About This Webinar
Tune in to the Connect THRIVE Summit Day 1: Morning Sessions and live stream all of today's rich content.

Monday, November 9
9:00 – 9:15 am: Welcome from DT Minich, Visit Kissimmee and Cedar Rapids Tourism

9:15 – 10:00 am: How Important Restaurants are to Communities, Art Smith, sponsored by Cedar Rapids Tourism

10:00 – 10:05 am: Words from Roger Dow, US Travel Association

10:05 – 10:10 am: Words from Dana Young, VISIT FLORIDA

10:10 – 10:15 am: Words from Don Welsh, Destinations International

10:15 – 10:40 am: Leveraging the LGBTQ+ Segment in Your COVID Recovery, Ed Salvato, LGBTQ Travel Expert, Author, Educator and Author

10:40 – 11:00 am: General Session, Barbara Poma, OnePULSE Foundation, Inc.

11:00 am – 12:00 pm: Gaycation Travel Show Podcast with Ravi Roth

**Noon – 1:15 pm: Break for Lunch on Your Own**
DT Minich
President and CEO, Experience Kissimmee
DT Minich is a veteran tourism executive. In August 2014, he became the first President and CEO of Experience Kissimmee, the Destination Marketing Organization for Osceola County, Florida. In this role, DT leads a 53-person staff, plus in-country representation firms in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Germany, Northern Europe, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. With an annual operating budget of $25 million, Experience Kissimmee helps inspire visitation for more than 8.9 million overnight guests annually. Capitalizing on his nearly three decades as a tourism marketer, DT has succeeded in strengthening the destination’s relationships with valued travel professionals and media worldwide. In addition, DT champions strategic partnerships as witnessed by frequent collaboration with key agencies, such as U.S. Travel Association, Brand USA, and the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.

Under DT’s leadership, the staff has made tremendous gains in positioning Osceola County as a top destination for vacations, meetings, and sporting events. In 2017, DT and Experience Kissimmee were recognized by U.S. Travel Association with the Grassroots Travel Champion
Award. DT is a U.S. Travel Association Chairman Circle Board Member, Executive Committee Member and sits on the Brand USA Marketing Committee and IPW Planning Committee. He also serves on the board for the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association and is the past president of the Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations.
Art Smith
Chef and Restaurnt Co-Owner
Chef Art Smith is the executive chef and co-owner of Blue Door Kitchen & Garden in Chicago, Southern Art & Bourbon Bar in Atlanta, Art & Soul in Washington DC, Art Bird & Whiskey Bar at Grand Central Terminal in New York City, and Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ Florida Kitchen & Southern Shine Bar at Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Art Smith has received two James Beard Foundation awards, the culinary profession’s highest honor, and has cooked for some of the world’s most famous celebrities.

Smith is the author of “Back to the Table; Kitchen Life: Real Food for Real Families”; “Back to the Family”; and “Art Smith’s Healthy Comfort,” with a focus on healthy cooking and healthy living.

Chef Smith is the founder of Common Threads, a non-profit organization teaching low-income children to cook wholesome and affordable meals since 2003.

In 2015 Smith launched a non-profit organization, Reunion, Florida Garden and Kitchen School, in Madison FL at the historic Wardlaw-Smith House near his childhood home in Jasper, FL.
Roger Dow
President & CEO, U.S. Travel Association
Roger Dow is president and CEO of U.S. Travel Association, the Washington, D.C.-based organization representing all segments of travel in America. U.S. Travel’s mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. As the leading travel industry advocate, Dow and
his team regularly meet with executive branch and congressional leaders to advance policies that benefit the broader travel industry. His efforts have resulted in major legislative victories, including his instrumental role in establishing and renewing Brand USA, the highly effective national travel and tourism promotion program. Dow and U.S. Travel are also leaders of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition, which promotes and defends the value of face-to-face business meetings, trade shows, conferences and conventions.

Prior to joining U.S. Travel in 2005, Dow spent 34 years at Marriott International, rising to senior vice president of global and field sales. Dow served in the United States Army with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam, where he received the Bronze Star and other citations. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Seton Hall University and was honored as a Most Distinguished Alumnus in 2012. In addition, he holds an honorary degree from Johnson & Wales University.
Don Welsh
President & CEO, Destinations International
A seasoned tourism executive with more than 35 years of experience in the industry, Don Welsh serves as the President and CEO of Destinations International. Since joining the association in March 2016, Welsh has implemented a strategic realignment for the association through a renewed commitment to focus on member needs to deliver the resources members have determined to be essential to the success of their organizations.
Prior to joining Destinations International, Welsh served as the President and CEO of Choose Chicago. Welsh also held the CEO position at the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association and the Seattle Convention & Visitors Bureau. Prior to joining the destination marketing industry, Welsh served as senior vice president for Westin Hotels at its corporate headquarters, and has also held senior leadership positions in sales and marketing for Westin Hotels and Resorts, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas.
Ed Salvato
LGBTQ Travel Expert, Educator and Author
Ed Salvato (pronouns he/him) offers LGBTQ marketing consulting to major travel, tourism & hospitality brands around the globe. Ed also runs the LGBTQ Travel Pavilion at the NY Times Travel Show and is the emcee at ITB’s Pink Pavilion. He’s co-author of the Handbook of LGBT Tourism & Hospitality Marketing: A Guide for Business Practice by Columbia University Press. Previously, Ed was editor in chief of OUT & ABOUT, Out Traveler and ManAboutWorld gay travel magazines. Ed is an adjunct instructor in marketing at NYU’s Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality currently teaching a class in customer relationship management.
Barbara Poma
Founder and Owner, Pulse Nightclub
Barbara Poma, founder and owner of Pulse nightclub, was raised in Coral Springs, Florida where she attended J.P. Taravella High School. She graduated in 1990 from the University of Central Florida with a BA in English Literature and a minor in Secondary Education and she was member of the Pi Beta Phi Sorority.

Ms. Poma worked as an educator in the Orange County Public School system for three years teaching Creative Writing, Language Arts, Debate and Drama.

In 1995 she married entrepreneur Rosario Poma, with whom she has two children and a stepdaughter. Joining her restauranteur husband, Ms. Poma has built and operated several businesses, most significantly Pulse nightclub which was established in 2004 as a tribute to her brother John who passed away from complications from HIV/AIDs.

Pulse nightclub was embraced by the global LGBTQ+ community for the club’s culture of love and providing a venue where the LGBTQ+ community and their families could be themselves. In the course of operating Pulse nightclub, Ms. Poma has become a respected human and civil rights advocate.
Ravi Roth
Gaycation Travel Show Podcast Host
Roth comes with prior experience in LGBTQ+ travel as a blogger, vlogger, content creator, and influencer, exploring the Queer culture in 31 countries with his travel brand Ravi Round The World. Ravi fearlessly captures and discovers where to stay, play, eat, work out, sites to see, and the Queer history of each destination. Ravi has been recognized as an expert in the LGBTQ+ travel community and was was named “One of the Top 10 Gay Travel Instagrammers in the World to Follow” by Unicorn Booty, nominated for “Best Insta Traveler of 2019″ by Gay Cities, and recognized as “People We Love in 2019” by Metrosource. As a highly sought after lecturer on LGBTQ+ travel, Ravi has been a featured speaker at the NY Times Travel Show, LGBT Week, Google, and Community Marketing Insights. Ravi is also an actor and singer and has been living in the Big Apple for 14 years! Ravi is represented by Jeremy Katz at The Katz Company.
Joel Silver