Troy Petenbrink is an awarding winning journalists and top rated influencer. His work has been published by The Miami Herald, Travel & Leisure, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons, TravelChannel.com, CruiseCritic.com, Newsweek.com, and many others. He also wrote a chapter in Fodor’s “535 Best Beaches in the U.S., Caribbean, and Mexico.” He is currently a contributor to NatGeo.com, MetroWeekly.com, and MensLife.com, and appears regularly on WTTG-TV.
Last year, he was a finalist in the Best of GayCities 2022 Awards in the “Insta Traveler” category, and his blog, TheGayTraveler.com, has consistently been ranked among the top gay travel blogs in the world.
An active member of the North American Travel Journalists Association, International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association, and International LGBTQ+ Travel Association, Troy is very knowledgeable of industry trends and needs – having presented at the VA Tourism Summit and PRSA Travel and Tourism Conference, and provided strategic counseling to multiple destinations and hospitality companies including Durham, N.C.; Santa Fe, N.M.; Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino; and Destination Hotels.
Dr. Byron Green- Calisch (he/ him/his), is a successful coach, business owner, consultant, and public speaker. He holds a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and Doctorate of Education from North Carolina State University. His educational and research background centers in the intersection of Adult Education and D.E.I (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion). Dr. Green-Calisch worked in the housing space across multiple universities and sizes of departments in addition to working on the governing council for SEAHO. His experience as a Non-Profit Sr. DEI professional, corporate trainer, and peer-reviewed researcher led him to become an advocate for equity in all spaces, partnership, and collaboration. Dr. Green-Calisch believes in taking action, and building on one’s strengths and experiences to create a life and work that is Inclusive, flexible, energizing, and financially rewarding.
Building on his experiences and worldwide contacts, Dr. Green-Calisch created a successful consultancy that focuses on building assessments and bringing the coach approach to Educational Roadmaps that center Equity and Inclusion.
Rev. Kimberley Harrell is a spiritual leader, speaker and success coach. She is an ordained Minister and is CEO & Spiritual Leader at Unity of Gulfport in Florida. She was the CEO at Tennessee’s New Thought/Metaphysical Healing Arts Complex, The New Earth Center.
Dedicated to inspiring connection to the One Presence and One Power through present moment living and committed to excellence, she is a former USA Olympic Qualifying Athlete and a Veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Rev. Kimberley was a featured speaker at Carnegie Hall in 2019 for suicide prevention and awareness in the #neveralone movement with Dr. Deepak Chopra, Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith, and Michel Pascal.
Vicki Gibson is the owner of the Lady’s Room restaurant and show bar in Largo, FL which opened in 2022. With its opening, Vicki created arguably the only dedicated lesbian bar currently in Florida. Vicki was born in Largo and raised in St Petersburg. She attended Culinary Institute in New York followed by Business School in Denver, CO and has spent the majority of her life in the culinary arts field. The Lady’s room is the result of Vicki’s desire to bring back the lesbian bar experience and create a safe space where the LGBTQ+ community could enjoy custom crafted food and drinks while enjoying the best in queer entertainment.
Jay Miah Is a powerhouse vocalist with a 5 octave voice range. A graduate of University of South Florida garnering a Music Studies Degree. Jay has sang for over 25 years old. Born in Longwood florida is a first generation Puerto Rican American with a mission to spread love to all people. Raised with the knowingness that nothing separates you from God.
“Music is the language of all people. It connects us like tapestry music is our Unity.” ~ Jay Miah
Jay Miah appeared on NBC’s The Voice where he wowed the judges with his unique style. After was hand selected to be on Fox’s New state of the art show called “Alter ego” leveraging AI.
Sarah Potenza is a critically acclaimed singer and songwriter with a nationwide fanbase. She competed on NBC’s The Voice, and America’s Got Talent. In 2021 her rendition of “Worthy” on her sophomore album “Road to Rome” hit number one on the iTunes Blues Charts. “The songstress delivered a stunning rendition of a song called “Worthy” that is such a perfect summation of her life and her goals and her message” – Entertainment Tonight. The album received rave reviews from Rolling Stone, Billboard, American Songwriter, and NPR. Potenza, was named amongst the top three acts seen at SXSW by Rolling Stone Magazine.
Scott Wismont, CTA, is the owner of Rainbow Getaways, an LGBTQ Travel Concierge. As a cis-gay male, Scott founded Rainbow Getaways because he believes that everyone deserves to travel, regardless of who they love or how they want to travel. Scott started his career in the travel industry as a travel advisor in 2015, using the travel pause during the pandemic to follow his dream of starting an agency that focuses on the entire LGBTQ community and not just a specific niche. Scott sits on the board for the Central Florida Chapter of ASTA and is a member of IGLTA, the Central Florida Pride Chamber, and The Osceola Chamber of Commerce. Scott makes his knowledge of LGBTQ Travel accessible through interviews in print magazines, podcasts, and personal coaching to all travel advisors so they can better assist members of the community in serving their clients. Scott completed his MBA in International Business from Bellevue University in 2018 and, in 2021, became a Certified Travel Associate from the Travel Institute.
Santiago C. Corrada is an accomplished, recognized leader with over twenty five years of public service experience, with proven success in effectively and efficiently transforming the professional culture of many diverse institutions. Santiago officially began his position as President and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay in May of 2013. He serves as main spokesperson for the tourism and hospitality industry; ensures stakeholders coordinated efforts in collaboratively increasing visitation to the destination while maintaining open lines of communication with all industry stakeholders. The organization has been awarded numerous marketing awards over the past several years including HSMAI Platinum Adrian Awards, Henry Awards at Visit Florida’s Flagler Award Ceremony and more. During this time, the Industry has experienced record-breaking bed tax collection years and leads all comp sets again this year. Corrada is a huge proponent of inclusivity and destination leadership. Under his leadership VTB has been recognized as a leader in inclusive, multicultural and LGBTQ marketing.
Ryan Williams-Jent (He/Him/His) is a husband, dog dad, Cheez-It connoisseur and comic book superfan. He and his husband live in St. Petersburg where he’s the proud Managing Editor for Watermark, the LGBTQ+ news source that’s served Central Florida and Tampa Bay since 1994. Learn more at WatermarkOnline.com.
Roger is a multi-generational Floridian born in Tampa, raised in Brandon & Bradenton, and has called St.Petersburg home since 1999. As Executive Director of the EDGE BDA, he has three core roles: (1) Advocating on behalf of the District, (2) Promoting the District and its businesses, and (3) Educating the District through seminars, masterminds, and consultations. The EDGE District is home to nearly 200 businesses, thousands of employees, over 2,000 residents, and hosts millions of resident/tourist visitors each year. Roger mentors and moderates the monthly Entrepreneurial Academy Alum Business Builder, serves on the Marketing Committee for Creative Clay, and is currently a Board Member for the St. Pete Opera. His recent roles have included Director of Development for the St. Pete Opera, Owner/Founder of Club Savor (member dining club), and executive administration for Continuing Legal Education programs at Stetson, Holland and Knight, and Carlton Fields. Roger is also an attorney and an alum of Stetson Law School, where he graduated in 2002, as well as a proud Gator graduate from the University of Florida undergrad. His passions include cards, billiards, and bowling – three of the more demanding sports athletically. Roger’s core philosophy for surviving and thriving in our rapidly evolving business and social environment is based on two concepts: Collaboration with the community and Engagement with your customers.
With nearly 30 years of living in the Florida Keys, Pony is an enthusiastic source of knowledge for those interested in exploring the Florida Keys, which he describes as “close to perfect, far from normal.” Pony’s upbringing on a small island near Seattle, Washington exposed him to a world of travel and adventure from a young age, thanks to his adventurous family. Spending much of his time exploring the west coast of the United States and Canada, Pony eventually moved to Los Angeles in his early 20s. However, he soon discovered that the allure of the big city was overshadowed by a yearning for the intimacy and sense of community found in a small town. Leaving Los Angeles behind, Pony embarked on various travel adventures, including working with Arabian horses in Montana and participating in numerous Hop Harvests in Washington State. Eventually settling down in Santa Fe, New Mexico, he spent a decade engaging in activities such as white water rafting, snowboarding, horseback riding, hiking, and working alongside indigenous communities to preserve their native culture. It was during this period that Pony’s passion for travel truly blossomed. In the past 30 years, Pony has embarked on numerous remarkable adventures, including hiking a portion of the Appalachian Trail, walking the Camino De Santiago, skiing the French Alps, dog sledding in North Pole, Alaska, and hang gliding in Rio de Janeiro. In the early 1990s, Pony found his home in the Florida Keys, where he has since become an integral part of the island’s culture, engaging in various activities such as fishing, diving, dining, performing, and working as a stand-up comedian. Through these experiences, Pony has gained a unique insight into the vibrant lifestyle of the Florida Keys, which he delights in sharing with all visitors to the area.
Nathan Daugherty is a Tampa Bay theater performer, musical director, and bandleader. He has performed for over 20 years in musical theatre and burlesque, specializing in vocal performances and immersive events. Nathan is the co-owner of NDTheatricals, a full service entertainment company that produces theatrical events all over Florida and beyond. You can follow Nathan online @BurlyNathan on social media and BurlyNathan.com.
Momma Ashley Rose has been a family friendly drag performer for over 20 years. A philanthropist, public speaker, activist, singer, song writer, drag performer and more! She is the founder and president of Rose Dynasty Foundation Inc. Momma has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities across the country. Creating safe spaces for all ages through performance and visual arts, story times, conferences, festivals, pageants and many other types of events. She mentors LGBTQ+ youth and families while spreading the message everyone is Loved, Accepted, and Wanted!
Michelle Pirre is a seasoned professional in the tourism industry, currently spearheading specialty market strategies at Naples Marco Island Everglades CVB. Renowned for her proficiency in various niche markets, Michelle has built significant expertise in the LGBTQ+, small meetings, and destination wedding sectors. Prior to her role at the DMO level, Michelle was a Sales Coordinator at Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham where she honed her sales and customer service skills. Adding a unique twist to her professional arc, Michelle also gained invaluable experience as a poker dealer at various prestigious casinos in Atlantic City, NJ. This varied background contributes to her ability to understand and cater to diverse audience preferences. Michelle’s ability to craft compelling narratives about the Naples, Marco Island, and Everglades region is bolstered by her strong communication skills, networking savvy, and passion for inclusivity, making her an instrumental figure in driving the growth and success of Florida’s Paradise Coast.
Matt Skallerud, president of Pink Media, specializes in LGBTQ+ online marketing, targeting gays & lesbians via content marketing, social media, programmatic ad banners, mobile smartphone apps and more. He also specializes in search engine optimization (SEO), key word / search advertising (PPC) and social media analytics. He’s been in the LGBTQ+ online industry for over 20 years now. Matt Skallerud began his online career in May 1995 with the launch of GayWired.com, which became one of the top 3 LGBTQ websites worldwide. Having worked with companies, large and small, for more than 20 years to reach the LGBTQ+ online consumer through this site and others, he is now focused on the most cutting-edge global innovations in programmatic ad buying, social networking and Web 2.0 technologies. He empowers his clients to reach the LGBTQ market using the most advanced techniques taking hold in the online marketing world today, including Real-Time Ad Bidding (RTB), Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube, blogs and others. In addition, Skallerud is the former Board Chairman of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) and has served on the boards Travel Gay Canada (TGC) and the LAGLCC. He is actively involved with key national LGBTQ+ organizations including the NGLCC, Out Professionals and Lambda Legal, just to name a few.
LoAnn Halden (she/her) is Vice President-Communications for the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA), the global leader in advancing LGBTQ+ travel. IGLTA’s network consists of 12,500+ tourism business professionals in approximately 80 countries. The IGLTA Foundation, founded in 2012, is the philanthropic arm of the association, supporting the tourism industry with leadership, research, and education. In her role, LoAnn frequently speaks to media outlets about LGBTQ+ tourism trends and the importance of inclusive tourism. She has participated in travel sessions for consumers and trade on five continents. Prior to IGLTA, she spent 14 years as a writer and editor for LGBTQ+ and travel publications. She is based in London with her wife.
Jillian Abby is one of Hay House Publishing’s newest authors with her memoir, Perfectly Queer, available across the US, UK, and Canada. She is also the owner of Storyteller Soul, LLC, a creative writing business that helps top corporate leaders connect their personal stories to the mission and vision of their business through speeches, blogs, articles, and internal social media networks. Jillian is a proud advocate for the LGBTQ+ community through her podcast, Life and Love in the Q, her blog QueerAbby.com, and the non-profit she serves, Tampa Bay Homeschool Inclusive Events.
Jenn Fugolo is Vice President of Advancement for the AHLA Foundation, which the charitable giving arm of the American Hotel & Lodging Association dedicated to helping people build careers, improve their lives, and strengthen the lodging industry. The organization provides impactful solutions that drive the recruitment, retention, and development of individuals for life-long careers in hospitality. At AHLAF, Jenn is responsible for the Foundation’s DE&I efforts, which includes driving the successful implementation of its multi-year strategic DE&I plan for the industry. Jenn joined the Foundation from Sunrise Senior Living, where, as Senior Director, she led the company’s corporate communications function spanning crisis and reputation management, employee communications, executive visibility, and various aspects of external communications. In addition, she architected the company’s DE&I roadmap and helped introduce new approaches to employee engagement through a DE&I lens. Jenn started her career at global public relations and marketing agency FleishmanHillard, where she served a range of non-profit, government, and corporate clients. Jenn received her undergraduate degree in Journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park, and DE&I certification from Cornell University.
A stand-up comedian born and raised in Florida, Jeff has made a name performing all over the US and heavily in Florida. His humor has been described as “funny”, “I’ll still be thinking about your jokes next week”, and “huh”. He always brings his razor sharp wit to any situation and has performed with comics like Helen Keaney, Danny Bevins, Jay Mohr, and Alonzo Bodden. Jeff also hosts a weekly online show called Beer with a Queer where he seamlessly blends reviews of beers he tends not to like with talking about pressing issues in the community. On BWAQ he has also had the opportunity to talk to such personalities as Rick Kriseman (while he was mayor of St Petersburg), radio personality Mike Calta, as well as comedians Joe “Mr. D” Dombrowski and Robert Kelly. If you’re asking yourself, what else can this man do…he also wrote and created the yet to be award winning series Outside a Comedy Club, as well as performed in the San Francisco Comedy Competition and performed in LA and Miami Pride Comedy Festivals.
Qualified tourism/hospitality and academic professional Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE) proficient in developing and implementing plans, strategies, and initiatives specifically designed to raise destination’s image for diverse, multicultural travel. Experienced Certified Diversity Executive (CDE) with demonstrated cultural competence. Prepared to strategically position an organization to remove systemic barriers to inclusion, lead culture change, and transform the brand. Graduate of Johnson & Wales University Providence, Rhode Island, with an A.S. Degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management; and a B.S. in Hospitality Management. Certifications: University of South Florida Muma College of Business Ethical and Inclusive Leadership and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace Certificate Professional Development Leadership Graduate: Institute for Diversity Certification, Urban League of Philadelphia, Leadership Forum, Leadership Philadelphia, and Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange. Greg is a longtime Tourism and Hospitality professional, a native Philadelphian with a passion for his work, and is dedicated to giving back to the next generation of hospitality leaders. Frequent presenter, specific Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Fundamentals: Assessment, Planning, Strategies, and Implementation to reinforce the need for organizations to lead inclusion from the top.
Born and raised in Tampa, Mayor Jane Castor has spent a lifetime in service to the community, becoming the first female Chief of Police and Tampa’s 59 th Mayor. Under her leadership, the City of Tampa has received several awards and recognitions including Best City in Florida, Best City for Veterans to Live in, one of the Most Fun Cities in America, and among the TIME Magazine 2023 World’s Greatest Places. Under her vision of Transforming Tampa’s Tomorrow, she is focused on addressing the city’s most pressing issues: transportation, workforce development, affordable housing, sustainability, resilience, and expanding parks and recreation services. Mayor Castor is a proud Seminole Heights resident where she lives with her longtime partner Ana Cruz, both Tampa natives who enjoy fishing, Lightning hockey games, and family time with their two sons Sergei and Seely.
Jaime and Katie Filer have been married since 2018 and Instagram influencers since 2019, but their moms have been sharing their photos through the internet since the early 90’s. They share a passion for all things queer, fitness, and fun. Together, they run Filer Fitness; an online health coaching business that specializes in helping the LGBTQ+ community overcome overwhelm, reduce anxiety, and build confidence through movement and nutrition. The fact that they live, work, and go to the gym together 24/7 means they could snap at any minute. This is one dynamic duo you don’t want to miss!
Christopher MacLellan and his now-deceased partner were featured in a 2015 Pulitzer Prize-nominated story entitled, “In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey which propelled him to write a book “What’s The Deal with Caregiving and establish TLO Travel and Tours in 2017.
One of the goals at TLO Travel and Tours is to create a community that not only travels together but supports each other before, during, and after caregiving ends.
Kevin, the kid who never stopped asking why, has a contagious curiosity that continues to drive him today. He designs experiences for leading brands like Disney, HBO, Heineken, and Coca-Cola, infusing his creations with his insatiable desire to understand how things work and make them better. Kevin co-founded Experience Willow, an LGBT-certified design firm, in 2012. The firm aims to spark curiosity and unleash creativity to improve lives and organizations.
During his consulting role with NCR, a global tech leader, Kevin was recognized as a 2017 HR Executive Rising Star. He played a vital role in shaping culture, employer branding strategies, and transforming recruitment, onboarding, talent management, leadership development, and workplace experiences.
Experience Willow’s outstanding achievement came in 2021 when their “On the Move to Midtown” project won the BizBash Team Building Event of the Decade. This six-month experience facilitated the successful transition of 2,600 NCR employees to their new technology campus in Atlanta through two pillar event campaigns.
Beyond his work, Kevin thrives on stage, captivating audiences as an energetic emcee, speaker, and workshop facilitator, sharing his passion and knowledge with the world.
Trevor Pettiford may not be a native Floridian, but he knows that nothing beats the Tampa Bay weather. Trevor began working at Spectrum News in May of 2011. He loves being a journalist because he says he gets to meet “people from across the ‘Spectrum’ of human existence.” He says his job constantly reminds him not how different we all are, but rather how much everyone has in common.
A five time nominated and one time Emmy Award winning broadcast journalist, Trevor says great storytelling is when the audience comes away feeling like they’ve learned something meaningful from a story. He’s most honored by the key he was given to his hometown city of Dayton, Ohio. He covered seven years of government and politics.
But better than any Emmy or Key to any city, Trevor says, is the impact of his work. After airing a story about a family in a homeless shelter who was split up because of gender, someone in the community came forward with a job and a place for the family to live. Trevor takes pride in giving people an understanding of the world around them and encouraging them to take an active role.
If Trevor isn’t on air, you might find him camping – not glamping! Or on weekend mornings when he’s not in the great outdoors, he loves St. Pete’s Saturday Morning Market. He says The Florida Orchestra is definitely the best kept secret – especially since his husband, Clay Ellerbroek, is the Principal Flutist.
Teri Gayle Johnston is the 2nd female to serve as Mayor of Key West in the past 200 years and the 1st woman ever to be re-elected Mayor of Key West. Johnston had previously served eight years on the City Commission and represented the County serving on the Monroe County Land Authority Board and Planning Commission and numerous boards and committees.
Teri was born and raised in Conrad, Iowa, attending John F. Kennedy College on one of the first athletic scholarships offered to women. She is a three-time All-American softball player and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Teri spent 21 years with the privately held corporation Hollister Incorporated, a manufacturer of disposable healthcare equipment. She began her career at Hollister in sales, human resources, and sales management for their domestic division. Teri was promoted to their International Sales and Marketing Division and retired in 1995 as Director of Marketing for their European Division based in Wokingham, England.
In 1995 Teri became co-owner of Affiliated Design & Construction Managers, LLC specializing in new construction, renovations, and historic restorations.
Teri’s personal life is centered on her partner of 38 years, Dar Castillo; daughters Stacy Ryan and Jennifer Castillo; son-in-laws Dan Ryan and Vincent Luisi; granddaughters Scoutt Ryan, Reily Ryan, Avery Capcik, and Harper Luisi; her Cavalier King Charles spaniels Oliver and Gracie, and finally Lily, the cat.
Since the mid-1990s, Richard has used marketing campaigns to ignite social change. Richard’s vision formed what was the first-ever dedicated LGBT+ marketing campaign at a Destination Marketing Organization in 1995. Under his leadership, the groundbreaking Celebrate You campaign was the first to feature real-life models representing disabled, plus-sized, non-binary, trans, gay, lesbian, straight and dressed in drag. As part of this campaign, black and brown were added to the Pride colors to show commitment and belief in black and brown people, making Visit Lauderdale the first DMO to add these colors. His work with the transgender community lead to Visit Lauderdale being the first DMO to be recognized by the U.N. for support of the transgender community. The recipient of countless honors, Richard was named by Out Magazine as an OUT 100 Innovator and one of the 100 most influential LGBT+ people in the United States. Most recently Equality Florida honored Richard with their Equality Means Business Award.
Florida-based male impersonator/Drag King, the Silver Foxx, entertained audiences as a rock n roll singer in NY and NJ for over four decades. He won his first drag competition in 1989 in New York City performing as Sonny Bono.
After relocating to Gulfport Florida in 2021, Silver was asked to compete in a local competition and was successfully crowned the King of West Florida.
He soon realized there were very few male impersonators, like himself, and founded the drag king troupe Bois of Florida.
Out of drag, Dr. B has been an advocate for the GLBT community since the 1980s. After being fired for being gay in 1991, she came all the way out of the closet three years later as the Assistant Director of Communications for Gay Games IV in New York City. She was interviewed by TV, radio and newspapers around the world. That was just the beginning.
Dr. B marched in Long Island’s first pride parade, despite protests surrounding the parade route. Sharp shooters were lined along the rooftops of the buildings in case of a riot.
Dr. B could be seen protesting and marching at rallies, often dressed in her minister’s collar and acting as a spokesperson on behalf of the community.
She became a strong advocate for same sex marriage and had the honor of officiating New York’s largest same sex mass wedding when marriage equality was passed.