SONOMA COUNTY, CA (March 13, 2023) Sonoma County Tourism (SCT) will present four hour-long “Conscious Conversations” sessions at the SXSW Creative Industries Expo Exhibition Hall 2 beginning at 9:30 am CDT on Wednesday, March 15 in Austin, TX. The Creative Industries Expo is the convergence of industries on the cutting-edge of technology, design, social good, health + wellness, and more.

The Travel & Leisure track of Conscious Conversations is an intimate space for SXSW attendees to participate in health and wellness-based activities, workshops, and discussions led by industry experts. An oasis set amid the expo floor excitement, the Conscious Conversations area sessions provide a great opportunity for the SXSW attendees to get more involved and in touch with their health and well-being.

Conscious Conversations will feature Sonoma County luminaries such as recreation and sustainability advocate, Suki Waters, Grammy-recognized songwriter, Cliff Goldmacher, and Chef/Farmer Duskie Estes. Session topics include Spark Creativity—Amplify Impact, Respecting the Gift of Nature & Its History, and The Effects of Mindful Farming and Gleaning. SCT’s President and CEO, Claudia Vecchio will moderate an engaging panel conversation featuring all the Sonoma County luminaries with a focus on wellness, mindfulness, and sustainable travel titled, The Impact of a Simple Pause.

“In Sonoma County we’re surrounded by the proof that our actions ripple outward,” says Vecchio. “When you travel to our destination, every action is an opportunity. Every choice creates change. Every pause has an effect. At our SXSW Conscious Conversations sessions, you’ll hear from our local luminaries how a moment of mindfulness can benefit you while helping to preserve Sonoma County for years to come.”

Sonoma County Tourism is pleased to make these subject matter experts available for media interviews at the SXSW Creative Industries Expo or while in the Austin area.

Sonoma County Luminaries Biographies

Suki Waters

Most known for her interpretive and educative tourism in the form of “wildlife adventures by kayak”, Suki Waters is from the town of Jenner in Sonoma County, California, and a local Native American (Pomo) and European immigrant descendant. In 1987, she became a volunteer for local State Park’s in wildlife and Native American history interpretation, through what is now the Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods. Suki became a certified guide, kayak instructor, wilderness first responder, and water rescue professional to create educational partnerships for Sonoma Coast State Park on the Russian River estuary in Jenner, that have existed since 2000.  She created WaterTreks Ecotours and Jenner Kayaks to outfit and help fund and expand from community education into research partnerships, as well as staffing her activities through paid internships. As a sustainability and recreational safety advocate, as well as an outdoors educator, her heart remains close to the local waters and nature, and she remains dedicated to her educational adventures and partnerships in the coastal heart of, what is now also, The Greater Farallon’s National Marine Sanctuary and a Marine Protected Area.

Cliff Goldmacher

A Grammy-recognized, #1 hit songwriter, Cliff Goldmacher has built a catalog of over a thousand songs. He’s worked as a staff songwriter for a Nashville publisher and his songs have been cut by major label artists across genres from country, pop, and jazz to classical crossover. Cliff’s songwriting collaborators include Keb’ Mo’ (with whom he co-wrote on the GRAMMY-winning album “Oklahoma”), multi-platinum selling artists Ke$ha, Lisa Loeb, Chris Barron (Lead singer of the Spin Doctors) and Grateful Dead drummer, Mickey Hart. He is also the songwriter of “Sonoma Sound,” a project that serves as Sonoma County’s first-ever official destination soundtrack. Goldmacher wrote and produced Sonoma Sound to capture the emotions and sense of wonder that visitors have when exploring the destination. The “Sonoma Sound” is inspired by the region’s diverse, maker-centric culture and natural landscapes. In Sonoma County, they say, ‘Life Opens Up’ and Goldmacher’s soundtrack beautifully encapsulates the emotions people feel as they explore Sonoma County.  

Duskie Estes

Duskie Estes is a chef, restauranteur, farmer, rancher and Executive Director of Farm to Pantry, a gleaning non-profit in Sonoma County, rescuing produce from over 300 farms and backyards with 500+ volunteers and sharing with families fighting food injustice through 100+ community partners. Duskie and her husband, John Stewart, are also co-owners of Black Pig Meat Co., dedicated to ethical sourcing and advocacy for small farmers. Black Pig Meat Co. specializes in ethically raised pigs sourced directly from small farms and uses the entire animal ‘snout to tail’ and is most known for their award-winning brown sugar dry cured and applewood smoked bacon. No stranger to television, Estes was a former contestant on Food Network’s Next Iron Chef, seasons 3 and 5 and serves as a judge on Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games. She and Stewart have been featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, as well as numerous PBS and Discovery + shows. Estes and Stewart received the Rising Star Chef Awards for Sustainability, Slow Food Snail Awards, and they were crowned King and Queen of Pork at the Grand Cochon at Aspen Food & Wine, making Estes the first woman to ever earn that title.


About Sonoma County Tourism 

Sonoma County Tourism (SCT) is the region’s official Destination Stewardship Organization. Through a multi-channel sales and marketing program, the organization promotes Sonoma County as a global visitor and meetings destination, where diversity thrives, and everyone is welcome. Leveraging the region’s unmatched assets, wine, culinary, wellness, and sustainability continue to define its character. For more information visit         

Media Contact

Birgitt Vaughan

Director of Public Relations

[email protected]