Join us on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at the Galveston Island Convention Center from 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM.

This event is designed for festival and event organizers to obtain fresh ideas, networking tools, information from local professionals and ways to identify funding opportunities to enhance or develop sustainable events.

Scroll To Top
Neil Kumar

Neil Kumar is the Lead Growth Engineer at Eventeny where he has helped scale the company to work with nearly 3000 events and festivals across North America. He graduated from Emory's Goizueta Business School with a BBA and has a passion for events (duh), product management, design thinking, and leading great communication. He is a park regular, football fanatic, and still slowly working through all the restaurants in Atlanta.

Neil Murphy

Communication, corporate relations, and socioeconomic expert for almost 30 years, Neil has built business and communication strategies that have established and reinforced organizational legitimacy and increased the effectiveness of private and public organizations across the globe. A retired U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel, Neil spent almost half of his 24-year career serving in Southwest & East Asia furthering US interests as a public affairs officer working crisis/environmental/internal and external communications, and community relations. In his last assignment, he served as the director of media relations at Headquarters United States Marine Corps. Neil later worked for the ExxonMobil Corporation in upstream and downstream global operations and communications. As a socioeconomic manager in West Qurna, Iraq, he led community investment and engagement, national content, and tribal relations for a super-giant oil and gas project. Joining the Park Board team in 2021, Neil helps to create synergy and oversees and develops communication strategies that aim to increase public awareness of the mission and activities of The Park Board and Visit Galveston. Neil was born in Boston, graduated from Norwich University, and holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma. Neil and his wife, Alicia, live in Galveston and have two adult children who are both proud “Aggies.” An inclusive team builder, Neil values steady processes, clear goals, the flexibility of planning, and servant-based leadership. A lifetime member of the Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association and a member of The Marine Corps League Galveston County Detachment 668, Neil also serves on the Board of The United Way of Galveston.

Jacquelyn Helton

From selling lard to planning events and making magic happen, Jacquelyn's focus has always been marketing, graphic design, photography and event creative. She is not ordinary or thinks outside the box because, THE TRUTH IS, we don't live in a box. Jacquelyn builds castles and discovers lands of inspiration. She straps her mind in for the long haul and never, NEVER SURRENDERS. Jacquelyn is a CREATIVE EXTRAORDINAIRE. She believes nothing is worth doing unless it is done well - both personally and professionally. She understands the value of relationships and communication. Knowing when to be assertive and persistent to achieve the best results for all those involved, Jacquelyn has an insatiable need to learn more and be more all while enjoying as much time on this earth as possible. Jacquelyn's achievements and positive attitude demonstrate her ability to not only navigate the journey but also realize what she has learned along the way. As a recipient of the Connect 40 under 40, PCMA Visionary Award, ADME Achievement Award for Best Innovative Event, as well as a Certified Texas Hospitality Instructor and Certified Tourism Ambassador Instructor and Past PCMA Gulf States Chapter President, Jacquelyn believes that hard work, straight talk and a commitment to get where you want to in life is done by taking control of your destiny. Jacquelyn has a degree in Agriculture and a few rodeo titles, which just goes to prove she is always full of surprises, guts and ambition. Jacquelyn began her career in the agriculture industry and quickly made her way to the DMC world where she found her hospitality calling. Making a move to the CVB world was uncharted territory for Jacquelyn, but she was up for the challenge. She has now been on several sides of the event industry and is always evolving her role with Visit Galveston. Jacquelyn relates to, remembers and builds on positive experiences. Who doesn’t need more positive experiences?

Melody Smith

As Director of Marketing for Visit Galveston, Melody Smith develops and oversees integrated marketing strategies to promote Galveston Island as a premier, year-round leisure and meetings destination. Smith is honored to work with an award-winning marketing team that embraces technology and seeks innovative ways to build brand awareness and drive visitation to Galveston Island. She has been with the organization for 19 years and loves living and promoting Island Time! She has spent over 25 years in the tourism industry and thoroughly enjoys being a marketing professional in today's data-driven environment.

Jill Chapman

Jill Chapman is the Director of Events and Sponsorship for the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce. Jill’s 30-year career started as the Lead Advance person doing events for the 1992 Vice Presidential election across the country. This experience was invaluable in setting the tone for her career. This brought Jill to the role of Events Manager for the Cincinnati USA Chamber producing events for the Tri-City serving over a half million attendees per event. Her cumulative experience, production of a myriad of events and relentless work ethic has led to Jill’s extensive expertise in sales, marketing and sponsorship. Jill’s proud to be at the Galveston Chamber overseeing the production of their award-winning Women’s Conference, long-standing Golf Tournament and the Chamber Annual Meeting. Helping produce Gilley’s 50th Anniversary Celebration was her most recent career-high being the largest event in the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce 177 year history!

Sylvia Allen

Sylvia Allen, President of Allen Consulting located in Holmdel, NJ has run her business for 40+ years. Her marketing and public relations firm has produced more than 10,000 events during that time and raised millions of dollars of sponsorships and non-dues revenue for her clients each year. She was on the faculty at New York University for 20 years and has taught seminars on sponsorship public relations and sales around the world. Author of four books including HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT SPONSORSHIP SALES. She has won tons of awards the most recent being Sales Professional Consultancy of the Year by a British business magazine! Plus she makes learning fun!

Makeda Peterson

Makeda C. Peterson is a Rockhurst University Alumni (c/o 2008) and has been the acting Program Director of JuneteenthKC since 2012. JuneteenthKC, a 501c3 organization, spearheads the annual development of the City of Kansas City's official Juneteenth celebration activities in addition to providing community programming that promotes healthy lifestyles and socialization within the urban core 365 days a year. JuneteenthKC has successfully hosted "Juneteenth" celebration activities in the heart of the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District since 2012 and now welcomes over 10,000 visitors annually to celebrate African American Pride culture proudly sponsored by the State of Missouri Department of Travel and Tourism, The State of Missouri Minority Health and Senior Services Department, Evergy, Hallmark, T-Mobile, Arvest Bank, Healthy Blue Missouri Home State Health, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Kansas City, Truman Medical Center, and community partners from across the Greater Kansas City area! Makeda has been driven since childhood to find ways to serve communities in need and provide positive social engagements to counteract adverse childhood experiences within underserved populations. Motivated by the work of her parents, the late Barbara Lousie Peterson and Horace Peterson III, founder of the Black Archives of Mid-America Incorporated, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and the American Jazz Museum, Makeda has continued to make significant impacts in Kansas City providing direct support to thousands of families across the Midwest. Due to Makeda's dedication to preserving the legacy of her family and African American culture in Kansas City, JuneteenthKC has received proclamations from the City of Kansas City, Missouri in 2012, 2016, and 2019, for leading the coordination of Kansas City's official Juneteenth celebration activities and has been highlighted as a recognized project by the State of Missouri Historical Society Bicentennial celebration in 2021. JuneteenthKC in 2021 also assisted the City of Kansas City, Missouri City Council by acting as an agency sponsor to enact Ordinance # 210431 to add Juneteenth as a city employee paid holiday for the City of Kansas City.

Mike Dean

Born and raised on Galveston Island, Mike Dean is the president of Yaga’s Entertainment Inc,. a special event and marketing company, and Island Holdings which includes Yaga’s Cafe, Tsunami Exotic Tequila Emporium, Float Pool and Patio Bar, Beerfoot Brewery and Blvd. Seafood. A graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, Mike is the founder of The Yaga’s Children’s Fund, which has granted $1.3 million to Galveston County Children’s Charities over the last 25 years, and co-founder and current president of Experience Galveston.

Ernest Luna

Ernest Luna is a Program Administrator for Texas Commission on the Arts. He manages the Cultural District Program, overseeing Texas’ 51 Cultural Districts. He also represents TCA on the Texas State Agency Tourism Council. In addition, Ernest manages grants for local arts agencies, multidiscipline organizations, and public safety and criminal justice projects. He is a freelance percussionist and lives in San Marcos, TX.

David Smith

David has been with the City of Galveston for 42 years starting his career as a police officer in 1980. He was assigned to the Patrol Division and then took over the Police Fleet operations in 1991. David was also assigned as the Interim Police Chief for a nine-month period in 2015.

David joined the City of Galveston administration in 1996 as the Director of Fleet Facilities which currently supports the procurement, maintenance, and fueling operations for a fleet of 600+ vehicles. David also oversees the Island Transit Department that provides mass transportation for city residents as well as its tourists. This organization has two modes that include a bus system, as well as a steel rail trolley system.

In 2011, David was assigned the additional duties of managing Special Events which covers 50 to 60 events annually and includes large-scale events such as Lone Star Rally, Mardi Gras, Ironman and so on. David leads a team of city staff members that assist in the operations of each event. The team meets with the event promoter(s) and coordinates all city operations. During each event, the team monitors operations in real-time and makes the necessary adjustments when needed.

David is a graduate of Ball High School and received his Basic, Intermediate, Advance Law Enforcement Certification, and Masters Peace Officer Certification.

Sherry Rooks

Sherry Rooks attended Ashford University where she attained her degree in Social Science and continued on to get her Master’s in Education with a focus on At-Risk students. Sherry had developed a connection with At-Risk students in volunteer work that preempted her to get her degree.

Sherry is a Board member of the Hospitality Educators of Texas, an Advisory member of the Workforce Development Committee of the Park Board, and a member of the Sister Cities Program Committee of the City of Galveston. In the nine years she has been Program Coordinator of the Ball High Hospitality Program she has taken it from a flailing program to one of great success with numerous community partnerships and internships.

Sherry has a passion for the Hospitality industry and education and would love to help you develop your event/festival while working with your local students.

Monica Brown

Monica Brown is a Senior Client Success Specialist and Marketing Coordinator. She started her insurance career with Galveston Insurance Associates (GIA) in 2007 and has been blessed to work with members of the community on their commercial insurance and projects since. Brown is passionate about insurance education and helping consumers make informed decisions about their insurance needs. She is a graduate of UT Arlington, and when she's not keeping busy with family and friends, you can find her taking local hiking trails with her dog/co-adventurer.

Ashley Sciba

Ashley Sciba is the Community Health Services Director at Galveston County Health District. Ashley is a Registered Nurse with a Master’s in Public Health. Since joining GCHD in 2019, she has worked diligently in the public health COVID-19 response efforts and is dedicated to serving the Galveston County community.

Chief Peter Davis

Peter Davis has been an open water lifeguard for 39 years and currently serves as Chief of the Galveston Island Beach Patrol and of the Park Board Police Department, where he is responsible for over 140 beach lifeguards and police officers as well as a junior lifeguard program of about 120 children. He currently volunteers as the Secretary General of the Americas Region of the International Lifesaving Federation and as the President of the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA). He holds a B.A. in Psychology from Trinity University and a Master of Fine Art from the University of California-Davis.

Sherrill Hilton

A native of Galveston, Texas, Sherrill Hilton lives to create and entertain. She has extensive background in the dance and musical theater communities in Texas and California. Now, she is taking on the film industry with the career goal of becoming a film and television producer and director. She has received accolades as the “Woman to Watch for In Film” Award (2010) from the Los Angeles Film School (Women in Media Organization), for her work as a line producer and art director on several projects. She also was awarded the 2012 Los Angeles Web Festival for “Outstanding Achievement Producing Comedy, Sketch Comedy, Translated Comedy or Mockumentary Series” Award as associate producer for the web series “Sound Advice.” Sherrill is the founder and owner of the non-profit “Galveston Island Film Society” and “The Galveston Island Film Festival and Conference”.

Ann Hobing

Ann Hobing is the Guest Experience Manager for the Galveston Island Park Board of Trustees where she leads the audience engagement efforts for the Parks. She began her career across the tourism industry in theme park operations for ten years before moving into the nonprofit sector. With a degree in history, she spent 12 years at the iconic Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal focused on business growth in membership, admissions, event rentals, retail, food & beverage, and group sales. Ann was in the pilot class for the Certified Tourism Ambassador program in Cincinnati and served on the board of the Ohio Travel Association before leaving her hometown to lead the National Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) World War II Museum in Sweetwater, Texas. As the President and Chief Executive Officer, she served the legacy of the who trained at Avenger Field duringWWII . Meeting these heroic trailblazers was the honor of a lifetime, and her fondest memory of her first years in Texas is piloting an AT-6 vintage warbird, the same aircraft flown by WASP. Immersing herself in rural life, Ann served the regional community as Vice President of the United Way and as a member of the Military Affairs Committee with the Abilene Chamber of Commerce. Ann moved to the coast when her disabled veteran partner was reassigned to a new territory in his work serving other veterans. Her Irish roots prevailed, as she was lucky to then serve the “Lucky Lady,” sharing the heritage of the Galveston Naval Museum as Executive Director until the pandemic shuttered attractions across the globe. The Park Board of Trustees first hired Ann to lead the challenge of developing and implementing operational procedures that addressed the quickly evolving pandemic landscape. After delivering a safe, seamless, efficient transition into this new era, Ann remained with the Park Board, taking on the newly created position of Guest Experience Manager as a senior leader for the Parks. Ann is an advocate of veterans, dogs, and loves reading to children. She aspires to live by the wisdom of Hebrews 13:2.


Established in 2007, Fanfare! Lutheran Music Academy (June Collins Pulliam, Executive Director) is an outreach program that serves children of Galveston County with quality music, art and dance education and developmentally-based early childhood music/movement
programs in structured, low-cost, after-school classes and summer music and arts camps. Our Fanfare Singers and Fanfare Rock Band, under the direction of Edward Salinas, have enjoyed performing for the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce Christmas Party, Oktoberfest, Lemonade Day Kickoff, Grand Kids Festival, EducationFest, the Juneteenth Ashton Villa Prayer Breakfast, National Neighborhood Night Out (Bayou Shore neighborhood), DaVinci Day, GISD Hispanic Heritage Festival, Hotel Galvez Annual Tree Lighting, Wreaths Across America, Bryan Museum’s Lone Star Christmas event, and more.

Cynthia Langreder

Cynthia Langreder best known as the Galveston Mermaid is a crowd favorite at weddings, parties, grand openings, festivals, and other local events. She enjoys promoting local businesses, singing, and emceeing Women Empowerment Retreats, Intuitive Classes, Water Rituals, Karaoke and Seasonal Parades. Cynthia was featured in Coast Magazine May 2019, “I'm Not Earthbound,” article and continues to leave lasting impressions throughout Galveston Island.

Pokey Simmons

Born and raised in Galveston, attended George Washington Elementary and was a 1971 graduate of Ball High School. Also a 1975 graduate of Paul Quinn College. Currently retired from the Social Service field. A co-author of research in the American Medical Association. Presently writing his biography. Enjoys playing Racquetball. Has enjoyed touring the country for over 25 years helping people laugh.

Kathleen Maca

Kathleen Maca incorporates over forty years of genealogy experience into her research and writing about local history and folklore. A member of the Association for Gravestone Studies, she is also a cemetery historian, restorationist, certified tour guide and just completed a two-year project for involving photographing approximately 250,000 of Galveston's historic vital records.

She incorporates her interest in history and sense of fun in planning trips across the Lone Star State, some of which are featured in her travel blog "Tales from Texas" at

Kathleen is the author of four books and has been a feature writer for Galveston Monthly magazine for 12 years. She has been featured on Texas Country Reporter, Houston Life, KPRC news, Texas Chronicles, Texas Highways and was recently voted Galveston's "Best of the Island" in their writer category.

Torrina Harris

Torrina is also a Galveston local, proud mother, published author and poet, and has curated local poetry events in Galveston for children, youth and adults for the past 5 years. Harris serves as Program Director for Nia Cultural Center, Inc. supporting efforts that strengthen the role of community and family to improve quality of life for children academically, culturally, mentally, and physically. She participates in open mics and poetry slams both as a performing poet, event host, and organizer with Write About Now Poetry in Houston and Coast 2 Soul Poetry in Galveston. Her work with poetry expands to presenting and performing at national conferences including the W/ Collective in Denver, Colorado and Summit for Change in D.C. addressing racial justice in faith communities. Torrina is the former Galveston Program Director for Iconoclast Artists, and taught poetry and social-emotional learning to historically underserved youth in Galveston public and charter schools as well as Galveston County Juvenile Justice programs. Harris served as the Poet in Residence at Galveston Central Church and on the boards of Galveston Family, Children & Youth Board, Nia Cultural Center Inc., and is a current board member for Vision Galveston. In 2020, Torrina accepted a position on the review committee for the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine’s Journal of Adolescent Health Intersections section, reviewing art, poetry, and photography for publication. She has presented at Philanthropy Southwest Conference, Texas Network of Youth Services Make Your Mark Annual Conference, Hogg Foundation for Mental Health Young Minds Matter Conference, W/ Collective Conference, and Sojourner Summit Conferences as a panelist, poet, and presenter from topics ranging from youth involvement in data translation and representation in qualitative research to cultural arts to the intersections of social justice and the church.

About Alex Thomas, Event Coordinator

Alex Thomas is a Jackson, Mississippi native that has worked diligently in the field of marketing and a leader in the tourism industry for over 20 years. Alex was recently named Product Development Manager for Visit Galveston, where he is charged with developing and promoting the cultural and heritage attributes of Galveston Island.

Thomas is the former President and CEO of Blue South Entertainment, LLC, (BSE) a Southern-based entertainment agency providing professional services through talent booking, artist management, consulting, and event planning. Alex served as the Music Development Program Director for the Mississippi Development Authority, Division of Tourism, where his focus was to promote the beauty of Mississippi’s history and distinctive culture of musical genres through driving and walking trails. The position was initially created as the Cultural and Heritage Program Manager which oversaw product development for various niche markets for tourism promotion. In that capacity, Alex managed the development of the Mississippi Blues Trail and the Mississippi Country Music Trail, two award-winning projects designed to highlight musical heritage throughout the Magnolia State.

Thomas is also accountable for the development and production of the Yazoo Music Festival an effort of the Yazoo County Convention and Visitors Bureau, as well as the Jackson Rhythm and Blues Festival presented by Visit Jackson. Alex took on the responsibility in December 2012 when he launched BSE and helped make the event a tremendous success for the City of Jackson. Prior to that role, Alex coordinated the Mississippi Stage for the Chicago Blues Festival for over 10 years with a host of international performers on his stage. He was also instrumental in serving as the Entertainment Chair for the Medgar Evers 50th Anniversary Commemoration, the Inaugural Celebration for Mayor Chokwe Lumumba (2013) and Mayor Tony Yarer (2014).

He has served on the Jackson Convention Complex Board of Commissioners, National Trust for Historic Preservation Board of Advisors, Blues Foundation Board of Directors, Pinetop Perkins Foundation Board, Mississippi Main Street Association Board of Directors, Howlin’ Wolf Blues Foundation, Mississippi Blues Commission, New Stage Theatre Board of Directors, and the Executive Board for the Mississippi Humanities Council. Accomplishments include Leadership Mississippi 2015 Graduate, 2012 and 2013 Jackson Hometown Hero Award recipient, 2011/2012 Who’s Who in Black Mississippi, Southeast Tourism Society’s 2012 Forty for the Future, 2010 Jackson Tourism Visionary Award, 2009 Mississippi Tourism Association’s Excellence in Tourism Award, 2008 Blues Foundation’s Keeping the Blues Alive Award, 2008 Jackson Hometown Hero Award, 2007 Mississippi Business Journal’s Top 40 under 40 Business Professional, 2003 Southern Living Rising Star Award, and 2002 Recipient of Jackson Hometown Hero "Shining Example" Award, among many other accolades.

Prior to working for the Mississippi Development Authority, Thomas was the Director of Marketing for the Jackson Zoological Park and the Marketing Coordinator for Visit Jackson. Alex is a resolute tourism professional who received his bachelor’s degree of Science in Mass Communications from the University of Southern Mississippi, a Travel Marketing Professional Certification (TMP) from the Southeastern Tourism Society Marketing College in Dahlonega, Georgia, and recently became a Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) for Galveston Island.