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Giving back to ensure continued excellence.

The School’s strong network of graduates is exemplified by the impressive representation of industry talent on our Alumni Association Executive and Appointed Boards. These board members demonstrate unwavering support for The School and its students, “giving back” through their time, energy and enthusiasm to ensure continued excellence. Our students benefit from this strong industry support and connectivity thanks to the dedication and loyalty of these hospitality executives.

Board Engagement

The Executive Board of Directors, consisting entirely of alumni, oversees the activities of the Alumni Association. The Appointed Board of Directors consists of graduates and non-graduates from all segments of leadership within the hospitality industry, who act as a group of advocates for The School and its mission.

The Alumni Association Board fulfills its mission in a number of ways that benefit The School. It sponsors several major events:

  • Executive & Appointed Board of Directors members’ meetings, held twice each year (spring and fall on campus)
  • Homecoming parade and after-parade tailgate, game day reception and football game each fall
  • Annual Destination Auction (jointly hosted by the Alumni Association and Hospitality Association) each spring
  • May alumni reception during the National Restaurant Association trade show in Chicago
  • November alumni reception during the HX: Hotel Experience trade show in New York City

Each year, the Alumni Association also recognizes:

  • Inductees in its Hall of Fame
  • Industry Leader of the Year
  • Spartan Champion Award (not annually)
  • Alumnus/a of the Year
  • Emerging Alumnus/a Leader of the Year
  • Honorary Alumnus/a of the Year
  • Faculty/Staff Member of the Year
  • Lifetime Academic Achievement Award
  • Alumnus/a of the Month

The School's Alumni Association Executive Board of Directors

CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD

Allegra Johnson (BA ’91)
Retired

PRESIDENT

James Kauffman (BA ’75)
Retired

VICE PRESIDENT

Bob Pierce (BA ’83)
General Manager, The Dearborn Inn

TREASURER

Martha Zehnder Kaczynski (BA ’03)
Vice President, Bavarian Inn Lodge

SECRETARY

Terri Woodin (BA ’88)
Vice President, Marketing & Global Meeting Services, Meeting Sites Resource

EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS

John Belden (BA ’85)
President & Chief Executive Officer, Davidson Hotels & Resorts

Carl Borchgrevink
Director, The School of Hospitality Business

Kevin J. Brown (BA ’77)
President & Chief Executive Officer, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc.

Carol L. Campbell (BA ’98)
Managing Director, Consumer Insight, Delta Air Lines

Ronald F. Cichy (BA ’72, MBA ’77)
Professor Emeritus, The School of Hospitality Business

Jackie Collens (BA ’07)
Asset Manager, Ty Warner Hotels & Resorts

Jay Dee Cutting (BA ’61)
Retired

Hans Desai (BA ’79)
Vice President, Leisure Travel, Xanterra Parks & Resorts

Gary Finnell (BA ’79)
Senior Director Development – SE Region, Hilton

Philip J. Hickey, Jr. (BA ’77)
Chairman, Miller’s Ale House Restaurants

Erik Liedholm (BA ’93)
Company Wine Director/Partner, John Howie Restaurants

Grant Sabroff (BA ’84)
Senior Vice President, Business Development, Concord Hospitality Enterprises Company

Houston Striggow (BA ’75)
Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer, SusieCakes Bakeries

Peter J. Weien (BA ’81)
Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Opryland Entertainment

Stu Wolff (BA ’82)
Business Coach, Wolff Leadership

EX-OFFICIO EXECUTIVE MEMBERS

Jeffrey D. Anderson (BA ’90)
General Manager, The Toledo Club

James E. Burba (BA ’77)
Co-Founder, Burba Hotel Network

Bradley N. Cance (BA ’89)
General Manager, Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City

John Flood (BA ’80)
Founder & Managing Director, elevate

Jeremy J. Mourey (BA ’00)
Operations Director, Creative Dining Company

HONORARY LIFETIME MEMBERS

Neil F. Barnhart (BA ’64, MBA ’65)
Retired

Richard C. Conti (MBA ’76)
Senior Managing Director, The Plasencia Group

Kenneth D. Hill (BA ’56)
Retired

Jon Kennedy (BA ’73)
Senior Vice President, Grandstay Hospitality

John M. O’Donnell (BA ’69)
General Manager & Chief Operating Officer, St. Clair Golf Club

Zoe P. Slagle (BA ’59, MA ’64)
Retired

Angelos J. Vlahakis (BA ’51)
Retired

Lou Weckstein (BA ’58)
Retired

Robert A. Wills (BA ’70)
Retired

CHAIRMEN EMERITI

Dan E. Burdakin (BA ’81)
Distinguished Alumnus

Dan W. Darrow (MBA ’61)
Retired

Chuck Day (BA ’91)
Regional Director, Revenue Services, InterContinental Hotels Group

Billy Downs (BA ’88)
Owner, Ford’s Garage Dearborn

Richard Farrar (BA ’73)
Principal, The Farrar Consulting Group

Michael H. Getto (BA ’56)
Destination Ambassador, Marriott Hotel & Spa Newport Beach

Marc J. Gordon (MBA ’73)
Retired

John P. Hawes (BA ’73)
Senior Partner, LucasGroup

J. Bruce Lange (BA ’78)
Retired

Dan H. Mathews, Jr. (BA ’66)
Retired

Jerry A. McVety (BA ’67)
President, McVety & Associates, LLC

Michael W. Murray (BA ’81)
Chief Operating Officer, HHM

Mary Ann Ramsey (BA ’75)
Owner & President, Betty Maclean Travel, Inc.

Mike Rice (BA ’91)
Business Development Director, Hotel Contracting Services, Inc.

Susan K. Smith (BA ’59)
President, Food Technologies, Inc.

John Theuer (BA ’83, MBA ’83)
Chief Financial Officer, Eureka Restaurant Group

Ken Weber (BA ’77)
President, Weber’s Boutique Hotel & Restaurant

William A. Zehnder (BA ’71)
President, Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Restaurant

The School's Alumni Association Appointed Board of Directors

STUDENT MEMBERS

Brendan Connolly (BA ’21)
Chief Executive Officer, Hospitality Association

Kailey Konkle (BA ’21)
Chief Executive Officer, Destination Auction 2021

APPOINTED DIRECTORS

Matthew D. Anderson (BA ’09)
Chief Brand Officer, Engaged Education

Mark C. Auerbach (BA ’65)
President, Auerbach Hotel Associates

Ross D. Bartlett (BA ’10)
Assistant General Manager, The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

Dan Briks (BA ’04)
General Manager, Millennium Hilton New York

Richard A. Bruner (MLRHR ’77)
Professor of Practice, The School of Hospitality Business

Marc L. Cassier, Jr. (BA ’89)
Vice President, Conference Services & Catering Sales, Accor Hotels – North America

Art Davis (BA ’88)
Director of Finance, The Drake Chicago

Brian DeMeester (BA ’98)
Executive Housekeeper, The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

David DuBois (BA ’78)
President & Chief Executive Officer, International Association of Exhibitions & Events

Chris Durso (BA ’82)
Distinguished Alumnus

Jesse Eisenhuth (BA ’00)
Customer Development Specialist, Gordon Food Service

Paul Finstad (BA ’13)
Vice President of Hotel Acquisitions & Asset Management, Watermark Capital Partners

Jeffrey R. Gillett (BA ’86)
Senior Vice President, The Elliot Group

John C. Guy (BA ’80)
Skokie Country Club

Jennifer Hajduk (BA ’98)
Complex Director of Catering & Events, Hilton (O’Hare & Rosemont)

Joel A. Halperin (BA ’07)
Regional Collaborator, Hillstone Restaurant Group

Gary R. Hernbroth (BA ’79)
Chief Motivating Officer, Training for Winners

Jason Hilliard (BA ’95)
District Manager, Aramark Business Dining

Aaron Ide (BA ’98)
Resort Manager, Four Seasons – The Biltmore

Lindsay Jarvis (BA ’08)
General Manager, Hyatt Place Grand Rapids

Kevin S. Kennebeck (BA ’88)
General Manager, Ruth Lake Country Club

Andrew J. Kern
Senior Managing Director, Investments, Marcus & Millichap

Davlyn King (BS ’95, BA ’99)
Regional Director, Revenue Services, InterContinental Hotels Group

Stephen E. LaHaie (MBA ’77)
Managing Partner, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc.

Nadia Kilgore (BA ’11)
Office Administrator, GGV Capital

Curtis Lease (BA ’91)
Director of Business Development, Aramark Business Dining

Kurt Lefler (BA ’88)
District General Manager, Compass Group

Shelley MacMillan (BA ’73)
Silver Maples of Chelsea

Luke Magnini (BA ’12)
Restaurant General Manager & Certified Sommelier, Restoration Hardware

John G. Malone (BA ’82)
Area Director – Franchise Services, Choice Hotels International

Kevin Maul (BA ’96)
Regional Director – Revenue Management, Interstate Hotels & Resorts

James McHenry (BA ’14)
Sales Manager, Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park

James L. McKillips (BA ’75)
Retired

Russ Melaragni (BA ’79)
President, The Melaragni Consulting Group, Inc.

Michael Moriarty (BA ’11)
Associate, Eastdil Secured

Jake Olsman (BA ’08)
Real Estate Services Solutions Company

Kit Pappas (BA ’82)
Distinguished Alumnus

John W. Pharr (BA ’69)
President, Strand Development Company

Jason C. Rabidoux (BA ’04)
Vice President of Business Development, Davidson Hotels & Resorts

Nate Redner (BA ’12)
Wine Director, Oyster Bah, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc.

Michael Rodden (BA ’81)
General Manager, Indianapolis Marriott East Hotel

Rob Sadoff (BA ’00)
Principal, Scarlett Hotel Group

Ben Schwartz (BA ’72)
President, Harper Associates

Keith H. Shopnick (BA ’98)
Managing Director, Westin Las Vegas Hotel & Spa

Joseph Shurmur (BA ’90)
Vice President of Operations, Greenwood Hospitality

Matthew A. Sparks (BA ’84)
Distinguished Alumnus

Rose Spickler (BA ’12)
Adjunct Faculty, Culinary Institute of Michigan/Baker College

Scott Steilen (BA ’91)
President & Chief Executive Officer, The Sea Island Company

Kevin Swanquist (BA ’08)
Executive Recruiter, Harper Associates

Christopher Tatum (BA ’81)
President & Chief Executive Officer, Hawaii Tourism Agency

Steven B. Thompson (BA ’87)
General Manager, Saddle & Cycle Club

Mike Tueros (BA ’97)
Director of Meeting & Event Management, Westin Kierland Resort & Spa

Thomas Wagner (BA ’97)
Senior Regional Director of Operations, Levy Restaurants

Blair Wills (BA ’02)
President & Chief Operating Officer, StepStone Hospitality

Mary Winslow (BA ’91)
Senior Vice President, Strategic Solutions, Luckie & Company

Kurt B. Wisniewski (BA ’94)
National Non-Traditional Business Development, Yum Brands

Terri Woodin (BA ’88)
Vice President, Marketing & Global Meeting Services, Meeting Sites Resource

Philip Zeller (BA ’96)
Owner & Chief Executive Officer, Dale Carnegie Training by Ralph Nichols Group, Inc.

Faculty/Staff Member of the Year Award

This award is presented each year at the Homecoming board meeting. The criteria are:

  • Recognize and honor faculty member(s) and/or staff member(s) who creatively deliver the educational experience inside and/or outside of the classroom, create new synergies through their work and/or research, and then apply it to their service and/or teaching
  • Open to all full-time and part-time faculty and support staff who have had a positive effect on positioning The School as the leader in hospitality business education by demonstrating integrity, ethics in the classroom and the workplace, and rigorous personal and professional standards
  • Efforts should have an industry-related focus
  • Solid relationship with students, alumni, faculty and staff
  • Involved in Hospitality Association and Alumni Association activities
  • Recognize faculty and/or staff members who help and collaborate with students, alumni and other faculty members
  • Can be given to an individual or team
  • Not a lifetime achievement award, but rather a reward to recognize The School’s faculty and staff for helping students, alumni and other faculty collaborate

2018 Staff Member of the Year
Jeff Yingling

2017 Faculty Member of the Year
Jeff Elsworth

2016 Staff Member of the Year
Chris Moening

2015 Faculty Member of the Year
Ronald F. Cichy

2014 Staff Member of the Year
James F. Rainey

2013 Faculty Member of the Year
Michael Kasavana

2012 Staff Member of the Year
Lois Schroeder

2011 Faculty Member of the Year
Bonnie Knutson

2010 Staff Member of the Year
Jamie Lyon

2009 Faculty Member of the Year
Raymond Schmidgall

2008 Staff Member of the Year
Lena Loeffler

2007 Faculty Member of the Year
A.J. Singh

2006 Staff Member of the Year
Authella Collins Hawks