In January, at the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) Night of a Thousand Stars celebration in Los Angeles, the organization announced that the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation would be rebranding as the AHLA Foundation. LODGING connected with Rosanna Maietta, AHLA Foundation president and EVP of communications and public relations at AHLA, and Greg Juceam, chair of the AHLA Foundation Board and president and COO of G6 Hospitality, to discuss the AHLA Foundation’s new identity and the importance of education in the hotel industry.

How have the educational offerings available to those in the hotel industry been evolving over the years?
Rosanna Maietta: We have always been an industry of people taking care of people and that’s why the industry invests in the men and women who are the heart of hospitality—they are our greatest resource. The need to advance our employees has never been greater, and we are trying to stay one step ahead of our employers so that AHLA’s Foundation can be the one-stop solution when it comes to employee advancement and retention. We do this by finding the right partners and creating programs like our Debt-Free College solution, which allows current employees to go back to college by taking courses online that work with their schedules for maximum flexibility. We are also seeing a lot of AHLA member companies thinking outside the box to provide educational support to their staff, including virtual reality modules.

What are some of the AHLA Foundation’s goals for 2020?
Greg Juceam: This year, the Foundation will expand our Empowering Youth Program from six cities to 10, introduce new apprenticeship programs, grow our Debt-Free College Program, and award over $1 million in scholarships. At the same time, we are exploring innovative partnerships with Catalyst Kitchens to expand community partnerships to 75 new locations and Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) to educate disadvantaged youth on hospitality career opportunities in 39 states. We also plan to unveil a new premier event called ELEVATE to bring students, the academic community, and industry together to explore the future of the industry and get them one step closer to a lifelong career in the industry. Additionally, we will continue to explore creative solutions to address some of our employee’s pain points, including work flexibility, transportation and salary timing.  We have bold plans for 2020 and are eager to do more, faster.

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