AHLA appoints new board

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) has revealed its 2022 officers, board of directors and executive committee, which includes top leaders representing all segments of the hospitality industry at a pivotal time for the industry’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Coming on the heels of record membership and engagement over the past two years, AHLA is launching a new strategic plan to guide the future of the association.

Justin Knight, CEO, Apple Hospitality REIT Inc. (shown above), was named chair of the board; Leslie D. Hale, president/CEO, RLJ Lodging Trust, was named vice chair; Kevin Jacobs, CFO/president of global development at Hilton, joins as secretary/treasurer; and Tom Bardenett, EVP, asset management, RLJ Lodging Trust, becomes chair of the AHLA Foundation board of trustees.

Knight succeeds Mark S. Hoplamazian, president/CEO, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, who has served as chair for the past year and becomes immediate past chair.

“It is an incredible honor to be appointed chair of the AHLA board and build on the accomplishments of my predecessors to revive our industry and, more importantly, our workforce,” said Knight. “While our industry has a long way to go to regain what was lost during the pandemic, I am optimistic about the future of the hotel business and our association. Our strategic plan will guide AHLA into the next chapter, as we continue strengthening our industry and our workforce, and showcasing our leadership on important issues like human trafficking prevention, sustainability, and diversity, equity & inclusion (DE&I).”

“As we look ahead to 2022 and beyond, I’m incredibly proud of the depth of experience our officers, executive committee and board members bring to the table, and that these individuals represent the most diverse group of leaders in our association’s history,” said Chip Rogers, president/CEO, AHLA. “We are grateful to these individuals for volunteering their time and energy to ensure that AHLA and our industry are successful as we continue moving toward recovery.”

Knight takes the helm of AHLA at a critical juncture for both the industry and the association, whose membership roster recently surpassed 30,000 members for the first time and includes 80% of all franchised hotels and the largest hotel companies in the U.S. In addition to hoteliers, AHLA membership includes our partner state associations, industry vendors and suppliers, hospitality students and those who teach and mentor them.

AHLA and the hotel industry also continued its record engagement with policymakers, growing our HotelsACT grassroots network to nearly 60,000 people—putting a human face on our industry and impacting important policy decisions in Washington and in state capitols and city halls throughout the country.

The AHLA board of directors represents leaders from all sectors of the lodging industry, including brands, owners and real estate investment trusts (REITs), management companies, independent hotels and state associations.

New members of the board appointed to two-year terms in 2022 include:

  • Mark Carrier, president, B.F. Saul Company Hospitality Group
  • Antoine Chahwan, president hotel operations, Americas East, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
  • Greg Friedman, managing principal/CEO, Peachtree Hotel Group
  • Greg Juceam, COO, ESA Management LLC
  • Daniel Kornick, chief information officer, Loews Hotels & Co (representing HTNG)
  • James Merkel, CEO, Rockbridge Holdings
  • Lynn D. Minges, president/CEO, NCRLA (representing ISHA)
  • Ravi Patel, president, Hawkeye Hotels
  • Keith Pierce, EVP/president franchise & development, Sonesta International Hotels Corporation
  • Amb. Gordon Sondland, founder/chairman, Provenance Hotels
  • Jonathan Stanner, president/CEO, Summit Hotel Properties Inc.
  • Richard Stockton, president/CEO, Braemar Hotels & Resorts
  • Larry Trabulsi, EVP/managing director, CHMWarnick (representing HAMA)

Additionally, AHLA welcomed five new members to its executive committee, which serves as the association’s core governance body and guides its policy agenda. They are:

  • Lawrence Cuculic, president/CEO, BWH Hotel Group
  • Michael J. Deitemeyer, president/CEO, Aimbridge Hospitality
  • Carlos R. Flores, president/CEO, Sonesta International Hotels Corporation
  • Sheila C. Johnson, founder/CEO, Salamander Hotels & Resorts
  • Mitch Patel, president/CEO, Vision Hospitality Group Inc.

The AHLA Foundation also revealed its newly elected 2022 board of trustees, which features its most diverse board to date and includes industry leaders committed to advancing the foundation’s mission to elevate, educate and empower the hospitality workforce.

Joining Bardenett as officers are Julienne Smith, SVP of upscale development and transactions and asset management, IHG Hotels & Resorts, who will take the role of vice chair; and Anu Saxena, SVP/global head of Hilton Supply Management, who will serve as secretary and treasurer.

“I am truly honored to serve as the next chairman of the AHLA Foundation’s board of trustees at such a critical time,” said Bardenett. “From the global pandemic devastating the hospitality industry to labor shortages impacting our workforces, the foundation’s goal to attract, train and retain a diverse talent pool could not come at a more vital moment. Through its robust agenda and life-changing programs, the foundation continues to secure a brighter hospitality industry for generations to come.”

“The AHLA Foundation is privileged to welcome aboard the dynamic hospitality leaders that make up our 2022 Board of Trustees,” said Rosanna Maietta, AHLA Foundation president/CEO. “After the pandemic wiped out nearly 10 years of hotel job growth, we look forward to partnering with our board to discover solutions toward reinvigorating the hospitality industry and its people. As we tackle an ambitious mission for the year ahead, I’m grateful to Tom and all the trustees for the dedication and guidance as we seek to build and strengthen a diverse workforce.”

Bardenett has been engaged with the AHLA Foundation for numerous years, supporting and growing its annual golf fundraiser. He succeeds Greg Juceam, COO, Extended Stay America, who led the foundation through the critical years of the pandemic, spearheading the launch of a COVID Relief Fund for furloughed employees and establishing an industry commitment of $5 million over five years to expand efforts on DE&I.

Besides Saxena, new members of the board appointed to two-year terms in 2022 include:

  • Leslie D. Hale, AHLA vice chair and president/CEO, RLJ Lodging Trust
  • Jyoti Sarolia, COO, Ellis Hospitality Group
  • Ann Christenson, EVP/CHRO, Aimbridge Hospitality
  • Lisa Borromeo Checchio, chief marketing officer, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts
  • Scott Trebilco, managing director, real estate, Blackstone
  • Daniel del Olmo, president, Sage Hospitality Group
  • Raj Chandnani, EVP development, WATG/Wimberly Interiors (non-voting trustee)