Neville Bhada is the founder and CEO of Tourism Skills Group, a company that focuses on the strategic planning, research and marketing needs of the travel and tourism, and association industries. Tourism Skills Group works with convention and visitor bureaus, chambers, accommodations, attractions, festivals and other related organizations in developing long-range plans through research. TSG concentrates on the research, marketing, communication and international needs of organizations. Some of the entities Tourism Skills Group works with include The Florida Keys and Key West, Visit Central Florida, Huntsville, Ala., Tennessee Valley Authority, several Parishes in Louisiana, and the Eastern Black Sea of Turkey Tourism Development Authority.
Mr. Bhada serves on the boards of the Atlanta Metro Travel Association as well as Georgia State University’s School of Hospitality Industry Advisory Board. He speaks domestically as well as internationally on a wide variety of tourism topics – from international tourism to defending budgets. He is currently an adjunct professor at the School of Hospitality at Georgia State University. Prior to founding TSG, he was responsible for communications, Web and media strategies at Southeast Tourism Society, a regional association of 800 members espousing the economic impact of tourism. He also was the executive director for the Southeast States chapter of the Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA). He also has worked extensively with the media. While in radio, he was awarded a Green Eyeshade Award for Sports Reporting and AP Award for Best Use of Sound. He later earned a television Emmy for his web work with Fox television affiliate WFLD – Chicago. Mr. Bhada is from Atlanta. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia in international business and a master’s degree from Clemson University in travel and tourism. Clemson University recently inducted Neville into its “Outstanding Alumnus” circle for his work in advancing tourism.
Amy Doherty has worked for the City of Suwanee for over 10 years. She started as a part-time employee with 27 events and now oversees over 40 events a year. Suwanee’s events have won many awards over the years and continue to grow and diversify each season. When not at work, Amy and her husband Dan who have lived in Suwanee for 20 years enjoy spending time with their three children. In 2015, Amy earned one of her favorite titles, “survivor” as she battled and beat breast cancer! Amy has spoken at Southeast Festivals and Events Association one-day seminars and annual conferences for several years. She also speaks each year at the Southeastern Tourism Society’s Marketing College where she is at TMP graduate and speaks to the second year students and on the Festivals and Events track. Amy has spoken at one-day seminars in Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Kentucky.
Dr. Bruce Pieper
Dr. Bruce Pieper is a dynamic leader with highly effective interpersonal and communication skills. Adept at training, coaching, and team building, many find his enthusiasm contagious. For over two decades, he has provided customized teaching, training and coaching for those in government, education, churches, nonprofits, and business & industry. Bruce has earned several degrees with academic distinction, including a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership, a Master of Business Administration, and a Bachelor of Science in Theology. He has additional undergraduate coursework in Business Administration and
Drawing upon academic research and lessons learned from his managerial experience, Bruce provides solutions to help individuals and organizations make improvements. He specializes in leadership, emotional intelligence, personality assessments, and interpersonal skills training. Bruce’s acute insight into people and organizations enables him to discern issues that may be impeding individual and team performance. Bruce’s rare gift of communication has made him a popular choice by associations, private organizations and the public sector for customized training, coaching and keynote presentations.
Randa Simpson Hovater
A native of Northport, Alabama, Randa Hovater is a graduate of Tuscaloosa Academy and the University of West Alabama where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Integrated Marketing Communications. While in college, she was a member of the UWA softball team and Phi Mu women’s fraternity. Currently, she is the manager of Media Relations for Visit Florence, AL; but has worked in numerous facets of media communications. She has served as the editor-in-chief and copy editor for the Muse newspaper, co-coordinator of the first annual Integrated Marketing Communications Competitive Conference, co-anchor for UWA’s news broadcasting station, graphics and website designer for The Livingston Press, and named Integrated Marketing Communications Scholar of the Year in 2016. Randa has traveled to both Las Vegas and Minneapolis to present her research on female body objectification in the media, landing her publication opportunities and a first-place ranking in the Best of South Journalism/Media Research competition by the Southeast Journalism Conference. Prior to working with the Florence/Lauderdale Tourism Bureau, Randa was the Relational Marketing Specialist and Graphic Designer for a web design firm in Birmingham. Outside of the tourism office, Randa can be found snapping photos or playing fetch with her miniature dachshunds, Luna Belle and Lennie.
Kay Moore is a native of Gadsden, Alabama. She graduated from Gadsden High School, then attended Gadsden State and Jacksonville State before graduating from the University of Alabama. She worked at Compass Bank for almost 31 years and left the bank in August 2004 to go into the mortgage business. Kay became Director of Downtown Gadsden, Inc. in October 2007. She is a member of First Baptist Church, City of Gadsden Planning Commission, and Gadsden Lions Club. Kay is currently treasurer for the Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts and is currently on the Board of Trustees, Riverview Regional Medical Center. Previously she has served as a board member of The Altrusa Club of Greater Gadsden, The Chamber of Commerce, Gadsden Regional Home Health and Hospice Advisory Board, Habitat for Humanity, and Junior Achievement. Kay has received a number of awards: Heart of an Eagle Award by the Boy Scouts of America, Greater Alabama Council; Friend of Small Business by The Chamber; Women of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama.
Brian Blank joins the Department from the industry side of fish, wildlife and boating. Brian has served in several marketing capacities, most notably with Dick’s Clothing and Sporting Goods, Medalist Apparel, and Emotion Kayaks. He also served as the member and marketing director for the American Sport Fishing Association. He has a BA in History from the Messiah College, Grantham, PA. Brian has a vast amount of experience in social networking, community-based marketing, customer tracking, product evaluation, and customer recruitment and retention. His skills in developing a grassroots effort to reach new license buyers and evaluating how to retain the existing customers we already have are his most valued assets. Brian is an avid hunter and angler and enjoys stream fishing from a kayak, as well as deer and turkey hunting. Brian was born and raised outside of Baltimore, MD, where he learned to appreciate and enjoy the waters around the Chesapeake Bay. As an avid outdoorsman, Brian understands the needs of the hunter, angler, and trapper, and will quickly become an expert in addressing how we can better serve them. Brian has now made his home in Frankfort.
Janie Coppey is the co-owner of Wills Creek Vineyards and Winery in Duck Springs, Alabama. Janie grew up in Duck Springs on a dairy farm that is now the site of the winery, and after 34 years of teaching, she returned to her birthplace to retire and bring her warm hospitality and enthusiasm for making wine, hosting weddings and meeting guests from all over the world. Janie and her husband, Jahn, who grew up working vineyards in the Rhône valley of Switzerland, decided to plant the first acre of muscadine vines in 1996 which quickly expanded to 4 acres on the winery property. Today, there is a total of 10 acres of vineyard providing fruit for all the muscadine wines produced. Since 2001, she and her husband, Jahn, have been making varieties of muscadine wine, fruit wines, vinifera wines and other specialties. When Janie isn’t at the winery or event venue, she loves to visit her two daughters and four grandchildren in New Jersey or traveling to Switzerland to enjoy the company of Jahn’s family and of course, enjoy the Swiss wine, cheese, and chocolate.