A total of 15 distinguished speakers will address the class, representing
a broad cross-section of the industry including fine wines, online-travel
intermediaries, airlines, real estate development and resort operations.
“This influential and diverse roster of speakers will give students
first-hand insight into how they have built distinctive careers,” said
Michael Johnson, dean of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. “This
is one of the many ways we partner with industry leaders to keep our curriculum
fresh and give our students real-world perspective that complements their
Michael Johnson, Dean and E.M. Statler Professor, Cornell
Michael Johnson began his term as the sixth dean of Cornell University's
School of Hotel Administration on July 1, 2006. Prior to joining the Hotel
School, Dean Johnson was the D. Maynard Phelps Collegiate Professor of
Business Administration and Professor of Marketing at the Stephen M. Ross
School of Business at the University of Michigan.
James Mariani MBA ’91, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing,
James Mariani represents the third generation of family leadership
at Banfi Vintners, the company founded by his grandfather, John F. Mariani,
Sr. in 1919. Under Mr. Mariani’s leadership, Banfi Vintners has expanded
its product line and built one of the most respected brands in the wine
Jay S. Witzel, President and CEO, Carlson Hotels Worldwide; CEO
Jay S. Witzel oversees all of Carlson's hotel operations, which includes
over 920 properties in 69 countries. He also leads the company’s cruise
business, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which includes four luxury vessels
sailing worldwide itineraries.
Paul Foley ’74, President and CEO, MAIR Holdings Inc.
Paul Foley helps lead the airline industry through MAIR Holdings and
its primary business units of Mesaba Aviation and Big Sky Transportation.
Prior to joining MAIR, Mr. Foley held executive positions at Atlas Air
and LSG Lufthansa Service/Sky Chefs.
Barbara Higgins ’88, Director of Operations Integration, Disneyland
Barbara Higgins draws on all facets of hospitality to create a magical
experience for guests at the Disneyland Resort in Paris. Prior to working
in Paris, Ms. Higgins honed her resort skills at Disneyland Resorts in
Hong Kong and Florida.
Paul Brown, President, Expedia, Inc. Partner Services Group
Paul Brown leads Expedia in managing airline, hotel, car, tour operator,
and supplier systems relationships across all global points of sale. Mr.
Brown has also held leadership roles with McKinsey & Company, the Boston
Consulting Group, Intercontinental Hotels, and Hotels.com.
Russell Galbut ’74, Managing Principal, Crescent Heights
Keith Menin ’03, Owner, Sanctuary Hotel
As leaders of Crescent Heights, the nation's largest residential condominium
company, Russell Galbut and Keith Menin help create stylish and innovative
properties. Crescent Heights was recently awarded the Freddie Mac Multi-Family
Development Firm of the Year Award by the National Association of Home
Builders, the first time this honor has been bestowed on a condominium
Dr. Sheila Johnson, CEO, Salamander Hospitality, LLC
The nation’s first African-American female billionaire, Dr. Johnson
co-founded Black Entertainment Television and later developed the Salamander
Inn and Spa. She is also an accomplished violinist, conductor, photographer,
designer, philanthropist, and proud mother of two children.
Gary Mendell ’79, Chairman and CEO, HEI Hospitality LLC
Stephen Mendell ’82, Executive Vice President, Acquisitions
and Development, HEI Hospitality LLC
Brothers Gary and Stephen Mendell lead one of the nation’s most prominent
privately held hotel investment companies. The Mendells have achieved extraordinary
success through their ability to recognize investments with the highest
revenue potential and to maximize operational efficiencies.
Blaine Sweatt, President, New Business Division, Darden Restaurants,
As president of the New Business Division at the nation’s largest casual-dining
company, Blaine Sweatt is responsible for creating and testing new restaurant
concepts. After starting with Red Lobster in 1976, Mr. Sweatt led the company’s
creation of Olive Garden, China Coast, Bahama Breeze, Smokey Bones BBQ,
and most recently, Seasons 52.
Carl Mittleman ’97, Regional Vice President for the West Region,
ARAMARK Harrison Lodging
Carl Mittleman has excelled in a variety of roles for this leader in
managed services. Most recently, he oversaw the firm’s parks and resorts
business in Alaska. Earlier, Mr. Mittleman managed ARAMARK’s activity at
stadiums and arenas in central California. He has also served as ARAMARK’s
director for International Sports and Entertainment Operations.
Dr. Timothy Ryan, President, Culinary Institute of America (CIA)
As the first CIA alumnus to become its president, Dr. Timothy Ryan
has been instrumental in leading the growth and innovation that have shaped
the CIA over 23 years. Under his leadership the CIA launched several new
programs, including the world’s first bachelor’s degree in culinary arts
Gerry Fernandez, President & Founder, Multicultural Foodservice
& Hospitality Alliance
Gerry Fernandez leads an educational non-profit organization that promotes
the economic benefits of multicultural diversity in the restaurant, foodservice,
and lodging industries. An accomplished restaurateur and foodservice professional,
he has received numerous awards including being named by Nation's Restaurant
News as one of the industry's “Fifty Power Players.”