Los Angeles, CA — February 3, 2022 — The International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC) in partnership with the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) presented Peggy Berg, chair of the Castell Project, with the Pioneer Award which recognizes an individual annually who has made an outstanding contribution, achievement and/or improvement in the hospitality industry.

Jeff Higley, ISHC, president of The BHN Group; Todd Leach, ISHC president and partner of Dedica Group; and Kristie Dickinson, ISHC treasurer and managing director/EVP of CHMWarnick presented Berg with the recognition during the conference plenary session. Dickinson remarked,

“I can tell you firsthand that Peggy has had a direct impact on my life and career, and I am just one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of people that share the privilege of knowing her, walking through the countless doors that she has opened and following the path that she has blazed for our industry.”


Upon accepting the award, Berg noted, “Pioneers step forward and create opportunity when restrictions are lifted – whether they are technological, legal or other restrictions.” She recounted life experiences that led her to that very moment, including the lifting of legal restrictions preventing women from accessing birth control; the Equal Employment Opportunity Act; being hired as the first female employee at PKF under the promise of not getting pregnant for two years; launching the Highland Group with her personal savings; and the Women’s Business Ownership Act lifting restrictions on women borrowing money for businesses enabling her to become a hotel owner.

“The Castell Project is about encouraging companies to remove their unintended restrictions and teaching women to grow past their ingrained social restrictions. This industry, including men and women here, have been incredibly supportive,” Berg said. “It’s never been about men versus women in hospitality. It’s always been about making the pie bigger as removing restrictions creates opportunity for us all.”


Berg also gave hope for the near future, “While restrictions on debt were lifted, equity has been surprisingly slow to respond. I believe 2022 will be the turning point when equity finally wakes up.”


Established in 1996, ISHC Pioneer Award winners are selected on a basis of three criteria: active involvement in the hospitality industry; contribution to the industry; and personal/organizational attributes and qualities adhering to professional standards recognized and respected by industry peers.


“This year’s Pioneer Award is extra special. Not only does Peggy have a long list of accomplishments making an incredible impact on the hospitality industry, but she also is a founding member, member #7, of ISHC. Her legacy is deep-rooted in the Society’s DNA, and we are thankful for her many contributions,” remarked Andrea Belfanti, CEO of ISHC.


Past recipients of the Pioneer Award include:

  • Marilyn Carlson Nelson (2020)
  • Jack DeBoer (2019)
  • Wing T. Chao (2018)
  • Ian Schrager (2017)
  • Lyndall DeMarco (2016)
  • Stephen Kaufer (2015)
  • Michael Bedner (2014)
  • Steve Rushmore (2013)
  • Chip Conley (2012)
  • Kathleen Taylor (2011)
  • Leland C. Pillsbury (2010)
  • J.W. Marriott (2009)
  • Jean Gabriel Peres (2008)
  • Stanley Selengut (2008)
  • Jean-Claude Baumgarten (2007)
  • James E. Burba (2007)
  • Stelios Haji-Ioannou (2006)
  • H.P. Rama (2006)
  • Costakis Loizou (2005)
  • Barry Sternlicht (2005)
  • Christel DeHaan (2004)
  • Regis Bulot (2004)
  • Bill Kimpton (2002)
  • Jonathan M. Tisch (2001)
  • Michael A. Leven (2000)
  • Jack Vaughn (1999)
  • George Johnson (1998)
  • Randell A. Smith (1997)