global Adventurer, TV Host, Producer, Host, Author of Amazing Adventures of a Nobody

Leon has visited more than 70 countries and traveled to every continent. He is the host of the TV series 'Amazing Adventures Of A Nobody', which is broadcast across the world by National Geographic and, over the course of three seasons, sees Leon across America, the United Kingdom and Europe on just $5, 5 Pounds, and 5 Euros a day respectively. Leon has also documented his travels for numerous media outlets including Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Outside, Good, Psychology Today, and 90 Mins. His book, Amazing Adventures of a Nobody, is in stores now. For more info visit www.LeonLogothetis.com 

Jorge Meraz
Host/Director, Crossing South, Popular Travel Series on KPBS San Diego

Jorge’s experience includes in front of and behind the camera. He has worked as a TV Reporter & Sports Anchor at TV Azteca in Tijuana, a TV producer, and creative copywriter. Director of the Emmy Award winning documentary Visa Dream. Current host/director of the travel series "Crossing South"

Sucheta Rawal
Founder, Go Eat Give

Sucheta Rawal (www.suchetarawal.com) is founder of the international nonprofit, Go Eat Give, (www.goeatgive.com) that encourages awareness of different cultures through food, travel, and community service. She has traveled to over 50 countries and worked as a food and travel writer, cooking instructor and international volunteer.

Born and raised in India, Sucheta's passion for learning about cultures started with food as she discovered ethnic restaurants in Atlanta, and recreated the dishes in her own kitchen. Her family were international hosts through a travel exchange program that allowed her the opportunity to see the world without leaving her hometown. She has volunteered at orphanages in Russia, taught English at a women's empowerment center in Morocco, helping rebuild a village in Nepal, taught conversation English in Spain, worked with organic farmers in Cuba, and conducted sanitation projects for the village schools in Bali.

Through Go Eat Give , Sucheta leads people on volunteer abroad tours, hosts cultural awareness events, and blogs about destinations and food from around the world. Go Eat Give was recently named one of the most influential blogs in the world by the Foundation of Florence in Italy. To learn more or join one of the upcoming trips visit Go Eat Give (http://www.goeatgive.com/)

Patricia Schultz
Author, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die

Patricia Schultz has a dream job: traveling the globe and writing about it. She is the author of the international #1 bestsellers, 1,000 PLACES TO SEE BEFORE YOU DIE (with over 3 million copies in print and translated into 25 languages) and 1,000 PLACES TO SEE IN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA BEFORE YOU DIE. With these works, she has reinvented the idea of travel book as both wish list and practical guide. She was chosen by Forbes as one of the 25 most influential women in travel, and was executive producer of the Travel Channel’s TV show based on her first 1,000 PLACES book.

The second edition of 1,000 PLACES TO SEE BEFORE YOU DIE came out in November 2011, with 200 entirely new destinations, 28 new countries, full-color photographs, and more than 50 percent new material woven into the revised and expanded entries, which emphasize comprehensive travel experiences instead of single sites.

Family legend, never proven, is that Patricia’s family is somehow related to Mark Twain, who was a preeminent globetrotter of his day. Patricia’s own wanderlust began on the beach at Atlantic City, when she set off from the family beach blanket seeking adventure and was returned to an apoplectic mother several hours later by some relieved lifeguards. “I had heard the siren call of the great, global beyond,” she recalls, “and I had answered. I was hooked. I was four years old.”

While her college classmates headed for Wall Street, Patricia grabbed her passport and made a beeline for the airport, and soon discovered that she could make a living from her passion. Many guidebooks and articles later, she embarked upon the first 1,000 PLACES book, spending seven years augmenting the knowledge she gained from her own travels with information from hundreds of books and magazines and first-person reports from colleagues, tourist agencies, and individual travelers. How did she winnow it all down? “The common denominator I chose was a simple one: that each place impress upon the visitor some sense of the earth’s magic, integrity, wonder, and legacy. And sometimes places that were just plain fun.”

Patricia Schultz has written about travel for publications including The Wall Street Journal, Everyday with Rachael Ray, and Travel Weekly, and for guides such as Frommer’s and Berlitz. She is a popular speaker at travel shows, museums, associations, and organizations both in the U.S. and abroad. In more than 25 years of travel writing, she has never lost her curiosity or passion. “Some people can speed from New York to L. A. without registering a thing,” she writes. “I can walk around my mid-Manhattan block and come home with a carton of milk and stories to tell. In the end, the number of miles covered has nothing to do with the real pleasures of travel–the inherent beauty of the world and the discovery it promises are all around us.”

Gary Scott
Right Path Adventures

Gary Scott is an adventure travel guide with 30 years of experience who spends half the year guiding in Europe and the other time exploring cool and exciting places to take people to while running his adventure travel company - Right Path Adventures - from his laptop wherever he is in the world. You can reach Gary at

Supinder Singh
President, Palace Tours

Mr. Supinder Singh is the President of Palace Tours, based in Princeton NJ, a leading luxury tour operator specialized in building unmatched experiences for the independent traveler in Asia, Africa and Europe. The company specializes in luxury train journeys and custom designed travel experiences for its guests based on a consistent service delivery framework. Before Palace Tours, Supinder worked with leaders in timeshares and hotel industry and was a consultant to a number of companies where he helped them grow their business on the Internet. He has helped position the Palace Tours as a market leader by investing in technology solutions for marketing, sales and consistency in service delivery while keeping the costs down. He continues to travel extensively and helps his team in identifying potential areas of grow the portfolio of Palace Tours offerings.

Beth Whitman
Founder and Editor, Wanderlust and Lipstick

Beth Whitman is the founder and editor of Wanderlust and Lipstick and WanderTours. For more than 25 years, she has been traveling the globe as a contemporary Wanderer: combining her love for travel with volunteer work, adventure trips, travel writing and business. She's ridden a motorcycle solo from Seattle to Panama; spent a year traveling through Pacific Rim countries before it was fashionable; and has served on numerous non-profit boards that raise money for world-wide causes. She's also had a hand grenade pulled on her in Cambodia; fought off giardia in southeast Asia; been threatened by Nicaraguan motorcycle police; and been flashed by men from New Orleans to Saigon. She is currently training for the 25-day Snowman Trek in Bhutan (considered the hardest trek in the world) which she'll do in September.

Don Wildman
History Explorer and Museum Enthusiast, Host of Travel Channel's "Mysteries at the Museum"

As host of Travel Channel's “Mysteries at the Museum,” “Monumental Mysteries,” and "Greatest Mysteries," Don Wildman pulls back the curtain on an unseen America. In his first series for the network, “Off Limits,” Wildman crisscrossed the United States, going behind locked doors to uncover the secrets of our country’s man-made world. Whether unearthing notable tales behind artifacts and monuments across the U.S. or exploring hidden turfs, he discovers the fascinating behind-the-scenes of our everyday life. Wildman embraces the meaning of being a traveler, and shows how lifting the veil on our surroundings – from museum relics to buildings and bridges – can reveal unforgettably adventurous stories.