Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series

Kate Walsh

Speaker: Kate Walsh, Ph.D., Interim Dean and E.M. Statler Professor

Kate Walsh, PhD was named interim dean for the School of Hotel Administration on July 1 of this year. Many SHA students know her as an associate professor of management and organizational behavior; teaching Career Planning in the Hospitality Industry, and Organizational Behavior and Leadership Skills. She received her PhD from the Carroll School of […]

Tyler Henritze

Speaker: Tyler Henritze, Senior Managing Director

Blackstone is one of the world’s leading investment firms that seeks to create positive economic impact and long-term value for its investors, the companies they invest in, and the communities in which they work. Blackstone’s Real Estate business manages over $101bn of equity capital and invests across the globe with approximately 400 professionals. Tyler Henrizte […]

Matthew Upchurch

Speaker: Mr. Matthew Upchurch, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Virtuoso is a global network of travel advisors, suppliers, and others connected to the travel and leisure industry. This by-invitation-only organization comprises over 380 agencies with more than 11,400 elite travel specialists in 30 countries throughout North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa, and the Middle East, as well as over 1,700 of […]

Marco Benvenuti

Speaker: Marco Benvenuti, MMH ’05, Chief Analytics and Product Officer; Co-Founder

Duetto is a cloud-based Revenue Strategy application that allows hotels to move beyond traditional revenue management by providing new, actionable insights into demand. Duetto’s Open Pricing strategy allows hotels to capture more revenue on each and every booking by yielding each segment, channel and room type independently for maximum profitability. With it’s newest feature, Dynamic […]

Jeff Zalaznick

Speaker: Jeff Zalaznick, A&S ’05, Restaurateur

Jeff Zalaznick is a restaurateur and entrepreneur. He is the co-founder and co-owner of Major Food Group (MFG). MFG is a New York based restaurant and hospitality company founded in 2010 by Jeff, and his partners, Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi. MFG represents a new breed of restaurant group with the aim to conceptualize and […]

Mia Kyricos

Speaker: Mia Kyricos, MMH ’03, President and Founder

Kyricos & Associates (K&A) is a boutique advisory firm providing strategic guidance to wellness-driven hospitality, tourism and lifestyle companies on a global scale. With over 20 years of experience, Mia Kyricos is a globally-respected business leader and a frequent speaker and contributing writer to hospitality and wellness-related publications and associations. Her work and expertise has […]

Mark Tamis

Speaker: Mark Tamis ’88, Senior Vice President, Hotel Operations

Royal Caribbean International is an award-winning global cruise brand with a 46-year legacy of innovation and introducing industry “firsts” never before seen at sea. The cruise line features an expansive and unmatched array of features and amenities only found on Royal Caribbean including, jaw-dropping, Broadway-style entertainment and industry-acclaimed programming that appeals to families and adventurous […]

Daniel Schwartz

Speaker: Daniel Schwartz, Dyson ’01, Chief Executive Officer

Restaurant Brands International, the third-largest fast food operator in the world, was formed by the merger between Burger King and Tim Hortons, Canada’s largest quick service restaurant chain. Daniel Schwartz was named CEO in 2013 at the age of 32 with no prior experience in the F&B industry. After graduating from Cornell’s College of Agriculture […]

Suzanne Heidelberger

Speaker: Suzanne Heidelberger ’90, Senior Vice President, Global Real Estate & Workplace Enablement

At American Express, Suzanne Heidelberger is charged with managing over 200 properties in over 41 countries, while providing a safe and productive workplace for AmEx employees. Her group leads all facilities management, design and construction, and real estate strategy functions. Prior to joining American Express, Ms. Heidelberger spent several years at Deutsche Bank, where she […]

Matthew Stevens

Speaker: Matthew Stevens, President and Chief Executive Officer

Founded in 1977, The Bay Club Company (“Bay Club”) is the owner and operator of twenty five+ locations across multiple active lifestyle campuses throughout California. Bay Club welcomes more than 90,000 members with innovations such as the 77 Social Club, Connect business suites and Sanctuary Spas along with world-class sport activities and numerous resort-level amenities. […]

Stefan Leser

Speaker: Stefan Leser, Group Chief Executive Officer

Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts are regarded as among the most luxurious and innovative in the world and have won numerous international travel and tourism awards. The company was founded in 1997 with the aim to become a hospitality industry leader through establishing a world class portfolio of luxury hotels and resorts. Building on this success, […]

Victor Woo

Speaker: Mr. Victor Woo, Executive Vice President

Founded in 1977, The Bay Club Company (“Bay Club”) is the owner and operator of twenty five+ locations across multiple active lifestyle campuses throughout California. Bay Club welcomes more than 90,000 members with innovations such as the 77 Social Club, Connect business suites and Sanctuary Spas along with world-class sport activities and numerous resort-level amenities. […]

Kate Walsh

Speaker: Kate Walsh, Dean

Dr. Kate Walsh was named the seventh dean and E. M. Statler Professor of the School of Hotel Administration on June 16, 2017. She served as interim dean and E. M. Statler Professor for one year beginning July 1, 2016, the first day of operations for the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. An associate […]

Tricia Taylor

Speaker: Tricia Taylor ’95, Senior Vice President and General Manager

One of America’s legendary oceanfront resort destinations, The Breakers was founded in 1896 by industrialist Henry Flagler on the shores of Palm Beach – a unique location that inspired the resort’s name. This 538-room hotel, modeled after the Villa Medici in Rome, re-invests an unparalleled minimum of $30 million each year in the property’s capital […]

Chuck Floyd

Speaker: Chuck Floyd, Global President of Operations

Hyatt Hotels Corporation is a leading global hospitality company with a portfolio of 13 brands and 698 properties in 56 countries. The company was founded in 1957 when Jay Pritzker purchased the Hyatt House motel adjacent to Los Angeles International Airport. Family-owned Hyatt Hotel Corporation has grown to an international hotel management and ownership company […]

Zachary Shapiro

Speaker: Zachary Shapiro ’05, Director of Operations Reliability, Integrated Operations Center

American Airlines has been a pioneer in the airline industry since its first flight in 1936. Today, American Airlines and American Eagle offer an average of nearly 6,700 flights per day to nearly 350 destinations in more than 50 countries. American has hubs in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, […]

William McBeath

Speaker: William McBeath, President and Chief Executive Officer

Opened in 2010, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is a trendsetting, luxury resort and casino that has pioneered a new kind of hospitality in the Las Vegas market. It features 3,026 hotel rooms, an 110,000 square-foot casino; retail and restaurant venues; a spa and fitness facility; a 3,200-seat theater; meeting and convention space; and Marquee […]

Susan Sarich

Speaker: Susan Sarich ’91, Founder and Chief Executive Officer

An all-American, home-style bakery offering classic desserts that are baked on-site daily from scratch, SusieCakes aims to “connect through celebration.” All SusieCakes desserts are baked with fresh ingredients without mixes, artificial preservatives, or trans-fats. Ms. Susan Sarich, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of SusieCakes, recalls childhood memories of coming home from school to enjoy her […]

Grace Leo

Speaker: Grace Leo ’77, Chief Executive Officer

As the daughter of a Hong Kong hotelier, Ms. Grace Leo is no stranger to the hospitality industry. With a distinctive style all her own, Ms. Leo stepped out front in Europe’s design hotel movement and made her name synonymous with visionary concepts and creative executions with refinement, artistic flair, and authenticity. Ms. Leo is […]

George Markantonis

Speaker: George Markantonis, President and Chief Operating Officer

A lifelong hotelier, Mr. George Markantonis began his career as a front desk agent in South Africa at age 20. In the time since, his efforts have been recognized on numerous levels. He is a recipient of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s “Arthur Landstreet Award,” and has also been honored with Hotelier of the […]

Aida Mollenkamp

Speaker: Aida Mollenkamp ’02, Founder

A graduate of the School of Hotel Administration, Ms. Aida Mollenkamp is a food and travel expert on a mission to taste the world. In December of 2014, she founded Salt & Wind, an online food travel site. Much of Ms. Mollenkamp’s influence comes from her home state of California and Brady Bunch-esc family. She […]

Elizabeth Blau

Speaker: Elizabeth Blau MS ’97, Chief Executive Officer

Ms. Elizabeth Blau is credited with transforming Las Vegas’s culinary scene. Her foodservice career, spanning over 23 years, has allowed Ms. Blau to specialize in restaurant planning and development. Her notable achievements include creating an award-winning, 22-concept food and beverage program for Wynn Resort and Casino and partnering in several successful Las Vegas ventures like […]

Mark Nasr

Speaker: Mark Nasr ’07, Vice President, Loyalty & eCommerce

Air Canada is Canada’s largest airline and carries over 45 million passengers annually. Air Canada’s predecessor, Trans-Canada Air Lines, had its first flight in 1937 and the company has since grown to become one of the 20 largest airlines in the world with 300 aircrafts. Air Canada continues to grow year over year with new […]

Michael Medzigian

Speaker: Michael Medzigian ’82, Chairman & Managing Partner

Mr. Medzigian is Chairman and Managing Partner of Watermark Capital Partners, LLC, a real estate investment management firm, and President, CEO and a Director of Carey Watermark Investors Inc., and Carey Watermark Investors 2 Inc., both publicly-registered Real Estate Investment Trusts. His activities are focused on complex assets that benefit from demographic shifts, strategic marketing, […]

Michael Barnello

Speaker: Michael Barnello ’87, President & Chief Executive Officer

Michael D. Barnello is President and Chief Executive Officer of LaSalle Hotel Properties (NYSE: LHO) and has been with the company since its IPO in 1998. LaSalle Hotel Properties is a leading multi-operator real estate investment trust. The Company owns 42 properties, which are upscale, full-service hotels, totaling approximately 10,700 guest rooms in 11 markets […]

Susan Guerin

Speaker: Ms. Susan Guerin ’83, President & Chief Executive Officer

A respected business leader, Guerin is known for her ability to drive change and improve profitability while supporting top line growth. With a depth of international experience, specifically in consumer products, retail and apparel, she has worked with large multinational and small, domestic corporations. In 2013, Guerin joined World Finer Foods, with more than 60 […]

Robert D. Kline

Speaker: Mr. Robert D. Kline ’84, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder

Robert D. Kline ’84 is the CEO and Co-Founder of the Chartres Lodging Group, LLC, a private equity investment firm formed in 2002 and focused on the lodging sector; and Co-Chairman of Kokua Hospitality, LLC, which was formed in 2005 as a property management firm specializing in turnarounds. Kline is recognized as a proactive investor […]

Heather Jacobs

Speaker: Ms. Heather Jacobs ’94, Senior Vice President, People and Culture

Heather Jacobs is Senior Vice President, People and Culture for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. Heather’s role is to ensure that the company continues to have a robust pipeline of talent to underwrite the company’s reputation, success and growth through global talent acquisition and talent management practices. Heather has been with Four Seasons for more […]

Petter A. Stordalen

Speaker: Mr. Petter A. Stordalen, Chief Executive Officer & Owner

Petter Anker Stordalen is a Norwegian investor, hotel tycoon, property developer and environmentalist. Stordalen has sole proprietorship of Nordic Choice Hotels, one of the largest hotel companies in the Nordic region. He is co-founder and board member of Stordalen Foundation, owner and CEO of Strawberry, Chairman of the Board of Strawberry Property, Strawberry Capital and […]

Dave Pollin

Speaker: Mr. Dave Pollin ’90, Co-President & Founder

Dave Pollin is the Co-Founder and President of The Buccini/Pollin Group (“BPG”), headquartered in Washington, DC. He also serves as Chairman of PM Hotel Group, the hotel management affiliate of BPG. Mr. Pollin leads the firms’ hotel acquisition, development and capital markets efforts. The Buccini/Pollin Group has acquired and developed over $5 billion of properties […]

Thomas J. Baltimore, Jr.

Speaker: Mr. Thomas J. Baltimore, Jr., Chairman & Chief Executive Officer

Thomas J. Baltimore, Jr. is Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Park Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: PK) which is the recent lodging REIT spin off from Hilton Worldwide. Park is the second largest lodging REIT with 54 hotels and nearly 32,000 rooms in the U.S. and several international markets and approximately $9 billion in […]

Katherine Lugar

Speaker: Ms. Katherine Lugar, President & Chief Executive Officer

Katherine Lugar is president and chief executive officer of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), the U.S. lodging industry’s largest trade association. In this role, she is responsible for setting AHLA’s strategic vision and championing the industry’s voice on Capitol Hill, within the Administration, in the press and beyond. During her tenure Lugar has […]

Robert Alter

Speaker: Mr. Robert Alter ’73, President

Robert Alter, one of the premier hotel investment and management executives in the industry. Mr. Alter is Chairman Emeritus and Founder of Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc. (NYSE: SHO). After founding Sunstone in 1985, he took the company public in 1995 with 10 hotels and a total enterprise value of $75 million with revenues of $30 […]

Geoff Hill

Speaker: Mr. Geoff Hill ’92, Managing Director

Geoff Hill joined Roark Capital Group in June of 2009. As a Managing Director at Roark, Geoff serves on the Investment Committee and is involved in the acquisition and portfolio management of the Firm’s restaurant and multi-unit investments. Roark Capital is a Private Equity Firm based in Atlanta, GA with $11 billion of capital under […]

Cheryl Boyer

Speaker: Ms. Cheryl Boyer ’87, Chief Operating Officer

Cheryl Boyer is the Chief Operating Officer of Fulcrum Hospitality, a boutique operating partner, asset manager, and transaction advisor in the lodging and gaming space. The firm has principal investments in hospitality assets, maintains acquisitions relationships with major investment banks and institutional private equity firms, and asset manages or advises on over 10,000 hotel rooms […]

Allison Satter Hill

Speaker: Ms. Allison Satter Hill ’93, MBA ’14, President & Chief Executive Officer

Allison Satter Hill currently serves as the President & CEO of The Local Pizzaiolo is a start-up fast-casual restaurant concept & company designed for fast & agile incubation, with 2 open locations in Atlanta, GA & 2 under construction (1 in Atlanta and 1 in Washington, DC) & plans for national expansion. The concept is […]

Michelle Ho

Speaker: Ms. Michelle Ho ’05, President & Chief Executive Officer

Michelle Ho is Chief Executive Officer and Developmental Licensee of McDonald’s for Macau, Zhuhai and Zhongshan, China. She speaks English, Cantonese and Mandarin. Michelle is the second of four sisters and was born in Hong Kong on 25 March. She grew up in Macau and at the age of 16, she moved to the US […]

Daniel Halpern

Speaker: Daniel Halpern, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Jackmont Hospitality is an award-winning, minority-owned foodservice management company and one of the fastest growing TGI Friday’s franchisees. In addition, the firm oversees on-site foodservice management contracts for airport concessions, healthcare foodservice, college and university foodservice, and school district dining programs. CEO and Co-founder Daniel Halpern is not just the guy who signs the checks […]

Lindsey Ueberroth

Speaker: Lindsey Ueberroth, President and Chief Executive Officer

Preferred Hotels & Resorts is the world’s largest independent hotel company, providing sales, marketing, distribution, quality assurance, and guest loyalty solutions to a portfolio of more than 650 hotels, resorts, residences, and small hotel groups across 85 countries. A world traveler having visited more than 100 countries, Ms. Lindsey Ueberroth has channeled her background into […]

Geoff Ballotti

Speaker: Geoff Ballotti, President & Chief Executive Officer

As the President & Chief Executive Officer of Wyndham Hotel Group, Vice Chair of the AHLA board of directors, National Chair of the U.S. Travel Association, and board of director’s member for Christel House International, Mr. Geoff Ballotti is a prime example of leadership in the hospitality industry. His position at Wyndham includes responsibility for […]

Leslie Hale

Speaker: Ms. Leslie Hale, President and Chief Executive Officer

Leslie Hale is the President and Chief Executive Officer of RLJ Lodging Trust, a leading hotel real estate investment trust. Since joining RLJ in 2005, Ms. Hale has played a pivotal role in setting and executing the strategic vision at RLJ. Ms. Hale has held progressively senior roles at RLJ – she was appointed to […]

Randy Garutti

Speaker: Mr. Randy Garutti ’97, Chief Executive Officer

Randy Garutti is the CEO of Shake Shack, a critically acclaimed, modern day “roadside” burger stand known for its community gathering experience, commitment to taking care of its team, premium ingredients and cult-like following around the world. Shake Shack was born in 2001 as a hot dog cart in New York City’s Madison Square Park. […]

Anthony Capuano

Speaker: Mr. Anthony Capuano ’87, Executive Vice President, Global Chief Development Officer

Anthony Capuano is Marriott’s Executive Vice President and Global Chief Development Officer. He is responsible for the global development of all Marriott lodging brands and supervises offices in Bangkok, Barcelona, Beijing, Cape Town, Delhi, Dubai, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Jakarta, London, Mexico City, Moscow, Paris, Rome, São Paulo, Shanghai, Tokyo, Zagreb, Zurich […]

Keith Barr

Speaker: Mr. Keith Barr ’92, Chief Executive Officer

Keith has been Chief Executive Officer of IHG® since July 2017. He has spent more than 25 years working in the hospitality industry, having started his career in hotel operations. He has been a member of IHG’s Executive Committee since April 2011 and served as Chief Commercial Officer for four years before being appointed CEO. […]

Barry Lewin

Speaker: Mr. Barry Lewin ’85, Partner

Prospect Hotel Advisors is the exclusive advisor for hospitality investments to the Blackstone Group, the largest owner of hospitality assets in the world.  Prospect also advises a select group of other private equity companies as well as high net-worth families in the hospitality industry.  Barry has 2 business partners, John Ceriale and Andrew Katz. Growing […]

Larry Lewin

Speaker: Mr. Larry Lewin ’74, President

Larry is an accomplished Senior Executive and Strategist with demonstrated success spanning international gaming, finance, and hospitality. Leveraging extensive experience with property development and high-performance management structures, Larry is a valuable asset for a company requiring business turnaround planning, operational expense strategy, or crisis media advisory. His broad areas of expertise include operations, finance, development, […]

Jerry Lewin

Speaker: Mr. Jerry Lewin ’76, Senior Vice President of Field Operations

Jerry Lewin has worked in hospitality industry for forty-three years and spending the last thirty years with Hyatt hotels. Before joining Hyatt, Lewin served for ten years in various management capacities for Hilton hotels in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas. Lewin joined Hyatt hotels in 1987 as the General Manager […]

Jay H. Shah

Speaker: M. Jay H. Shah ’90, Chief Executive Officer

Jay H. Shah is Hersha Hospitality Trust’s Chief Executive Officer and a member of Hersha Hospitality Trust’s Board of Trustees. Mr. Shah is involved in all areas of the business with a particular emphasis on strategic relationships, capital transactions, asset management, and acquisitions. Hersha Hospitality Trust (HT) is a self-advised real estate investment trust in […]

Helen Smith

Speaker: Ms. Helen Smith ’81 , Chief Customer Experience Officer

Helen Smith is British but moved to America for two years for the first time as a nine year old and was overwhelmed by Baskin Robbins and their 31 flavours of ice cream (in England we only had three). She grew to have a love of the American spirit of ‘let’s have a go and […]

Garnie Nygren

Speaker: Ms. Garnie Nygren ’05, Director of Operations

Garnie Nygren, the eldest daughter of Founder Steve Nygren is the COO for Serenbe. She grew up in Atlanta and Chattahoochee Hills, attended Woodward Academy and is a 1995 graduate of Cornell University’s Hotel School. Not only does she run operations for Serenbe Development and Serenbe Real Estate, she is the President of The Inn […]

Sush Torgalkar

Speaker: Mr. Sush Torgalkar ’99, President & CEO

Sush Torgalkar is President and Chief Executive Officer of Extell Development Company, a full-service, globally-acclaimed developer of residential, office, retail and hospitality properties. Operating primarily in Manhattan, the company’s impressive portfolio continues to expand throughout New York City and other key markets across the nation. Since its founding in 1989, Extell has developed more than […]

Lanhee Yung

Speaker: Ms. Lanhee Yung ’97, Global Head Capital Raising & Investor Relations

Lanhee Yung is a Managing Director and heads Starwood Capital’s Fundraising and Investor Relations Group globally. In this role, she is responsible for raising capital globally on behalf of the Firm’s private investment funds and co-investments in real estate and energy infrastructure. She also led the largest disposition in the firm’s history for a portfolio […]


Speaker: Ms. Tuesday Baptiste MMH ’15, Director of People and Culture

Tuesday Baptiste is the Director of People and Culture at Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore. She is responsible for driving a 5-star employee experience, recruiting and retaining the best and brightest hospitality professionals, developing innovative and inspiring leaders, and fostering a fun and loving workplace culture. Tuesday first found her passion for hospitality as a server […]


Speaker: Mr. Raj Chandnani ’95, Vice President

Raj Chandnani oversees strategy for WATG. He has a wide range of hospitality industry expertise focusing on diverse segments, including consumer trends, travel and tourism, gaming, timeshare, residential and spas. Chandnani is actively involved in the firm’s strategy in terms of identifying new project opportunities and forging strategic relationships. He also works closely with the […]