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2018 Route 66
          Miles of Possibility Conference

Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference Speakers

(Note- more speakers to be announced soon)

Deanna Demuzio
Mayor, Carlinville Illinois
Welcoming Remarks
Deanna Demuzio was elected mayor of Carlinville in 2013. She is is a former Democratic member of the Illinois Senate. She represented the 49th District from 2004 through 2010. In May 2004, she was appointed to the Illinois State Senate following the death of her husband, former Senate Majority Leader Vince Demuzio. She was born in Gillespie, Illinois.

Brett Stawar
President and CEO at Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau

Keynote Speaker
Brett Stawar is president and CEO of the Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau (formerly Alton Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau) since 2004, which works for the vested interests of hospitality partners in Madison, Jersey, Calhoun and Macoupin counties. Founded in 1985, the bureau was established to educate visitors about the many attractions the region has to offer by providing information regarding the area's history, unique landmarks, recreational opportunities, leisure attractions, special events and scenic marvels. Under Stawar's leadership, the bureau has won numerous marketing awards over the last several years. Stawar is also an adjunct professor at Lewis and Clark Community College.

Roamin' Rich Dinkela
Explorer, advocate, publicist, guide, businessman

Roamin' Rich
Preserving the history of Route 66, one alignment at a time
Roamin’ Rich has been a strong advocate and publicist for any and all things about the community of Route 66 and other old US highways. His mission is to appeal to as many people he can all over the world. He wants to expose the world to the iconic landmarks, people, buildings, historic infrastructure, and the diverse culture that reside along the old US highways all across this great country.

Roamin’ Rich has sponsored the creation of several Route 66 websites offering to serve tourists, explorers, and the community with a heightened, gratifying experience. Many of Roamin’ Rich’s works have been highlighted throughout local newspapers, TV news reports, written articles, books, and YouTube videos. More information can be found at

Jim Hinckley
The Main Street of America
140 Years of Adventure: With the introduction of Adventure Cycling Associations Route 66 maps and tours the legendary highway had come full circle. Bicycling, bicyclists, and bicycle enthusiasts are the foundation for iconic Route 66.

In this fast paced, fun and informative presentation author Jim Hinckley chronicles the origins, history and evolution of Route 66 from the bicycle mania of the late 19th century that spawned the good roads movement to the dawning of the American auto industry, headline grabbing adventures on the National Old Trails Road, the creation of the U.S. highway system, and the evolution of a highway into an internationally recognized icon. As with Route 66, this presentation is a grand adventure.

In this fun filled journey through time we meet the Wright Brothers and Albert Champion, bicyclists that changed the world, and watch the automobile evolve from circus side show curiosity to multimillion dollar business. We follow the exploits of Ezra Meeker, the pioneer that traveled the Oregon Trail by Ox cart and that helped build the first service station on the National Old Trails Road in the Cajon Pass. We travel west with Edsel Ford and Emily Post, watch marketing transform a highway into a destination, and experience the thrill of renaissance.  

Through the publication of 19 books, countless feature articles for various publications, and presentations made internationally, author Jim Hinckley has shared his passion for travel, the people met along the way that make the adventures memorable, automotive history, and a lifelong association with Route 66. With the launch of Jim Hinckley’s America, he began encouraging people to travel and explore through a multifaceted platform that includes books, interviews, a blog, a Facebook page and group, a YouTube channel, presentations, Facebook live programs, a travel planning service, podcast, and work as a tourism development consultant for businesses and communities. 

Nick Gerlich

Marketing Route 66
The best way to document change is by means of photography and videography. This ranges from deliberate and systematic captures of the present, to artistic, retrospective, and historic imagery of the abandoned and forgotten. Together, these allow us to preserve the Mother Road for generations, if only in electronic form. This presentation will explore how we can use electronic media to capture the past that still lingers in the present, by focusing on obscure alignments, buildings, and bridges along the Route.

Dr. Nick Gerlich is Hickman Professor of Marketing at West Texas A&M University, where he has taught since 1989. A native Chicagoan, he recalls traveling Route 66 in the backseat of his parents' car in the 1960s, which no doubt inspired him to make it his passion in adulthood. He earned his Ph.D. at Indiana University. Gerlich has more than 100 published scholarly articles in journals and conference proceedings. His most recent research specializations include social media, corporate crisis communication, e-commerce, mobile applications, and online buyer behavior.

Gerlich is credited with creating and continuing to teach both MBA and undergraduate courses in Evolutionary Marketing, in which he explores the very latest trends in the field. While this has often found him focusing on social media platforms and their applications in business, he is also keenly attuned to demographic changes, such as the buying habits of the Millennial generation and the cultural artifacts that differentiate them from prior generations. He spends much of his time reading and studying about the demographic and technological changes of the day. Gerlich routinely teaches to both campus and online classrooms of students from all corners of the world.

Outside of the university, Gerlich has served as the Social Media and Marketing Director of New Mexico Fashion Week, where he managed social media campaigns and public relations. He created and delivers his popular Social Media Boot Camp for small- and medium-sized businesses wishing to leverage emerging tools and techniques.

Gerlich is an avid scholar of Route 66, has served as historian and tour guide on several tours, and is writing several books with a German photographer that capture the Mother Road in an entirely new light. He is the writer and host of the Unoccupied Route 66 documentary series, and also partner in Sun Mesa Journeys. Gerlich is a long-time cyclist and photographer, and is known to combine his interest so that he can explore obscure places on two wheels, and capture them digitally. He is also documenting and photographing vintage neon signs across the US in an effort to capture historic pop culture artifacts.

Gerlich can be found across the social graph (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Tumblr) via his username nickgerlich. In addition to his academic publications, his writing has appeared in a variety of publications, from Route 66 Magazine to New Mexico Route 66 Magazine, Amarillo Magazine, and Skeptic Magazine.

Jerry McClanahan
The Art of Preservation
As a Route 66 artist Jerry frequently preserves or restores the appearance of lost or changed Route 66 icons in his work. This involves much research into historic appearance. Many bygone structures are remembered only in old photos or have been drastically modified.  Jerry’s work is intended to restore their earlier accurate appearance, or to document and preserve how Route 66 relics appear today in an arrested state of decay.  He will discuss and illustrate the presentation with photos of 66 sites and his artwork as he describes what goes into researching a Route 66 historic site.  As a Route 66 map maker and author, he will discuss researching old alignments of 66, as these cannot be preserved if not identified.  Jerry was first to rediscover many "lost" sections of 66 such as the Jericho Gap in TX and Upper Cajon Pass in CA. This work is ongoing.  He also provides photo reference in support of Route 66 restoration projects like the U Drop Inn, and Domingo Trading Post.

Jerry McClanahan's fascination with Route 66 dates back to family summer vacations during the Sixties. The interstate highway system had all but taken over by 1981, when Jerry began photographing and researching what was left of the old highway. He began painting and writing about Route 66 full time in the early Nineties, and his award- winning work has been exhibited in shows across the country, both on and off the route, being found in private and corporate collections in this country and abroad.
Jerry has written extensively for the Route 66 Federation News, American Road and Route 66 Magazine. His articles uncovered many miles of “lost” and forgotten sections of Route 66, such as the Jericho Gap in Texas and the abandoned alignments of the Santa Fe Loop, as well as giving honor to many Route 66 personalities and businesses.

His acclaimed EZ 66 Guide (published by the National Historic Route 66 Federation,, since 2005 and now in the fourth edition) has helped thousands of travelers discover the excitement of Route 66, as has the 8-state set of Route 66 maps co-created with Oklahoma Route 66 guru Jim Ross, in print (with revisions) since 1994.
2011 brought the publication of Route 66 Sightings, a photography tour-de-route with Jim Ross and Shellee Graham. Jerry’s Route 66 artwork and photos have appeared in many books and in periodicals as diverse as Historic Traveler, Popular Mechanics, and Playboy of Brazil.

Besides painting Route 66 scenes of his own choosing, Jerry also enjoys creating specially commissioned artwork featuring collector's cars in Route 66 settings. He has established an online gallery,, as well as McJerry’s Route 66 Gallery at 306 Manvel (a half block off 66) in Chandler, Oklahoma, where he enjoys meeting with tourists from all over the world.

The Women of 66

Cheryl Eichar Jett
Cheryl Eichar Jett and friends talk about The Women of 66 and their collective efforts to preserve and promote The Mother Road. Cheryl is the author of six books published by Arcadia Publishing and is currently working on two book projects for other publishers. A regular contributor to The Prairie Land Buzz, Show Me Route 66, and The 66 News, she has also been published in Illinois Heritage (Illinois State Historical Society), Forum Journal (National Trust for Historic Preservation), local newspapers, and online magazines. She has received several awards in the past year for her short fiction. Her one-act play about the lives and work of women along Historic Route 66 will premiere at this year's conference.
Cheryl has lived near Illinois Route 66 most of her life. She has worked as a bookkeeper, music teacher, musician, grant writer, and nonprofit executive director. She holds undergraduate and master's degrees in history from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE). For her thesis, Southwestern Indian Women in World War II, she interviewed elders in the pueblos of New Mexico. She often presents programs in Illinois on Route 66, local history, and writing topics. In 2002, she was invited to present a program based on her thesis research for the Los Alamos (NM) Historical Society.

In 2000, Cheryl was a founding board member of the Illinois Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association. Currently, she serves on the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway board of directors, as President of the (Illinois Route 66) Blue Carpet Corridor Coalition, and on the advisory council for the Center for Spirituality and Sustainability (a Buckminster Fuller-designed geo-dome) at SIUE. In 2015, she served as director for the first Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference, and is back again this year playing a major role in the 4th Annual Conference.

Joe Sonderman
Route 66 Author

Route 66 Then & Now
Joe Sonderman has written and co-authored over a dozen books on Route 66, collecting the histories from all eight states along the most famous road in the world. He is also a postcard collector, and you can find his online archive at

David Schwartz
Professional Photographer
Route 66 Photography
David is the owner of David Schwartz Photography and maintains a fine art photography gallery at the studio in the Little Italy section of Cleveland, Ohio. Fine artworks include a massive collection of documentation of Route 66 called "Pics On Route 66", which David has been actively pursuing for over 10 years. More information can be found on David's website at

Geoff Ladd
Assistant Director for the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway

Paranormal evidence along Route 66
Geoff formed a non-profit organization in 2006 to save and restore The Mill restaurant in Lincoln, Illinois, at the urging of Ernie Edwards of Pig Hip Restaurant fame. The Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County was able to save this historic landmark located along the original alignment of Route 66 in Lincoln, and in 2017, was opened as a Route 66 museum and souvenir shop.

Geoff has a background in professional videography and photography. He has been a journalist and radio personality. He has Bachelor of Science degrees in psychology and communications (broadcasting emphasis). His hobbies include being an aficionado of rock music and an amateur paranormal investigator. He will share some of his insights and personal experiences with the paranormal, particularly in Lincoln, Illinois where he resides.

David Clark
Windy City Road Warrior

Haunted Illinois Roads

(more info coming soon)

Andrea Duncan

Macoupin County/Carlinville local history

(more info coming soon)

Dan Hauter, Tom Emery & Bill McClain

Macoupin County/Carlinville local history

(more info coming soon)

  Register Online
2018 Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference | October 25-28, 2018 | Blackburn College | Carlinville, Illinois
Contact Conference Coordinator Deb Young at or call the Tourism Information Center at 1-800-258-6645 for more information.


©2018 Route 66 Miles of Possibility Conference.