William Anderson has conceptualized, developed and managed over 40 resorts, hotels, restaurants, clubs, interval ownerships and related real estate properties throughout the world. Mr. Anderson has served most recently as President/CEO/COO of three global hospitality management and destination management companies within the luxury hotel, resort and destination spa segments. He has overseen operations in around 30 countries and is recognized for creating and operating new projects or restructuring and repositioning existing hotel, resort and residential properties across a wide spectrum of market segments. In every case, these properties have led their respective markets and expanded geographic regions in rate, occupancy and real estate sales and have been recognized by such publications as Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report, Conde Nast Traveler Gold List and Travel and Leisure. Awards include Spa Finders #1 Destination Spa in North America and Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report Global #1 Resort. In addition he has overseen the concept development, master planning, marketing and sales of complimentary real estate, club and interval ownership projects in North America, Europe, the Caribbean, South Pacific and Central America with real estate sales in excess of $450M. These properties have included some of the premier club and membership-based programs within the luxury segment.
Eric Bergstrom is the President and Founder of Bergstrom Capital Advisors, Inc. (BCA), located in Irvine, California. Eric formed BCA in 2001, after 13 years as a CPA and founder of Ernst & Young/Kenneth Leventhal & Co.'s Real Estate Capital Markets Group (EYKL), where he led all real estate capital market assignments in the western United States, including the largest equity placement in the history of the firm.
During his 25-year career in the real estate capital markets, Eric has advised hundreds of real estate owners and developers throughout North America in strategic planning, entity and project-level acquisition due diligence/dispositions, land planning/design, market and financial feasibility analyses, and capital market advisory assignments, including workouts/restructures, mergers and acquisitions, entity formations and financial statement audits for REIT IPOs, High-Yield Debt Offerings, and Investment Fund Entities. BCA is a discrete, privately-held real estate capital market and strategic advisory firm that provides professional and highly responsive capital market execution for owners and developers of all product types in commercial and residential real estate by utilizing Eric's technical expertise, twenty five years of real estate experience, and direct, long-standing relationships with capital sources and real estate professionals throughout the world.
Robert Breech works with David E. Kelley Productions, an Emmy Award winning producer on Picket Fences, L.A Law, Chicago Hope, Ally McBeal and The Practice. Mr. Breech met David Kelley in 1986 when they came together to work on L.A. Law. Mr. Breech was a practicing attorney for many years, having earned his B.A. from Stanford and his J.D. from Loyola University School of Law, but left his practice to obtain an MFA in producing at University of Southern California (USC).
He worked briefly in documentaries, created a couple features and then moved into television. His main responsibilities include creative execution and overseeing a team of writers, but he is involved with every aspect of production, including editing the final version that is then screened by Kelley. Mr. Breech has won seven Emmy Awards during his years working with Kelley.
Recognized as a global leader by the international spa and wellness community, Mary-Elizabeth Gifford is an expert in both nature-based beauty and hospitality. One of the most trusted names working in global health, wellness, spa, today, Mary-Elizabeth is known for her collaborative and culturally sensitive approach to global team building, she is president of the Board of Directors of the Washington Spa Alliance, an advocacy and research group based in Washington, D.C. and she is a past director of the board of trustees of the International Spa Association.
Equal parts entrepreneurial and collaborative, yet deeply rooted in agriculture, she has forged innovative programs between the spa industry and the non-profit organic EARTH University in Costa Rica; she has created connectivity between Peace Corps-supported aquaculture and the product side of the spa industry. Mary-Elizabeth sits on the Board of Directors of the world's oldest eco-certifier of farmland, Demeter, founded in 1928, which certifies Biodynamic agriculture, the farming practices considered beyond organic, and she is also on the Board of Directors of Stellar, one of the first NOP accredited U.S.D.A.-authorized certifiers of Organic farmland in the U.S. The democratization of spa and wellness is a longstanding passion and she is Senior Strategy Advisor to the public health advocacy think tank Wellness Warrior.
Mary-Elizabeth's experience in strategy, sales, public engagement, global communications and marketing, and as an award-winning former journalist has been widely recognized.
The "second generation" of her family with a history of activism, her family's history of political engagement in food justice and peace is preserved in the Gotlieb Archive Research Center at Boston University. She has presented at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., at the LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) Forum in Boulder, Colo., on the "Green Faculty" at the annual Health and Beauty Association in N.Y.C., at the Global Wellness Summit, and elsewhere. She is a Strategic Partner in the San Francisco-based Tattoo Strategy Network of Expertise. A native of New York City, she graduated from Brown University and had a year of post-graduate study at Harvard's Nieman Foundation for Journalism. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, a journalist at NPR, and their family.
Alice Marshall, President of Alice Marshall Public Relations, has been promoting luxurious travel properties and destinations since the 1980s, beginning with her in-house role at Cunard Line publicizing the QE2, The Ritz, and Cunard's other properties. In 1991, Mrs. Marshall launched her own company.
Today, Alice Marshall Public Relations represents some of the world's greatest hotels and resorts, the top luxury cruise line, a renowned spa company, and an organic bed linen company. Her company has extensive experience in the global travel and spa market, having worked with luxury brands across the world since its inception. The company has collaborated with leading hotel groups (Park Hyatt, COMO Hotels and Resorts, Island Outpost, Nantucket Island Resorts, Victoria-Jungfrau Collection), top luxury cruise lines (Crystal Cruises), independent hotels and resorts (Crillon le Brave and Royal Mansour Marrakech), and luxury products (ESPA International, Guinot, Blackwell Rum and Gayle Warwick Fine Linen).
Mrs. Marshall's forte has always been to quickly grasp any occasion and propose positive actions that complement her clients' desired image. To this end, she has developed personal relationships with literally hundreds of journalists who cover business and leisure travel, wellness, food, design, fashion, and lifestyle concerns. Her company employs 12 very talented publicists in New York and California. While sustainable tourism does not immediately come to mind when one thinks of luxury hotels, the company's clients are recognizing their responsibility for implementing policies that nurture sustainability, and a few have been recognized by Conde Nast Traveler's World Savers for their efforts. It has been Alice's focus to not only provide a face and window for her clients, but also to gently guide them toward a wholesome relationship that minimizes their carbon footprint. Each of the company's clients is an educator in this respect.
Alice graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a B.A. in Art History as well as an M.B.A. from New York University.
K. Denaye Hinds, a native Bermudian, is an engineer and project manager. She has experience in sustainability planning at the tourism-destination and operations levels, working with governments to produce sustainability plans and guide sustainable development in various island-nations. Hinds’ role in the tourism industry involves sustainability infrastructure, planning, and resource forecasting of islands as means to preparing for the future. With resilience and sustainable investment as a focus, she has provided guidance and developed tourism plans to ensure longevity of industries with the goal of improving and implementing sustainable development and policy.
Hinds is also director of corporate development for OBM International, a leading global architecture and master planning design firm specializing in hospitality and high-end residential design. She is responsible for leading the company’s development goals for corporate structure, business development, and culture. Hinds also serves as chairwoman for the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism and sits on the executive committee for the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association. She is active in the US Green Building Council for South Florida and the Caribbean.
Andrea Holbrook is president of Holbrook Travel, Inc., which is based in Gainesville, Florida. Since 1998, she has led the company, which specializes in natural history, educational programs, and the promotion of sustainable travel. She is also part of a family operation that owns and oversees Selva Verde Lodge and Private Reserve in the lowland rainforests of Costa Rica. Andrea helped establish, and is currently president of the board of, the Sarapiquí Conservation Learning Center (SCLC), a community-driven outreach initiative located on the grounds of Selva Verde Lodge. The center’s mission is to empower local communities through learning, providing access to knowledge and promoting sustainable development.
At Holbrook Travel, Andrea directs a team that works with diverse clients, from nature and conservation organizations to high schools and universities to individual specialists. Her company offers programs that support and help carry out their missions in more than 30 countries, mostly in Latin America and East Africa. Through Holbrook, Andrea has also supported three industry associations focused on sustainable development in specific regions: the International Galápagos Tour Operators Association; Friends of the Serengeti; and RESPECT in Cuba. She graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in English literature and enjoys spending time, and exploring the world, with her husband, Robert, and teenage daughter, Aggie.
Andrea Pinabell, LEED AP, joined Southface as the organization’s president in January 2017. A dynamic, purpose-driven, and experienced leader, Pinabell has demonstrated consistent success in developing and leading multi-level and international organizations in both for-profit and nonprofit environments. Most recently, she was vice president for sustainability and global citizenship with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.
Previously, Pinabell was with The Home Depot Foundation as director of the Sustainable Cities Institute and Sustainable Community Development Program manager. A chemical engineer by education, she brings wide-ranging expertise to Southface, from water to energy to sustainable business, communities, and development. In addition, Pinabell has won several awards, including SmartCEO Magazine’s award (2015) honoring visionary leadership in the commercial real estate industry.
Often called the father of modern adventure travel, Richard Bangs has spent decades as an explorer and communicator, pioneering “virtual expeditions” on the internet and leading first descents of 35 rivers around the world, including the Yangtze in China and the Zambezi in Southern Africa. He also founded Sobek Expeditions, the first multinational river-running company, and the pioneering outfitter for active wilderness travel.
Bangs has published 19 books and more than 1,000 magazine articles. He’s also produced a score of documentaries and all manner of digital media. He has lectured at the Smithsonian, the National Geographic Society, the Explorers Club, and other notable venues. He writes a semi-regular feature for HuffingtonPost.com, freelances for other print and online publications, and produces and hosts Richard Bangs’ Adventures with Purpose, as seen on National Public Television.
In the early 1990s, Sobek merged with Mountain Travel to become Mountain Travel-Sobek, a leader in international adventure and eco-travel. Bangs also began TerraQuest, one of the first online travel projects, and was part of the founding executive team of Expedia.com. He also served as president of Outward Bound; created the “Well Traveled” series for Slate.com; and was founding editor and executive producer of MSNBC’s “Great Escapes.” He lives in Venice, California, with his family.
Michael Robbins has over 30 years of experience as a tourism consultant and has worked throughout Canada, the US, New Zealand/Australia, Southeast Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean. With a background in environmental planning, Michael focused his professional career on planning and developing more sustainable tourism models that consider the triple bottom line: economic, social and environmental. He founded his own boutique management consulting firm in 1994 and quickly became a recognized expert in strategic planning and marketing, feasibility assessments for new tourism ventures, business planning, and master planning for tourism resorts and attractions.
He has a particular interest in tourism as a form of economic empowerment for indigenous peoples and has worked on a wide range of assignments with First Nation, Inuit, and Maori entrepreneurs. Since 2009, Michael has been assisting the Inuit community of Arviat in Nunavut, Canada to develop a community-based tourism program. The Arviat Community Ecotourism initiative was a finalist in the Canadian Tourism Awards for 2012 in the cultural tourism category, and was selected as one of the Top 10 Canadian Social Change Innovators for 2012 by TIDES Canada. Through TIDES Canada, Michael has a donor directed fund (7th Generation Fund) providing assistance to various Aboriginal tourism and environmental conservation initiatives across Canada.
Michael has served on a number of public and private boards, as well as charities, and currently serves as a Trustee with the Pete Crompton Foundation. He has been involved philanthropically and professionally in a number of landmark Canadian conservation initiatives, including the Great Bear Rainforest and the Taku River Tlingit traditional territory land use management plan.
Over the past 23 years, Ella Messerli has been an innovator in the hospitality and service industry. Currently she holds the position of Managing Director/General Manager at Hotel El Ganzo in Los Cabos, Mexico, which just recently re-opened in November 2015 after Hurricane Odile. Prior to her position at Hotel El Ganzo, Ms. Messerli held the position of General Manager at Marquis Los Cabos, where she led the staff to receive honors and recognitions from Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure.
Experience in the hospitality industry has given Ms. Messerli the ability to seamlessly open hotels while stimulating her team members to perform beyond expectations. Ms. Messerli also strongly supports sustainable efforts that can benefit tourism and local residents in addition to improving practices at hotels both economically and successfully. She is also a member of the Executive Board of CREST (Center for Responsible Travel). Ms. Messerli additionally has vast expertise in sales and marketing, food & beverage and property management.
Ms. Messerli graduated from the Academie Met de Penninghen in Paris, France.
Keir D. Gumbs is a partner with Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, DC. Mr. Gumbs advises public and private companies, nonprofit organizations, institutional investors and other clients in corporate, corporate governance, securities regulation and transactional matters.
Mr. Gumbs' career includes six years of service with the SEC, where, immediately prior to joining Covington & Burling in 2005, he served as Counsel to SEC Commissioner Roel C. Campos. In that position, he advised the Commissioner on a variety of matters arising under federal securities law with an emphasis on corporate finance issues under the Securities Act of 1933, issuer reporting obligations under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, corporate governance developments, and SEC enforcement actions. Prior to serving as Counsel to Commissioner Campos, Mr. Gumbs spent five years as a staff attorney and later a Special Counsel in the SEC's Division of Corporation Finance. As a staff attorney he reviewed registration statements, periodic reports, and transactional filings by companies in the Consumer Products, Computers and Online Services, Utilities, and Chemicals industries. As a Special Counsel in the Office of Chief Counsel, Mr. Gumbs provided interpretive advice and guidance regarding federal securities laws to outside counsel and staff attorneys in the Division of Corporation Finance. Mr. Gumbs is a frequent author and speaker on matters affecting the public companies, including topics such as shareholder proposals, the proxy rules, corporate governance, SEC rulemaking and other matters. His work with CREST is also pro bono.