Four Travel Tank 2.0 judges have confirmed with the New Mexico Tourism Department. Three judges are national and one is a local travel writers who will sit on a panel of industry experts, judging each of the six competitors who will pitch a uniquely New Mexican travel-inspired story. Read on to learn about each of the judges’ impressive writing backgrounds.

Melissa Garcia loves to travel and believes in living life to the fullest. Melissa has been blogging since 2008 but is now blogging professionally as a full-time job. Melissa writes about food, travel, natural and organic living, farmhouse living, fashion, beauty and more. She also offers money saving advice as well as DIY and frugal tips. Melissa has been featured on the Today Show,, Oprah Radio, Wall Street Journal, Ladies Home Journal as well as many other publications, TV and radio. Melissa has interviewed celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Fergie and more as well as attended many red-carpet events.

Veteran journalist Laura Powell has covered the world of travel for more than 25 years. She currently is the luxury correspondent for Skift, the top publication for travel industry insiders. She is also a fixture on the Washington, D.C. media scene, appearing regularly on Great Day Washington on WUSA-TV/CBS. She also writes travel supplements for The Washington Post. Elsewhere in print, her work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, USA Today and several airline magazines. Online, her work appears on Orbitz Blog and

Laura started covering travel for CNN. After serving as one of the original producers of CNN International, she moved into travel by creating the network's TravelGuide program. Laura then reported on travel for CNN for nearly five years. Since leaving CNN, Laura has become a nationally-recognized travel expert, having appeared on scores of television and radio programs.

Liz Mays is the founder of Eat Move Make and a North Carolina mom of two humans and four cats. She loves to cook, bake, craft and travel. She’s also addicted to Netflix, Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper. After college, she began working in the travel & tourism industry and loved it but gave it up to stay home and raise her two kids. No regrets, of course! When she’s not creating something in her kitchen, and since her kids are now adults, she’s all about her bucket list of travel destinations and adventures. She’s a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA), and the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA). She was recently interviewed on Travel Writing 2.0.

Travel Tank 2.0 is set for Tuesday, May 8 right after the lunch general session. The Tourism Department invites all industry partners to attend the Governor’s Conference on Hospitality and Tourism next month and cheer on their peers.

John Clary Davies has been writing and editing stories professionally for 15 years. As the new Executive Editor of New Mexico Magazine, he oversees the editorial planning and process for the original state publication. For the magazine, the goal, and the challenge, is to represent this state, in all its multifaceted wonder, with compelling stories. Previously, Davies was the Editor at Powder—“The Skier’s Magazine”—where he helped develop a multimedia feature series, Powder Productions, Powder Radio, and a travel website for skiers called Latitudes. He also published two books. In that time, the title won eight regional magazine awards while the American Society of Magazine Editors nominated Powder for three National Magazine Awards, including General Excellence, Special Interest. As a writer, Davies has published dozens of feature stories in Powder. His assignments have taken him across Russia, through Israel, Spain, Norway, Italy, France, and throughout North America. He has also published work in Outside, ESPN, Coast Mountain Culture, and other media outlets. He now lives in Nambe with his wife and their dog Topaz. The three of them like to travel, mountain bike, ski, hike, camp, and  chase their chickens. 


Stay tuned to future Tourism Talk issues for more updates.