Meet the presenters for the 2017 Travel & Words Conference.
Dan Weeks earned an MA from the University of Iowa’s nonfiction writer’s workshop. He spent 20+ years as a feature writer, editor, and editorial manager for magazines ranging from Better Homes and Gardens publications to The Iowan, a 65-year-old regional. For ten years, he freelanced full-time as a writer, photographer, editor, and editorial consultant specializing in travel and adventure travel. His 2009 book Deadliest Catch: Desperate Hours was a Discovery Channel best seller; he won an award for travel writing and photography from the International Regional Magazine Association in 2016. He’s currently producing a bookazine on the record-breaking 2008 Iowa floods.
Sophia McDonald Bennett is an Oregon-based freelance writer, editor and communications consultant. Her work has appeared in over two dozen magazines, newspapers and websites including TheAtlantic.com, All About Beer, Association Conventions & Facilities, Cheese Connoisseur, VIA, Sip Northwest, 1859 Oregon’s Magazine and Oregon Home. She also provides communication and social media services to a handful of small businesses. Sophia has spoken at numerous conferences and special events in the Northwest and the United Kingdom. Learn more about her at sophiathewriter.com.
Jade Helm, DWS, CS, CSW is a writer, consultant and educator. She is the primary author of Tasting Pour and a freelance contributor to several print and online wine publications, including American Winery Guide, Oregon Wine Press, Wine Press Northwest, The SOMM Journal, Tasting Panel, Wine Industry Advisor and Northwest Travel & Life. She carries credentials from the Society of Wine Educators (Certified Specialist in Wine), Court of Master Sommeliers (Certified Sommelier) and the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (Diploma in Wine and Spirits). Jade is an instructor in the Northwest Wine Studies Program at Chemeketa Community College and resides in the Willamette Valley. She believes in real food, great wine, and the importance of sharing both with family and friends. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google and Instagram.
Virginia Smyth is the executive editor of Seattle Magazine where she oversees the magazine’s travel coverage, among other things. Her role includes working with many freelance writers and regularly evaluating pitches. Virginia’s career has included reporting and editing roles at weekly and daily newspapers, as well as a few years working on corporate publications. She’s an enthusiastic traveler whose has fond memories of her family’s first road trip when she was 9. They crisscrossed the United States by car in 33 days logging close to 10,000 miles and visiting 20 states and many national monuments and parks along the way. She hopes to repeat the trip soon.
As President of Leading Edge Public Affairs, Niki Terzieff draws upon a decade of experience in Oregon politics – both policy work and on the campaign trail. Her campaign career helped to shape the current landscape and resulted in long-standing relationships with caucus leaders in both parties and both chambers. In a relatively short time, Niki has developed a network of direct contacts to today’s and tomorrow’s leaders. Over the last decade, Terzieff has been a growing force in Salem by shaping, negotiating, and passing legislation on behalf of a broad spectrum of clients and perspectives. She has built a solid foundation for success in the healthcare and public safety sectors, working issues from all sides, engaging with all 90 Legislators. As a result of her experiences, relationships, talents and tenacity, Terzieff has amassed a rather impressive list of past legislative successes. When not in the hallowed halls of the Capitol or working on the campaign trail, Niki is fundraising for the Political Action Committee she founded to End Violence Against Women (VAW-PAC) and keeps busy as Chairwoman of the Board of Directors at the Cascade Forest Conservancy.