AHLEF Opening Doors to Opportunity Capital Campaign Surpasses $8 Million Goal

Funds go toward hospitality scholarships, professional development, research

Washington, D.C. – February 22, 2017 — The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation (AHLEF) today announced that it has raised more than $8,000,000 in its fundraising efforts to promote hospitality’s future talent through scholarships, professional development opportunities and research.

The campaign, Opening Doors to Opportunity, surpassed its goal thanks to the donations of more than 100 individual and corporate donors and raised a total of $8.28 million. The campaign was chaired by Kirk Kinsell and was spearheaded by 15 of the hospitality industry’s senior executives.

A comprehensive fundraising effort, Opening Doors to Opportunity engaged branded properties, owners and management companies, partner state associations, independent properties, and allied partners in support of the individuals and research that serve the hospitality industry. Thanks to the efforts’ clear success, more than $4 million will be allocated to increase the amount and number of academic scholarships that are annually given to hospitality students; $2 million will be directed to increase professional development which will make an impact locally and nationally; and $2 million will tackle innovative research projects in support of the entire hotel and lodging industry.

“The Foundation is the only dedicated philanthropic organization serving our entire industry. They support us all and have done so for more than 60 years,” said Kirk Kinsell, Chair of the Opening Doors to Opportunity campaign. “I am proud of the volunteers who gave their time to ensure our collective success; the number of individuals and corporations who have supported this effort; the amount of first-time campaign donors who made their first pledge; and the number of students and young professionals who will be impacted as a result of this critical infusion of resources.”

The campaign’s success was anchored by several leading corporate and personal contributions including: a $500,000 landmark gift from Host Hotels & Resorts; a $400,000 pledge from the National Restaurant Association; and a $275,000 contribution from Hyatt Hotels Corporation. Outstanding personal campaign commitments included: a $250,000 pledge from the Robert A. Alter Family; and $100,000 pledges from Minaz Abji (Host Hotels & Resorts), John Belden (Davidson Hotels & Resorts), and Chair, Kirk Kinsell. Overall, 14 corporations made generous five-year, $250,000+ pledges to the effort. 

“The Opening Doors to Opportunity campaign is a huge accomplishment and we thank every company and individual donor who collectively helped us reach this lofty goal and believed in our mission,” said Joori Jeon, AHLEF president and COO. “From our Campaign Chair, Kirk Kinsell, to the members of the Campaign Executive Committee who worked tirelessly calling upon their colleagues and friends, to AHLA’s leadership, and Katherine’s support, we are forever grateful for every single gift! Because of their diligence and unwavering support, the doors to a future in hospitality are truly open to all.”

“As a business of people serving people, the hotel industry thrives because our people are at the core of the industry,” said Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. “Already a supporter of 8 million jobs, the future of hospitality is ripe with talent. To ensure the success of the industry, it is imperative to provide invaluable educational and scholarship opportunities so that our employees acquire the training and resources necessary to put them on a path to long-term careers and success. We applaud the dedication of so many in our industry who contributed to this campaign and recognized the true value granted to our next generation of leaders.”

“The future of our profession is bright, but only if we prepare now and provide support to the individuals who are studying hospitality management and working and growing in our companies,” said Minaz Abji, EVP Asset Management, Host Hotels & Resorts and immediate past AHLEF Chairman. “This campaign truly will open doors to many opportunities for many more research studies to receive funding, and current students and industry associates to receive academic and professional development scholarships.”

To learn more about the campaign and see a list of donors who have already pledged their support, visit: To support the future of the profession, and have your name added to the list of notable donors, contact Michelle Poinelli, AHLEF Senior Vice President at 202-289-3181 or


About the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation

Founded in 1953, the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Foundation has spent 60+ years identifying, cultivating, and supporting the human talent, research, and initiatives most vital to the progress and prosperity of the lodging industry. The Foundation works in tandem with the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) to educate the future hospitality workforce, research trends and opportunities that will impact the sector, and empower the industry to grow stronger and faster. For more information visit:

About the American Hotel and Lodging Association

Serving the hospitality industry for more than a century, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) is the sole national association representing all segments of the 8 million jobs the U.S. lodging industry supports, including hotel owners, REITs, chains, franchisees, management companies, independent properties, bed and breakfasts, state hotel associations, and industry suppliers. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AHLA focuses on strategic advocacy, communications support, and educational resources for an industry that advances long-term career opportunities for employees, invests in local communities across the country and hosts more than one billion guests’ stays in American hotels every year. AHLA proudly represents a dynamic hotel industry of more than 54,000 properties that supports $1.1 trillion in U.S. sales and generates nearly $170 billion in taxes to local, state and federal governments. Learn more at