Master of Professional Studies in Hospitality Management
On Wednesday, May 7, 2014, the Master’s in Hospitality Management program at the Georgetown School of Continuing Studies hosted a panel discussion on “Welcoming Guests to Washington, DC – Politics, Culture and Hospitality” saluting National Travel + Tourism Week’s celebrations and rallies all across America. Four leading experts in the hospitality industry were invited to share insights on DC tourism with prospective degree candidates, current hospitality professionals and the general public.
“Our diverse panel included renowned industry professionals from the U.S. Travel Association, Think Food Group, Destination DC and the Renaissance Hotel,” says Gray Shealy, executive director of the Master’s in Hospitality Management program. “They all noted that hospitality is no longer an industry where its leaders can grow from the ground up. They must differentiate themselves with a master’s degree.”
The panelists looked at downtown DC as a microcosm for the worldwide hospitality industry.
Other discussion topics included:
“Welcoming Guests to Washington, DC – Politics, Culture and Hospitality” can be viewed in its entirety below:
Dr. Christopher Metzler
A seasoned academic leader and legal scholar, Dr. Metzler is recognized for fostering international and interdisciplinary education. He is the author of “Construction and Rearticulation of Race in a ‘Post-Racial’ America” (University of Aberdeen Press, 2008). He has won numerous awards for his scholarship and has lectured widely in North and Central America, the Caribbean and Europe on the impact of globalization on educational policy, attaining global excellence in education and the ethical challenges of the world economy.
Shealy most recently served as the Global Design Director for W Hotels, setting the standard for design innovation while overseeing the evolution of the brand as it becomes a global powerhouse. Previously, he was Director of Design for Le Méridien, leading that brand’s worldwide relaunch in a role that prepared him for his international challenges at Starwood Hotels. A frequent speaker and published author, Shealy was named a “Wave of the Future” Honoree by Hospitality Design magazine in 2011.
Rob Wilder has been a force in the DC restaurant scene for the last 25+ years. His past ventures include Austin Grill and Amy’s Ice Creams before funding Think Food Group with José Andrés in 1993. The mission of TFG is to “change the world through the power of food.” He currently serves on the executive committee of the Downtown DC Business Improvement District. He also serves as president of the Penn Quarter Neighborhood Association, director of RAMW and active director/treasurer of World Central Kitchen.
Sharon Lockwood has 30 years of hospitality industry experience that includes catering, human resources, rooms operations and hotel operations. She has worked in 10 hotels, including three in the DC area. Lockwood is actively involved in the Arlington, VA community, serving on the executive committee and board of directors for the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. She also served on the executive committee for Rosslyn Renaissance and chaired Marriott’s Washington, DC Area Business Council. She currently sits on Marriott’s General Manager Council and chairs the eastern region for Marriott Business Council. Lockwood is a board member for the DC Business Improvement District and Destination DC as well as co-chair of the Convention Committee.
Elliott Ferguson leads Destination DC’s efforts to generate economic development for the district through meetings and tourism, overseeing the organizations convention and tourism sales, marketing, finance and business development operations. Prior to working at Destination DC, he served as vice president of sales at the Atlanta Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Ferguson currently chairs the Hospitality Alliance of Washington, DC, the Washington Convention and Sports Authority, the Hotel Association of Washington, DC and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.
Gary Oster is a travel industry professional with over 45 years of experience. At the U.S. Travel Association, his focus is business development, membership, strategic partnerships, research publication/subscriptions, meetings/events (IPW & ESTO), national travel coalitions and councils and program/marketing services (i.e. Daily Getaways). He retired from Marriott International in 2002 where he worked his way through the ranks to become vice president of owner relations.