Cornell Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship welcomes new industry advisors

May 24, 2013

Contact:  Jane Henion, 607.255.9780,

The Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship (PIHE) recently welcomed four new hospitality industry leaders to its advisory board. In this role, they will help shape the entrepreneurship curriculum at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration and support entrepreneurial students through such programs as the Hospitality Business Plan Competition, Entrepreneurs in Residence, and internships.

New advisory board members:

Jim Abrahamson currently serves as CEO for Interstate Hotels & Resorts and is responsible for the company's overall performance and global growth of its management portfolio. He also serves as an executive director on the company's board of directors. Abrahamson joined Interstate from InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), where he was president of the Americas region—IHG's largest operating unit—and an executive director of the board of directors. Previously, Abrahamson held senior management positions with Hyatt Corporation, The Marcus Corporation, and Hilton Hotels Corporation.

Keith Daub is president and chief operating officer at Winegardner & Hammons, Inc., one of the most successful, comprehensive, independent hotel companies in the nation. A 1973 graduate of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, Daub ensures the high-quality operation of WHI-owned and -managed hotels across the country. He challenges the WHI management team to take a critical look at how business is conducted and to keep the focus of operations on meeting the needs of the customers, backing up his firm belief that customer satisfaction results in repeat business, which is critical to success.

Bob DeVries is co-head of Spencer Stuart, North America. In addition, he leads the firm's global Hospitality & Leisure Practice and is a member of the North American Board & CEO and Private Equity practices. He is a multi-year recipient of the firm's Lou Rieger Quality Award. DeVries brings more than 20 years of general management and strategy experience to his client work. Prior to joining the firm, he was president and chief executive officer of Grand Expeditions, a private equity-backed, luxury tour operator providing best-in-class travel experiences across all seven continents. Earlier, he was vice president of brand management and special events for the Walt Disney World Resort.

Monica Digilio is chief human resources officer for Montage Hotels and Resorts. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing the company's global human resource function and is an active member of the senior executive management team responsible for the strategic growth and development of Montage. An accomplished human resources executive with over 20 years of experience, Digilio joined Montage in 2012 to help grow the company globally, by playing a significant role in the development and achievement of human resource initiatives in diverse markets and cultures. Prior to joining Montage, Digilio spent more than 12 years as executive vice president of Global Human Resources for Kerzner International.

"Our advisory board members give us the financial support we need to grow our program and continue to teach students about every aspect of entrepreneurship. Board members also provide an invaluable professional network that students can use as they begin their careers," said Neil Tarallo, senior lecturer and academic director of the Pillsbury Institute.

About The Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship
An operating unit of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, the Pillsbury Institute advances the study and practice of entrepreneurship and innovation in the hospitality industry. Through our network of faculty, industry leaders, and entrepreneurs, we give students the knowledge and skills they need to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors. To learn more about the institute, visit