Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series

The Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series (DDLS) is a long-running Friday afternoon tradition in the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration. We call it ‘Hotelie Friday.’  For nearly 100 years, Hotelies have taken this course. Top industry leaders in hospitality operations, food and beverage, and real estate, many of whom are our alumni, present a lecture to students, where they share their career journeys and provide insights on their leadership styles, business strategies, and industry trends. Students meet with the leader throughout the day in small group discussions and over shared meals. Journey through the most recent speaker lineup, below.

2022-2023 Speakers


Kate Walsh, Ph.D.,Dean and E.M. Statler Professor, MPS ‘90

Kate Walsh is Dean of the Nolan School and E. M. Statler Professor. A professor of management, Dr. Walsh has been a member of the School’s faculty since 2000. She […]

Pic - Stephanie Linnartz headshot 08-13-21 (1) website

Speaker: Stephanie Linnartz, President Marriott International, Inc.

Stephanie Linnartz is the president of Marriott International, Inc. She is responsible for developing and executing all aspects of the company’s global consumer strategies, including brand, marketing, sales, and revenue […]

Tracy Prigmore Website

Speaker: Tracy L. Prigmore, Founder & Managing Partner TLTsolutions

Tracy L. Prigmore is an award-winning executive and the Founder of TLTsolutions, a real estate investment and development firm that provides unparalleled access and insight to alternative investments. With the […]

Christina Heggie - Bio Photo -Website

Speaker: Christina Heggie ‘10, Travel Product Go-To-Market Strategy Google

Christina Heggie has worked at Google for over three years in several roles that focus on connecting Google to the travel industry. As an experienced professional with extensive operational expertise […]

Atish.Shah-1073 - website

Speaker: Atish Shah ’94, MMH ‘97, EVP, CFO & Treasurer Xenia Hotels

Atish Shah has been Xenia’s Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and Treasurer since April 2016. Shah previously served as Senior Vice President – Strategy, Financial Planning & Analysis, and […]


Speaker: Crystal Thomas ‘08, Vice President & Global Brand Leader Hyatt Hotels Corporation

Crystal Vinisse Thomas is a brand management and marketing leader with over10-year-long international experience driving brand innovation and operational excellence, crafting memorable guest experiences, creating global brand marketing campaigns, and […]

Will Guidara website

Speaker: Will Guidara ’01, Co-Owner Make it Nice

Will Guidara is the former co-owner of Make It Nice, a hospitality group that included Eleven Madison Park, the NoMad restaurants, Davies and Brook at the Claridges Hotel, and Made […]

Christina Tosi Headshot (1) - website

Speaker: Christina Tosi, Founder & CEO Milk Bar

Christina Tosi is the rule-breaking, award-winning chef and founder of Milk Bar. She was named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in the World in 2022, whose inventive and […]

Canlis Bros Website

Speaker: Mark Canlis ’97 & Brian Canlis ‘01, Co-Owners Canlis Restaurant

Mark Canlis The second of three sons, Mark grew up in a restaurant family. He joined Canlis in 2003 after graduating from Cornell University and serving as a Captain in […]


Speaker: Catherine Powell, Global Head of Hosting Airbnb

Catherine Powell leads Airbnb’s global integrated hosting team, which includes Airbnb Homes and Experiences, and delivers best-in-class, quality hosting. Her responsibilities include overseeing the host insights and research team, as […]

Ben Cadwell COLOR - website

Speaker: Ben Cadwell ‘04, Chief Operating Officer Accor

Ben Cadwell is Chief Operating Officer for North & Central America at Accor, whose portfolio comprises internationally acclaimed luxury brands, such as Fairmont, Raffles, Sofitel Legend, and SO Sofitel, as […]

Tim Hentschel_headshot_2022 - website

Speaker: Tim Hentschel ‘01, Co-Founder & CEO HotelPlanner &

Tim Hentschel is the Co-Founder and CEO of HotelPlanner, a leading travel technology company that combines proprietary artificial intelligence capabilities and a 24/7 global gig-based reservations and customer service network. […]


Speaker: Ming Tsai MPS ’89, Founder, President, and Chef, MingsBings and Blue Dragon

Chef Ming Tsai is a James Beard & Emmy Award-Winning chef, philanthropist, TV personality, and entrepreneur. He is the creator of award-winning restaurants, author of five cookbooks, and current host/executive […]

FDR website

Speaker: Frank J. Del Rio, President/CEO Norwegian Cruise Line

Mr. Del Rio is President and Chief Executive Officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NYSE: NCLH), a leading global cruise operator which operates Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent […]

Past DDLS Speakers

Journey through years of inspired dialogue, with distinguished thought leaders on the past DDLS speakers page.