RLJ Lodging Trust’s Bardenett to Serve As Chair

WASHINGTON (January 12, 2022) – The AHLA Foundation today announced its newly elected 2022 Board of Trustees, which features its most diverse board to date and includes industry trailblazers committed to advancing the Foundation’s mission to elevate, educate and empower the hospitality workforce.

Tom Bardenett, executive vice president of asset management for RLJ Lodging Trust, will serve as the chairman of the board; Julienne Smith, senior vice president of upscale development and transactions and asset management at IHG Hotels and Resorts will take the role of vice chair; and Anu Saxena, senior vice president and global head of Hilton Supply Management, will serve as secretary and treasurer.

This year, the AHLA Foundation is taking on an ambitious agenda to recruit new employees into hospitality and help the industry recover from labor shortages. Looking forward, the Foundation is building on its efforts to advance DE&I efforts throughout the industry by launching a nationwide ad campaign, establishing an industry best practices guide, and creating trainings on inclusive leadership for industry executives. Additionally, the Foundation is expanding its empowering youth and apprenticeship programs, continuing to allocate more than $1 million toward two- and four-year hospitality students and advancing its critical work around human trafficking prevention, training, and awareness.

“I am truly honored to serve as the next Chairman of the AHLA Foundation’s Board of Trustees at such a critical time,” said Bardenett. “From the global pandemic devastating the hospitality industry to labor shortages impacting our workforces, the Foundation’s goal to attract, train and retain a diverse talent pool could not come at a more vital moment. Through its robust agenda and life-changing programs, the Foundation continues to secure a brighter hospitality industry for generations to come.”

“The AHLA Foundation is privileged to welcome aboard the dynamic hospitality leaders that make up our 2022 Board of Trustees,” said Rosanna Maietta, AHLA Foundation President and CEO. “After the pandemic wiped out nearly 10 years of hotel job growth, we look forward to partnering with our Board to discover solutions toward reinvigorating the hospitality industry and its people. As we tackle an ambitious mission for the year ahead, I’m grateful to Tom and all the Trustees for the dedication and guidance as we seek to build and strengthen a diverse workforce.”

Bardenett has been engaged with the AHLA Foundation for numerous years, supporting and growing its annual golf fundraiser.  He succeeds Greg Juceam, chief operating officer for Extended Stay America, who led Foundation through the critical years of the pandemic, spearheading the launch of a COVID Relief Fund for furloughed employees and establishing an industry commitment of $5 million over five years to expand efforts on DE&I.

CLICK HERE to view the 2022 AHLA Foundation Board of Trustees. 

New members of the board appointed to two-year terms in 2022 include:

Anu Saxena, SVP & Global Head, Hilton Supply Management 

Leslie D. Hale, AHLA Vice Chair of the Board, President and CEO, RLJ Lodging Trust 

Jyoti Sarolia, COO, Ellis Hospitality Group  

Ann Christenson, EVP CHRO, Aimbridge Hospitality 

Lisa Borromeo Checchio, Chief Marketing Officer, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Inc. 

Scott Trebilco, Managing Director, Real Estate, Blackstone 

Daniel del Olmo, President, Sage Hospitality Group 

Raj Chandnani, EVP Development, WATG, Wimberly Interiors (Non-Voting Trustee)  


About The AHLA Foundation

The AHLA Foundation, the charitable giving arm of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, is dedicated to helping people build careers, improve their lives, and strengthen the lodging industry. From lifting individuals out of poverty and connecting them with a life-long career in the industry to providing certifications to promote current hotel employees into leadership positions, the Foundation’s programs are changing the industry by changing lives. We are committed to elevating, educating, and empowering individuals and the public on the industry’s story of opportunity and advancement. The Foundation is funded solely by contributions from generous individuals and companies who want to give back to the hotel industry and ensure a successful future. Learn more at