Penn State to honor Jim Risoleo, Ted Balestreri

The Penn State Hotel & Restaurant Society (PSHRS) and the School of Hospitality Management will honor Jim Risoleo, president/CEO. Host Hotels & Resorts, and Ted Balestreri, chairman/CEO, Cannery Row Co. and chairman/CEO/cofounder, Sardine Factory Restaurant, at the 2024 PSHRS Industry Awards and Reception. The event will take place on April 2, 2024, at the school’s Marriott Foundation Building among alumni, faculty, industry partners and students.

Risoleo will receive the society’s Hospitality Executive of the Year Award and Balestreri will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“We are pleased to add the names of Jim Risoleo and Ted Balestreri to the pantheon of those who have had a tremendous impact and raised the bar for our students and alumni both in corporate leadership and entrepreneurialism,” said Tom Neely, president, PSHRS and president/CEO, Thomas E. Strauss.

Donna Quadri-Felitti, Marvin Ashner endowed director, School of Hospitality Management, said, “Both Jim and Ted epitomize American hospitality business success through unique histories and a shared pathway that is lined with a passion for excellence and for others. They consistently advocate for the opportunities our industry provides and contribute enormously to their communities, which inspires our thriving alumni, our hardworking students and everyone with whom they work.”

With more than 35 years of finance and real estate experience, including more than 27 years at Host, Risoleo has served in numerous roles of increasing responsibility. He led acquisitions and investments and built and ran an international business unit spanning the U.S. and Europe before he became president/CEO in 2016.

Prior to Host, he was VP, development at Interstate Hotels Corp. and SVP, commercial real estate at Westinghouse Electric Corp. In addition, he currently serves as an executive committee member of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), a member of the U.S. Travel Association CEO Roundtable and a member of the Real Estate Roundtable. Past appointments have included independent chair of Cole Office and Industrial REIT and an independent director of Griffin Realty Trust.

“I am delighted and honored to receive this award from PSHRS and to be recognized by one of the oldest, most respected and top programs of its kind,” Risoleo said. “Providing leadership and supporting the development, advancement and educational opportunities for our future hospitality leaders is essential, and we all share this responsibility to give back to our industry.”

Balestreri also founded Pacific Hospitality, which was incorporated from 1983-2007 and held the franchise rights for Wendy’s International, covering a tri-county area in northern California.

He has served as a member of the World Travel & Tourism Council since July 1997 and was appointed as California delegate to the White House Conference on Travel and Tourism in February 1995. California Gov. Pete Wilson appointed Balestreri to serve on the California Italian-American Task Force in December 1996, and the Monterey City Council appointed him to the Citizens’ Advisory Committee for the Economic Element to the City’s General Plan and Economic Strategy Planning in January 1993. In 1985, Balestreri was appointed by Gov. George Deukmejian to serve as commissioner on the California Travel and Tourism Commission and served through 2007.

Balestreri also served as past president of the National Restaurant Association from 1985-86 and the California Restaurant Association from 1983-84. He was chairman on the board of the Int’l Gold & Silver Plate Society from 1992-93; was chairman of Distinguished Restaurants of North America from 1992-94; and received an honorary doctor of business administration degree in hospitality management from Johnson and Wales University in 1987.

In addition, he serves on the board of trustees for the Robert Louis Stevenson School, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula and the Panetta Institute of Public Policy. He also is a major contributor to numerous scholarships and educational foundations.

“I am delighted and honored to accept this award from the Penn State School of Hospitality Management and its distinguished alumni society, PSHRS,” Balestreri said. “Penn State’s program has long established itself as an American leader in graduating exceptional hospitality talent, including my longtime friends Walter J. Conti, Biff Naylor and Ralph Evans, along with Bill Kohl and Hugh Roth, among many others. What makes this Lifetime Achievement Award a double honor is to be receiving it alongside my friend Jim Risoleo.”