“Our speaker series is a great way for students to see how the theory
they learn in the classroom can be put to successful use in the field,"
says Michael Johnson, dean of the Cornell Hotel School. “Many of our students
have even been inspired to make career choices based on what they have
heard from one of our speakers.”
Lectures take place at 1:25 p.m. in the Alice Statler Auditorium in
the school's Beck Center. Open seating is available in the balcony of the
This year’s speaker roster features leaders across varied segments of
the hospitality industry. Here is brief background on each speaker:
Michael D. Johnson, Dean and E.M. Statler Professor,
Cornell University School of Hotel Administration (August 24). Dean Johnson,
in his second year at the helm, leads the school’s commitment to excel
in teaching, research and industry service. He joined Cornell after a distinguished
24-year teaching career at the Ross School of Business at the University
Eric Resnick, Co-Founder and Managing Director, KSL Capital Partners,
LLC (August 31). Mr. Resnick heads this private equity fund, which has
more than $1 billion invested in travel and leisure businesses. He has
vast experience in the ownership and active management of hotel, resort,
and leisure properties.
Robert J. McCarthy, President, North American Lodging Operations
& Global Brand Management, Marriott International (September 7). Mr.
McCarthy oversees nearly 2,500 hotel properties and 100,000 associates.
He started his 30-year career with Marriott as a waiter while attending
Pablo Azcarraga '85, COO and Member of the Board, Grupo Posadas
(September 14). Mr. Azcarraga leads the largest hotel operator in Mexico
and Latin America, with 92 hotels that together serve more than one million
guests each year. He has been a leader in the growth and design of new
hotels in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile.
Hobart C. Buppert III '95, CEO, BAWLS Guarana/Hobarama LLC, and
Staalstrom '95, COO, BAWLS Guarana/Hobarama LLC (September 21). Mr.
Buppert conceived Brazilian American Wild Life Society (BAWLS) Guarana
drinks in the Hotel School kitchen during his final semester at Cornell.
Now bottled in four locations in Mexico and the U.S., this high-caffeine
soft drink is sold in supermarkets, convenience stores, COMP USA stores,
and gaming venues in more than 30 states.
John P. Rijos '75, Co-President, Brookdale Senior Living, Inc.
(September 28) Mr. Rijos has helped to build Brookdale Living Communities,
Inc. into one of the nation’s leading providers of senior and assisted
living services. He has over 30 years of experience in the acquisition,
development, and operations of hotels and resorts.
Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos '85, Principal & Director of Marketing,
Flag Luxury Properties, and Paul Kanavos, Founding Partner, Chairman
& CEO, Flag Luxury Properties (October 12). Founded in 1996 by Mr.
Kanavos, Flag Luxury Properties current holdings include The Ritz-Carlton
South Beach and the St. Regis Resort, Temenos Anguilla. Ms. Olarte de Kanavos
manages marketing and philanthropic efforts, which benefit the Anguilla
Children's Fund, the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and the Wildlife Conservation
Society, among others.
David B. Pollin '90, President, The Buccini/Pollin Group, Inc.,
and Gregory J. Miller '84- Co-CEO & President, PM Hospitality
Strategies, Inc. (October 19). Mr. Pollin leads The Buccini/Pollin Group,
a real estate acquisition, development, and management company. Founded
in 1993, the company has assets exceeding $2.2 billion. Mr. Miller heads
the hotel management affiliate of The Buccini/Pollin Group, which manages
12 hotels and over 2,000 rooms under the Hilton, Marriott, and Comfort
Inn & Suites franchises.
Mel Zuckerman, Founder & Chairman, and Jerry Cohen,
Vice Chairman & CEO, Canyon Ranch (October 26). Since 1979, Canyon
Ranch has set the standard for health resorts around the world. Mr. Zuckerman
was recently named one of America’s 25 Most Fascinating Entrepreneurs by
Inc Magazine. The company is a 10-time winner of the Condé Nast
Traveler Best Destination Spa Award.
Grace Leo '77, President, G.L.A. Hotels (November 2). Founded
in 1985, GLA Hotels is a leader in the luxury hotel market with over 33
properties in 10 countries. Properties include Discovery at Marigot Bay
in St. Lucia, the Ananda-Himalaya in India, the Lancaster in Paris, and
the Evason Phuket in Thailand.
Catalina D. Ganis '85, Executive Vice President & Managing
Director, Elliot Executive Source Ltd., and Senior Vice President, Elliot
Associates, Inc., Divisions of the Elliot Group, LLC (November 9). Ms.
Ganis is a longstanding senior executive for this leading provider of executive
research and consulting services to companies in the hospitality, food
service, retail, and manufacturing industries.
Chris Canlis, Owner; Mark Canlis '97, Managing Owner;
and Brian Canlis '01, Director, Department of Adventure, Canlis
Restaurant (November 16). In 1950 Peter Canlis opened a restaurant that
soon became one of the preeminent dining establishments in Seattle. Fifty
years later the business is run by the next generations of family restaurateurs,
and was recently named one of America’s Top 50 Restaurants by Gourmet magazine.
Donald W. Strang III '80, President & CEO, Strang Corporation;
E. Strang '82, Member of the Board, Strang Corporation; President &
CEO, Chilgo LLC; Peter W. Strang '84, Executive Vice President,
Strang Corporation (November 30). The Strang Corporation was founded in
1942 with the opening of a Howard Johnson Restaurant on Lake Erie. Now,
with brothers Donald, David, and Peter at the helm, the Cleveland-based
company produces over $50 million in managed sales across hotels and restaurants
in six states. The Strang Corporation’s sister companies – American Bread
Company and JC American – are among the fastest-growing franchisees of
Panera Bread and Johnny Carinos.