Building Community 2018 Speakers

Lisa Trudell & Sara Broers are the Co-Founders of Midwest Travel Bloggers. They enjoy bringing people together and helping people make the connections that they need. They have spoken at several conferences including Type-A Parent, TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange) and WITS (Women in Travel Summit). They will inspire you to kick up your game when it comes to growing your blog and/or your business. Midwest Travel Bloggers has been featured in Forbes and they are regular contributors to the Welcome Home Rio Grande Valley publication. Midwest Travel Bloggers were also proud media sponsors of the 2017 Women In Travel Summit.

Lisa and her husband Tim blog on The Walking Tourists. Together they will be launching their first published book, “100 Things to Do in Omaha Before You Die” being released for publication in April 2018. Lisa was in the travel industry for over 16 years initially working for a hotel company and later as a travel agent.  Today her full-time job is as an Online Marketing Specialist for the Home Health Care Company Right at Home in Omaha. They have traveled for business, for sporting events, extended family trips and of course for fun. The reason for the Walking Tourists name just indicates that we like to take our time walking to most local destinations once there to be able to discover the little things along the way.

Sara blogs at Travel With Sara. She resides in North Iowa, on the family farm, with her husband Todd. They have two grown sons and enjoy travel anywhere that the car, train, plane or ship will go! Sara is the owner of Social Connections, LLC and the Co-Owner of Home Grown Social Media. She is also the founder of the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club, which is in its 5th year. Sara believes that when people of all ages partner together, magical things happen when it comes to business growth. She has seen this time and time again, through the partnerships that have formed through the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club. Sara hopped on the social media train towards the end of 2008 and has never looked back.

Keynote Speaker: Deb Brown- “Saving Your Town With Tourism And Blogger Partnerships”

Deb Brown will share ideas that will take your blog and/or destination to the next level. She will inspire you to kick up your game and change the way you think about the communities around you.

Deb Brown, co-founder of SaveYour.Town,  shares stories and advice about working and living in a small town and creating the kind of community you want to live in. You might recognize her online as @debworks. She grew up in a town of 141 people, Geneva, Iowa. Deb tells stories of real world examples of how people are changing their small town into the kind of place the community wants to live, work and play in.

Deb Brown Headshot

 SaveYour.Town is a partnership with Deb Brown and Becky McCray where they share the passion for small towns and bring you practical advice on how to shape a brighter future for your small town.

Her programs on small business, what to do with empty buildings, customer service, marketing and economic development have been received by chambers, economic developers, tourism specialists, museum experts, business groups, and small town conferences.  Deb has keynoted at Reviving Rural Downtowns in Adams County, Washington, Rural X Summit in Aberdeen, SD, TEDx Brookings, Michigan Rural Economic Development Conference, Roscommon County Michigan, Central Iowa Tourism Annual Meeting, Milbank South Dakota Chamber Annual Dinner and several 140 Character Conferences.  Additional presentations include Western Iowa Tourism, Iowa Byways Association, Iowa Museum Association, Southern Illinois Economic Development, and Preserve Iowa Summit.

Keynote Speaker: Leif Petterson- “Creative Marketing Solutions Using Technology”

Leif Pettersen is an award-winning travel & tourism marketing professional, author, humorist, and world traveler from Minneapolis, Minn. He has traveled through 56 countries and lived in Spain, Romania and Italy.

Leif PettersonPettersen was a silver medalist at the 2014 International Jugglers’ Association championships, loves chocolate, hates pickles, types with exactly four fingers, and can escape from a straitjacket. He has not vomited since 1993, making him a consummate travel journalist and excellent party guest. His first solo, book-length project, BACKPACKING WITH DRACULA, is available on Amazon.

Libbey Hohn- “Best Practices For CVB’s & Bloggers” 

Libbey Hohn, IOM is the Tourism Director at the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.

Libbey Hohn

She has worked with travel writers for several years, and has won two state tourism marketing awards for projects highlighting blogger content.

She loves to learn new marketing techniques and social media skills, and is very excited to bring the Building Community Conference to her hometown! Libbey is also active in the state tourism industry, currently serving as president-elect of the Travel Federation of Iowa and past-president of the Iowa Group Travel Association.




Jay Jay Goodvin- “Gallivant Your Way To Success With The Iowa Gallivant”

Jay Goodvin
The Iowa Gallivant

Jay Goodvin is well known across the state of Iowa and the midwest. He is passionate about all things related to Iowa and loves promoting RAGBRAI!

Jay Goodvin Blogger

This guy has been around, man! While JayJay’s family lived in Grundy Center, IA, he was born in Marshalltown back in 1978. Later, Jay and his family moved to Marion, IA, and then to Iowa City. In 1999, Jay took off on an 11 year culinary crusade that led him to Arizona, Montana, Cape Cod, The Florida Keys, The Black Hills, Austin, Central Illinois and back to Iowa City in 2010. His love of travel, food, and family drives The Iowa Gallivant which began in July of 2014. Since the first post, The Iowa Gallivant has seen amazing growth every year. He writes about Iowa. What’s your superpower?


Get to Know Darcy Maulsby – “The Ins And Outs Of Getting Published”

Want to know the inside secrets of the publishing world? Darcy Dougherty Maulsby (Iowa’s Storyteller) has answers. Darcy is the author of three non-fiction Iowa history books, including “Dallas County” (Arcadia Publishing, 2017); “A Culinary History of Iowa” (The History Press, 2016), and “Calhoun County” (Arcadia Publishing, 2015).

Darcy Maulsby

From her farm near Yetter, Iowa, Darcy has also written for local, state, national and international clients in the food and agri-business sectors. During her 20-year career, her award-winning feature stories, essays, photos and more have been published in newspapers, magazines and online sites from the Des Moines Register to Rodale.

An avid home cook, Darcy’s culinary journey has been featured in “Our Iowa” magazine. She has cooked with “American Idol” winner Taylor Hicks on the national TV program “State Plate.”

Darcy earned her degrees in journalism/mass communication and history, along with an MBA, from Iowa State University. Connect with her at

Cindy Ladage – “Pitching To Win” 

Cindy is always pitching to win when it comes to her writing. Her tips will inspire and encourage you to pitch to win.

Cindy Ladage

Cindy Ladage is farmer’s wife, a presenter and an award-winning columnist for Farm World, in 2016 she won the American Women in Communications Clarion award for her column “Wrenching Tales”.   Cindy writes for antique tractor and toy magazines, an antique publication and specializes in travel stories for several publications, such as  Senior News  & Times of Illinois and more. Cindy’s travel blog is Traveling Adventures of a Farm Girl, where shares her travels on the back roads and byways.

You can also join her on Twitter at @CindyLadage, Instagram at @CindyLadage, and Traveling Adventures of A Farm Girl on Facebook.

Cindy is also an author of children’s books and adult fiction. We look forward to Cindy sharing tips that have helped her in her career as a published author, as she will give you ideas that you can run with.

Kim Bultsma – “Blogging For SEO”

Kim is the master of SEO and we are looking forward to the tips that she has to offer. She will show you how you can show up in search and be ranked where you desire to be.

Kim Bultsma

Kim Bultsma is a coffee-loving SEO content writer from Omaha, Nebraska. She teaches people how to produce better content to grow their business over at A Cup of Content, a content development learning academy for solopreneurs. When she’s not training for 50K trail runs, she’s lifting heavy stuff, being a dance mom, and watching her hubby trick yo-yo (yes, it’s a thing!).

  • Session Description: Content is all the rage these days, but it’s tough when there’s oh-so-much competition. In this session, you’ll learn:
    • The fundamentals of SEO in terms you can understand
    • Simple ways to check your website’s rankings
    • How to think like your readers do in order to create content they will engage with
    • Our 7 step process on how to write an SEO-driven blog post…and how to write it so it converts
    • Actionable tips for being consistent (aka STRATEGY!) and to stop being a “token” blogger
    • How to make your blogs continue to work for you after the virtual ink is dry
  • Website:

Michelle Marine- “Nine Different Ways To Monetize Your Blog”

Want to earn more money on your blog but aren’t sure how or where to begin? Michelle has been blogging since 2010 and earning money since 2013. She looks forward to sharing how you can start earning an income through blog monetization at Building Community 2018! Her tips will provide you with the necessary tools to help you get started, or if you’re already earning money, they’ll help you kick it up to the next level.

Michelle Marine

Session Description: Blogging is fun. But this is a business and you want to earn money!  In this session, you’ll learn not just one but nine different income streams, the importance of networking, and tips and tricks for growing your blog and social presence. You’ll walk away with actionable tips, detailed lists of social media companies, advertising networks, and affiliate companies, and work on your one-minute elevator speech to perfect your pitch.

Michelle Marine is a green living enthusiast, travel junkie, and rural Iowa mom of four. An avid traveler, Michelle has lived on three different continents and has driven all four kids across the entire USA (by herself!). She loves sharing farm-to-table recipes, family travel adventures, and homesteading and green living tips on her popular lifestyle blog,

Sheila Scarborough – “Keeping the Blogging Fires Burning Without Frying Your Brain”

Have you been blogging for a number of years and are starting to find it hard to stay creative? Worrying about your posts getting kinda stale? Feel like you’re at risk of taking a blogger nosedive…”out of altitude and out of ideas?” Let’s talk about staying on top of your online publishing game with evergreen content, getting more out of your archives, and keeping yourself inspired and motivated whether you’re an indie travel blogger or a CVB/DMO blogger.

sheila Scarborough

Sheila Scarborough is a writer and speaker specializing in tourism, travel, and social media. She’s written for many blogs and print publications and is also a certified Navy Master Training Specialist, with years of experience as an educator.
Along with Leslie McLellan, Sheila is part of the Tourism Currents team, offering online and in-person training in social media for tourism and hospitality.
Winner of the “Austin American-Statesman” Texas Social Media Award and an AWC (Association for Women in Communications) Clarion award, Sheila trains and speaks regularly about social media to a variety of audiences including tourism and economic development experts, public relations and marketing professionals, and Chambers of Commerce.
She is on the National Professional Development Committee for the AWC, co-founded and still writes for the award-winning Perceptive Travel blog, and serves on the Programming Committee for SXSWi (the South by Southwest Interactive tech conference.) She is also part of the organizing team for #tourismchat, a monthly online Twitter chat about a variety of topics related to destination marketing.
A U.S. Navy veteran who is married with two children, Sheila is an NHRA drag racing fan because there is one winner, one loser, and no whining.
Cassie Peterson- “Every Business Has a Story”

Cassie Peterson, a Clear Lake, Iowa native, is a Chef/Baker/Entrepreneur by day and Writer/Mom/World class shut-in by night. She dreams of living in a world filled with innovative businesses, 90’s fashion all the time, and a force field around her windows that repels her sticky-fingered toddler.

Cassie Peterson

As a self-taught baker, she opened her first bakery ‘The Cupcake Store’ at the age of 21 after an auto accident left her with a realization that life is short, and passions are meant to be pursued. After striking up a deal with Hy-Vee, selling her ‘Cupcake Store’ recipes to pilot their new ‘Sweet Shop’ Gourmet Dessert Bakeries in the trendy Minneapolis stores, it was time to move on and pursue a new passion, cooking. This led Cassie all the way to sunny Los Angeles and into the MasterChef kitchen where she earned a spot in the top 20 hopefuls who cooked their way into Gordon Ramsay’s heart on MasterChef, Season 7- on FOX. Her journey ended when a potato salad dish didn’t get the attention of Chef Wolfgang Puck. Taking home an incredible experience and a vast amount of culinary knowledge, it was time to rekindle the flame. Literally…

Cooking and Baking were a passion, but with a feisty entrepreneur spirit, she was ready to hit the ground running once again and bring those two passions together by opening up her 2nd venture, ‘Bread & Buttercreme- Patisserie/Eatery’ in her hometown, next to the legendary Surf Ballroom.

At the age of 27, she’s proud to say she’s failed many times and learned from each experience to build ultimate success.  Spending about 25 hours a day, and 8 days a week in the kitchen raising her new ‘baby,’ she loves to travel and visit local young entrepreneurs and  aspiring bakers/chefs to pursue their passions,  celebrate their  failures, and to embrace their entrepreneurial traits.

She hopes to return to LA in the future to give cooking shows another try, but for now you can find her whipping up a delicious gluten-free treat, creating the next Insta-worthy brunch dish, and running around in a dirty chef coat yelling the question “why” for the eleventy-bajillionth time. Stop into B&B and say hello, night or day for Brunch, Tapas, & the Potato Salad Wolfgang Puck would ‘send back’ if he ordered it at a restaurant. Her mom would disagree, praising it as, ‘delightful.’  Although business ownership isn’t easy, or fun at times, Cassie will tell you it’s absolutely worth it when customers turn into regulars, and each day brings new and exciting adventures!

Jameon Rush- “Video On A Shoestring”

Video is hot! Learn tips and tricks to help you look like a professional videographer without going broke.

Jameon received his bachelor’s degree in web communication design from Hastings College. He gained professional work experience serving as the Assistant Vice President / Marketing Director for Heartland Bank from 2011 – 2017. In this role Jameon coordinated and oversaw the bank’s marketing department.

Jameon Rush

In the spring of 2017, Jameon left the bank to manage and operate Optix Digital Media full-time. With a marketing and web design background, Jameon understands how digital video marketing can help a business meet their marketing goals.

In addition to producing commercial projects, Jameon is also an adventure vlogger. You can follow along on his many adventures at






Colleen Frein- “Working With Traditional Media”

Learn how to connect with local media and how you can set yourself apart from your competition. Sign up on site for a one-on-one interview with Colleen, who will review the tape and provide you with feedback!

Colleen Frein is a native of Rochester, MN but has adopted Mason City as her hometown. Frein graduated from St. Cloud State University in 2007 and went on to work as a television journalist for nearly a decade. She received a number of awards for her work covering a wide range of stories, including presidential elections, record-setting weather events, military deployments, and community issues. Frein spent the majority of her career at KIMT News 3 – first as a multi-media journalist and later as the morning news anchor. She also spent time as a reporter in Waterloo, IA and Baton Rouge, LA.

Colleen Frein

In 2015, Frein left the field of journalism to work for the Mason City Chamber of Commerce. In this role, she feels she is able to make a direct impact on her community, rather than reporting on others doing this work. Currently serving as the Membership Director and Community Concierge, Frein is responsible for the recruitment and retention of Chamber members and also assists employers in their efforts to recruit and retain executive-level employees to North Iowa.

Frein and her husband, Lucas, are the parents of one son, Johnathan. In addition to her work at the Chamber, she enjoys being involved in the community through a variety of volunteer efforts, including serving on the Board of Directors for both River City Morning Kiwanis and Charlie Brown Preschool and Childcare

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