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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 Advisory Members, consist entirely of alumni and oversees the activities of the Alumni Association. The Appointed Board of Directors Advisory Members consist 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 as well as sponsors several events:

  • Executive & Appointed Advisory Board meetings, held twice each year (spring and fall on campus during MSU Homecoming)
  • 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

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 Quarter (formerly Alum of the Month)

The School's Alumni Association Executive Board of Directors


Curtis Lease (BA 91)
Regional Vice President, Dining Services, American Dining Creations


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


Martha Zehnder Kaczynski (BA ’03)
Vice President/4th Generation Owner, Bavarian Inn Lodge


Paul Finstad (BA ’13)
Vice President of Hotel Acquisitions & Asset Management, Aparium Hotel Group


David DuBois (BA 78)
Chief Executive Officer/President/Publisher, The Exhibitor Group


James F. Anhut (MBA ’85)
Director, Real Estate Program, The School of Hospitality Business

Carol L. Campbell (BA ’98)
Head of Consumer Experience, Ascension

Brian DeMeester (BA ’98)
Executive Housekeeper, FireKeepers Casino Hotel

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

Chris Durso (BA ’82)
Distinguished Alumnus

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

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

Rose Spickler (BA ’12)
Director of Statewide Engagement, West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum

Houston Striggow (BA ’75)
Chief Development Officer, SusieCakes Bakeries


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

Bradley N. Cance (BA ’89)
General Manager, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Washington, DC

John Flood (BA ’80)
Managing Director, elevate

Jeremy J. Mourey (BA ’00)
District Manager, Healthcare Services Group


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

Neil F. Barnhart (BA ’64, MBA ’65)

John Belden (BA ’85)
President & Chief Executive Officer, Davidson Hospitality Group

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

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

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

Jay Dee Cutting (BA ’61)


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

Kenneth D. Hill (BA ’56)

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)

Lou Weckstein (BA ’58)

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

Robert A. Wills (BA ’70)

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


Dan E. Burdakin (BA ’81)

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

Billy Downs (BA ’88)
Owner, Downs Management and Ford’s Garage Michigan

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

Michael H. Getto (BA ’56)

Marc J. Gordon (MBA ’73)

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

Allegra Johnson (BA ’91)
Managing Director, Club Management Association of America, Georgia Chapter

James Kauffman (BA ’75)

J. Bruce Lange (BA ’78)

Dan H. Mathews, Jr. (BA ’66)

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, Simms Restaurants & Partake Collective

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

Terri Woodin (BA ’88)
Mountain Vacation Consultant, Rocky Mountain Getaways

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

The School's Alumni Association Appointed Board of Directors


Tyler Dahms (BA 24)
Chief Executive Officer, Hospitality Association

Autumn Mellino (BA 25)
Chief Executive Officer, Destination Auction


Andre Alexandre (BA ’00)
Vice President, Business Development, NEXDINE Hospitality

Ed Ansbro (BA ’79)
Managing Director, Fairwood Capital

Dan Briks (BA ’04)
General Manager, Martinique NY on Broadway

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

Marc L. Cassier, Jr. (BA ’89)
Corporate Head of Catering & Events, HILTON – Americas Managed Hotels

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

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

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

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

Joel A. Halperin (BA ’07)
Director of Operations, Heirloom Hospitality Group

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

Aaron Ide (BA ’98)
General Manager, The Thompson Hotel – Dallas

Lauren Johnson (BA ’19)
Travel Industry & Entertainment Sales Manager, Four Seasons Hotel – Boston

Lauren Jones (BA ’10)
Director of Employee Experience & Organizational Development, Rush University Medical Center

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

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

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

Caitlyn Kuskowski (BA ’16)
Health & Hospitality Business Entrepreneur

Stephen E. LaHaie (MBA ’77)
Retired, Shaw’s Crab House, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc.

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

Emily MacIntyre (BA ’10)
Area Director of Sales, Graduate Hotel – East Lansing

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

Kevin Maul (BA ’96)
Regional Director – Revenue Strategy, Aimbridge Hospitality

Adam McGaughy (BA ’90)
Senior Managing Director, JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group

James McHenry (BA ’14)
Director, Sales, Widgeteer, Inc.

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

Michael Moriarty (BA ’11)
Senior Vice President, Eastdil Secured

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

Kit Pappas (BA ’82)

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

Jason C. Rabidoux (BA ’04)
Executive Vice President, Acquisitions & Business Development, Davidson Hospitality Group

Nate Redner (BA ’12)
Divisional Sommelier, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc.

Geoff Ryskamp (BA ’06)
Vice President, Medallia

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

Amy Schmidt (BA ’18)
Vice President, HVS

Joshua Smith (BA ’00)
Senior Vice President, HREC Investment Advisors

Katie Smith (BA ’16)
Advocacy Programming Manager, Team Enterprises, Bacardi

Mikaela Smith (BA ’18)
Account Executive, General Mills

Matthew A. Sparks (BA ’84)
Executive Vice President & Chief Development Officer, Hilton Vacations

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

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

Christopher Tatum (BA ’81)
General Manager, Westin/Aloft at San Francisco Airport

Steven B. Thompson (BA ’87)
Director of Catering & Events, Waldorf Astoria Hotel – Chicago

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

Alison Wallace (BA ’97)
Director of Sales, Hilton

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

Mary Winslow (BA ’91)
Chief Marketing Officer, Luckie & Company

Kurt B. Wisniewski (BA ’94)
Senior Director, Business Development, SAMBAZON

Philip Zeller (BA ’96)
Chief Executive Officer/Owner/Master Trainer, 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

2022 Staff Member of the Year
Allyson Griffith

2020 Faculty Member of the Year
Carl P. Borchgrevink

2019 Faculty/Staff Member of the Year
Not Awarded

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