Featured Speakers

billupsAndrea Billups
Andrea Billups is a freelance journalist, author and longtime staff correspondent with People magazine. A native of West Virginia and graduate of Marshall University and the University of Florida, she has been a frequent television and radio guest, chatting about the intersection of celebrity, pop culture and politics. Most recently, Billups, who has worked as editorial consultant to several businesses, has channeled her passion for style and entrepreneurship to launch the lifestyle and accessories brand, Be Brilliant (BeBrilliantBags.com). She tweets, often sharply, @princessmouse — and no, she won’t be changing her handle to sound more like a grown-up.


Tom Burton
Tom Burton is an independent photojournalist and filmmaker based in Lady Lake, Florida, and is the director of TWBurton Media. He is the former director of photography/video at The Orlando Sentinel, where he worked for more than 30 years. Burton was also one of the first newspaper photographers to introduce video into daily coverage. In addition to his time at the Sentinel, Burton has worked for the Citrus County Chronicle, The Gainesville Sun and The Lakeland Ledger. He was also associate editor of The Villages Daily Sun.


Roy Peter Clark
Roy Peter Clark has taught writing at every level — to school children and Pulitzer Prize-winning authors — for more than 30 years, and has spoken about the writer’s craft on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” NPR and “Today”; at conferences and news organizations around the globe. He is vice president and senior scholar at The Poynter Institute, a school for journalists in St. Petersburg, Florida. Clark is the author of multiple books, including “Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer,” “How to Write Short,” “The Glamour of Grammar” and “Help! For Writers.”


Meredith Cochie
Meredith Cochie started her career in journalism as a reporter and editor in 1999. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications in 2006 and 2008. She has industry experience in magazines, newspapers, online, public relations and crisis communications. She has been teaching college-level journalism for nine years. She teaches in the New Media Journalism and Public Relations Master of Arts program at Full Sail University.


Dalia Colón
Dalia Colón is a multimedia journalist based in Florida. In addition to being the associate producer and co-host of “WEDU Arts Plus” on Tampa Bay’s PBS station, Dalia writes for numerous travel publications. Her freelance credits include the New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Orbitz, CheapTickets, Visit Florida and more. Previously, Colón was a staff reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and WUSF, Tampa Bay’s NPR affiliate radio station. Visit her website at daliacolon.com or follow her on Twitter @daliacolon.

dalySean Daly
Sean Daly has spent the past 20 years giving people something to read/watch while they eat their Fruity Pebbles in the morning. He was born outside of Boston and schooled at Syracuse University, which basically means he spent his first 22 years buried under a snowbank. He’s been a staff writer at The Washington Post and the Tampa Bay Times; he’s broadcasted for Tampa TV affiliates ABC Action News and Fox 13, and is currently a game show host on HSN.


Bill Duryea
Bill Duryea is enterprise editor at POLITICO. Before going to Washington, D.C., Duryea was enterprise editor at the Tampa Bay Times in Florida where he led an award-winning team of senior writers and created Floridian magazine, which was named one of the three best news features sections in America. Duryea won the Paul Hansell Award for Distinguished Achievement in Florida Journalism from the Florida Society of News Editors. He began his career at the New Milford Times in Connecticut, which was named best weekly in New England while he was managing editor.


Ernest Hooper
Ernest Hooper is in his 23rd year at the Tampa Bay Times, but he never says he works for the Times. “A man who has a passion for his job never works a day in his life.” During his tenure at the Times, Hooper has handled a number of roles from high school sports writer to radio/TV columnist to NFL beat writer. Since 2001, he has served as the man-about-town columnist and in 2012, he added the role of East Hillsborough bureau chief. He’s probably best known for his signature tagline: “That’s all I’m saying.”

Beth Kassab
Beth Kassab is a senior columnist at The Orlando Sentinel. She writes about education, transportation, politics, co-existing in Central Florida’s suburbs with bears and coyotes and many other topics. Kassab is a rare Orlando native who joined the Sentinel in 2001. She has covered government, the court system, tourism and aviation. She wrote the Sentinel’s business column before starting a local column in 2011. She has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, NBC Nightly News and FOX-Channel 35. Kassab graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in journalism.


Antwan Key
Antwan Key has more than 10 years of experience as a multiplatform communications professional. His background includes digital and print content development, video production, marketing of programs and services, social media engagement and media relations. Key loves collaborating to identify and develop strategic solutions to commnicate messages, educate audiences, and tell stories. Key earned a master’s in management from Webster University and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Florida A&M University.


Ben Montgomery
Ben Montgomery is an enterprise reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and founder of the narrative journalism website Gangrey.com. Montgomery grew up in Oklahoma and studied journalism at Arkansas Tech University. He worked for the Courier in Russellville, Aransas, the Standard-Times in San Angelo, Texas, the Times Herald-Record in New York’s Hudson River Valley and The Tampa Tribune before joining the Times in 2006. He is also the author of “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail.”


Nikki Ross-Inda
Nikki Ross-Inda is founder and coordinator of the Moffitt Healthy KIDZ, a signature program offered at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. Guided by the philosophy of “prevention starts early,” Moffitt Healthy KIDZ began in 2008 to fulfill an unmet need to develop programming specific to youth encouraging them to adopt healthy lifestyles at an early age. Ross-Inda supports various departments at the Cancer Center including Moffitt Diversity, Public Relations and Government Relations, serving as a spokesperson for Moffitt’s Men’s Health Forum and Moffitt Healthy KIDZ Program.

Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez is a front-end Web developer for the Data and Digital Enterprise team at the Tampa Bay Times. She works with editors and reporters to create digital graphics, data visualizations, newsroom software and websites for the newspaper. In the past, Sanchez has created iOS apps, worked in magazine design and digital publishing and as a freelance branding consultant. She graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications in 2013 and has worked at Sports Illustrated and Animal Planet.


Jeff Sharon
Jeff Sharon is a course director for the New Media Journalism program at Full Sail University, and also covers UCF sports for SportsTalkFlorida.com. A proud graduate of UCF and Syracuse University, he was an award-winning sports reporter and anchor at WNEG-TV in northeastern Georgia, and also produced and hosted a weekly sports magazine show for UCF Athletics. Sharon also keeps a blog on aviation and space history at Aerothusiast.com.


spikerTed Spiker
Ted Spiker is chairman of the journalism department at the University of Florida. He teaches courses in magazine writing, sports media and health journalism. He is a freelance magazine writer and author or co-author of more than a dozen books. His work has appeared in TIME.com, Esquire.com, Men’s Health, O The Oprah Magazine, Outside, Reader’s Digest, Fortune and many other publications.