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.
Anna Blaua is a PR specialist who has worked as an Account Executive with the Riga Tourism Development Bureau (LIVE Riga) for seven years. Her workday consists of communicating regularly with international media, organizing tourism and gastronomy events, and coordinating campaigns promoting Riga as tourism destination. For her, nothing is better and easier than promoting the city she loves and been living in her whole life. Before Anna joined LIVE Riga, she worked for several years at a PR agency.
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.
Having almost 15 years of experience under her belt as a destination marketer, Cherrie Osborne has become a familiar name in the tourism industry, not just in the United Kingdom, but across Europe and in the Caribbean. Her distinguished reputation, far and wide, has grown over the past four years, in particular, while she has been, and continues to serve as Director of Tourism at the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority. In her role, Cherrie is responsible for strategic promotions in the UK and across Europe. She is known for applying her creative way of thinking and her passion for ‘stand out’ events and consumer activations. Skills which began to blossom when she completed her undergraduate degree in tourism and human resource management, and her masters in tourism and hospitality management. Skills which have been bearing fruit throughout the duration of her career. Outside of her day job, Cherrie remains very active in the industry and is Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, was a board member of the Association of National Tourist Office Representatives, and is a recent member of the BAME Women in Travel CIC.
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.
Gloria grew up dreaming of travel and international exploration, and as a trained physical therapist by profession was never happy with the traditional lifestyle. After more than 20 years of travel experience (having traveled through Asia, Europe, and South America), Gloria set out to make her dreams come true, quit her career, and created Nomadic Chica – one of the biggest growing bilingual travel blogs in Latin America – to inspire others to travel more and especially to empower women who travel with her knowledge. Follow Gloria as she brings the world of travel to you!
One of TTG’s 30 under 30 Travel Leaders for 2016/17, Jamie-Lee Abtar is a travel marketer, brand builder and creative innovator. A regular speaker on topical travel issues, Jamie-Lee has a history of helping travel brands to build strong profitable relationships, conceptualising and executing innovative ideas to drive their business. With a proud Caribbean heritage and as a determined advocate for the Caribbean region, Jamie-Lee has spearheaded research into the Diaspora travel market in partnership with The Voice newspaper, challenging misconceptions about Afro/Caribbean travellers. Jamie-Lee’s extensive knowledge and passion for the Caribbean can be seen through her work as the Business Development Manager for the Caribbean Tourism Organisation–UK Chapter. The UK Chapter represents more than 70 travel related companies from across the travel industry, including national tourist offices, tour operators, travel agencies, hotels, representation companies, airlines, cruises and DMCs. Through this role, Jamie-Lee strives to develop greater awareness of the Caribbean and maximise marketing and PR opportunities for its members.
Janelle Hanchett created the blog “Renegade Mothering” in 2011, inviting readers to join her in “the fight against helpful parenting advice.” Attracting an audience of hundreds of thousands, Janelle writes irreverently about the humorous and darker sides of motherhood. Her first book, I'm Just Happy to Be Here, was published in May 2018 by Hachette Book Group, and tells the story of her recovery from alcoholism as a mother. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English Literature, and her writing has been featured in Buzzfeed, Brain Child, Yes! Magazine, Mamalode, and elsewhere. She recently sold everything and moved from California to The Netherlands with her husband and four kids. She’s getting used to the rain, enjoying the healthcare, and missing her mom.
After years of building digital products as an engineer and product manager for others in America and Asia, Jennifer Fein is now determined to make software that empowers passionate people to create unique group travel businesses. She met her co-founder Bron at a #shehacks event in Melbourne, Australia. Together they are building YouLi, the best software to organize group trips. She is also the co-author of Ready to Start? Becoming an Entrepreneur in Australia.
Jessica studied political science and law before entering the PR industry. After 12 years of agency experience for renowned clients such as Ebay, Unilever, and Disney, she joined Hamburg Marketing. For the past three years, she has been responsible for blogger relations and influencer marketing for the City of Hamburg in Germany. Together with Traverse Events, she helped to establish KeyFrame video conference in February 2019, which was nominated for Best Digital Campaign in Tourism at WTM’s International Travel & Tourism Awards 2019.
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 moved to central Portugal in 2007 and swiftly fell in love with the country. Her award-winning travel blog, Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal, helps independent travellers discover the beauty and culture of Portugal and to plan their own unique trips by providing practical information, inspiration and recommendations. She also provides 1-1 Portugal itinerary consultation and design services to both travellers and tour operators and is currently developing a scouting tour for people considering their own move to Portugal. As well as authoring various Portugal guides and tours, she has written about Portugal for Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Travel Guides, The Ritz Carlton Magazine, Destinations of the World Magazine, CNN and many other publications.
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 also the co-founder & CEO for Viageur, an optimized travel activity planner that uses AI for travelers who overdo their research. Hailing from Boston, Kristina lives with her cheer squad: her husband Everett and her daughter Charlotte.
Martinique Lewis is a diversity in travel consultant, content creator, and Influencer Manager. Trusted amongst her peers as a ‘’connector,’’ she is always connecting the dots to ensure the travel industry is mindful of diversity and not just as a “buzzword.” Working with numerous tourism boards and travel brands, she is constantly strategizing ways to ensure travel marketing campaigns are inclusive and all travelers feel represented. As an international speaker, her goal has always been the same: to change the face of tourism forever.
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.
Nour Brahimi is a storyteller, the first Algerian travel YouTuber, and the first female Algerian travel vlogger. A 2019 nominee for Best Algerian YouTuber of the Year and Best Algerian Instagrammer of the Year, her goal is to break stereotypes with online video and to empower women and youth. She is also a 2019 Obama Foundation Leader, aiming to promote tourism in Africa by telling untold stories.
Olga Maria is a professional travel writer, storyteller, and full-time digital nomad who runs Dreams in Heels, an award-winning solo female travel & lifestyle blog. She is also the founder of the bilingual (Spanish/English) travel community Latinas Who Travel, the travel editor of Livid Magazine, and hosts a travel video series in partnership with Hiplatina.com. Olga loves sharing her expertise, tips, and story to inspire others, and has been featured in Forbes, Pop Sugar, Matador Network, Huffington Post, Univision, Telemundo, Latina Magazine, and many others. She is a free spirit who was born with wanderlust and a passion for food, coffee, and wine. Her goal is to clarify myths and misconceptions about countries and cities around the world, and to inspire others to take the plunge and travel abroad by getting out of their comfort zone and experiencing destinations for themselves. Traveling can change your life, and Olga is dedicated to showing the world how and inspiring others to do it.
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.