UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State School of Hospitality Management has named Anna Blue, president of the AHLA Foundation — the nonprofit arm of the American Hotel & Lodging Association — and James C. Fripp, chief equity and inclusion officer of Yum! Brands, as its 2023-24 Walter J. Conti visiting professors.
The Conti Professorship program brings hospitality industry leaders and scholars to serve as guest lecturers and mentors with students in the Hospitality Management program, as well as to connect with faculty members and researchers in the school.
As part of its 35th anniversary year, Blue and Fripp represent the continued growth and success of the program, which sees increased engagement with the executives and scholars who are named Conti professors. For 2023-24, both will be in-residence at University Park to teach and advise students and faculty in their fields of study or areas of expertise.
Blue and Fripp will be visiting the University Park campus in both fall and spring semesters, delivering lectures to, collaborating with, and advising students and faculty members. The Conti professors will also engage in virtual seminars with undergraduate and graduate students throughout the academic year.
“These two premiere executives are leading and impacting the national landscape of the hotel and restaurant industries. Their commitment to an extended engagement with the school’s talented faculty and promising students is evidence of what they share in common — a passion for advocating for and advancing excellence in the next generation of leaders across the vibrant, high-demand careers in hospitality management,” said Donna Quadri-Felitti, Marvin Ashner Endowed Director of the School of Hospitality Management.
Blue serves as president of the AHLA Foundation, where she supports a stronger and more equitable hotel workforce. Under her leadership, the foundation supports youth through training and college scholarships, helps employees prevent human trafficking in hotels and works to advance underrepresented groups in the industry.
“It is an honor to be chosen by the Penn State School of Hospitality Management as one of this year’s Walter J. Conti visiting professors,” Blue said. “I’m excited to connect and collaborate with the rising leaders of our industry to create a more accessible and inclusive hotel workforce.”
Blue is a seasoned nonprofit leader with more than two decades of experience building movements for good. Her work advancing deep-rooted systemic change in urban education, gender equity and digital safety reflects her belief in the power of leveraging collaboration and community to affect change. In her previous roles as co-executive director of Girl Up at the United Nations Foundation and chief next gen officer at the Female Quotient, Blue built transformational cause-marketing partnerships with global brands, generated significant revenue growth, and mobilized communities to advance girls and women globally. As head of global marketing and communications for the Tech Coalition, Blue worked in partnership with the largest global tech companies on to combat child sexual abuse and human trafficking online.
Featured by the Feminist Institute as a “historic feminist of our time,” Blue has engaged audiences on the power of girls and women, Gen Z leadership, the future of work, and inclusive leadership on some of the largest global stages, including Cannes Lions, SXSW, the World Economic Forum, and Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen.
James C. Fripp
Fripp is the chief equity and inclusion officer of Yum! Brands in Louisville, Kentucky. Fripp has global responsibility for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion strategies and practices across the company’s brands, workplaces and franchise system, and works with executives across Yum! Brands portfolio including KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and the Habit Burger Grill. Building on Yum! Brands’ years of progress on its diversity and inclusion journey, Fripp is focused on increasing diverse representation among company leadership, franchisees and suppliers and continuing the rollout of inclusive leadership and anti-racism training across the company and franchise system.
“I am humbled and honored to be named, and to serve, as a visiting professor in the name of Walter Conti,” Fripp said. “This opportunity is proof that the legacy Mr. Conti began many years ago is still alive. I see this as a tremendous way to inspire future leaders of this industry, while also building their capability to be inclusive of all people, as this attribute will determine their level of future success.”
Since 2011, Fripp has led diversity and inclusion efforts, where he elevated Yum! Brands’ public commitments and partnerships, including the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, the Consortium, and We Are All Human’s “The Hispanic Promise”; activated the company’s employee resource groups in Louisville, Plano and Irvine; co-chairs Yum!’s Leading Inclusion for Today & Tomorrow (LIFT2) Council; and trained thousands of brand and franchise leaders around the world on the topics of inclusive leadership and unconscious bias. Previously, Fripp was at Taco Bell in various leadership positions in operations and restaurant excellence, ending his career with the brand as head of field human resources.
Fripp is a member of the Clemson University Corporate Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) Advisory Board and chair of the Corporate Advisory Board for the Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance. He is also a member of the University of North Carolina Corporate Advisory Board on Diversity and Inclusion and a member of the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation Board. He holds a degree in business management and is a certified unconscious bias facilitator.
About the Conti Professorship program
Walter Conti earned his bachelor’s degree in home economics from Penn State in 1952, becoming a well-known restaurateur and industry leader. He served on the Penn State Board of Trustees from 1974 to 1992, achieving trustee emeritus status.
The Conti Professorship program was established by alumni and friends of the Penn State School of Hospitality Management in 1987 to honor Conti for his contributions to the school, Penn State and the hospitality profession. Beginning in 1988, industry leaders and hospitality’s best scholars have served each year as guest lecturers and mentors as part of this program. Conti died in 2016 at the age of 87.