WITS Riga Presenters
Lola Akinmade Åkerström
Award-winning author and photographer Lola Akinmade Åkerström explores culture through food, tradition, and lifestyle for high profile publications such as National Geographic Traveler, BBC, The Guardian, and Lonely Planet, amongst others. She has collaborated with many well-known brands – from Mercedes Benz and Dove to Intrepid Travel and National Geographic Channel. She is the author of two books – award-winning Due North & bestselling LAGOM: Swedish Secret of Living Well. LAGOM is available in 18 foreign language editions around the world. She is editor-in-chief of Slow Travel Stockholm and founder of NordicTB Collective which brings together the top professional travel bloggers and digital storytellers from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland. She is the 2018 Travel Photographer of the Year Bill Muster Award recipient and was honoured with a MIPAD 100 (Most Influential People of African Descent) Award within media and culture. Her photography is represented by National Geographic Image Collection.
With a career spanning 12 years in the medical device industry, a leadership position in a leading multinational corporation and 2 Master’s degrees in business and finance, Alina’s path to travel journalism is definitely not conventional. The energetic force behind English and Latvian travel blogs Reverie Chaser and Sapnu Medniece, Alina has visited more than 50 countries, been published in National Geographic, Lonely Planet, and Sestdiena (to name a few), been nominated for multiple travel journalism awards and won National Geographic Latvia’s ‘Travel Story of the Year’. Alina's pet travel topics relate to how she balances life with ‘travel life’, travel hacks and tips, and discovering beautifully authentic travel experiences.
Amanda Mouttaki is an American writer, blogger, and entrepreneur based in Marrakech. She is the voice behind the popular website MarocMama which inspires readers from all over the world to visit Morocco and broaden their horizons on the country, its traditions, and its cuisine. Amanda also owns Marrakech Food Tours, a company that began with only $50 and grew to a six-figure business in just two years. Her insight to the tourism industry and knowledge of what tourists are seeking has led to partnerships with major domestic and international brands as well as boutique clients throughout the world. By telling her own story and embracing modern marketing methods and channels, Amanda has shown that an active approach toward tourism doesn't just attract more visitors, it makes them fall in love with a destination before they even arrive.
With over 15 years of MarCom experience under her belt, Archana works as a brand consultant, photographer, public speaker, and influencer. She is the most awarded travel blogger of 2018-19 in India and is committed to working on issues like women’s empowerment, responsible tourism, and social inclusion of the underprivileged. Being a top travel influencer, she regularly speaks at global conferences like TEDx, WTM ATM, HTM, PATA, TBC-ASIA, ATWS, TBEX, and Photo Tourism Conference & Awards, among others. She documents her experiences on travelseewrite.com along with freelance writing for publications like Lonely Planet, National Geographic, Outlook Traveller, and Travel & Leisure.
Beth is Founder and CEO of Wanderful and creator of the Women in Travel Summit. The idea for a robust community of women travelers came to her while cruising her blue motorcycle through the streets of São Tomé and Príncipe, a small country in Africa’s Gulf of Guinea. Now, she is a thought leader on women's travel, an avid community builder, and a voice for women creators and entrepreneurs. She is the product of an art history major at Wellesley followed by a Kellogg MBA, and lives in Boston with a house full of pets, an adorable toddler, and a husband, also known as the founder of MITS (which does not in fact exist yet).
Carly is a travel blogger, podcast host & startup survivor, who now focuses her business on slow travel & life in Vienna, Austria. As former Head of Global Sales at TourRadar and self-confessed brunch addict and coffee snob, she has amassed 10 years experience within the travel industry, winning a Stevie Award for women in business in 2019. Carly also contributes regularly for global publications Lonely Planet & Forbes Travel about her adopted hometown and loves discussing time management techniques and the trick to finding work life balance within the startup environment.
Esra Alhamal is a Saudi travel content creator based in London. She documents her journey travelling the world as a Muslim millennial looking for fun women-friendly experiences on arabianwanderess.com with articles, photos and videos. Her travel interests include culture, architecture and nature. She worked with Sky Scanner, Hostel World and The Muslim Vibe. Esra has been featured on The Independent and The New York Times.
Eulanda Shead Osagiede
Eulanda Shead Osagiede is the co-founder of Hey! Dip Your Toes In; an award-winning blog which promotes creative digital content with a focus on global travel and food culture. With her authoritative voice on global travel, food tourism, and influencer marketing, Eulanda has been sought out as a workshop facilitator, brand ambassador, and guest speaker at events around the world like WTM London, TBEX, and TEDx in Morocco. She is honoured to step into the role as Executive Director of BAME Women in Travel, as she believes it's a much needed initiative to amplify the voices of women of colour.
Flora Baker is a freelance travel writer whose work has appeared in National Geographic Traveller and Coastal Living. Over the last decade, she has worked with Bollywood celebrities in India and musicians in Iceland, built artificial limbs in Bolivia and constructed houses in Brazil, sailed through the Arctic and walked 400km across Spain, and spent eighteen months travelling South America. She now lives in London and is currently working on her first book. Find her on Twitter and Instagram at @FloraBaker and read more at floratheexplorer.com, where she writes stories about travel, grief, and mental health.
Jessica Zijlstra is the marketing and digital lead at ANITA MENDIRATTA & Associates, a London based global consultancy specialising in the sectors of Tourism and Development. Working directly with Anita Mendiratta, the Special Advisor of the Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Jessica’s expertise and background in digital marketing and tourism are an integral part of the firm. Jessica has become increasingly passionate about the value of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and is working on an ongoing project to bring the goals to life at an individual level so that we can all #MakeTravelMatter.
Julie Dawn Fox
Julie Dawn Fox is a British writer who moved to central Portugal in 2007 and swiftly fell in love with the country. She helps others discover the beauty and culture of Portugal and plan their own unique trips by providing practical information, inspiration and tips for travelling in Portugal on her award-winning blog, Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal. She also provides 1-1 Portugal itinerary support and design services. As well as authoring various ebooks and Portugal guides, she has written for The Ritz Carlton Magazine, Destinations of the World Magazine, Travel 42 Guides, The Huffington Post, CNN, and AFAR.
Kirsty Leanne is a Plus Size Travel Blogger from the West Midlands, UK. With a successful travel blog and five years of experience behind her, Kirsty has become a spokesperson when it comes to pitching brands as a micro-influencer.
Kristina Liburd is a recovering IP attorney with an LL.M. in Intellectual Property who has worked in different legal and executive capacities within non-profit organizations and small & large corporations such as Sony Music Entertainment and Combs Enterprises (formerly Bad Boy Worldwide). Kristina is the Co-Founder & CEO of Viageur, an AI powered travel concierge service that creates activity itineraries based on the traveler's likes and dislikes, destination, dates, and budget. Hailing from Boston, Kristina lives with her cheer squad: her husband Everett and her daughter Charlotte.
Nora Dunn (aka The Professional Hobo) sold everything she owned in 2006 (including a busy financial planning practice) to embrace her dreams of long-term immersive world travel. She traveled full-time for 12 years, and though she now has a base in Toronto, she continues to travel for half the year. Considered a pioneer in the travel blogging industry, Nora is known for her expertise in Travel Lifestyle, Personal Finance, and Lifestyle Design arenas. She also saved over $100,000 by getting free accommodation around the world, and shares her wisdom at events and conferences around the world.
Pola Henderson is a travel writer, city explorer, and founder of the blog Jetting Around. She's been featured as a writer or travel expert on CNN, MasterCard, Expedia, NPR, WBEZ Chicago, and more. Traveling has been a part of her life since she was three. Pola grew up in Krakow, lived in Chicago for many years and is currently based in Paris, where she works in marketing communication and hosts monthly travel meetups.
Rachel is a blogger and teacher-trainer living in Groningen, the Netherlands. Raised in the US and educated at Yale, she met her Dutch husband when she served in the Peace Corps in Malawi. With two grown kids, they have entered the “empty nest” phase of their lives, leaving more time for independent travel. Rachel's blog, Rachel's Ruminations, looks at independent travel with a focus on individual historical and cultural sites/sights.
Sophie is a biologist, science writer, and travel blogger who found a way to combine all three in Cosmic Chicago, a blog about commercial spaceflight, space tourism, and space destinations. In addition to her other projects she co-founded Female Travel Bloggers, a network to help women build their blogs and their networks. Currently, she is working on a book and off chasing rockets!