2024 Faculty (Travel Writers & Photographers Conference)

Travel Writers & Photographers Conference — 2024 Faculty


Sivani Babu

Co-founder and co-CEO of Hidden Compass, a women-founded media company ending the era of clickbait and transforming the way audiences participate in journalism. Babu is also an award-winning journalist and nature photographer who works at the intersection of history, science, and exploration. She has contributed to numerous national and international publications, including AFARNarrative, and BBC Travel, and exhibited her work in more than a hundred museums and universities worldwide. Her stories have been recognized multiple times in The Best American Travel Writing series as have stories she’s edited. Babu has sailed the most brutal sea on Earth to explore Antarctica, searched for polar bears in the Arctic, and celestially navigated the Bermuda Triangle while concussed. She is also a former federal public defender.


Sabine K. Bergmann

Co-founder and co-CEO of Hidden Compass (www.hiddencompass.net), a women-founded media company ending the era of clickbait. As an award-winning travel, science, and nature journalist, Sabine has contributed to publications with tens of millions of readers and been featured in The Best Travel Writing book series. She’s edited travel articles for companies valued at more than $500 million, interviewed earthquake survivors and astrophysicists, and been a delegate at the United Nations.

Celeste Brash
A contributor to nearly 100 titles for Lonely Planet, her recent bylines also include National Geographic Magazine, National Geographic Traveller UK and the LA Times. Her happiest travel research moments include slowly trundling to Guyana’s Kanuku Mountains in an oxcart, swimming in the bright blue waters of St Paul’s Pool on Pitcairn Island and biking solo around the 2000+ ruins of Bagan, Myanmar. When she’s not writing she’s usually playing with Tahitian pearls, either producing them on her family’s farm in the Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia, or making jewelry that’s been featured in Vogue, the New York Times, Islands and more.


Tim Cahill
Author of many travel books, including A Wolverine Is Eating My LegJaguars Ripped My Flesh, and Pass the Butterworms. He is an editor at large for Outside magazine, and his work appears in National Geographic Adventure, the New York Times Book Review, and other national publications. Cahill also wrote the introduction for The Best Travel Writing, Volume 9: True Stories from Around the World. 

Jasmin Darznik

Her novel, Song of a Captive Bird, was a New York Times Book Review “Editors’ Choice” and appeared on several “Best Of” lists in 2018, including Booklist, Reader’s Digest, and Newsweek. Jasmin is also the author of the New York Times bestseller The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life. Her books have been published in seventeen countries and her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. She holds an MFA in fiction from Bennington College and a Ph.D. in English from Princeton University, and is now a professor of English and creative writing at California College of the Arts. Her most recent book is The Bohemians, a historical novel set in 1920s San Francisco.

Marcia DeSanctis

Marcia DeSanctis is a journalist, essayist, and Contributing Editor at Travel + Leisure, and a longtime contributing writer to Vogue and Air Mail. She has also written for Town & Country, Departures, BBC Travel, The New York Times, Orion, Time, The Telegraph, Lonely Planet, Roads & Kingdoms, and many other publications. She is the author of 100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go, a New York Times travel bestseller and of a 2022 memoir-in-essays, A Hard Place to Leave: Stories from a Restless Life, about which The New York Times wrote, “intrepid and empathetic, gifted with the dispassionate gaze of a born observer.” She has won five Lowell Thomas Awards for excellence in travel journalism, including one for Travel Journalist of the Year, as well as the Grand Prize Solas Award in 2021 for Travel Story of the Year. She holds a degree from Princeton University in Slavic Languages and Literature and a Masters in Foreign Policy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Prior to writing full time, she was a broadcast news producer for ABC and CBS News. She resides in northwest Connecticut.


Pauline Frommer

Co-President of Frommer Media LLC, with her father Arthur Frommer, the company that publishes the Frommer guidebooks and Frommers.com. She’s the author of the bestselling travel guide to New York City (Frommer’s New York City 2023), and Editorial Director for Frommer’s, overseeing a passionate staff of journalists, editors, photo editors, cartographers, compositors, designers and developers. Frommers.com gets 12 million page views per month, and the Frommer’s guidebooks have sold 75 million copies since their founding in 1957. She’s the host of the Frommer Travel Show, a popular podcast that was named one of the 13 best for travel by the New York Times; and is the award-winning author of 12 books, and countless articles for such outlets as MSNBC.comNewsweekMarie Claire and others. For five years, she created weekly travel segments for CNN’s Headline News, and she hosted a nationally-syndicated radio show on travel for over 20 years. Pauline has given speeches on travel for the Smithsonian, the National Press Club, the New York Times Travel Show, the Travel and Adventure Show, TravelCon, and a number of Governor’s Conferences. 

Don George
Travel Writers & Photographers Conference Chair
Author of The Way of Wanderlust: The Best Travel Writing of Don George and of Lonely Planet's Guide to Travel Writing and the editor of ten anthologies, including A Moveable Feast, The Kindness of Strangers, Better Than Fiction, and An Innocent Abroad. George is Editor at Large for National Geographic Traveler, where he writes feature articles and the monthly Trip Lit column. He is also Editor of BBC Travel's literary travel column, Chance Encounters.

Lebawit “Lily” Girma

Travel news reporter for Bloomberg Travel (Pursuits) and former editor-at-large and global tourism reporter at Skift. Her coverage continues to focus on destinations and the transformation of tourism post-pandemic — from the evolution of tourism boards to issues of sustainability, climate action and equity. Lily is also is an award-winning journalist and photographer whose work has been published in numerous publications over the past ten years, including BBC TravelAFARCNNTravel + Leisure, and Conde Nast Traveler, among others. She has authored multiple guidebooks for Moon Travel Guides, and provided content and editorial guidance to tourism boards and travel brands. 

Jeff Greenwald
Author of six travel books, including Shopping for Buddhas, The Size of the World (for which he created the first international travel blog), and Snake Lake, set in Nepal during the 1990 democracy revolution. He is also the Executive Director of Ethical Traveler, a global alliance of travelers dedicated to human rights and environmental protection (www.ethicaltraveler.org). Jeff's work has appeared in many publications including Smithsonian, Afar, Outside, The New York Times and the BBC. His acclaimed one-man show, “Strange Travel Suggestions,” premiered in San Francisco in 2003.  Jeff lives in Oakland, California, where he hosts and produces the Ethical Traveler podcast

The World’s Ten Best Ethical Destinations for 2023

Jonathan Hahn

The managing editor of Sierra, covering environmental justice and politics, global trade, energy, and public health. He is a co-founder and former executive editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books and an alumnus of the Radcliffe Publishing Course. He started his career in book publishing over 20 years ago at Bantam Doubleday Dell in New York.

Catharine Hamm

Worked in travel journalism at the Los Angeles Times since 1999. In previous rich, full lives, she was editor of the newspaper in Salinas, Calif., city editor and managing editor at the San Bernardino County Sun and deputy managing editor at The Kansas City Star.  Hamm and the Times have been recognized with several Lowell Thomas Awards, including one for her article about tracking down her wedding scammer, who later spent time as a guest of the state of Texas.


Bob Holmes
Conference Photography Chair
One of the world’s most successful and prolific travel photographers, whose career has extended over 30 years. He has been honored by the Society of American Travel Writers with their Travel Photographer of the Year Award four times, and in 2016 was voted the Wine Photographer of The Year by an international panel of judges sponsored by Errazuriz in Chile. Holmes has worked for National Geographic, Geo, Saveur, Wine Spectator, Life, Time, and hundreds of other major magazines and international companies. He has illustrated over 40 books and has regularly been one of the world’s best photojournalists invited to participate in the acclaimed “Day in the Life” series. Read more >>

Andrea Johnson

Andrea Johnson is a photographer and video/ film director with extensive experience in the wine industry in addition to covering spirits, beer, food and adventure travel. She travels worldwide for corporate, editorial, advertising photography projects & documentary videos and films.Andrea's editorial experiences ranges from coffee table wine books to regular work with the industry leading publications. She has photographed four books: Passion for Pinot, Essential Wines and Wineries of the Pacific Northwest, Spectacular Washington Wineries, and Spectacular Oregon Wineries. She regularly works on assignment for Wine Spectator Magazine, with over 100 photographs published since 2006.

Elizabeth Harryman Lasley
Elizabeth Harryman Lasley hosts the Florida Keys Traveler podcast. She and her late husband, Paul Lasley, hosted talk-radio shows about travel on KABC in Los Angeles, on Southern California Public Radio station KPCC, and on the American Forces Network. Their radio shows won two Gold and one Silver Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism awards. Elizabeth recently retired after 21 years as Travel Editor of Westways magazine (circ. 4 million), where she continues to write and edit. During her tenure, the magazine won seven Lowell Thomas awards.

Kimberley Lovato

Kimberley Lovato is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer who’s never met a plane ticket or glass of champagne she didn’t love. Her bylines have appeared in the New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Virtuoso: The Magazine, AARP, Shondaland.com, Hemispheres, Marriott Bonvoy Traveler, and many other print and online publications. Kimberley’s Solas and SATW Award-winning travel essays have been anthologized in The Best Women’s Travel Writing and other essay collections, while her first book, Walnut Wine & Truffle Groves, was the recipient of the Gold Lowell Thomas Award in 2012. She is also the author of two San Francisco guidebooks. In 2021, she collaborated with her photographer brother on the self-published Quartraits: Portrait of a Community in Quarantine, a collection of portraits and poignant stories of life during the lockdown in Los Angeles, which was a 2022 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist. Her first travel-themed children’s book will be released in 2024. 
When she’s not plotting her next trip to France, she’s at home in Sausalito.  www.kimberleylovato.com @KimberleyLovato

Linda Watanabe McFerrin
A published poet, travel writer, novelist, longtime contributer to numerous newspapers, magazines, and anthologies, and founder of Left Coast Writers. She is a past winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for fiction and other awards, and is most recently the author of Navigating the Divide: Poetry and Prose. Find her online at lwmcferrin.com. Conference Alum.
Chris Reynolds
Born and raised in California, Christopher Reynolds has written about travel, the outdoors, arts and culture for the Los Angeles Times since 1990. Since 2009, he has climbed Mayan pyramids, roamed Red Square in a snowstorm, been shushed at the New York Public Library and jumped from the tallest building in Soweto (rope attached). He takes no freebies or press discounts.

Jill K. Robinson

Jill K. Robinson writes about travel and adventure for National Geographic, AFAR, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Outside, Hemispheres, and more. Her essays have appeared in Travelers’ Tales The Best Travel Writing and The Best Women’s Travel Writing. She has won Lowell Thomas, Society of American Travel Writers, and American Society of Journalists and Authors awards for her work. Jill’s book collaboration with Gordon Ramsay and National Geographic—Gordon Ramsay’s Uncharted: A Culinary Adventure with 60 Recipes From Around the Globe—was published in April 2023. Visit her at dangerjillrobinson.com

Michael Shapiro
Author of A Sense of Place—a collection of interviews with the world’s top travel authors including Bill Bryson, Frances Mayes, Peter Matthiessen, Jeff Greenwald, and Pico Iyer—as well as The Creative Spark. His cover story for National Geographic Traveler, about Jan Morris’ corner of Wales, won the Bedford Pace grand award. His recent feature about sustainable seafood in Vancouver won the 2016 Explore Canada Award of Excellence. He’s written about cycling in Mongolia for the Washington Post, tasted tequila in Jalisco for American Way, and tracked pumas in Patagonia for a custom publication. On the web: www.michaelshapiro.net. Conference Alum.


Lavinia Spalding

Lavinia Spalding is an author and editor who has published ten books. She is the six-time series editor of The Best Women’s Travel Writing, author of Writing Away, and co-author of With a Measure of GraceThis Immeasurable Place, and the Frommer’s EasyGuide to New Orleans. She’s also co-host of the storytelling podcast There She Goes. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times’ Modern Love column, AFARTin HouseLongreadsYoga JournalMs., and many more publications. Her work has won gold Lowell Thomas and gold SOLAS travel writing awards, has been widely anthologized, and has been recognized in The Best American Travel Writing. Visit her at laviniaspalding.com.