AAHOACON20 Speakers

Speakers Biography

Glenn Haussman

Host, No Vacancy Podcast

Glenn Haussman hosts the No Vacancy podcast and is publisher of novacancynews.com. He also broadcasts a live daily streaming show No Vacancy Live with cohost and Travel Channel personality Anthony Melchiorri. He also hots the Hotel Tech podcast, the Hotel Design Podcast and the Business of Hotels podcast. Glenn is also a co-founder of the virtual hotelREBOOT podference series and is an in-demand public speaker, educator, custom content creator and consultant for major hotel brands, leading industry influencers and suppliers.

Glenn is the consummate traveler, enjoying the worlds of hospitality and travel as observer, educator and guest. As a frequent moderator and speaker, his unique motivational style and viewpoint encourages people to rethink conventional thinking. The No Vacancy podcast attracts the biggest names in hospitality, including major public company CEOs and industry influencers. The show was chosen by USA Today as a “best podcast to listen to while traveling.”

Glenn has been quoted in leading publications such as the New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Forbes, MSNBC.com, CNN.com and Chicago Tribune. He’s also been in the classroom, previously serving as adjunct professor at New York University, teaching classes in Public Relations & Advertising, and Consumer Behavior.

Find Glenn at novacancynews.com and @TravelingGlenn. Follow him on the No Vacancy pages on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Biran Patel

Chairman, AAHOA

Biran Patel is the Chairman of AAHOA. He has been an active member of the association since 2003. He first served as an Ambassador and then was elected to the Board of Directors as the Regional Director for North Texas. He was elected as AAHOA Secretary in 2017.

Biran is a native of Birmingham, England and a second-generation hotelier. His family moved to Austin, Texas in 1980 and purchased a small independent property before settling in Dallas. They owned and operated the 8th Street Motel which served as both a place of business and a home for his family as the business grew.

Biran’s education in the hospitality industry began as a youth helping out at his family’s hotel after school and on weekends. From checking in guests and doing laundry to sweeping the parking lot and refilling vending machines, he learned the industry from the ground up.

Today, Biran owns and operates multiple branded and independent hotel properties and is also a partner in BHP Investments Company. He is a graduate of the University of Texas and holds a B.S. in finance. He currently resides in Dallas, Texas with his wife, Poonam, and their two children.

Jagruti Panwala

2019-2020 AAHOA Chairwoman & Immediate Past Chair, AAHOA

Jagruti Panwala serves as the Immediate Past Chair of AAHOA, the voice of America’s hotel owners, and served as the first chairwoman in the association’s history.

Prior to becoming an officer, Jagruti served as Female Director Eastern Division, a position she held for six years. 

Jagruti helps lead AAHOA’s advocacy efforts aimed at protecting the interests of hotel owners. Her advocacy work on behalf of AAHOA includes testifying before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions in 2014 about the harmful impact of over-regulation on small businesses. She also testified before the House Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access in 2018 about the impact of the travel and tourism industry on the American economy. She serves on the Department of Energy Better Buildings Summit Steering Committee and served previously on the AHLA Board of Directors.

Born in Surat, India, Jagruti immigrated to the U.S. with her family in 1991. She earned undergraduate degrees in both finance and economics from East Stroudsburg University. In 1999, Jagruti founded Wealth Protection Strategies Inc., an investment management company specializing in succession planning, where she currently serves as president and CEO. 

Jagruti is a second-generation hotelier. She and her husband, Ahmed, own and operate multiple hotels throughout the Northeastern United States. The couple have two children and reside in suburban Philadelphia.

Cecil P. Staton

President & CEO, AAHOA

Cecil Staton serves as president and CEO of AAHOA, the nation’s largest hotel owners association.

Prior to joining AAHOA in 2019, Cecil’s career included the entrepreneurial launch of several successful businesses, a decade as a senator in the Georgia State Senate, and executive leadership and teaching positions in higher education.

Cecil’s private-sector endeavors include founding two publishing companies that brought two New York Times Best Sellers to print. Cecil also founded Georgia Eagle Media, Inc., which owned several radio stations and a newspaper. Georgia voters elected Cecil to five terms in the Georgia Senate where he rose to leadership including two terms as Majority Whip, the third-highest-ranking leadership position in the Senate. Most recently, Cecil served as the 11th Chancellor of East Carolina University, where he also served as a tenured professor.

Cecil serves on the boards of the U.S. Travel Association and the California Hotel and Lodging Association, as well as the Center for Hospitality Research Advisory Council and the ALEC Private Sector Advisory Council.

Cecil holds a Ph.D from Oxford University and an undergraduate degree from Furman University

Rachel Humphrey

COO & VP of Franchise Relations, AAHOA

Rachel Humphrey is the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Franchise Relations of AAHOA, the nation’s largest hotel owners association. 

Rachel joined AAHOA in 2015 as Vice President and Managing Attorney for Franchise Relations after more than 20 years as a trial lawyer, representing franchisees and other small businesses.  She quickly rose to the position of Chief Operating Officer where she is responsible for AAHOA’s day-to-day operations, managing its franchise and industry partner relations, and overseeing the association’s education initiatives. 

In addition to her role as COO, Rachel led AAHOA as its interim president and CEO for much of 2019. She is also a member of AAHOA’s Executive Leadership Team.

Rachel serves on the Podium Committee at the Castell Project Inc., the HX Advisory Board, the Planning Committees for ALIS and ALIS Law, and the AHLA Financial Management Committee. Rachel holds a bachelor’s degree from Connecticut College and a J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law.

Vinay Patel

Vice Chair, AAHOA

Vinay Patel serves as the Vice Chair of AAHOA. He was born in Malawi, Africa. At the age of 8, he and his family migrated to the United States, where he assisted at the family motel doing everything from housekeeping to working the front desk. Upon graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.S. in Marketing and B.A. in Business, Vinay continued the family business at a small 15-room motel in Richmond, VA.

Presently, Vinay is the president of Fairbrook Hotels, which owns and operates 11 properties, including IHG, Hilton, Radisson, Choice, and Wyndham brands.

Vinay has been a passionate champion for hoteliers in the nation’s capital. His leadership in advocacy includes testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives on regulatory issues affecting franchisees, hosting roundtable meetings with public officials to illustrate the importance of the lodging industry on the American economy and working with lawmakers on banking rules that affect small-business owners.  

In 1993, he became a member of AAHOA, the voice of America’s hotel owners, and has served on its board since 2014. He was elected Secretary of the association in 2018. Vinay also serves on the Board of Directors for the Virginia Hospitality and Tourism Association and is the president of the Herndon Hospitality Association. Vinay previously served on the boards of directors of AHLA and the Loudoun (VA) Convention Visitors Bureau.

Harris Rosen

President & COO, Rosen Hotels & Resorts


Harris Rosen is the President and COO of Rosen Hotels & Resorts. Now the largest independent hotelier in Florida, Rosen began his career at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City as a convention salesman. He continued with the Hilton Hotels Corporation, where he occupied various management positions before eventually joining the Post Company of Dallas as Director of Hotel Operations. There, he supervised the development and management of one of its premier resort properties in Acapulco, Mexico. Rosen left the Post Company in 1968 to become Director of Hotel Planning for Walt Disney World in Orlando. During his tenure, he oversaw the design and development of several iconic Disney properties prior to the grand opening of the park in 1971. A philanthropist as well as an entrepreneur, Rosen has funded countless scholarships and education opportunities and continually supports both local and national charitable foundations. In addition, he founded the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida (UCF) that opened in 2004.

Nishant (Neal) Patel, CHO

Treasurer, AAHOA

Neal Patel serves as the Treasurer of AAHOA, the voice of America’s hotel owners. He became an AAHOA member in 2012 and soon volunteered as an ambassador. Neal joined AAHOA’s board of directors in 2016 after being elected as the Young Professional Director Western Division, a position he held for three years.

Patel is a second-generation hotelier who grew up in the industry wearing many hats as he helped his family run their first twenty-room independent property. He began his hospitality career in Texas and is the managing partner of Blue Chip Hotels, a company specializing in hotel management and consultation. Blue Chip Hotels has over 1,200 rooms in several states among both branded and independent properties.

Neal is inspired to give back to the hospitality industry through service. He serves on the HITEC Advisory Council and promotes organ donor awareness through his volunteer work with Samaj Saves Lives.

Mayur (Mike) Patel

Interim Secretary and North Texas Regional Director, AAHOA

Mayur (Mike) Patel is the Interim Secretary/North Texas Regional Director of AAHOA, the nation’s largest hotel owners association.

Mike serves as Managing Partner and is the co-founder of Prosper Hospitality based in Dallas, Texas. Prosper Hospitality is a self-managed hotel investment company that focuses primarily on developing, acquiring, and owning branded, select-service, and extended stay hotels.

In addition to his service at AAHOA, Mike serves on the board of directors for Texas Hotel & Lodging Association (THLA), Visit Dallas, the Hotel Association of North Texas (HANTX), the Dallas Tourism Public Improvement District (DTPID), and serves on the G6 Hospitality Owner’s Advisory Council.

Mike is a graduate from Southern Methodist University with degrees in Real Estate Finance and Economics with Financial Applications. 

Chip Rogers

President & CEO, AHLA

William “Chip” Rogers joined the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) as president and CEO in January 2019. He previously served as the president and CEO of AAHOA, the nation’s largest hotel owners association, from 2014-2019.

Prior to joining the hospitality industry, Chip had a long career as a public servant. He was elected to the Georgia General Assembly six times and was unanimously elected to serve two terms as the Senate Majority Leader. He was elected the first national chairman of the Majority Leaders conference and served on the national boards of directors for the State Legislative Leaders Foundation, the Community Leaders of America, and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Chip earned his undergraduate degree from Georgia Tech and his MBA from Georgia State.

Roger Dow

President & CEO, U.S. Travel Association

Roger Dow is president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, the Washington, D.C.-based organization representing all segments of travel in America—an industry that generates $2.6 trillion in economic output and supports 15.8 million jobs. U.S. Travel’s mission is to increase travel to and within the United States.

U.S. Travel advocates for policies that allow travel to thrive. Dow regularly meets with executive branch and congressional leaders to discuss industry priorities, and his efforts have resulted in major legislative victories. He was instrumental in establishing Brand USA, the highly effective national travel and tourism promotion program.

Beyond U.S. Travel’s role as chief travel industry advocate in Washington, the association under Dow’s leadership provides essential research, including analysis of travel’s significant economic impact and products such as the monthly Travel Trends Index.

U.S. Travel produces annual events that connect the industry, such as IPW—the leading international inbound travel trade show—which drives $4.7 billion in future travel to the United States; and ESTO, the premier learning and knowledge-sharing forum for destination marketing professionals.

Additionally, Dow and U.S. Travel are leaders of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition, which promotes and defends the value of face-to-face business meetings, trade shows, conferences and conventions.

Counted among Dow’s successes is Project: Time Off, a research-driven initiative aimed at vacation usage that evolved to support the expansion of U.S. Travel’s domestic leisure travel agenda.

For his work to unify the travel industry and increase its effectiveness on Capitol Hill, Dow is the recipient of multiple honors, including the 2018 MPI Industry Leader Award, Successful Meetings’ Most Influential People, and the 2008 TRENDS Association Executive of the Year.

Prior to joining U.S. Travel in 2005, Dow advanced through the ranks at Marriott International in a tenure spanning 34 years, where he rose to senior vice president of global and field sales. He has held seats on the boards of ASAE, ASAE Foundation, PCMA, MPI Foundation, GWSAE, the Travel Institute, RE/MAX International and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100.

Dow served in the United States Army with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam, where he received the Bronze Star and other citations. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Seton Hall University and was honored as a Most Distinguished Alumnus in 2012. In addition, he holds an honorary degree from Johnson & Wales University.

Adam Sacks

President, Oxford Travel and Tourism, an Oxford Economics Company

Adam Sacks is the founder and president of Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company dedicated to understanding the relationship between travel and the economy. For more than two decades, Adam has worked with destinations, industry associations, and companies around the world in the areas of opportunity and risk assessments, policy analysis, and economic impact.

Adam’s work has provided the foundation for billions of dollars in capital investment decisions by hotel companies, developers, and investors. Destination marketing organizations around the world rely on Tourism Economics data and scenario models to inform global marketing investment allocations.

Adam also supports trade associations in the aviation, hotel, and broader travel arena with forecasts widely considered to be an industry standard. And by examining the economic merits of travel facilitation, taxation, and tourism promotion initiatives, Adam’s work has influenced critical government policies. He is an authority on measuring the economic impact of visitor activity and has analyzed the impacts of cruising, gaming, timeshare, hotels, attractions, and destination marketing ROI.

Adam regularly presents to corporate strategic planning teams on the threats and opportunities facing their businesses and is a member of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Travel & Tourism Advisory Board.

Jamie Lane

Senior Research Director, Econometric Advisors and CBRE Hotels Research

Jamie Lane is the senior research director of Econometric Advisors and CBRE Hotels Research, leading economics, forecasting and data intelligence. Based in Atlanta, Jamie has more than 10 years of experience in economics and consulting. He manages CBRE’s team of economists and oversees forecasting and analysis for all property types. He specializes in forecasting of the hospitality industry. Other activities include conducting custom studies for investment firms and operating companies using advanced quantitative methods, and preparing research reports on contemporary real estate industry trends.

Since joining CBRE in 2010, Mr. Lane has done extensive research on the determinants of hospitality demand and created models for profit, average daily rate (ADR), supply, and demand forecasting. He expanded his expertise beyond hotels to cover all property types, and previously served as the senior managing economist. He has been published in academic and professional journals, including the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly and the International Journal of Hospitality Management, and has spoken at many industry forums. He also frequently appears in national and international media, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Lane is an active member of the National Association of Business Economists and the Atlanta Economics Club. Jamie holds a B.S. in Economics from the University of Georgia and an M.S. in Business Economics from Georgia State University.

Jamie and his wife Alex have a son, Elliot, and enjoy travel and the outdoors.

Amanda Hite

President & CEO, STR

Amanda W. Hite, STR’s president since 2011, oversees the company’s business activities and overall direction.

Under Hite’s leadership, STR has experienced substantial growth in its global presence, client base, data coverage, and revenue. Her time with the company also has resulted in several significant milestones, including the 2016 unification of STR’s global brands, and the implementation of a number of key industry deliverables. Additionally, Hite led STR through the company’s acquisition by CoStar Group (NASDAQ: CSGP) in late 2019.

Hite’s accomplishments have been recognized with inclusion in “30 Influential Women in Hospitality” and “40 Under 40 Emerging Leaders” lists.

Hite is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the U.S. Travel Association, the Executive Council of Women in Lodging, and the Board of Directors of Forward Sumner Economic Partnership. She also serves as a member of the Travel and Tourism Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and on the Industry Advisory Board of the Hotel and Restaurant Management Program at Auburn University.

Prior to joining STR in 2006, Hite was the Director of Research for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. She is a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College with a B.S. in Business Administration. She resides in Hendersonville, TN, with her husband and two children.

Cindy Estis Green

CEO and Co-Founder, Kalibri Labs

Cindy Estis Green’s career began in corporate marketing and senior operations roles for Hilton International. After founding the data mining and predictive modeling analytics company, Driving Revenue, and selling it to Pegasus Solutions, Estis Green spent 12 years as managing partner of The Estis Group.

A prolific writer, Estis Green is co-author of several groundbreaking studies, including the 2012 Distribution Channel Analysis, 2017 Demystifying the Digital Marketplace, and a series of special reports published from 2015-2019 profiling the rise of social media, legal guidelines for the digital market, brand-driven book-direct campaigns and the groups and meetings market. Estis Green has been honored as one of the 25 Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing by HSMAI, was inducted into the prestigious Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame, and was named as one of Cornell University’s 90 Influential Hotelies.

In 2014, she launched and has subsequently been the chair of the AHLA Consumer Innovation Forum with the industry’s leading experts in digital and distribution strategy and is highly sought after as a speaker at many global forums on topics related to digital disruption and the impact on the economics of hotels.

Estis Green founded Kalibri Labs in 2012, a firm providing a next-generation commercial strategy and benchmarking platform to evaluate and predict hotel revenue performance. Using innovative big data and data science techniques,

Christina Trauthwein

Editor-in-Chief, Hotel Business

Christina Trauthwein is the Editor-in-Chief of the Hotel Business and InspireDesign media brands, overseeing all print, digital, and face-to-face products. Previously, she was Editor-in-Chief of professional publications in the architecture and interior design communities, both commercial and residential. Christina’s 20+ years of brand leadership—in both print and digital media—has been focused on strategizing, writing and editing features, and stories about need-to-know industry topics, trends, industry leaders, and cutting-edge projects and products.

JR Patel

President & COO, Helix Hotels

Shreyas “JR” Patel is the founder, president, and COO of Helix Hospitality, a multi-faceted, Chicago-based hospitality company with services including hotel investment, ownership, management, and construction/renovation. Patel’s innovative leadership swiftly expanded the company portfolio to include 11 properties and 300 employees in less than 10 years and directly influenced the investment portfolio growth from less than $1 million to over $100 million. His success earned him a spot on Crain’s 2019 Chicago Notable Entrepreneurs list, which profiles entrepreneurs who have influenced and made significant impact within the Chicago business community.

A DePaul University graduate, Patel also serves as a board member for the DePaul University School of Hospitality Leadership, co-chairs the Academic Program sub-committee to further develop DePaul’s Hospitality program, is a regular contributor to trade publications, and is a Lifetime Member of AAHOA.

Harshil Patel

Vice President, Champion Hotels

Harshil Patel is the vice president of Champion Hotels & Development. He was born in Weatherford, OK, and has lived in Oklahoma his whole life. Harshil is a second-generation hotelier and grew up in the family business. The Champion Hotels portfolio includes Hilton, IHG, Marriott, Choice, and Wyndham branded properties.

Harshil’s current role as vice president entails building and maintaining franchise relationships, working with the operations teams, overseeing daily accounting activities for the portfolio, as well as managing several parts of Champion’s new development pipeline.

Harshil graduated from the University of Oklahoma Price College of Business with a bachelor’s degree in finance.

Raj Patel

CDO, Hawkeye Hotels

Raj Patel is the CDO and principal of Hawkeye Hotels, one of the fastest-growing, privately owned hotel companies in the country. Raj has worked alongside his father, mother, brother, and sister in their family business over the past decade.

He has overseen the development of 25 new construction and acquisition projects with total transaction volume exceeding $450 million, leading Hawkeye Hotels to become a fully vertically integrated hospitality firm with expertise in management, development, and acquisitions. Raj specializes in overseeing full-service and large-scale projects for Hawkeye Hotels. He has been intimately involved in the overhaul of the Hotel Fort Des Moines in Iowa, which is set to reopen this year as a Curio Collection by Hilton property, undergoing a full rehabilitation utilizing federal and state historic tax credits. Raj enjoys working on historic and boutique properties such as the Hotel Modern New Orleans, Omni Majestic Hotel St. Louis, and the Hotel Lawrence Dallas.

Raj studied political science at the University of Iowa and currently serves on the Hilton Curio Collection Owner’s Advisory Council.

Jatin Desai

Managing Principal, CIO/CFO, Peachtree Hotel Group

Jatin’s primary responsibilities include leading the accounting and finance function of the company. This includes sourcing and negotiating financing for the various projects under the Peachtree and Stonehill companies.

Previously, Jatin was with Wachovia Securities, where he focused on asset underwriting and private equity transactions ranging from $100 million to more than $5 billion. He also formed Stonehill Property Group, a family-funded investment venture targeting select- and full-service hotel investments throughout the Southeast.

Jatin received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also attended the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and completed coursework at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He currently is an Advisory Board member for the Wood Center for Real Estate Studies at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC Chapel Hill. Jatin also sits on the board and is the president of the Atlanta Hospitality Alliance.

Teague Hunter

President and CEO, Hunter Hotel Advisors

Teague Hunter is president and CEO of Hunter Hotel Advisors, the nation’s leading investment advisory firm focused exclusively on the hotel industry. With more than 25 years of experience and a successful track record that spans a full spectrum of hotel transactions, Teague has led Hunter Hotel Advisors to complete more than $10 billion in transactions, including $1 billion closed in the past 12 months. These transactions include single-asset and portfolio sales for the industry’s most influential financial institutions, REITs, and private equity firms.

Founded in 1978, Hunter Hotel Advisors has a team of seasoned investment professionals located in seven offices nationwide. Teague serves as a liaison between Main Street and Wall Street, combining his unique knowledge of the global economy with his local market expertise to provide clients with tailored advisory services necessary to successfully execute complex transactions while delivering optimal results.

Teague resides in Atlanta, GA, with his wife, Beth, and their 14-year-old daughter, Emmie.

Carol Dover

President & CEO, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA)

Carol B. Dover has served as president and CEO of the 10,000+-member Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association since July of 1995. Dover is a professional association manager, lobbyist, former government executive, and Florida State University Dedman School of Hospitality graduate with a degree in hotel and restaurant anmagement. In addition, she serves on the board for both the National Restaurant Association and the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

As FRLA’s president and CEO, Dover works to protect, educate, and promote the diverse interests of Florida’s $111.7-billion hospitality industry. Comprised of 1.5 million employees, hospitality is the Sunshine State’s largest industry and represents individuals from every walk of life.

John Longstreet

President & CEO, Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association (PRLA)

John Longstreet is president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association. The PRLA represents Pennsylvania’s 25,000 restaurants and 1400 hotels by promoting, protecting, and improving the hospitality industry in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and beyond. It also provides the unified voice for the travel and tourism industry in the Commonwealth. With nearly 3000 members, PRLA is among the largest hospitality associations in the United States.

Prior to taking the helm of the PRLA, Longstreet was president and CEO of Quaker Steak & Lube, the fast-growing casual dining chain. During his four-year tenure, the company posted record growth, expanding from 38 to 65 restaurants in 17 states and Canada. Prior to leading Quaker Steak & Lube, Longstreet was executive vice president of ClubCorp USA, which operates more than 160 golf and business clubs around the country. He also served as senior vice president at Bristol Hotels & Resorts, the largest independent hotel management company in North America, and was vice president of Intercontinental Hotels Group. While at both Bristol and ClubCorp, Longstreet spearheaded the development of and oversaw the HR functions for the organizations, each of which had about 18,000 employees.

Longstreet has been a featured speaker about customer service at Lakewood Publications’ Closing the Service Gap Conference and the Planning Forum’s Strategic Management Conference and has addressed management groups from numerous Fortune 500 companies. He has served on panels at numerous industry conferences, including the Restaurant Leadership & Finance Conference, MUFSO, the Southwest Food Expo, and the International Franchise Association Emerging Franchisor Conference. Longstreet also appeared on the Fox Business Network’s Neil Cavuto show. He has served as the Executive in Residence at Cornell University, where he is a periodic lecturer and is a member of the Cornell Council.

He has a long record of community service, including serving two terms as mayor of Plano, Texas, a city of more than 250,000 residents. During his tenure as mayor, Plano was ranked the fifth-fastest-growing and among the safest cities in the nation. More than 50 new companies moved to Plano during Longstreet’s two terms in office. Prior to his election as mayor, Longstreet served two terms as a Plano city councilman and mayor pro tem. Longstreet has served on the executive board of the Plano Chamber of Commerce and was appointed by Texas governors Bill Clements and George W. Bush to statewide commissions. Longstreet has served on the executive board of the North Texas Commission and the Dallas Regional Mobility Coalition. He also was president of the Metroplex Mayors Association. Additionally, he served on the Attorney General’s Municipal Advisory Committee.

Longstreet has been secretary and treasurer of the United Way and is a past president of the Plano Rotary Club, where he was named an Honorary Paul Harris Fellow. He has served as a director of the Penn Northwest Development Corporation and on the Board of the National Restaurant Association. Longstreet is currently on the Board of Directors of the Council of State Restaurant Associations as well as the International Society of Hotel Associations and on the Advisory Board at Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management.

A Cornell University graduate with distinction from the School of Hotel Administration, John and his wife, Brenda, have two children, John and Liz, both of whom also are Cornell grads.

Michael Jacobson

President & CEO, Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association

Michael Jacobson was named president and CEO of the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association in October of 2018. In his role, he is proud to represent the 1,500 hotels and other hospitality stakeholders throughout the state. Michael’s priorities for the organization include bolstering the industry’s advocacy capacity in Springfield and municipalities throughout the state while enhancing IHLA’s educational programs to serve as a resource for its members.

Prior to joining IHLA, Michael spent eight years at the U.S. Travel Association, where he led the organization’s grassroots advocacy and political engagement initiatives. He grew U.S. Travel’s political action committee to become one of the nation’s largest travel industry PACs and spearheaded campaigns like the Vote Travel nationwide bus tour and the successful effort to reauthorize Brand USA in 2014.

Michael has more than 10 years of experience in grassroots advocacy and nonprofit fundraising. In his free time, he volunteers with the American Cancer Society, helping lead their Global Relay For Life movement throughout the world. A proud alumnus of Seton Hall University, Michael lives in Chicago with his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Madelyn. They enjoy cheering on the Chicago Cubs.

Horst Schulze

President, Horst Schulze Consulting 

A legend and leader in the hotel world, Horst Schulze’s teachings and vision have reshaped the concepts of service and hospitality across industries. Mr. Schulze’s professional life began more than 65 years ago as a server’s assistant in a German resort town. Throughout the years he worked for both Hilton Hotels and Hyatt Hotels Corporation before becoming one of the founding members of The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company in 1983. There Mr. Schulze created the operating and service standards that have become world famous.

During his tenure at The Ritz Carlton, Mr. Schulze served as President and COO responsible for the $2 billion operations worldwide. It was under his leadership that The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company was awarded the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award- twice- making it the first and only hotel company to ever win even one.

In 1991, Mr. Schulze was recognized as “corporate hotelier of the world” by HOTELS Magazine. In 1995, he was awarded the Ishikawa Medal for his personal contributions to the quality movement. In 1999, Johnson & Wales University gave him an honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree in Hospitality Management. Most recently, Mr. Schulze has been honored as a “Leader in Luxury” by Travel Agent Magazine and its sister publication Luxury Travel Advisor. After leaving The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company, Mr. Schulze went onto found The Capella Hotel Group. This luxury hotel company managed some of the most elite properties worldwide, and gave Mr. Schulze the opportunity to further define the luxury hotel industry, receiving countless awards and recognitions.

Today, Mr. Schulze serves on various boards and acts as a consultant across industries. He is currently completing his seminal book on creating excellence.

Justin Knight

President & CEO, Apple REIT

Justin Knight is CEO and a member of the Board of Directors of Apple Hospitality REIT, Inc., a publicly traded real estate investment trust that owns one of the largest portfolios of upscale, rooms-focused hotels in the United States. Justin has led the various Apple REIT companies for almost 20 years.

Within the industry, he currently serves on the Marriott Owners Advisory Council, the Residence Inn Association Board, and the AHLA Board of Directors as Secretary/Treasurer and a member of its Executive Committee. Justin also is active in supporting the community, serving as a member of the National Advisory Council for the Marriott School at Brigham Young University (BYU), the Board of Trustees for Southern Virginia University, the Board of Trustees for The Valentine Museum, and the Board of Directors for Venture Richmond.

Justin holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the Marriott School at BYU and a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from BYU.

DJ Rama

President & CEO, Auro Hotels

DJ Rama currently serves as president and CEO of Auro Hotels and is also a privately held owner, developer, and manager of upscale hotels. Prior to the formation of Auro Hotels in November 2017, he served as president of JHM Hotels, a predecessor company to Auro Hotels. From 1995 until he was promoted to president in 2011, Rama served as JHM’s Director of Operations. Prior to joining JHM, Rama held positions with Holiday Inn Worldwide, Interstate Hotels, and Marriott Corporation.

Rama has served on the board of AHLA and as co-chairman of the board’s Owners Council. He also is a member of the Owners Advisory Councils of both Marriott International and Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, serves as president of the Cornell Hotel Society of South Carolina, and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Peace Center for the Performing Arts.

Rama holds an undergraduate degree from Johnson & Wales University, a Master of Management in Hospitality from Cornell University, and is a 2016 graduate of the Owner/President Management (OPM) Program at Harvard Business School.

Sima Patel

CEO, Ridgemont Hospitality

Sima Patel is co-founder and CEO of San Francisco Bay Area-based Ridgemont Hospitality. As a family-owned-and-operated company, Ridgemont Hospitality’s portfolio consists of both branded and independent boutique hotels. Sima is a passionate leader, visionary, and lifelong entrepreneur with extensive experience in hospitality operations and hotel development.

Sima is currently serving as a commissioner and immediate past chair of Visit California representing 18,000 tourism industry partners. She serves as a board member of the California Chamber of Commerce and California State University Hospitality and Tourism Alliance Advisory Board.

Sima is the founder of a nonprofit called Renaissance Foundation, which works to empower women. One of the foundation’s touchstone projects is Saaheli, an online community whose mission is to empower women to break social and cultural barriers to reach their true potential. Saaheli also does work to support human trafficking survivors.

Sima’s civic involvement includes he Oakland Rotary Club and serving as treasurer of the historic Paramount Theatre in Oakland. She is the recipient of numerous business and leadership awards, including AAHOA Woman Hotelier of Year 2001.

Kenneth H. Fearn

Founder & Managing Partner, Integrated Capital

Kenneth H. Fearn is founder and managing partner of Integrated Capital LLC (“IC”). IC is a private-equity real estate firm with a focus on hospitality. Since its founding in 2004, IC has acquired more than $500 million in hospitality assets in primary and secondary markets across the United States that featured extended-stay (Residence Inn), select-service (Courtyard), and full-service (Marriott, Doubletree, Sheraton, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn) brands. Prior to founding IC, Fearn was managing director and CFO of Maritz, Wolff & Co., a private-equity firm engaged in real estate acquisition and development. Maritz, Wolff & Co. managed three private-equity investment funds totaling $500 million in equity for the sole purpose of acquiring luxury hotels and resorts. Fearn has been directly involved in more than $1.5 billion in acquisitions and has secured more than $2.5 billion in debt financing.

Previously, Fearn was with McKinsey & Company, a strategy management consulting firm in Los Angeles. He worked with Fortune 200 companies to address issues of profitability and develop business strategies. Prior to his involvement with McKinsey & Company, he worked at JP Morgan & Company, a global investment banking firm in New York City, where he was involved with corporate merger and acquisition assignments.

Fearn received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard University Graduate School of Business. He also is the co-author of a white paper entitled “A Productive Inner City, Rebuilding Los Angeles’ Competitiveness.” The white paper examines economic development within the disadvantaged urban area of Los Angeles and is the basis for work currently being conducted on “The Competitive Advantage of the Inner City” at Harvard Business School by Michael E. Porter, the Roland Christensen Professor of Business Administration.

Fearn is an Independent Director of Ashford Hospitality Prime, Inc. (NYSE: AHP), where he serves on the Governance and Audit committees. He also is an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship at Cornell University, serves on the Marriott International Owner Advisory Board (where he has been a member since 2006), and is a member of the boards of directors of Berger Bros. (a California-based construction company) and Loyola High School of Los Angeles. Fearn also is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization and previously served as hcairman of the Santa Monica chapter of YPO.

Fearn previously served as chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles, where he was appointed by then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, approved by the Los Angeles City Council in 2009, and served until 2012. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, where he was a member of the Executive Committee and the Finance Committee from 2005-2014. Fearn was formerly on the Board of Directors of The Lusk Center for Real Estate at USC, where he served from 2009-2014. He also has served on numerous charity boards, including the boards of directors of Challengers Boys & Girls Club, the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, the UC Berkeley Alumni Association, and the Advisory Board of the Medical Genetics Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Stephanie Ricca

Editorial Director, Hotel News Now

Stephanie sets the editorial and content direction for Hotel News Now and its suite of newsletters, website content and multimedia content. She has 12 years of hotel trade journalism experience, most recently serving as Editor-in-Chief at Hotel News Now. Before that she was Editor-in-Chief at Hotel Management, and has earlier experience in newspaper and magazine journalism. She is a graduate of Wittenberg University and holds a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Jennifer Miller

Partner, Hamilton, Miller & Birthisel, LLP

Jennifer Miller is an experienced litigator and trial lawyer. She is a founding partner of Hamilton, Miller & Birthisel, L.L.P., a Martindale Hubbell® AV rated® minority certified law firm consistently ranked among the top 10 most-diverse law firms in South Florida by the Daily Business Review. She is the Managing Partner of its Fort Lauderdale and U.S. Virgin Island satellite offices.

Jennifer is AV rated® by Martindale Hubbell®, was recognized as Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, named a Top Lawyer by the South Florida Legal Guide, and recognized as a “Super Lawyer” by Law and Politics.

Jennifer has dedicated 20 years of her practice to civil litigation, defending major insurers and corporations in a wide variety of industries, including retail, restaurants, product manufacturers, distributors, cities and municipalities, international businesses, doctors and other medical professionals, the world’s largest passenger cruise lines, and major marine domestic and international underwriters in claims of personal injury and wrongful death, automobile and trucking claims, transportation, personal premises liability and negligent security, insurance coverage and bad faith, labor and employment, medical and professional malpractice, admiralty and maritime, commercial litigation, hospitality, and product liability. Her practice also does transactional work, including the drafting of concessionaire agreements, maritime employment contracts, passenger tickets, terminal agreements, maritime collective bargaining agreements, docking contracts, bills of lading, towing agreements, charter contracts, salvage agreements, marine transportation agreements, storage agreements, and marine service contracts of all types.



2020 AAHOA


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