The Leaders. The Showrunners. The Directors.
Just as any organization has its executive committee, we have the board of directors. Selected every year to run HEC, the general manager and department directors are responsible for overseeing the operations of the entire conference and all events preceding it.
The board comprises 15 students enrolled in HADM 4910, earning a total of 6 credits for their hard work and dedication. The board of directors is responsible for managing the $100,000 HEC budget and for guiding the organization in its mission to showcase hospitality education through student leadership.
Jaimie Kim, Managing Director
Jaimie Kim is a senior in the School of Hotel Administration from Cerritos, California. She spent her first year of college at California State University, Fullerton as an accounting major before realizing her affinity for hospitality and excellent service. Focusing on the analytical side of the hospitality industry, she is pursuing a future in accounting and consulting. In addition, she is working towards becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) candidate. After graduation, Jaimie will be returning to EY as an assurance associate in their San Francisco office.
She began her journey in hospitality by working in skincare retail. The summer before her junior year, she worked as a supply chain operations intern at the MDB Family in Montebello, California, in order to grow her critical thinking and technical skills. This past summer, she worked as an assurance intern for EY in San Francisco to gain experience in auditing.
At Cornell, Jaimie is an active member of Cru Cornell, a Christian fellowship. Previously, she served as a teaching assistant for HADM 2010 - Hospitality Quantitative Analytics and HADM 1350 - Introduction to Hotel Operations practicum. In addition, she worked in the front office of the Statler Hotel by way of the Hotel Leadership Development Program.
Last year, for HEC 92, Jaimie served as the program director, organizing the program events and weekend schedule and launching HEC's first year-long speaker series, Hotel Ezra Conversations. For HEC 91, she served as a guest experience manager, applying her warm interpersonal skills to provide guests with superior experiences. Jaimie is honored to serve as the managing director for HEC 93 and is ecstatic to lead a team of students to create the "best ever" HEC. She hopes that all guests and members of the Cornell community will find "A Sense of Place" back home in Ithaca.
Nina Bachich '19, Food and Beverage Director
Nina Bachich is currently a junior in the School of Hotel Administration from Ocean City, New Jersey. Nina was first exposed to the service industry at the age of 16 as a housekeeper at a local motel after volunteering for HEC 88. She entered the food and beverage field when she was 17 as a hostess at a country club, and continued within the industry to become a head server at a local restaurant.
Nina has previously worked three HECs, starting as a service team volunteer for HEC 88, then as a communications team volunteer during HEC 89, and most recently as the gala service manager and employee dining manager for HEC 92. As a volunteer, Nina discovered her passion for the hospitality industry, which kindled her dream of attending the Hotel School. As the director of food and beverage for HEC 93, Nina plans on facilitating the vision and development of HEC's food and beverage aspects. Nina is excited to work with the other directors and students to make HEC 93 "the best ever!"
On campus, Nina is also the director of finance for the American Hotel and Lodging Association, Cornell Chapter, and a fellow for Cornell Traditions.
In her free time, Nina enjoys traveling, learning about different cultures, reading, and eating food. In the future, Nina hopes to work as either a luxury brand ambassador or a Forbes auditor.
Carmel Bendit-Shtull '19, Program Director
Carmel is a junior in the School of Hotel Administration from New York City, concentrating in information systems and minoring in law and society. After working at hotels in high school, Carmel took a gap year and moved to Costa Rica to gain international hospitality experience by working in sustainable hotels. She enrolled in Cornell a year later with a passion for sustainable tourism development.
Carmel has worked in eight hotels in four countries in a variety of operations positions, including concierge, restaurant host, front desk agent, and private travel coordinator. Among many exciting experiences, some of her favorites include tour guiding for NBC Universal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics, working as a development analyst Intern for Four Seasons in Miami, and studying the impact of tourism in Cuba.
In addition to her role in HEC, on campus, Carmel is a teaching assistant for Microeconomics, Advanced Business Modeling, and Introduction to Hotel Operations. She is the vice president of Female Leadership in Hospitality and treasurer for Cornell University Spa Association, and is on the board of the Cornell Women's Resource Center. She is also a part of the Pa’lante Salsa Dance Troupe.
HEC 93 marks Carmel's third year on the program team. She started as a program manager during HEC 91, served as the assistant program director for HEC 92, and is now grateful for the opportunity to take on the role of program director. She looks forward to collaborating with the board of directors, the program team, and all of SHA to make HEC 93 "the best ever."
Jacinta Chang '20, Marketing Director
Jacinta Chang is a sophomore in the School of Hotel Administration from Fremont, California. Though she was born and raised in the technology-centric Silicon Valley, she knew from a very early age that her passions were geared towards people, thus sparking her interest in hospitality and business.
She spent this past summer in Dubai, where she was a business excellence and guest services Intern at the Burj Al Arab by Jumeirah Group. Spending her very first internship abroad opened Jacinta's eyes to the many cultures beyond her own, and allowed her to gain a broader view of the world. Previously, Jacinta worked as a winter extern at the Conrad New York and as a spring extern at the W New York Times Square. In the future, however, Jacinta hopes to explore beyond the hotel space and is looking to gain a variety of experiences across different industries.
Outside of HEC, Jacinta serves as an undergraduate admissions assistant for the SC Johnson College of Business Office of Admissions. Additionally, she is a Hotel School ambassador, a teaching assistant, and the co-marketing chair for the Cornell Undergraduate Asia Business Society (CUABS). In her spare time, she enjoys following travel blogs, reading up on horoscopes, and watching baking tutorials.
Jacinta first became involved in HEC 92 as a social media manager, and is now humbled and honored to be serving as the marketing director for HEC 93. She is incredibly excited to work with the HEC community here at Cornell to make this year's conference "the best ever!"
May Chen '18, Sales and Donor Relations Director
May Chen is a senior in the School of Hotel Administration from Taipei, Taiwan. After living in and traveling to various cities in Asia such as Beijing and Shanghai, May discovered her passion for hospitality and has been eager to immerse herself in the industry ever since.
May first joined HEC as a freshman on both the rooms team and the sales team. She continued her role as a guest experience manager in her sophomore year before transitioning to the donor relations assistant director position last year. Through her rotation through the rooms, sales, and finance and donor relations departments, she acquired a deep sense of knowledge about HEC and learned about its importance to the Hotel School.
Outside of HEC, May is the lead teaching assistant for HADM 2220 - Finance and the senior advisor for the Cornell Club of Taiwan. Previously, she has served as a teaching assistant for HADM 2360 - Food Service Management, Theory, and Practice and HADM 2210 - Managerial Accounting.
As the sales and donor relations director for HEC 93, May is excited and honored to invite top industry leaders and young alumni to attend the conference. May is also hoping to foster relationships with new donors and bring innovative products to HEC 93.
Andrew Frey '18, Executive Chef
Andrew Frey is a senior in the School of Hotel Administration, a member of the Culinary Institute of America's associate's degree program, a part of the Cornell Cuvee Society, and a level-one introductory sommelier. He was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina, and first entered the hospitality industry in high school when he opened a small business growing and selling heirloom tomatoes to local businesses with his younger brother Sam Frey, a sophomore in the School of Hotel Administration. This is where his passion for cooking and local ingredients began. He also spent his summers working at the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club as an operations intern and later as a member of the wait staff.
So far in his career, Andrew has explored many of the facets of the food and beverage industry. He worked as a wine-making consultant's assistant in Napa Valley and interned with the catering and banquets department of the Venetian and Palazzo of Sands Corp in Las Vegas. He has also spent his time during the school year working in the restaurants at the Statler Hotel as a part of the Hotel Leadership Development Program, and acting as function manager for the breakfasts of HEC 91.
Outside of work and school, Andrew is an avid food and wine enthusiast, with a passion for exotic cuisines and spices. He has traveled to every continent and values his memories of the local street foods the most.
After graduation, Andrew will pursue a career in food and beverage management. His ultimate goal is to own/operate a series of casual and upper-casual restaurants and bars in his hometown of Durham, NC, possibly with his brother.
Cristian Giron '18, Diversity and Development Director
Cristian Giron is a senior in the School of Hotel Administration from Las Vegas, Nevada. There, he was exposed to the world of hospitality and tourism as a young child. Due to this exposure, he gained an affinity for business, particularly marketing and brand management. Cristian's eight-year plan involves delving into the world of consulting and later pursuing a JD/MBA and practicing corporate law.
Cristian aims to gain as much experience as possible within his four years at Cornell and has become involved with the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality as president, Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International as vice president of professional development, and the Cornell European Business Society as a marketing associate. Since freshman year, Cristian promised himself that he would gain a holistic college experience and has since become a part of Cornell's only selective pre-law fraternity, Kappa Alpha Pi, as well as the Phi Sigma Pi Honor Fraternity. Cristian hopes to one day go into the brand-management sector within marketing management and product development for lifestyle brands. In his previous summer, he had the opportunity to serve as a sales and marketing specialist intern for IBM, where he was able to research cognitive tools in the financial sector to progress the advancement of IBM Blockchain Technology.
Cristian's interests involve academia and trying new restaurants to expand his food knowledge. Some of his favorite cuisines derive from Latin American cooking methods and spices. Along with having an all-inclusive palette, Cristian enjoys design in all forms, particularly fashion design, photography, and spending time with friends and family.
Megan Guefen '19, Conference Services and Procurement Director
Megan Guefen is a current junior in the School of Hotel Administration from Los Angeles, California. Since a young age, Megan has always been drawn to the food and beverage industry. In high school, Megan pursued her passion through participation in the National Student Leadership Conference on Culinary Arts and starting her own custom cupcake business, Meggie's Cupcakes. For her senior project, she worked as a rotational intern at Bardessono Hotel and Spa in Yountville, California, to explore the hotel industry prior to starting at Cornell.
The summer after her freshman year, Megan interned at Simms Restaurant Group in Manhattan Beach, California—gaining experience in server, food runner, and host positions. Additionally, Megan was able to expand her knowledge of the travel industry by working as an intern for Frontiers Elegant Journeys during Virtuoso Travel Week 2016. Last summer, she returned to the hotel industry as the Pool and Cabana Restaurant intern at the Four Seasons Los Angeles in Beverly Hills.
Megan began volunteering for HEC during the fall of her freshman year as the marketing photography content manager for HEC 91. Last year, she was the assistant director of operations and conference services for HEC 92. Megan is excited to take on her role as director of conference services and procurement and to have the opportunity to work alongside her fellow board members and the rest of the HEC team to make HEC 93 "the best ever."
Justin Leff '19, Human Resources Director
Justin Leff is a junior in the School of Hotel Administration from Livingston, New Jersey, who is pursuing a major in hospitality management and a minor in real estate. He has always been interested in the industry, since it uniquely allows him to combine his interests in business, technology, and communications. The field gives him the opportunity to work in a collaborative team environment that is filled with a variety of challenges, where no one day is the same.
Justin has been a member of HEC since the moment he first stepped onto Cornell's campus as a freshman. He had the privilege to serve as the assistant director of human resources for HEC 92, and he was a manager-in-training for HEC 91. Justin has enjoyed working on the HR team throughout the years and especially during the HEC weekends themselves. He views the human resources department as the backbone of any organization, and he feels that it is an honor for him to lead this division for HEC 93.
This past summer, Justin served as an intern in the sales analytics department at Hilton Worldwide's corporate headquarters in McLean, Virginia. As a member of the team, he had the opportunity to provide insights and analysis on sales and performance trends to communicate content to stakeholders. Justin also interned at the Nautilus, a SIXTY Hotel in Miami, Florida, during the summer of 2016. The property is situated in South Beach, one of the prime real estate locations in the world, and thus he was able to see firsthand how location, competition, and design influence everyday business decisions.
In addition to HEC, Justin enjoys his role as a teaching assistant for Finance, Managerial Accounting, Introduction to Foodservice Operations, and Foodservice Management Essentials. He also serves as an orientation supervisor to welcome first-year students to campus. Aside from HEC, Justin loves traveling, eating, and posting pictures of decadent desserts on Instagram.
Bryan Lustig '18, Finance and Strategy Director
Bryan Lustig is currently a senior in the School of Hotel Administration from Hillsdale, New Jersey. Coming from a performing arts high school, Bryan always had a passion for entertainment. He discovered his passion for hospitality during his senior year in high school through a rotational operations internship at a Hilton hotel. Throughout the internship, Bryan applied the skills he learned from his performing arts classes to provide excellent customer service and attention to detail. Bryan also interned at the Coral Beach and Tennis Club located in Bermuda, where he got the opportunity to live on an island for two months during the summer after his freshman year. This past summer, he interned at Wyndham Hotel Group's corporate headquarters in their brand and performance analytics team.
Outside of HEC, Bryan is the treasurer for Cornell Hotel Society, Collegiate Chapter, where he creates budgets and funding strategies to plan and execute various events throughout Statler Hall.
Bryan has been involved with HEC since his freshman year, when he started out as a food and beverage service supervisor and manager. He is excited about his new role and looks forward to working with the board of directors.
Cathleen Lyu '18, Design and Facilities Director
Cathleen Lyu is a senior concentrating in entrepreneurship and minoring in informational science. She was born and raised in Foshan, China, a city known for its rich history in martial arts and intricate paper-cutting handcrafts. She attended two years of primary school in Sydney, Australia, and traveled to five countries throughout secondary school. All her international experiences contribute to her passion for being a Hotelie and her deep appreciation for meaningful designs.
Cathleen started her design journey as a self-taught graphic designer. Since joining the design team as a freshman, she grew from an event designer for HEC 90 to an assistant director for HEC 92, and has executed multiple designs, including: the past-present-future design at the Statler Hotel lobby, the Modern Palette cocktail dinner at the student library and lounge, and the Ten Year Anniversary Dinner for the Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship. As design director for HEC 93, she will be responsible for managing every event design team and overseeing the execution of conference events. Cathleen looks forward to developing new skills and sharing inspirations with her designers.
Along with her involvement with HEC, Cathleen is also the president of Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority and served on the executive board for multiple student organizations. On the front end, she thinks like an entrepreneur, and on the back end, she utilizes her hospitality background to focus on the guest. Her passion for technology is the engine that drives her experiences toward a product or service that inspires exceptional guest experience. Cathleen aims to fully utilize her senior year in college to expand her network and master skills applicable to all industries.
Elena Mandry '18, Beverage Director
Elena Mandry is a senior in the School of Hotel Administration from Allentown, Pennsylvania. From a young age, Elena enjoyed cooking and serving others when having guests over at home, and thus set her sights on Cornell and a career in hospitality.
At Cornell, Elena has been a lead teaching assistant for multiple technology classes, most notably this year for HADM 1740 - Business Computing, a mandatory introductory computing class for SHA freshman. Elena also works in the SHA Office of Student Services as a student assistant to the academic advisors and career services team. Outside of SHA, Elena is an active member of her sorority, Phi Sigma Sigma, of which she was previously vice president and alumni chair.
Elena became involved with HEC her freshman year for HEC 90 as a server for the wines team, where she uncovered a passion for beverage service. She advanced through the team as the HR/marketing manager for HEC 91 and as the beverage assistant director for the wines team for HEC 92. Elena is excited to be working with both the bar and wines teams this year, as well as the rest of the board of directors, to make HEC 93 truly "the best ever."
During the summer months, Elena has interned with Starwood Hotels and Resorts and Hilton Hotels and Resorts in housekeeping, human resources, and front office. These experiences have allowed her to gain a more well-rounded understanding of on-property hotel operations. Upon graduation this coming spring, Elena is looking forward to pursuing a career in hotel operations.
Sarah Monahan '19, Media and IT Director
Sarah is a junior in the School of Hotel Administration from Park Ridge, New Jersey. After attending a culinary- and hospitality-focused program in high school, Sarah wanted to continue her education in the industry, which inspired her to come to Cornell.
Sarah first became involved with HEC during her freshman year when she served as a bartender and assistant director of technology for HEC 91. The next year, she continued her involvement with HEC and served as assistant director of IT for HEC 92. She continues with IT by now serving as the current media and IT director for HEC 93. She is very excited to use various forms of media and technology in order to create memorable guest experiences.
Since starting at Cornell, Sarah has spent her summers working in various aspects of the industry. Following her freshman year, she interned at Losurdo Foods, an Italian food specialty company where she was able to take on various roles within the accounting, human resources, and logistics departments. During winter break of her sophomore year, Sarah did an externship at the Hilton Inn at Penn where she worked with the front desk, concierge, and reservations teams. Following her sophomore year, she interned at Major Food Group in New York City, where she worked in the guest relations department and learned about managing VIP guest profiles and all the background work that is involved with opening a new restaurant.
In the School of Hotel Administration, Sarah has been a teaching assistant for Financial Accounting. She is also a Hotel School ambassador. Outside of SHA, she is a resident advisor in Court-Kay-Bauer Hall and a member of the Alpha Xi Delta Sorority. In her spare time, Sarah loves to take trips to the beach and try out new restaurants!
Austin Serling '19, Food and Beverage Service Director
Austin Serling is a junior in the School of Hotel Administration from Scarsdale, New York. He discovered his passion for hospitality when he began cooking for his friends and family in elementary school.
After that first experience, Austin worked in different restaurants and catering companies in many different roles, including prep chef and host, through middle and high school. Through these jobs, Austin discovered his passion for the restaurant industry. This past summer, he interned at the Esca in New York City as a restaurant manager.
Austin first joined HEC as a freshman with the HEC 91 rooms team as a guest floor manager. He would later join the service team as an event manager his sophomore year. Aside from HEC, Austin is a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity and is a teaching assistant for PAM 5679 - Desktop and Modeling Solutions. Austin enjoys hiking and making meals for his family and friends. In the future, Austin hopes to bring his service knowledge to the hospitality industry in a financial role.
Ren Towell '18, Rooms Director
Ren Towell is a senior in the School of Hotel Administration. She has lived most of her life in a western suburb of Chicago where, naturally, she got her start in the industry by working in a family-owned Chicago pizzeria.
On campus, Ren is a member of the Hotel Leadership Development Program, where she has been fortunate enough to see a hospitality operation from all angles. Though based in the front office, she has worked everything from valet to room attendant to maintenance, progressing to her current position as front office student director of rooms. Additionally, she is a member of the Kappa Delta sorority. In her free time, you will find Ren with a book. If not that, she has recently caught the travel bug after studying abroad in Seville, Spain, her junior year. She hopes to soon be reading those books in new and exciting locations.
Post-graduation, Ren is interested in going into real estate development, working on-site and in the thick of it. Eventually, she has plans to return to the classroom and complete a JD, utilizing a legal degree to help her achieve her dream of being a developer.
This will be Ren's third year with HEC, having enjoyed her time volunteering across departments as a freshman, and then serving as a guest experience manager when she was a sophomore.