Subject Matter Speakers
Debbie Meihls, Executive Director of New Smyrna Beach Area Visitors Bureau
A native of Connecticut, Debbie moved to Florida after completing her master’s degree in economics. Beginning her career as an Account Supervisor for over 14 CVB’s across the U.S. for Visitors Services International (VSI). Expanding her career from within the DMO model, Debbie has worked for Visit St. Pete/Clearwater CVB, Bradenton CVB and currently New Smyrna Beach Area Visitors Bureau (SVAA).
A tourism industry veteran of 24 years, Debbie holds many accreditations in the industry and is a Certified Destination Marketing Executive (CDME) through Destinations International. Certified Meeting Planner (CMP), Certified Hospitality Marketing Executive (CHME) and Certified Travel Counselor (CTC). Her other committee work: a board member of Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations (FADMO); Board member of Southeast Tourism Society (STS), Board member for Marine Discovery Center, NSB, FL; Leadership member of the Sustainable Tourism Task Force for United Nations World Tourism Organization and UNEP; Past vice-Chair of Visit Florida Global Media Committee, and 10-year committee member of the Destinations International Transparency/Advocacy committee member.
As Executive Director of the New Smyrna Beach Area Visitors Bureau, Debbie manages a staff of 7 at the Visitors Bureau. Her goals are to bring sustainable tourism to the NSB area and continue her work as a partner with the Blue Community Consortium/UNWTO. She recently passed the Project Management for Sustainable Development (PM4SD) Foundation exam and looks forward to working with her stakeholders to develop and promote hospitality products more sustainably.
Debbie Resides in New Smyrna Beach with her husband of 19 years and her 9-year-old Golden Retriever – Sir Toma.
Chad Truxall, Marine Discovery Center
Chad is the Executive Director of the Marine Discovery Center in New Smyrna Beach. Chad has a B.S.in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation with a specialization in Aquatic Sciences from the University of Florida and has more than 19 years of experience as a biologist, educator and non-profit manager. He recently was awarded with the 2018 Outstanding New Leader Award from the Association of Nature Center Administrators (ANCA), an international network of nature and environmental learning centers. He believes that in the future, nature centers will play a critical role in nature-based community engagement. Chad is a Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP) lead instructor and serves on the FMNP Advisory board. He also serves on the New Smyrna Beach Areas Visitors Bureau, SE Volusia Chamber of Commerce environmental subcommittee and on the steering committee for the Florida region of ANCA. He currently resides in Port Orange with his wife Rachel, daughter Bella, 4 cats and their lab, Gabby the Black Labby. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joe Tankersley, Unique Visions Inc.
Joe Tankersley is a writer, futurist, and former Walt Disney Imagineer. He combines his broad experience as a storyteller with a deep knowledge of strategic foresight to help organizations create compelling visions for better tomorrows.
Joe was a writer/producer for Walt Disney Imagineering for 20 years. While there, he led creative teams on projects for Epcot, Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the Disneyland Resort in California. As part of Walt Disney Imagineering’s elite Blue Sky Studio, Joe helped establish the group’s first Strategic Foresight Program. In that role, he created a series of innovative projects designed to explore possible futures for The Walt Disney Studios, Disney Parks and Resorts, The Disney Company’s Corporate Citizenship Group, and Walt Disney World Operations. He continues to support those groups today as an outside consultant.
Since the fall of 2014, Joe has applied the knowledge and skills gained by his years working for the world’s most successful entertainment company to help others “Imagineer their best tomorrows.” His clients include multinational corporations, major foundations, and community-based organizations. Recent projects have explored the future of the workforce, retail, sustainability, health, creativity, and aging.
Joe is an active contributor to the professional foresight community. He served on the board of directors for the Association of Professional Futurists from 2010-2015 and organized international foresight gatherings in 2013 and 2015. He is a frequent keynote speaker at major conferences where he delivers his message about the power of narrative to create future opportunities.
Roberto Schaps, President & CEO of TURKEL Brands
Born in El Salvador, Roberto grew up in Guatemala before attending Texas A&M University, where he received a BS in Civil Engineering. After going on to earn an MBA at the University of Miami, Roberto managed the Miami-based coffee roasting, distribution and processing plant for his family’s Guatemalan coffee plantation.
Attracted by the creativity, energy and just plain craziness inherent in advertising, he joined TURKEL Brands in 1989. Once he took the plunge, he hasn’t come up for air.
Roberto has guided TURKEL Brands to become one of the leading travel and tourism brand marketing firms in the country, helping highly renowned global travel brands to build their business. He takes the greatest pride in being able to offer clients counsel on various business concerns as we share our commitment to the travel industry.
Through his almost 30-year career, Roberto has worked with many destinations, including Kissimmee, Miami, New Smyrna Beach, Alabama Gulf Shores, El Salvador, Gettysburg, PA, Guatemala, Mexico, Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, Peru, Puerto Rico and Springfield, MO. To stay current in the travel industry trends, he regularly attends preeminent global travel industry shows, such as IPW, WTM, FITUR, and IMEX, among others.
In his “spare time,” Roberto serves on the board of SAHF (Salvadoran American Humanitarian Foundation), and indulges in his favorite passions – the two W’s – wine collecting and world travel.
Dr. David W. Randle, Blue Community
Dave holds a B.A. from California Lutheran University, an M-Div. from the Iliff School of Theology, and a doctorate in Spiritual Disciplines, Wellness and Environmental Concerns from the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO.
He currently serves as Managing Director of the Blue Community Consortium, a UNWTO Affiliate and UNWTO Sustainable Tourism Observatory. For six years he directed the Sustainable Tourism concentration for the USF College of Global Sustainability. He serves as president and executive director of the WHALE Center, and Managing Director of the International Ocean Institute Waves of Change initiative, on the Global Sustainable Tourism Council Board of Directors and their International Knowledge, Networking, Education & Training Working Group, The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) Research and Education Council, and the board of directors for the Florida Society of Ethical Ecotourism,
As the first ordained environmental minister in the nation, Dave has successfully coordinated a national campaign to preserve water, wildlife, and wilderness areas on behalf of the Pitkin County Commissioners, served as political and environmental advisor to John Denver, and initial program development coordinator for John Denver's Windstar Foundation. Dave was selected as one of the five lead off witnesses for hearings by the U. S. Presidential Commission for a Peace Academy & Conflict Resolution, and was one of six leaders for the 150 person Global Environment Team at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Following the Earth Summit, Dave worked with several local and national organizations to provide follow-up leadership training for peace, justice, and sustainability issues for intergenerational teams from local churches, youth from the International Four Worlds Earth Ambassador Program, the Salt Lake County Peer Leadership Development team, and a special leadership training in environmental concerns with youth involved in local gangs. In 2007 Dave directed the pilot UN International Days programs for World Water Day, Earth Day, International Biodiversity Day, World Environment & World Ocean Day.
Dave has been working to address environmental issues within the frame work of the United Religions Initiative where in collaboration with UNEP he developed the Earth and Faith Leadership Development Program that was piloted in the Olympic Village in Salt Lake City, and which received an Olympic Award and an award at the United Nations. During the Salt Lake Olympics Dave also directed the Olympic program on Ethics, Values, and the Environment, as well as the Olympic Peace Pole project. Dave also co-facilitates with Dr. Noel Brown the implementation of the the Call to Global Healing an international initiative which was created through collaboration with the United Religions Initiative and UNEP.
Dave is currently Managing Director for the Waves of Change International Ocean Institute Campaign and was selected as one of four Civil Society delegates for North America to the UNEP International meeting in Monaco The Waves of Change work focuses on the protection of coastal habitat and marine environments through the Blue Community program. In 2013 Dave produced a video series in collaboration with the Walt Disney Company Animal Science & Environment team to show Walt Disney Company Sustainability practices. In 2015, Dave co-chaired a consultation on sustainable tourism at Windsor Castle that included both U.N. representatives and global leaders from around the world and participated in the U.N. High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development as a guest of the UNWTO. Currently Dave is leading a team for four USF faculty to implement a grant to share best practices in sustainable tourism and marine science with counterparts in Cuba.
In addition to environmental work, Dave has served as program development coordinator, administrator and faculty for both the Colorado Mountain College Wellness Program and the Aspen Academy of Martial & Healing Arts, as Wellness Director and Administrative Staff for Deaconess Health Systems in St. Louis, MO, and developed an environmental leadership course for the Claremont Graduate School of Theology.
Dave has a variety of consulting experiences including the program development, marketing, and leadership for the Breakthrough Cruise on the Mississippi Queen River boat, the Breakthrough to Excellence program at Walt Disney World, providing of a feasibility study for HOK architectural firm and the Medical University of South Carolina $20 million Wellness/Student Center, the Snowbird Wellness Program, and the SLC VAMC Leadership Development & Breakthrough Commitment System.