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Washington, D.C., May 19, 2016--The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) has named Thomas Penny, general manager of the Courtyard Marriott Convention Center in Washington, D.C., as the inaugural recipient of the 2016 Lamp of Knowledge Award for Outstanding Workforce Partner. This is the first year for this award, which was presented at the AH&LA Stars of the Industry Reception on Wednesday, May 18. Penny was honored for his work, which brings numerous opportunities to begin a career in hospitality to disadvantaged populations in the Washington, D.C. area.

Penny’s efforts have influenced hospitality education at Hospitality High School and now three NAF Hospitality Academies at Columbia Heights Educational Campus (CHEC), Wilson and Ballou High Schools. In addition, Penny has influenced major projects such as the Marriott Marquis Job Training Program and the MGM National Harbor. Through the efforts of Penny and partner organizations, hundreds of District residents are employed in hotels, earning living wages with access to healthcare and retirement benefits.

These programs use AHLEI’s Skills, Tasks, and Results Training (START) curriculum to train and certify new employees, giving them marketable skills and proof of competency as they enter the workforce.

Penny is active in several associations and organizations that promote the hospitality industry. Penny became the second African-American to serve as Chair of the Board of the Hotel Association of DC. He serves on the Mayor’s DC Workforce Investment Council. Penny is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Washington Hospitality Foundation, SOME (So Others May Eat) and DC Central Kitchen. Additionally, he is the Co-Chair of the DC National Academy Foundation's Hospitality Advisory Board—a body of hospitality executives whose mission is to expose District youth to the hotel business from operations to ownership. Penny also serves on the Board of the DC Public Education Fund, Raise DC, DC CAN (Career Academy Network), DC High School Credit Flexibility Task Force, and Prince George’s Community College’s Hospitality Executive Advisory Board.

About the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI)

Established in 1953 as the nonprofit education and training arm of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), AHLEI’s mission is to continue being the preferred provider to the lodging industry, hospitality schools, and related hospitality industries by developing and providing quality resources to educate, develop, and certify hospitality professionals worldwide.

Contact: Elizabeth Johnson / +1.517.318.2359

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