2019 Speakers

Be sure not to miss one of the most esteemed collection of experts in the industry.  These hospitality veterans will bring their unique experience, perspective and relentless focus on practical application of knowledge, approaches, and solutions.

Marian Barbieri

Vice President, Human Resources, New Castle Hotels & Resorts

Marian Barbieri is responsible for New Castle Hotels & Resort’s human resource policies, procedures, and practices, including the administration of all compensation, group health, and benefit programs. She oversees the recruitment and training of members of the management team, maintains the loss and accident prevention standards, and manages contracts with New Castle’s various HR vendors and providers. Marian has led New Castle’s human resources efforts for over 38 years and has served in her current position as Vice President of Human Resources since 1997. A Day 1 employee, she has played an integral role in establishing and maintaining New Castle’s culture of diversity, inclusion, and positive employee relations.

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Jake Basham

Vice President, Human Resources, Loews Hotels & Co

As Vice President, Human Resources for Loews Hotels & Co, Jake Basham is responsible for leading human resources operations throughout the hotel portfolio and support locations, including specific guidance of labor relations and compliance strategies.

Bringing a wealth of experience in human resources and labor management, Jake joined Loews Hotels in 2015. Previously, he led human resources operations in multi-asset regional capacities for Hersha Hospitality Management, as well as Denihan Hospitality Group. Throughout his career, Jake has advised numerous real estate investment trusts, management companies, and asset owners, in addition to negotiating collective bargaining agreements in major markets throughout the United States.

Jake holds a bachelor’s degree in parks, recreation & tourism with an emphasis in hospitality management from the University of Utah, as well as professional senior level certifications from the Society for Human Resource Management and the Human Resource Certification Institute. He also serves as a member of the American Hotel & Lodging Association Labor Relations Committee.

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Nigel Beck

CEO and Founder, When Labs

Nigel is CEO and Founder of When Labs: artificial intelligence for augmenting management, driving compliance, employee engagement, retention, and productivity.  Nigel’s passion for HR and management comes from over two decades of building and managing teams from two to thousands around the globe, and led to his acquisition of Kenexa, a human capital management company, the 6th largest acquisition IBM had ever made.

Nigel is a proven leader and innovator.  As founding CTO of Footprint Software, a fintech startup, he engineered the largest retail banking system of its kind, building the fastest growing startup in Canada at the time, which sold to IBM.  There, he architected IBM’s entry into
Open Source software, making IBM the first major corporation to embrace Linux and Apache, and was founding product line manager for their most successful organic software product of the last two decades, WebSphere.  Along the way, he founded one of the earliest commercial bot companies, liketribe, which used artificial intelligence and social graph data to provide personalized recommendations.

Nigel is a charter member and board member of the C100, an organization devoted to driving innovation and entrepreneurship in Canada, and on the Advisory Board of the Cornell Institute for Hospitality Labor and Employment Relations (CIHLER).  He is passionate about learning, sailing, and being a proud new dad.

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Devin Bigoness

Executive Director, Custom Programs , Cornell Executive Education

As Executive Director for Custom Programs at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Devin is responsible for the design, development and strategy for the growth and success of non-degree customized executive education offerings. Devin works across the 3 schools of the College including The Hotel School, the Johnson Graduate School and the Dyson School in growing the scope of the business in Executive Education. Devin also plays a leadership role in the formation and operations of Cornell Executive Education, which is the unit that operates across Cornell University including the College of Business, eCornell, Cornell Tech and the ILR School to offer education solutions for organizational clients. He leads a global team that includes operations in Ithaca and the new Cornell Tech campus in NYC in addition to a team member who helps to grow the South America business. In this role he has worked with clients such as Amazon, KPMG, Lincoln Financial Group and SC Johnson in programs focusing on innovation, leadership development, strategic thinking and business acumen.

From 2013-2017, Devin was Executive Director for Executive Education at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, where he led the area to 220 percent revenue growth with clients such as Amazon, GE, TD Ameritrade and Arkema Chemicals. During his tenure, Johnson at Cornell Executive Education expanded into core verticals including global organizations, industry/trade association collaborations and advisory work for International Universities.

Prior to joining Cornell in February 2013, he served as a Project Director for Duke Corporate Education based in New York and previously London as part of the organization’s joint venture with the London School of Economics since 2008. Devin facilitated the design and development of customized executive education programs. Duke CE was ranked the world’s #1 provider of custom executive education, according to BusinessWeek five consecutive times in their biennial survey (2003-2011). While at Duke CE, Devin worked globally on programs focused on leadership, innovation, marketing, strategy and development for clients including IBM, Google, Norwegian Shipowner’s Association, Honeywell, HSBC, Ingersoll Rand, and The Home Depot.

He is particularly interested in the leadership lessons that executives can learn from the sports environment. With this interest, Devin has written numerous “Business Lessons from Sports” articles for Forbes.com and The Globe and Mail newspaper (Canada) with his co-author, Karl Moore from McGill University.

Before taking the role of project director, Devin was a Program Manager at Duke CE, working from the company’s Durham, NC, office for three years from 2005 to 2008. He was responsible for the design and development, planning, coordination, and successful execution of global client programs, serving as a liaison between clients, faculty, staff and suppliers to ensure a seamless delivery.

Before joining Duke CE, Devin worked in sports marketing as brand manager for Sof Sole, the leading brand of performance footwear accessories in the sport specialty market based in Raleigh, NC. At Sof Sole, Devin was responsible for marketing, public relations, advertising, e-marketing, product development and event sponsorship including new product launch events. Prior to this role, he served as Assistant Athletic Media Relations director at Merrimack College (MA) and Assistant Sports Information Director at the College of Charleston (SC) where he was responsible for public and press relations, game-day operations and event management.

Devin graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BA in Communications. Devin lives in Ithaca, New York with his wife, Celia; son, Cullen and daughter, Charlotte.  He has dual citizenship between the Republic of Ireland and the United States. Outside of work, he is an avid golfer and traveler.

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Denise Bober

Vice President, Human Resources, The Breakers Palm Beach

Denise Bober is the rare executive who ignited her professional passion by enjoining two highly appealing disciplines – human resources (HR) and the hotel business – as the fuel for a successful career. As one of the industry’s premier HR specialists, she remains as highly charged by her responsibilities today as when she first shifted to hospitality from the health care/benefits sector. Her intrinsic respect for people and the desire to put them in a nurturing environment where they can thrive, grow and develop, reflect the employee-centered philosophy of The Breakers Palm Beach, for whom she has worked since 1988.

It is not a surprise that the resort, one of the most financially healthy and thriving hotel companies in the U.S., has designed Human Resources and Finance to have far-reaching influences in each department. There is no question in Bober’s mind that employee fulfillment is the guarantor of guest satisfaction, which directly impacts the bottom line. “Our people are one of our greatest assets and we place a tremendous value on their fulfillment, which drives the resort’s exceptional retention rates,” notes Bober. The Breakers has one of the highest benchmark retention rates in the industry.

This kind of approach has made The Breakers especially unique, not just as a hotel, but as an employer. Bober’s main concern is to attract and cultivate talent, and to motivate and retain employees. Accordingly, she built an aggressive recruiting strategy to build a stable, enduring workforce that supports consistent, first-class service and long-term business objectives. Her mission is to hire good people and then find the best role for them – one that suits their talents and competencies – instead of simply hiring people to fill particular positions.

Bober’s active leadership role extends to the Palm Beach community. She was appointed to the Board of Trustees for Palm Healthcare Foundation (PHF) in January 2014 and currently serves as Vice Chair on its Executive Committee. She also serves on PHF’s Brain Health Advisory Council, and Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Rinker School of Business Advisory Council. From 2007 – 2013 she served on the Board of the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce, and during that time completed a two-year term as the Chamber’s president. She is a member of the Executive Women’s Association of the Palm Beaches, a Member of Global Women 4 Wellbeing and a member of the Global Wellness Institute’s Social Impact Committee.

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Gretta Brooks

CEO & Founder, SalesBoost, LLC

Gretta Brooks, founder and chief executive officer of SalesBoost, LLC, has developed a SaaS-based sales training technology solution for hotels to improve performance and increase results. A long-time techie and hotel executive with a passion for mentoring others, Gretta combined her expertise and passion to develop and obtain the provisional patent for the first voice analysis training system software for the hospitality industry.

A web-based, on-demand sales development tool, SalesBoost, provides unlimited sales and customer service scenario simulation and immediate feedback to improve sales effectiveness. The training is self-paced and designed in a micro-learning format, a learning technique that delivers role-based content in short, easily digestible, segments.

Having trained thousands in hotel sales for over 30 years as an executive with Omni, Hilton, and Aimbridge Hospitality companies, Ms. Brooks developed SalesBoost’s learning and reinforcement model as a solution to the traditionally expensive and often ineffective sales training offered. For more details, visit www.salesboost.com.

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Debbie Brown

Former Vice President of Human Resources- The Americas, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

After forty years with Four Seasons Hotels, Debbie has retired to focus on the next phase of her career, advising hospitality professionals.

During her tenured career with Four Seasons, she held both hotel and regional Human Resource positions before assuming her long-standing role as Vice-President Human Resources, Americas.

Debbie was responsible for overseeing the Human Resources function for the company’s fifty hotels and resorts in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Latin America and Caribbean, as well as the properties currently under development or in conversion within the Americas. Widely recognized as an employer of choice, Four Seasons has been on FORTUNE magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for the past twenty-one years.

“I feel very fortunate that my career with Four Seasons provided me the opportunity to play a central role in the growth and success of the company.”

Debbie is a past member of the University of Denver School of Hospitality Executive Advisory Board, the American Hotel and Lodging Association HR Committee, the Cornell Institute for Hospitality Labor & Employment Relations as well as Washington State HR Executive Roundtable. She is currently on the board of The 5th Avenue Theatre; as well as an adviser to Virginia Mason Hospital on service excellence.

Originally from Minnesota, Debbie graduated from the University of Denver and began her hospitality career with Hyatt Hotels. She is based in Seattle, Washington.

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Finley Cotrone

Assistant Professor, UNLV

Finley Cotrone is a learning and leadership development professional who has lived a life of service for over 20 years. Assistant Professor at The Harrah College of Hospitality at UNLV, Finley is an accomplished facilitator with expertise in leadership and management development, emotional intelligence, service culture development, and leadership coaching.

The areas of leadership and service culture development transcend industry. For this reason, Finley’s resume includes working with both traditional and non-traditional service organizations. Prior to joining UNLV, she traveled the world as one of three Senior Learning Managers with Four Seasons Hotels and Results. Although she supported the culture of service delivery, her main focus was developing leaders and managers to better inspire the service culture.

The years spent with MGM Resorts International broadened her training skill sets to include service and operations, sales, and diversity and leadership education. MGM Resorts is known around the globe as a leader in diversity education. Finley was the first leadership facilitator to be certified in their ground-breaking program, which she facilitated for all levels of supervisory staff from first-time supervisors to C-Suite executives.

The continued growth of the service economy has led Finley to support service delivery in both traditional and non-traditional organizations including a variety of hotels, wineries, restaurant organizations, private clubs, and healthcare entities.

Finley has supported the development of leaders in the public and private sectors working with both for profit and not-for-profit businesses.
She has also had the pleasure of working with international organizational leaders from Australia, China, and South America.

Finley holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, a Master of Science in Educational Psychology, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre. Her unique combination of education, skills, and experience make her a unique coach and learning professional.

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Michael D’Angelo

Vice President of Labor Relations, Hyatt Hotels Corporation

Michael D’Angelo is a labor and employment attorney and vice president of labor relations for Hyatt Hotels Corporation. In this capacity, Michael leads Hyatt’s labor relations function for the Americas Region (US, Canada, Latin and South America) while overseeing the administration of the organization’s collective bargaining relationships and agreements, including the grievance process, arbitrations and litigation. Michael acts as chief spokesperson and negotiation team leader in major labor negotiations with direct oversight of negotiation process. In addition, Michael serves as public relations spokesperson and liaison for media related inquiries and press releases for labor matters and negotiation issues.

Michael is also a Trustee on numerous Taft-Hartley Employee Benefit Funds in New York and Florida, including Health & Welfare, Pension, Training, Scholarship and 401(k) funds.

Michael provides counsel to senior leaders on all labor and employee relations issues, including potential acquisitions, divestitures and new development projects. He also supports the day to day human resource and labor relations teams to achieve desired outcomes, and effectuate strategies that achieve business objectives using a collaborative and integrative approach.

Michael is admitted to practice in New York and before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and U.S. District Courts for the Southern, Eastern and Northern Districts of New York as well as the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.

Specialties: Labor and Management Relations, Collective Bargaining, Employment Law, Employee Benefits Law, Litigation and Arbitration

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Jeff David

Leadership and Innovation Consultant, Jeff David Hospitality

Jeff David, a recipient of Hotelier of the Year, has a pedigree that spans over twenty-five years and is a leader in the industry in opening luxury properties. With the help of pioneer mentors such as Chip Conley (AirBnB) and Scott Case (Priceline/Upside) he has created a company based around the mastering the paradox of balancing human leadership with modern day innovation. His current projects include creating a floating luxury hotel in Miami, a membership based wellness sanctuary in Nashville, and resort with social impact in Haiti. It can be found at www.jeffdavidhospitality.com

Jeff David’s expertise in the hotel start-up space credits him in opening almost $1.5 billion dollars worth of high profile luxury assets in Aspen, Anguilla, Times Square, Nantucket and Washington DC. Best known for having a constant score of over 95% in employee satisfaction, David leverages his business acumen with emotional intelligence.

David helped lead the resurrection of the infamous Watergate Hotel, which closed its doors in 2008. He had  re-opened the historic Knickerbocker Hotel in 2014 on 42nd and Broadway, the address known for being the busiest corner in the world with 60 million pedestrians a year. David spent six years as GM with Viceroy Hotels & Resorts, he was instrumental in opening and operating several properties in the company’s portfolio. During his term as GM of the Viceroy Anguilla, David oversaw the launch and operations of the $550 million flagship property. David also regionally managed the Viceroy Palm Springs in California, and in 2009 led the opening of the Viceroy in Aspen/Snowmass, the companies first ski resort.

David’s experience also includes nine years with Four Seasons’ Hotels & Resorts starting in 1992 at The Regent Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles where he started as a dishwasher while attending UCLA. He was an integral part of the management at Four Seasons, Boston, where he helped achieve the property’s recognition as the only Five-Star, Five-Diamond hotel in New England in 1999. Additionally, David served as the Food and Beverage Director at Rosewood Hotels and Resorts’ Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands.

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Annie Dremstedt

Senior Director of Organizational Development and Learning, HMSHost

Annie Dremstedt is the Senior Director of Organizational Development and Learning for HMSHost, North America.  In her role, she oversees all aspects of guest experience, associate experience and engagement, leadership development and training.  Prior to joining HMSHost in April of 2018, Annie was an HR and Organizational Development consultant for PM Hotel Group and a VP of Human Resources for Interstate Hotels and Resorts.  Annie holds a masters in Organizational Development and Leadership from St. Joseph’s University and a masters in Human Resources from the University of Central Florida.

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Zev Eigen

Founder, Chief Science Officer, Data Scientist, Syndio

Zev J. Eigen is the Founder and Chief Science Officer of Syndio Solutions–the world’s leader in data scientific applications solving modern organizations’ most pressing business problems, focused on diversity and inclusion and closing the gender pay gap.

Dr. Eigen has been at the forefront of cutting edge applications in HR for more than a decade. He combines his uniquely overlapping areas of expertise in labor and employment law with his deep experience in data science, predictive modeling and economic sociological research. He is a nationally recognized expert in these fields appearing in the media frequently (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, NPR, Bloomberg News, Reuters, Chicago Tribune, NBC, CBS, FOX, etc.), and is a frequent speaker on HR Tech and data science and law. Dr. Eigen is invited regularly to lecture and present his work at academic institutions and professional organizations globally.

Dr. Eigen served as full time law professor at Northwestern University School of Law. He was also the Irving S. Ribicoff Visiting Professor of Law at Yale Law School, and held a visiting professorship at NYU Law School, where he is a research fellow. Dr. Eigen is the former Global Director of Data Analytics with Littler Mendelson, and former Senior Counsel, Labor Relations with Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation in Los Angeles, California. He holds a PhD from MIT (’09), a JD from Cornell Law School (’99) and BS from Cornell University (’96).

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Emma Ellsworth

Vice President, UNITE HERE

Emma George Ellsworth started her career as a labor leader and negotiator as a member of the campaign to organize graduate teachers at Yale University while getting her Masters Degrees. Since, she has been part of dozens of organizing campaigns at casinos, hotels, industrial laundries, and university cafeterias across the country. She has negotiated first contracts and successor contracts in a variety of industries including manufacturing, distribution, industrial laundries and the hospitality industry. She currently serves as the Staff Director for the New England Joint Board, a regional affiliate of UNITE HERE in the six New England States and New York where she also oversees the union’s organizing program. Ellsworth believes that labor and management are in a partnership that works most effectively when both parties believe in and embrace the goals and ambitions of the other. She was elected as a Vice President of Unite Here International Union in 2011. She lives in Orange, Massachusetts with her husband Tom and enjoys the outdoors.

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Gerry Fernandez

As President and Founder of MFHA – an educational non- profit organization that makes the business case for developing cultural intelligence in the workplace- Gerry has spent decades educating and advocating for the business benefits of cultural diversity and inclusion in the foodservice & hospitality industry. An engagingly energetic Speaker who practices “straight talk”, he travels across the US and internationally, bringing authentic perspective on building Cultural Intelligence that raises the topline, improves the bottom-line, and builds brands’ cultural authenticity. Gerry was named to Nation’s Restaurant News 2018 Power List of the 50 Most Influential People in Foodservice, “the definitive list of industry leaders who are not only setting trends today, but also shaping them for tomorrow”.

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Leslie Ferrier

Vice President of Human Resources, Momofuku

Leslie Ferrier began her hospitality career with Hilton Hotels Corporation in their management development program.  Recruited on campus from Johnson & Wales University, she worked in HR leadership roles for the Capitol Hilton, McLean Hilton, Fontainebleau, Rye Town & Pittsburgh Hilton Hotels.  With Loews Corporation, she was on the opening teams for the Loews House of Blues, Chicago, the Loews Miami Beach and the Loews Porto Fino Bay Hotel in Universal Studios.  She has served as Corporate Director of HR for Linens n Things, as well as, VP of HR for both ABC Carpet & Home and Aerosoles shoes.  Leslie was the founding HR leader for TxVia, a high tech start up, which sold to Google.  At Atlantic Coast Media Group, Leslie was the VP of Talent Acquisition & Development where she was nominated as one of New Jersey’s top women in business.  That same year, ACMG won fastest growing company in NJ.  During this period, she also served on the Board of Directors for Liberty Humane Society in Jersey City, NJ turning a faltering shelter into a lifesaving example of urban rescue.  As the Head of HR for Le Pain Quotidien, she opened 15 new restaurants and was responsible for 3500 employees in 90 restaurants over 8 states.  Leslie has been a featured Panelist with Bloomberg, Cornell University, the LEAPHR Conference & the Women’s FAB conference in Charleston, SC to name a few.  She is currently the Vice President of Human Resources for Momofuku reporting directly to world renowned chefs, David Chang, Christina Tosi and Momofuku’s President, Alex Munoz-Suarez.

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Peter Fischer

Partner, BakerHostetler

Peter Fischer is a labor and employment litigator focusing on the hospitality and food service industries. He provides strategic advice to owners and management companies nationwide on the prevention of employment litigation, regulatory compliance and labor relations. Peter gives his clients practical, preventive advice to help decision-makers in key aspects of employee relations avoid disputes before they become larger concerns.

Peter helps employers and owners devise successful labor strategies and negotiate complex union agreements, and when disputes arise, he routinely represents management interests before the National Labor Relations Board, the EEOC and federal courts around the United States.

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Laura FitzRandolph

Executive Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, HMSHost Corporation

Laura E. FitzRandolph is Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for global restaurateur HMSHost, a world leader in creating dining for travel venues. Laura is responsible for overseeing all HR functions including associate and labor relations, talent acquisition and development, and total rewards for HMSHost’s 31,000+ associates across North America.

Laura joined HMSHost from global hotel management company Interstate Hotels & Resorts, where she was most recently EVP, Chief Human Resources Officer. Laura joined Interstate in 2006 and held roles focusing on talent acquisition, development and learning, compensation and benefits, associate and labor relations, and employment legal matters.

Prior to joining Interstate, Laura was Counsel in the labor and employment group of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. Laura is a former Deputy Director of Correspondence in the White House Office of Scheduling and Advance, and served on the staff of United States Senator Alan Cranston.

Laura holds a B.A. in Political Science and Mass Communications from the University of California, Berkley, and a J.D. from The George Washington University Law School. She has been a panelist and speaker for hospitality conferences including Georgetown Lodging Summit, HR in Hospitality, and the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS).

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Luke Fryer

Founder, Harri

For Luke, the road to founding Harri has been a long one, paved by a spirit of entrepreneurship and willingness to dive head first into new ventures. With over 25 restaurants between Australia and NYC, Luke’s first foray into the food industry was at the age of 22, when he opened the first Burger King franchise in Australia. From there, his success in the category grew. In 2002, he secured the Australian franchise rights for the wagamama Noodle Bar and, under his leadership, it was listed as one of Australia’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies for 3 consecutive years. With his primary base of operations now in New York since 2007, he dived head-first into developing restaurants in the world’s most competitive market and saw a great opportunity for technological disruption along the way. Now, with this extensive experience guiding him, he has developed Harri to solve the hospitality industry’s greatest challenges: finding, hiring and managing great talent.

Harri is an entirely new kind of software platform for HR and operations: Workforce OS. Broad in scope, narrow in vertical focus and deep in rich, industry-specific functionality as a result. Harri consolidates up to 30 fragmented point solutions into single, elegant, mobile first enterprise platform and massively streamlines the chore of daily operational challenges faced by employees, line managers and executives alike.

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Rick Garlick

VP, Strategy Consultant, Magid

Nationally recognized subject matter expert in the areas of brand alignment, employee engagement, and customer experience and loyalty. Primary focus in the hospitality sector but also experienced in the financial services, entertainment, retail, utilities, and manufacturing sectors. Best talent is the ability to communicate complex information into specific recommendations to inform business strategy. Recently inducted into the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC).

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Aaron Gelb

Aaron R. Gelb is a partner in Conn Maciel Carey’s Chicago office. He specializes in labor and employment, and OSHA litigation. Mr. Gelb represents employers in all aspects of the employer- employee relationship. He has extensive experience litigating equal employment opportunity matters in federal and state courts having tried a number of cases to verdict and defending employers before the EEOC as well as fair employment agencies across the country; in the past 5 years alone, Aaron has successfully handled more than 250 discrimination charges. Aaron also has a particular emphasis on advising and representing clients in relation to inspections, investigations, and enforcement actions involving federal OSHA and state OSH programs, and managing a full range of litigation against OSHA.

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Alexander (Sandy) Gentles

Senior Director, Talent Point by Marriott

More than seventeen years of expertise in strategic management, business process reengineering, program/project management organizational change and business development. Regularly leads planning and execution of complex strategic solutions across a variety of functional areas. Strong foundation in business analysis and an understanding of operational challenges resulting from new strategies. Extensive experience in the high tech, hospitality, media and government industries with consistent delivery of significant business value and sales on mission critical projects.

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Gregg Gilman

Partner and Co-Chair of Labor & Employment Practice Group, Davis & Gilbert LLP

Gregg A. Gilman is co-chair of the Labor & Employment Practice Group at Davis & Gilbert. He advises employers on all workplace-related matters. A significant portion of his practice is devoted to various labor and personnel issues, including wage and hour issues, preventive management, terminations, reductions in force, disciplinary measures, restrictive covenants, employment and termination agreements, executive compensation, harassment investigations, OFCCP compliance and employment policies.

A primary focus of his practice is minimizing liability by establishing and implementing state-of-the-art policies and procedures for clients. When disputes arise and cannot be resolved, Gregg represents his clients in state and federal courts and before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and state and local employment rights agencies in race, sex, age, disability and other discrimination cases, as well as all other employment litigation. He has negotiated collective bargaining agreements in the music, restaurant, social services, coal mining equipment and numerous other industries. For over 25 years, he has been the lead employer negotiator for the Single Engagement Club Date Agreement with Local 802 AFM. Gregg also represents employers before the National Labor Relations Board. Mr. Gilman is the creator of Respect in the Workplace, an interactive training seminar on preventive management, including sexual harassment and workplace sensitivity training.

Gregg also co-heads Davis & Gilbert’s Hospitality Practice Group, and he advises the firm’s hospitality clients on unique employment, labor, joint employer, and wage and hour issues that hospitality employers face. He served on the advisory Board of Cornell University’s Center for Hospitality Research, and currently serves on the Board for the CIHLER and Hospitality Law. He is also a regularly featured speaker at the Annual National HR in Hospitality Conference as well as CIHLER Labor and Employment Law Roundtables.

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Keith Grossman

With extensive experience in labor and employment law and in the hospitality industry, Keith Grossman is an entrepreneurial legal executive known for leading enterprise-wide efforts to facilitate growth and manage risk across global operations.

A partner at Hirschfeld Kraemer, Keith brings an informed strategic perspective on crisis management, client needs, business priorities and budgetary realities. His practice is focused on the full panoply of employment and labor law, including collective bargaining, employment litigation, internal investigations, training, and crisis management. Keith also offers employment counseling and workplace violence prevention program development and administration. He draws from 30 years of experience, both in-house and in private practice, to help clients develop strategies, programs, and approaches to prevent or mitigate risk, and to solve pressing workplace issues.

Business growth is part of Keith’s legal DNA, a trait he nurtured over 17 years as Senior Vice President & Deputy General Counsel of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. In that role, he confronted a full range of global legal issues, from counter-terrorism, natural disasters, diseases, and human trafficking to business expansion to global litigation, employment law, crisis management and response, labor relations, international and domestic investigations, workplace violence prevention, and government affairs. Keith was instrumental in developing Starwood’s global crisis management program after 9/11; he led the company’s worldwide safety and security operations, including counter-terrorism planning. He also led a team and developed the legal strategy that enabled Starwood to obtain the first Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) license to sign the first development deals and open the first U.S.-branded hotel in an embargoed Cuba. Keith was a founding member of Starwood’s Corporate Diversity Council and Human Rights Council, and he developed and chaired the company’s Workplace Violence Prevention Team.

“I was a client for more than 17 years and understand the need for responsiveness — and the need to provide a direct answer or opinion,” Keith says. “Too many lawyers equivocate, and while there are times when a client needs to hear multiple options, there are also times when clients want to know what I would do, based on my experience and expertise.”

“Client service comes naturally to me,” Keith states. “Availability and responsiveness are obviously critical components to good client service, and I have been shocked by how many lawyers fail to appreciate or accept this need for urgency. That’s one of the primary reasons I chose to make my new home at Hirschfeld Kraemer—because they get it when it comes to effectuating the client’s business goals.”

The ability to play it straight – and fast — is important, especially today, when outside factors can accelerate quickly. “I worked in a 24-7 global company and ran our Crisis Management Team,” Keith says. “When there is an actual or potential crisis or emergency, we need to be available. With the speed, breadth, and impact of social media, injury to brand or corporate goodwill can happen instantaneously, either from a failure to respond or a mis-step.”

Keith was a Trustee on the UNITE-HERE National Retirement Fund (NRF), a $2B Taft-Hartley pension fund, and a member of its Spin Committee. After a spin-off of assets and liabilities by the NRF, Keith became a consultant to the newly-formed UNITE-HERE Retirement Fund. Keith is also Chair of the Board of REACH Prep, a Stamford, Connecticut-based organization dedicated to facilitating top independent school opportunities, and admission to and graduation from highly competitive colleges, for gifted and economically challenged Latino and Black students.

Keith says that after a career focused on growing and protecting one company, he is thrilled to bring that expertise to his clients and those of Hirschfeld Kraemer.

A very family-oriented person, Keith enjoys traveling and spending quality time with his wife and two grown children. Having traveled to Cuba more than a dozen times, he remains enamored with the beauty, art, music, food, and architecture of the country as well as the incredible warmth and spirit of the Cuban people. Keith also is passionate about wine, good food, and sports (especially New York Giants football). A history buff, Keith enjoys reading non-fiction and is drawn particularly to the history of the American Civil War, and has toured most of the major battlefields of that conflict.

J.D., New York University School of Law, 1987
B.A., Tufts University, 1984, magna cum laude

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Ilse Harley

Las Vegas is a city of many pursuits and a diverse collection of travellers. Some come to enjoy the destination’s premier attractions, dining and entertainment, while others attend to business, corporate events and citywide conventions. It is precisely that mix that attracted Regional Vice President and General Manager Ilse Harley to accept the position at the helm of Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas.

“This role combines my expertise with both urban and resort properties, with a Hotel offering attributes of each in a market unlike any other in the United States,” says Harley. “Las Vegas is a dynamic city with some of the west’s most diverse dining, entertainment and attractions. Four Seasons is positioned to offer the ‘best of both worlds’ experience to our guests, with a premier location on the famed Las Vegas Strip, coupled with a resort-like, non-gaming setting.”

Harley’s Four Seasons hospitality career has taken her far and wide. Following her start in Boston in 1988, she was on the opening team in Maui and then left the company for a spell before returning in Atlanta. She rose on the rooms side – “food and beverage is fun and creative, but I’ve always liked rooms because that’s what really makes the money” – through New York and then back to Hawaii again.

When she landed as General Manager in Seattle in 2011, Harley was one of only five women in the top management position in the company at the time. She didn’t think that was a big deal, but she sure turned out to be, overseeing a transformation of the Hotel’s signature restaurant and leading the property to the first-and-only Forbes Five-Star hotel rating in the state of Washington – a ranking that still stands. “I’ve always credited the team for that,” she says. “They acted on what guests told us, challenged themselves to be rated, and were super-charged in delivering the experience.”

Harley arrives in Las Vegas most recently from Baltimore, and prior to that, Anguilla, where she led a successful resort reflagging by emphasising exceptional service. The employees were able to adapt to Four Seasons culture very seamlessly, she remembers. “They not only embraced our standards, but they really enjoyed delivering the experience. That’s a recipe for success.”

Whatever the location, Harley’s management style is about encouraging employees to be themselves. There are hundreds of interactions at any moment at a hotel, she says, and managers can’t be the end-user in every situation. “So we give employees the tools, get them comfortable and confident, and then trust them to do the right thing.” Indeed, Harley believes her success was the result of managers giving her autonomy right out of the gate. “I believe very strongly that’s the way to instill confidence. People make mistakes. But letting them make and then correct them is the best way for them to learn.”

During her time in Baltimore, Harley was promoted to Regional Vice President, a role she maintains in Las Vegas. In this capacity, Harley lends guidance and support to managers of other Four Seasons properties including Miami, St. Louis, Baltimore and Atlanta, as well as acts as a conduit to the corporate office in Toronto. “We’re constantly examining new policies and procedures for what works and what doesn’t, making sure our talent has oversight and avenues to develop.”

Harley credits “a really great family situation” for her long-running success with Four Seasons, including and especially her husband Matt, who has long been confident and comfortable as primary caregiver for their son Sam. “Matt’s partnership has allowed me to be successful in a profession that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I am very fortunate.”

In Las Vegas, Harley is excited for the challenge of managing a fast-paced property catering to both business travellers and guests at leisure. She also looks forward to pursuing her love of adventure and the outdoors with her family, exploring the many natural wonders available within close proximity to the city.

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Seth Harris

Attorney, Seth Harris Law

Seth D. Harris is an attorney in Washington, D.C. and a Visiting Professor at Cornell University’s Institute for Public Affairs. Building on almost seven years of service in the Clinton Administration, he was Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor (and a member of President Obama’s Cabinet) and Deputy U.S. Secretary of Labor from 2009 to 2014. Now, Secretary Harris is one of the nation’s most sought-after analysts and commentators on work, workers, workplaces, and labor market issues, and a leading expert on labor and employment law and policy and retirement policy. Secretary Harris brings decades of experience as a teacher and scholar, attorney and advisor, corporate board member, and policymaker at the highest levels of the U.S. Government. He has co-authored three books, including Labor and Employment Law & Economics, and authored dozens of scholarly articles and op-eds on labor, employment, retirement, and economics topics. Secretary Harris earned a bachelor of science degree with honors from Cornell University’s School of Industrial & Labor Relations and a juris doctor with honors from New York University’s School of Law, where he was an Order of the Coif member and the Review of Law & Social Change’s editor-in-chief.

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Barry Hartstein

Shareholder, Co-Chair, EEO and Diversity Practice, Littler

Barry Hartstein has earned a national reputation for a career that includes more than 35 years of counseling and representing employers in a broad range of labor and employment matters and serves as co-chair of Littler’s EEO & Diversity Practice Group. He is a frequent writer, commentator and lecturer on workplace issues. He also has extensive experience as a litigator and has defended employers nationwide in individual and class action claims.  He has particular expertise dealing with the EEOC on both a local and national level, which has included being invited by the Chair of the EEOC to address the Commission on EEO-related issues on behalf of the employer bar.

Barry serves in numerous leadership roles at Cornell University. He currently serves as one of the Vice Chairs of the Cornell University Council; the Council recognizes Cornell Alumni who have demonstrated strong leadership and service to the community, their profession and to Cornell. Barry is on the Advisory Board of The Cornell Institute for Hospitality Labor and Employment Relations. Barry also has served in numerous leadership roles at the Cornell ILR School.  Founded as the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, the ILR School today is the world’s leading college focused on work, employment and labor issues. In addition to previously serving  on the Dean’s Advisory Council and President of the Alumni Association, he currently serves on the Board of  the ILR School’s Scheinman Institute, which is the first institute exclusively focused on the study and practice of workplace dispute resolution.

Barry has served for many years in a national leadership role for the American Bar Association in its section devoted to labor and employment law focusing on EEO issues, including previously serving as Management Co-Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee. In this role, he has worked closely with various chairs and other members of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, aside from serving as a liaison between the Chicago bar and the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, facilitating communication between members of the bar and the EEOC on both a local and national level.

Prior to joining Littler, Barry was the managing partner of the Chicago office of a major AM Law 100 Firm, where he also served as Chicago practice leader for the firm’s labor and employment practice.

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Morgan Hayduk

Manager of Marketing Partnerships, ZipRecruiter

As ZipRecruiter’s Manager of Marketing Partnerships, Morgan Hayduk drives the company’s marketing partnership strategy and leads efforts across enterprise demand generation.  Now the leading online employment marketplace, Hayduk helps power ZipRecruiter’s mission to actively connect job seekers and employers with their next great opportunity.  Hayduk joined ZipRecruiter from the LA Clippers and before that had a career in Canadian politics, holding senior public affairs roles at telecommunications giant TELUS and at leading boutique government relations firm Crestview Strategy.  Hayduk has an MBA from Trinity Western University.

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Jennifer Hooper

Vice President, Human Resources, TAO Group

Jen Hooper is the Vice President of Human Resources for TAO Group, a leading hospitality company that develops, owns and operates many of the world’s most successful food, beverage and nightlife entertainment venues. TAO Group boasts operations in New York City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Singapore and Sydney, Australia.


In her role, the Las Vegas resident oversees more than 6,000 staff across more than 30 venues in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Chicago.  She became the first female Vice President of TAO Group in 2017 after joining the company as Director of HR for the Las Vegas properties in 2009 and continued growing her role and her team, taking on responsibilities for the New York venues and then Los Angeles and Chicago as TAO Group expanded into new markets.


As VP of Human Resources, Hooper oversees hiring, managing benefits, ensuring internal guests are taken care of and training and developing her team of HR professionals across the country.  She spends time coaching and counseling employees and staying up to date on the hot topics in the industry and the always changing regulations and state specific laws across TAO Group’s geographic markets.


The Chicago native began her career as a recruiter for a law firm before moving to Florida, for her first foray into hospitality as a HR and Training consultant for luxury resorts.  The job took her to Las Vegas for a two-week project that was extended, and she ended up loving the city. She was hired as Director of HR with Charlie Palmer’s restaurant group and was later recruited to join TAO Group’s Las Vegas office.


In 2018 she was named to Greenspun Media’s 40 Under 40 list, which celebrates young Southern Nevada executives making a different professionally and in the community.  Hooper is very involved with TAO Group Cares, the charitable arm of the company, helping to mobilize staff to contribute to causes near and dear to the employees.



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Jim Houran

Managing Director, Aethos Consulting Group

Dr. Jim Houran, Managing Director at AETHOS Consulting Group, is a 25-year veteran in applied psychological research and a published expert on peak performance, online testing and interpersonal and organizational compatibility. He has authored over 100 articles, and his award-winning work has been profiled by a myriad of media outlets and programs including the Discovery Channel, A&E, BBC, National Geographic, NBC’s Today Show, USA Today, New Scientist, Psychology Today and Forbes.com. He is on the Editorial Board of the APA journal – Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research & Practice and also serves as Research Professor in the Laboratory for Statistics and Computation, ISLA – Instituto Politécnico de Gestão e Tecnologia.

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Wei-Ling Huber

President, Local 2850, UNITE-HERE

A lifelong activist for justice, Wei-Ling Huber has worked to improve and expand economic opportunities for Alameda County workers since 1995 through her work with UNITE HERE 2850, the East Bay hospitality workers union. She has been a President of UNITE HERE Local 2850 since 2006 and a General Vice President of her international union since 2014. Wei-Ling leads a local union that represents nearly 3,000 East Bay workers, including hotel housekeepers, banquet and cafeteria workers, cooks, dishwashers and Airport and Stadium concession workers. Generally, hospitality and food service workers receive very low wages with no healthcare or other benefits. But through her union’s steadfast commitment to grassroots organizing, leadership development and direct action, workers represented by her union have seen substantial gains in working conditions and compensation. Moreover, over the past several years their membership has grown. Wei-Ling and her union have not limited their advocacy to union members alone. They have also been involved in many efforts to win living wage, minimum wage and sick leave policies throughout the East Bay and have engaged in multiple campaigns to win back pay for non-union workers experiencing wage theft at work. Wei-Ling Huber was chosen by the Alameda Labor Council to be the Unionist of the Year in 2011, was inducted into the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame in 2011, and was honored by the Alameda Chapter of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance in 2015.

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Rick Hurd

Professor of Labor Studies Emeritus, ILR School, Cornell University

Richard W. Hurd is Professor of Labor Studies Emeritus at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR). As a specialist on trade union strategy, he has been quoted widely in the national and international print and broadcast media on various labor issues. Hurd is co-editor of four scholarly books: International Handbook on Labour Unions, Rekindling the Movement, Organizing to Win, and Restoring the Promise of American Labor Law. His academic journal publications include, “Moving Beyond the Critical Synthesis: Does the Law Preclude a Future for U.S. Unions?,” “First Contract Arbitration and the Employee Free Choice Act: Multi-jurisdictional Evidence from Canada,” “Beyond Labor’s Brawl – Strategic Conundrums Await,” and “Neutrality Agreements: Innovative, Controversial and Labor’s Hope for the Future.” Hurd earned his Ph.D. in economics from Vanderbilt University, and is a former Brookings Institution economic policy fellow.

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Harry Johnson

Harry I. Johnson, III serves clients as a management-side defense lawyer, with experience in both class action defense and traditional labor matters before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and federal courts. Harry practices across the entire traditional union/labor field, including in NLRB unfair labor practice and representation proceedings, union representation campaigns, union corporate campaigns, labor arbitrations, collective bargaining, labor-management relations, labor-related advice for mergers and acquisitions, and federal and state labor injunction cases, with additional experience in anti-union discrimination/coercion and successorship issues.

Harry has experience in California litigation and federal wage-hour cases and related wage-hour compliance counseling. He has regularly defended clients in complex wage-hour class and collective action litigation under both California and federal law, with prior experience in more than 40 such cases. Harry also provides compliance and auditing advice to businesses operating under California’s complex statutory requirements to reduce or eliminate his clients’ exposure related to pay and working hours.

In the area of discrimination law, Harry advises employers on issues that include disparate impact and treatment claims of racial, sexual, age, national origin, disability, and sexual orientation discrimination; harassment claims and investigations; retaliation claims; and disability accommodation and leaves. Harry has also counseled clients concerning enforceable employment arbitration policies, family and other protected leaves, handbook review, employee competition issues, plant closings, employee/labor aspects of mergers and acquisitions, layoffs, and employment contract drafting and claims.

Harry joined Morgan Lewis following a two-year appointment at the NLRB (2013–2015). While at the NLRB, Harry was involved with making many novel changes in the law, as well as issuing a substantial number of complex cases, including the re-decision of more than 100 cases after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Noel Canning (which invalidated the prior recess-appointed NLRB and all its decisions).

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Tracey Kalimeris

Vice President, Talent & Culture, AccorHotels

Tracey Kalimeris is a senior human resource leader with a passion for the hospitality industry.  She has held senior leadership roles both within hotel operations and at the corporate level.  In addition to her work in the industry, she spent several years in the education sector as a Professor of Human Resources.

In her current role as Vice President, Talent & Culture, Tracey provides strategic direction and has oversight of hotel human resource activities for properties within the AccorHotels portfolio throughout North & Central America.

Tracey holds a Masters of Business Administration from Royal Roads University, British Columbia and is recognized as a Certified Human Resource Leader with the Canadian Human Resource Professional Association.

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Harry Katz

Professor, Director of Scheinman Institute, ILR School, Cornell University

Harry C. Katz, Ph.D. is the Jack Sheinkman Professor at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR). He received his PhD in economics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1977. From 1977 to 1985, Katz was a faculty member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 1985, he joined the ILR School faculty, and served as the Kenneth F. Kahn Dean of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations from 2005 to 2015. He served as interim provost of the university in 2014, a post he held until the appointment of the current provost. His major publications include the following: Converging Divergences: Worldwide Changes in Employment Systems (with Owen Darbishire); Shifting Gears: Changing Labor Relations in the U.S. Automobile Industry; The Transformation of American Industrial Relations (with Thomas Kochan and Robert McKersie); and Telecommunications: Restructuring of Work and Employment Relations World-wide. Katz was awarded the Terry Book Award in 1988 for The Transformation of American Industrial Relations—considered as the most significant contribution to the field of management by the Academy of Management. Since 2006, Katz has been a member of the United Auto Workers (UAW) Public Review Board.

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Alex Koch

Corporate Vice President of Development, Eureka Casinos

Alexander Koch is the Corporate Vice President of Development for Eureka Casinos, a company that operates resorts and casinos in Nevada and New Hampshire. Eureka is a core values-centric company that works to be the employer of choice and an innovative community leader in every city it operates.

Alex was critical in the move to make Eureka the first 100% Employee-Owned (ESOP) casino company in the State of Nevada in 2015 (second in the country. The culture Alex promotes and the bet on employee-ownership paid off when Fortune Magazine named Eureka one of the Top 100 Medium Workplaces in America for 2018-2019.

Alex graduated from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration in 2004. He began his career working for Golden Nugget Gaming where he assisted in the sale to Landry’s Restaurants in 2005. He then did work for real estate developers and consultants before joining Las Vegas Sands (LVS) as US Director of Financial Planning & Analysis. Alex joined Eureka in 2009 as Director of Analysis & Administration and grew his roles and accountabilities over the last decade.

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Tom Kochan

Professor, Sloan School of Management, MIT

Thomas A. Kochan is the George M. Bunker Professor of Work and Employment Relations at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Co-Director of the MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research, and was Chair of the MIT Faculty from 2009 to 2011. He received his Ph.D. in Industrial Relations from the University of Wisconsin in 1973.  He is past president of the Industrial Relations Research Association and the International Industrial Relations Association.  Among his recent books are:  Restoring the American Dream:  A Working Families Agenda for America (2005) and Labor Relations in Emerging Economies (2015) (with Harry Katz and Alex Colvin) and Shaping the Future of Work:  A Handbook for Action and a New Social Contract (2017) (with Lee Dyer).

His teaching on-campus and on-line teaching focuses on actions needed by individuals, employers, government, labor organizations, and educators to shape the future of work in ways that  help heal the divides in society and build a more inclusive economy and broadly shared prosperity.

He is a member of the National Academy of Human Resources and the National Academy of Arbitrators and is a Fellow of the Labor and Employment Relations Associations.

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Dana Kravetz

Managing Partner, Michelman & Robinson

Dana A. Kravetz is M&R’s Firm Managing Partner. He is also Chair of the firm’s Hospitality Industry Group, having a practice that focuses on the representation of hotel and restaurant management.

In his role as Firm Managing Partner, Dana oversees a complex and thriving business spread across five offices nationwide. He brings a unique vantage point to his work as a lawyer—that of a business owner/operator—which enables him to assign practical applications to employment issues confronting M&R’s client base. Likewise, given that he runs a firm with offices in multiple jurisdictions, Kravetz has firsthand knowledge as to how best to manage off-site employees, as well as a keen understanding of the interplay between state and federal laws, all of which insures to the benefit of M&R’s industry clientele.

It is his approach to cases as a business owner/operator that makes Kravetz’s defense of clients in various employment matters—discrimination, wrongful termination, whistleblower and class action litigation, sexual harassment prevention, workforce reduction, hiring best practices, and wage and hour issues—a cut above and beyond routine. And unlike other experienced labor and employment practitioners, Kravetz’s fluency in disputes involving the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is enhanced by virtue of his management expertise. The same can be said of his work with companies facing Department of Labor (DOL) and Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) claims and audits.

In addition to the foregoing, Kravetz advises and litigates on behalf of clients in connection with executive employment contract disputes; independent contractor and misclassification issues; and non-competition, separation, and non-disclosure agreements. He also handles workplace training, investigations, and compliance.

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Tashlin Lakhani

Assistant Professor of Management and Human Resources, Max M. Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University

Tashlin Lakhani is an Assistant Professor of Management and Human Resources at the Max M. Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University. She received her Ph.D. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University. She also holds a Master of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University, a Master of Industrial Relations from Queen’s University, and an Honors Bachelor of Business Administration with High Distinction from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Dr. Lakhani’s research explores the relationship between different forms of economic organization and work organization. Her current work focuses on franchise businesses and examines how differences in ownership structures shape human resource systems and outcomes in the hotel and restaurant industries. She has also published research on human resource management in global networks, and on labor-management relations.

Dr. Lakhani has received several awards and grants for her research, including a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship, a Society for Human Resource Management Dissertation Grant, the Seidman Prize at Cornell University, and the Susan C. Eaton Grant from the Labor and Employment Relations Association.

Dr. Lakhani teaches courses on labor relations and collective bargaining, international human resource management, and franchising.

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Michael Lebowich

Partner, Prosauker

Michael Lebowich is a partner in Proskauer’s labor and employment law department and co-head of the labor-management relations group. He represents and counsels employers on a wide range of labor and employment matters, with a particular interest in the field of traditional labor law.

Michael acts as the primary spokesperson in collective bargaining negotiations, regularly handles grievance arbitrations, assists clients in the labor implications of corporate transactions, and counsels clients on union organizing issues, strike preparation, and day-to-day contract administration issues. He also has significant experience in representation and unfair labor practice matters before the National Labor Relations Board.

His broad employment law experience includes handling of race, national origin, gender, and other discrimination matters in state and federal court. A significant amount of his practice is devoted to counseling clients regarding the application and practical impact of the full range of employment laws that affect employers, including all local, state, and federal employment discrimination statutes, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and state labor laws.

Michael has substantial experience in a wide variety of industries, including entertainment, broadcasting, newspaper publishing and delivery, utilities, and lodging. He represents such clients as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Daily News, ABC, the New York City Ballet, the New York City Opera, the ASPCA, Pacific Gas and Electric, Host Hotels and Resorts, and The Broadway League (as well as many of its theater owner and producing members). Michael also has significant public sector experience representing, among others, the City of New York and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Michael has regularly guest lectured at Columbia Business School, the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, the New York University Tisch School for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management, and is a board member of the Cornell School of Industrial & Labor Relations Alumni Association.

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Diana Lerma

Shareholder, COO, Stokes Wagner

On countless occasions, we have come across the valet, bellhop, or housekeeper who tirelessly worked her way up to General Manager or higher. The hospitality industry is truly one full of opportunity for dedicated talent. So, it is only fitting that I have found myself representing such a rewarding industry. I am a first-generation MexicanAmerican and the daughter of a back-hoe operator. English is my second language and I am the first person in my family to attend graduate school.
I realized what I had accomplished when my dad came to my first trial several years ago, and his eyes watered with pride. Although my background may be unconventional, it is well-suited to serve the growing hospitality industry. I understand that opportunity yields rewards, but only through a balance of hard work, honesty, discipline and dedication. When partnering with my clients, I apply all of these traits to achieve their goals. The results speak for themselves. Even when I am not on-the-clock representing my clients, I seem to find myself in the hospitality industry. I am a passionate foodie who frequently travels the globe. And while Los Angeles is home for me, I frequently spend time with my growing “family” of clients all over the country.

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Dave McKlveen

VP of People and Culture, CAVA

Dave McKlveen is a human resources management professional with over twenty years of experience in recruitment, HR, employment branding/marketing, and team leadership with global, corporate and educational organizations. His own personable and charismatic brand allows him to partner with colleagues and clients in identifying, coaching, and developing future leaders at all levels. He has built national and international teams which have been successful at supporting rapid growth and expansion in established and new markets. Dave recognizes the value of partnering with senior leadership to create a thriving people culture and sense of community with a clear vision consistent with corporate goals and brand strategies. He carries that commitment to community outside of the office and is an active community leader with various non-profit and community service organizations. As VP of People + Culture with CAVA, Dave is leading their national expansion efforts with a dynamic people first strategy including industry leading pay and benefits, enhanced technology and a commitment to develop future leaders at all levels.

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Elizabeth McRee

Partner, Jones Day

Liz McRee has more than 15 years of experience representing corporate clients in class action and complex employment litigation in state and federal courts across the country. She handles cases arising under state and federal wage and hour and antidiscrimination laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Liz has extensive experience in wage and hour matters and has a strong record of defeating certification in class and collective actions.

In addition to representing employers in litigation, Liz advises corporate clients on a variety of labor and employment issues, including employee handbooks and alternative dispute resolution policies, investigations, counseling and discipline, wage and hour compliance, and covenants not to compete. She also has substantial experience advising clients on independent contractor classification issues and joint employment risk mitigation.

Liz is a frequent speaker on class action and employment law topics. She is a former vice chair and chair of The Chicago Bar Association Labor & Employment Committee. She has been recognized for her work and recommended in The Legal 500. Liz is active in the Chicago community and serves on the executive committee of the board of directors of Family Focus, a nonprofit that promotes the well-being of children from birth by supporting and strengthening families in and with their communities.

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Robert Mellwig

Senior Vice President, Really Cool People, CoralTree Hospitality Group

Robert serves as Senior Vice President, Really Cool People (Human Resources) for CoralTree Hospitality Group, as he did previously with Two Roads Hospitality.  Robert joined Destination Hotels in March 2004 as Director of Recruitment & Organizational Development and was later promoted to Vice President, Human Resources for Destination Hotels in 2006, a position he held until January 2009 when he accepted responsibility for the entirety of the HR function for all hospitality and non-hospitality related businesses for Two Roads Hospitality and LOWE.  Prior to joining Destination Hotels, Robert held corporate staffing responsibility at the home office with Starwood Hotels & resorts and held prior field HR responsibility within the W Hotel Group.  Robert’s HR career began with Hilton Hotels Corporation where he held various HR and training posts in the Southern California resorts and AAA Five Diamond Hilton at Short Hills in New Jersey.  Robert has been an active member of SHRM since 1997 and has held his SPHR credential since 1999.  Mellwig holds a B.S. in Hospitality Management from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.  Lowe Enterprises is a multi billion dollar real estate company based on Brentwood, CA and is the parent company of Destination Hotels & Resorts based in Denver, CO.  Robert recently was a speaker at the National Society of Human Resources Management meeting in 2011 and is featured on upcoming SHRM videos on “We Know Next”, a SHRM public relations initiative.  An annual speaker on the Cornell University Hospitality Executive Roundtable and speaker at the HR in Hospitality Conference.  Robert has been published in HR Magazine and was featured in at the Best Practice Institute in January 2012.

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Amanda Miller

Director of Corporate Programs, eCornell

Amanda Miller has been working with global organizations for over 22 years to drive performance of their most important asset – their employees.  Before joining eCornell, Amanda held positions with the New York Stock Exchange, Skillsoft and Saba Software.  Amanda’s expertise is aligning the necessary development programs to the strategic goals for organizations.  At eCornell, Amanda partners with organizations to align and deploy online training programs that drive success for both the organization and individual participants.  For the past 3.5 years, she has worked closely with several international hospitality organizations such as Marriott International, Hilton World, Accor, Scandic Hotels, Melia Hotels, Belmond and glh Hotels.  Amanda lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and two children.

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Cathy Miller

Partner, Akerman

For nearly 20 years, Cathy Miller has represented employers across the country in state and federal courts and in arbitrations, as well as before federal and state administrative bodies, in employment matters ranging from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the National Labor Relations Act. A significant portion of her practice involves handling these disputes, as well as providing employment counselling, on behalf of restaurant companies. Cathy is well-versed in arbitration and the Federal Arbitration Act and regularly advises clients on the subject. She also counsels clients regarding recent changes in employment laws, working to ensure company compliance with handbooks, policies and procedures. Cathy also provides training on employment-related issues such as sexual harassment and arbitration.

Cathy attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she earned both her BA and JD.

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Ron Mitchell

Ron Mitchell is the CEO of Virgil Holdings Inc. (VHI).  VHI owns and operates technology-enabled human capital solutions, including Hcareers, the leading talent recruitment platform in the hospitality industry and Virgil Careers, a career assessment and analytics platform.  Over the past 15 years, Ron has built and managed technology-enabled consumer and enterprise businesses focused on career placement & professional development, which have assisted millions of professionals and job seekers.  Prior to his work in the careers space, Ron was a General Partner of Provender Capital Group, a $150 million growth equity fund making principal investments in the areas of media, FinTech and retail.  His professional experience also includes Morgan Stanley and McKinsey & Co.  Ron earned his AB from Harvard University and MBA from the Harvard Business School where he served as President of his class.  Ron serves as an Elected Director of the Harvard Alumni Association.

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Hayden Pace

Shareholder, CEO, Stokes Wagner

Hayden serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Stokes Wagner nationally, and as the Managing Shareholder of the San Francisco office. His practice focuses on representation and counseling for hotels, resorts, restaurants and nightclubs. He has a particular passion for the operational and legal complexities of these hospitality businesses, including labor and employment issues, and has acquired a broad range of industry experience.
Having caught Stokes Wagner’s attention with the success of his own firm, Hayden was presented with the opportunity to merge his practice. Building upon the national hospitality law platform created by the firm’s principles, he has advanced Stokes Wagner’s “white glove” approach to client service, expanded the firm’s impressive client roster and further elevated the firm’s profile. Hayden works closely with hotel clients such as Four Seasons, the Dorchester Collection, Viceroy, Nobu Eden Roc, and SBE.
Hayden regularly speaks nationally and internationally on entertainment, labor and employment-related matters. Over the past eight years, he has been honored by his peers as a “Super Lawyer,” as well as a “Legal Elite” and Top 100 Lawyer in the State of Georgia. Most recently, he appeared on the cover of the July 2017 issue of Attorney at Law magazine as the “Attorney of the Month.”
Hayden was born in Northern California and was raised in the Hudson Valley area of New York State. He attended the University of Virginia where he received a bachelor’s degree in Government, and Emory University’s School of Law, where he received a juris doctorate. He splits his time between Georgia and California.

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Jonathan Perez

General Counsel, True Food Kitchen

Jonathan Perez is General Counsel of True Food Kitchen, the innovative health-driven restaurant brand founded by hospitality visionary Sam Fox and world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil.  In his role, Jonathan leads the legal and compliance function and oversees the human resources department in support of True Food Kitchen and its people.


Prior to joining True Food Kitchen, Jonathan served as President and General Counsel for the Tilted Kilt Franchise (TKFO) and its expansion to over 120 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada.


Prior to joining TKFO, Jonathan served as Labor & Employment counsel for Honeywell International, supporting Honeywell’s U.S. and international operations and its 175,000 employees throughout the world.   Jonathan also served as Honeywell’s Lead Employment Counsel for Latin- America, South America, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Prior to joining Honeywell, Jonathan served as Associate General Counsel for Darden Restaurants in charge of the Employment Law Department and supporting Darden’s 2,500 U.S. and Canadian locations and its 200,000 employees.

Before Darden, Jonathan lead the legal function for Planet Hollywood, International and served as a government litigator in the Civil Rights Department.

Jonathan is a graduate of UCLA and received his J.D. from the University of California, Hastings. He currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife, Nadine, and his five children; Alexandra, Reid, Sophia, Jon-Jon and Ana.

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Catherine Perkins

Director for Hospitality and Food Management Custom Programs, Cornell Executive Education

Catherine Perkins is Director for Hospitality and Food Management Custom Programs for Cornell Executive Education, which is part of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. She is responsible for the development of executive education programs within the hospitality space globally, and maintaining and developing relationships with a wide range of clients including Marriott, Hilton, HNA Hospitality and AMResorts. This involves working with faculty from the world-renowned Cornell School of Hotel Administration to determine how their expertise can help advance the critical capabilities of new and existing clients.  This scope has recently expanded beyond hotels to projects with service providers within the hospitality space such as Aramark and several restaurant chains. She previously worked in executive education for the Johnson School, managing program delivery for international clients such as Arkema and Osram.

Prior to working in executive education Catherine was the K-12 Coordinator with the Cornell Institute for European Studies, where she was awarded funding from the European Union for two grants, one which built connections between the city of Ithaca, NY and Ithaki in Greece and the other that connected rural communities in central New York State and central Eastern Europe. Notable projects undertaken with this funding included a teachers’ tour of Eastern Europe to explore issues of social injustice, minorities and inequality and an e-twinning program between a rural school in upstate New York and schools in Slovakia and Poland.  She also worked closely with rural schools in the region and established the Rural School Initiative, which was designed to provide resources to underserved school districts in the region.

A native of England, Catherine holds a BA Honors from the University of Reading, and has a post-graduate diploma in Business Administration from Norwich City College.



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Holly Petroff

Executive Vice President, Global Consulting, Great Place To Work

A true partner and strategic thinker, Holly is passionate about helping companies leverage workplace culture as their best competitive advantage. She leads Great Place to Work’s consulting practice and helps clients design a customized transformation that results in an impactful cultural shift, and helps them discover the impact a high-trust work environment can have on a company’s business success.

Her energy, focus, and deep commitment to clients has helped her guide companies from many industries through today’s complex business challenges, including Synchrony Financial, Activision Blizzard, and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. She is adept at helping executives build productive and rewarding relationships with employees that inspire them to give their personal best while also focusing on the business every day.

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Connie Rheams

Global Head of Hospitality, Beekeeper

Connie Rheams is a highly experienced global business executive with a career marked by consulting hotel companies to align business priorities and information technology investment.  She helps hotel companies embrace new trend in technologies and strategies to drive customer loyalty, increase revenues, and define and deliver a better/unique guest experience.  Recognized and respected as a highly innovative visionary and proven leader in the hospitality space, Connie has a proven track record in leading teams to drive incremental revenue and to identify new product development opportunities.  She is experienced in managing customer, alliances, partner and vendor relationships as well as contract management and complex negotiations and was recognized in 2014 by the Hospitality Financial & Technology Professionals as one of the hospitality technology industry’s notable and influential female IT executives.

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Carolyn Richmond

Partner, Fox Rothschild

Carolyn D. Richmond is a partner and co-chair of Fox Rothschild LLP’s Hospitality Practice Group. Her practice consists of representing and counseling clients in the hospitality industry, as well as the financial services, retail, and manufacturing sectors on a variety of labor and employment matters. In particular, Richmond has extensive experience in matters including: wage and hour issues, restrictive covenants, independent contractor status, EEO discrimination claims, employee handbooks and the hiring process, diversity awareness training, union avoidance, and e-workplace (e.g., privacy, blogging, surveillance).

Before joining Fox, Richmond was associated with Seyfarth Shaw, LLP in New York, where she served as National Co-Chair of its Restaurant Employment Practices Group. Previously, Richmond was General Counsel Corporate & Legal Affairs for BR Guest Restaurants and James Hotels. Currently, she is lead counsel in several wage and hour class action lawsuits against restaurant employers concerning alleged violations of tip pool, overtime, and meal break regulations. In addition, Richmond is litigating non-compete and defamation claims on behalf of a national hotel group.

Richmond is a prolific writer and often is a guest speaker to the hospitality industry on various labor and employment-related topics. She is an appointed member of the Board of Editorial Advisors for the Hospitality Law publication. Richmond also serves as an appointed Board Member and counsel to the New York City Chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association, and is a member of the Alumni Board of Directors for Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

Richmond is a graduate of the New York Law School (J.D. 1994) and Cornell University (B.S. 1991). She is admitted to practice in New York and New Jersey.

Website Bio (as of 7/11/18):

Carolyn serves as co-chair of Fox Rothschild’s hospitality group. Based in the firm’s New York office, her practice consists of representing and counseling employers in the hospitality industry as well as financial services, retail, and manufacturing on a wide range of employment related matters. In particular, Carolyn has extensive experience litigating wage and hour class actions, and restrictive covenants, and employment discrimination cases. She also counsels clients extensively with respect to workplace issues such as the hiring process, diversity awareness training, and employee handbooks. Most recently, Carolyn has worked closely with a number of clients to develop practices and procedures to incorporate social networks into the workplace.

In 2009 Carolyn was acknowledged as a Crain’s New York Rising Star in its annual 40 Under Forty issue. A prolific writer, she is a frequent contributor to a number of publications and is a member of the board of editorial advisors for Hospitality Law. Carolyn is frequently quoted in publications, including the New York Times, Forbes, and Nation’s Restaurant News. Previously, Carolyn served as general counsel, business and legal affairs to BR Guest Restaurants – JAMES Hotels. Carolyn is also a board member and counsel to the New York City chapter of the New State Restaurant Association. Outside of the workplace Carolyn is involved with the PENCIL Partnership, and is teamed with a New York City charter school to help link the business community with the students. She is also a member of the advisory board of the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University and a member of the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors at Cornell’s ILR School.

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David Ritter

David B. Ritter is a partner in the Chicago office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP and a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Law Department. He represents management nationwide in virtually all areas of labor and employment law, including employment discrimination and harassment claims, non-compete, trade secret and restrictive covenants and employment torts.

With nearly 30 years of experience representing public and private companies, Mr. Ritter has counseled clients in service and manufacturing industries ranging from healthcare to logistics and financial services. He defends employers faced with claims under Sarbanes-Oxley, and routinely represents clients before governmental agencies including the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Department of Labor (DOL), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and similar state agencies.

Mr. Ritter represents high-level executives on issues related to employment and separation agreements. He also handles affirmative action plans, employment issues related to corporate transactions, counseling of employers on employment issues, and assists in employee training as related to employment issues.

Mr. Ritter has been commended on several occasions for his labor and employment practice. He is AV-rated – the highest honor one can receive – by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory. He has also been recognized as a labor and employment leader in the 2008-2012 editions of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, and has been listed in Best Lawyers in America every year since 2007 in the categories of Employment Law-Management and Labor Law-Management. Additionally, he is a regular contributor to presentations and publications, providing thought leadership on a wide range of employment law topics.

Prior to his legal career, Mr. Ritter worked as an employee relations assistant at Exxon Mobil (f/k/a Mobil Oil Corporation). He earned his J.D. cum laude from Case Western Reserve University Law School in 1985, where he served as a member of the University’s Law Review. He earned his B.S. from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations in 1980.

Mr. Ritter is a member of both the Labor and Employment Law and the Litigation sections of the American Bar Association. He is also on the board of directors and acts as general counsel for The Greater North Michigan Avenue Association (GNMAA).

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Janet Rizzuto

Janet Rizzuto is an executive education professional with more than ten years of experience in consulting, designing and delivering Executive Education to global clients. Appointed to the Executive Director role, ILR School at Cornell University in 2016, Ms. Rizzuto is leading corporate and professional programs in Human Resources and Organizational Leadership.  Her expertise in strategic planning, innovation, talent development, performance and building a culture of learning is supported by her twenty plus years of progressive, corporate experience in organizational effectiveness, learning and development, and research.

Prior to joining Cornell University Janet worked for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, and has held positions of Senior Director, Group Leader of US Learning and Development, Director of Organizational Effectiveness and Consulting and Director of Medical Operations. While at Pfizer, Ms. Rizzuto launched the organization’s first Learning and Development function for the pharmaceuticals division, which focused on building leadership development, change management and functional competencies. She also has a wide range of non-profit management consulting experience.

Janet holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Marymount Manhattan College, and a Master’s degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University.


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Peter Rogoff

Director of Open Enrollment Programs, Cornell Executive Education

Peter Rogoff is the Director of Open Enrollment Programs for Cornell University Executive Education.  In his role, he oversees the General Managers Program (GMP) and the Professional Development Program (PDP) delivered on the Cornell University campus each year.  He has over 13 years of experience working with hospitality HR and L&D executives to help identify Cornell University professional development resources that align with their organizational needs.  Peter is also responsible for managing the relationships between Cornell Open Enrollment programs and a variety of industry associations worldwide.  He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from York College and serves on the Board of Education for his local school district.

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Myron Roomkin

Myron Roomkin is the Dean Emeritus of the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University where he was the Albert J. Weatherhead, III Professor of Management.  Prior to this, he was Professor of Human Resources Management at American University and served as the dean of American University’s Kogod School of Business.  He also has taught human resource management at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management.  He has published widely on issues of human resources management, including training, compensation, employee relations, and the role of law in the regulation of employment.  Professor Roomkin has served as a labor arbitrator and neutral in public and private sector labor-management disputes and has consulted with several companies and governmental bodies on strategic human resources planning.  He has a B.S. degree from the Cornell University ILR School and M.S. and Ph.D degrees from the University of Wisconsin.

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Philip Rosen

Principal, Jackson Lewis P.C.

Philip B. Rosen is a Principal in the New York City, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. and co-leads the firm’s Labor and Preventive Practices Group. He joined the firm in 1979 and served as Managing Partner of the New York City office from 1989 to 2009.

Mr. Rosen lectures extensively, conducts management training, and advises clients with respect to legislative and regulatory initiatives, corporate strategies, business ethics, social media, reorganizations and reductions-in-force, purchase/sale transactions, sexual harassment and other workplace conduct rules, compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, wrongful discharge and other workplace litigation, corporate campaigns and union organizing matters, collective bargaining, arbitration and National Labor Relations Board proceedings. He has been quoted by the press on many labor matters, including the National Labor Relations Board’s initiatives on protected concerted activity.

Mr. Rosen has extensive experience advising clients developing integrated corporate-wide labor relations strategies – whether the organization is union-free, partially unionized or entirely unionized. He has led teams conducting multi-facility labor-related legal assessments where clients are seeking to develop creative, strategic legal approaches which anticipate major issues and achieve a company’s labor relations goals. Mr. Rosen also has advised clients being confronted with corporate campaigns and requests for neutrality agreements. He has represented organizations seeking to maximize management rights through their development of pro-active employee relations approaches to remain union-free. He also has advised unionized organizations on lawful negotiating strategies – in situations ranging from “hard bargaining‰ to recapture management rights to more “cooperative‰ negotiations – in all cases, providing legal advice designed to assist clients in achieving their primary goals.

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David Rothfeld

Partner, Kane Kessler

David R. Rothfeld leads the Firm’s Labor and Employment Law practice group, specializing in the representation of management in all phases of labor and employment law. Mr. Rothfeld offers expertise in negotiating collective bargaining agreements, representation at grievance and arbitration proceedings and advice on contract interpretation and compliance.  Mr. Rothfeld represents clients in a myriad of different businesses, with a concentration in the hospitality field, including hotels, restaurants, clubs, catering and gaming facilities.

Mr. Rothfeld is a board member of the Cornell Center for Innovative Hospitality and Labor Relations.  He has been selected by his peers to be included in The Best Lawyers in America in the practice areas of Employment Law, Management and Labor Law and Management.  He has also been selected as a “Super Lawyer” for the New York Metropolitan area.

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Ruth Seroussi

Ruth Seroussi, ILR ’92, Esq. is a shareholder at the Newhouse Law Group PC. She represents California and nationwide clients in federal and state courts, and in the arbitral and administrative forums.

During her more than 22 years of practice, Seroussi has guided employers in the hospitality, mortgage-lending, retail, apparel, manufacturing, real estate, health care, and entertainment industries in all aspects of employee relations, including providing advice and counsel on day-to-day personnel issues; preparing employment policies and handbooks; negotiating and preparing employment, severance, non-disclosure, and arbitration agreements; training managers and supervisors on discrimination and harassment issues; and defending employers in discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment, retaliation, wage and hour, unfair competition, and misappropriation-of-trade-secret matters, as well as against charges before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the United States Department of Labor, and state and local administrative agencies.

Additionally, she has extensive experience representing employers in wage and hour class actions and California’s unfair competition laws, as well as in general business litigation matters.

Seroussi serves as president of the board of directors for Venice Arts and secretary of the Friends of Coeur D’Alene Elementary School’s Booster Club.  She also serves as a board member for various other non-profit organizations, and coaches AYSO soccer. She is a licensed real estate broker in the state of California and a member of the California Association of Realtors. Seroussi has also published articles, spoken at conferences, and served on panels concerning hospitality, human resources, and labor and employment issues.

Seroussi earned her JD at the UCLA School of Law, where she was editor of the Environmental Law Journal, and her BS in Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. She is admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the Central, Northern, Southern, and Eastern Districts of California and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Seroussi lives in Venice with her husband Mike, two boys and dog. She is an active traveler, hiker, and outdoor enthusiast.

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Christy Shapard

VP of Human Resources, Beekeeper

Multifaceted, results-focused professional with strategic and tactical experience and an educational background that includes a Master’s Degree, SHRM-C, PHR and AIRS certifications.  Extensive experience in talent acquisition and development, including support of start-up operations, personnel management, development and delivery of training, and managing relationships within a system of multiple locations.  Strong written and verbal communication skills, customer-service, problem-solving abilities, and competencies in human resource management.

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Dave Sherwyn

David Sherwyn (BS, JD, Cornell University) is the John and Melissa Ceriale Professor of Hospitality Human Resources and a Professor of Law at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. In addition, he is the director of the Cornell Institute for Hospitality Labor and Employment Relations. Dave is also a research fellow at the Center for Labor and Employment Law at New York University’s School of Law and of counsel to the law firm of Stokes, Wagner. From 2006-2009, Dave was the director of the Center for Hospitality Research. Prior to joining the School of Hotel Administration, Dave practiced management-side labor and employment law for six years. Dave has published articles in, among others, the Northwestern Law Review, Stanford Law Review, UC Hasting Law Journal, Indiana Law Journal, Berkeley Journal of Labor and Employment Law, Fordham Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Labor and Employment Law Journal, and the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly. In the fall of each year, Dave teaches HA 3870: Business and Hospitality Law, a required class with more than 200 students. Each spring, Dave teaches HA 4810/ILR 4060: Labor Relations in the Hospitality Industry—a class co-taught and co-listed with Cornell’s Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) School. In his 17 years as a faculty member, Dave has received 15 Hotel School Teacher of the Year awards. In 2014 he was named a Stephan H. Weiss Presidential Fellow—the most prestigious teaching award at Cornell University. In 2002, Dave conceived of, organized, and hosted the Center for Hospitality Research’s first hospitality industry roundtable. Since that time, Dave has hosted more than 20 roundtables. Because of the success of the Labor and Employment Law Roundtable, the School of Hotel Administration’s centers and institutes now host roundtables in each of the disciplines that are represented in the school.

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Greg Smith

Senior Vice President, Preferred Hotels & Resorts

With more than 20 years’ experience as a thought leader and practitioner in the human resources field, Greg Smith serves as Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Preferred Hotels & Resorts. In this role, Greg oversees talent acquisition, organizational development, compensation and benefits programs, performance management, and employee and labor relations for the company’s worldwide team of 300 associates across 35 countries, helping to ensure a strong corporate culture and high associate satisfaction and retention.
Over the course of his career, Greg has led human resources efforts for complex global organizations, providing counsel and direction to create successful, positive, and efficient work environments, as well as guiding companies through times of both critical expansion and mergers and acquisitions. Prior to joining Preferred Hotels & Resorts in 2018, he held executive-level positions for major hospitality brands such as Commune Hotels & Resorts, Denihan Hospitality, Kimpton Hotels & Resorts, Interstate Hotels & Resorts, and Choice Hotels International, managing human resources needs from technology systems and training and development to recruiting and executive-level coaching for up to 39,000 associates at a time. His efforts have helped achieve several work-life balance and workplace awards including Fortune’s “100 Best Places to Work.”
Based in Orange County, California, Greg holds a J.D. from Tulane University Law School and a B.A. in English Language and Literature/Letters from Tulane University

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Bruce Tracey

Bruce is a Professor of Management at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. Since joining the faculty in 1992, he has taught courses in human resources management and leadership for undergraduate, graduate, executive, and online audiences throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Asia. Bruce’s research examines a wide range of strategic and operational HR topics, including the impact of training initiatives, flexible HR systems, employee retention, employment law, and leadership. He has presented his work at numerous regional, national, and international conferences, and his research has been published in diverse outlets such as the Journal of Applied Psychology, the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, and the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Labor and Employment Law. Bruce’s sponsors for research, consulting, and executive development have included Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International, Mövenpick Hotels and Resorts, Blue Hill Farm, Hillstone Restaurant Group, Uno Chicago Grill, among others, and he has been cited in USA Today, the New York Times, Fast Company, Powder Magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, and other popular press outlets. Bruce is also the Editor of the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, and serves as a Vice President for the International Network of Business and Management Journals.

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Diana Valles

Director of External Organizing, Culinary Workers Union, Local 226

Diana Valles is a Director of External Organizing at Culinary Workers Union, Local 226 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Culinary Union represents 60,000 hospitality and gaming workers primarily in casinos on the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas. The Culinary Union is the largest local affiliate of UNITE HERE, the international hospitality workers union with over 270,000 members.

Diana was born in Chihuahua, Mexico and moved to Las Vegas in 1988. She has been a member of the Culinary Union for 30 years. She worked as a guest room attendant at the Stardust Casino and then the Las Vegas Hilton. Later she worked as a casino porter and then a cook at the Flamingo.

Her desire to obtain better working conditions for workers led her to become involved with the Culinary Union as soon as she came to Las Vegas. She became a shop steward and committee leader when she was 20-years-old during a contract fight at the Stardust.

Diana became a full-time organizer and union representative in 2004 and worked on the successful Aladdin (now Planet Hollywood) organizing campaign. She is now one of the external directors of the Station Casinos organizing campaign. Station Casinos is the third largest private employer in Las Vegas with nearly 12,000 employees and 10 neighborhood casinos that cater primarily to local residents. Diana is a staff trainer of union organizers and lead organizers.

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Melissa Van Dine

Corporate Director of Human Resources, Ravago Americas

Melissa Van Dine is a results-driven, HR executive with a passion for cultural alignment, employee engagement and organizational excellence. She is currently the Corporate Director of Human Resources for Ravago Americas, a global manufacturing and distribution company.

For the previous 8 years, Melissa served as the Corporate Sr. Vice President of Human Resources for The Kessler Collection, a visionary hospitality brand and the founding member of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. Throughout her tenure, Melissa led a team of national Human Resources professionals in overseeing all aspects of the human resources and people development strategy, to include cultural alignment and employer branding initiatives.

She has a bachelor’s degree in criminology from the University of South Florida, and started her professional career as an investigator for Florida’s Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA), and has held diverse roles within the risk management, human resources and organizational development arenas.

Her introduction to training and development began with Station Casinos, a large gaming company headquartered in Las Vegas, NV. Melissa then transitioned to the vacation ownership industry as the senior vice president of human resources and guest experiences for Celebrity Resorts. During her tenure, she was an active member of ARDA AIF, ARDA’s Communications & Public Relations Committee, ARDA’s Workforce Solutions Advisory Committee, and the Committee on UCF Relationships. She was also appointed by Florida’s Speaker of the House to serve on the state’s Advisory Council on Condominiums.

Melissa is a SHRM senior certified professional (SHRM –SCP), and currently serves on the board of directors for Employers Association Forum (EAF) and is a founding advisory board member for the Flagler College hospitality and tourism management program.

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Kim Van Pelt

Senior Vice President of Talent & Culture, Accor Hotels

As Senior Vice President, Talent & Culture, North & Central America, Kim is responsible for leading the strategic direction of the Talent & Culture function of Accor across its portfolio of brands in the North & Central America Region.

Having held various senior leadership positions with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in learning & development, hotel integrations and hotel human resources, Kim gained international experience working in Canada, United States, Europe and the Middle East. Her career path then moved her to Corporate, where she held progressively senior roles including Executive Director, Talent Management, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Vice President, Corporate Human Resources for FRHI Hotels & Resorts and Vice President, Talent & Culture, North & Central America, AccorHotels.

Passionate about company culture, building empowered teams and affecting positive change, she has a proven track record of specializing in change leadership, strategy implementation, talent management and leadership development.


Kim graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a B.A. in Sociology and a Certificate of Human Resources Management from Humber College.

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Paul Wagner

Shareholder, CFO, Stokes Wagner

I relish (pun intended) the Hospitality Industry. I supported myself through seven years of college and law school at Cornell University as a bartender at several local bars. That, along with my love of food and travel, is what ultimately drew me to the hospitality industry as an attorney, and later as an Adjunct Professor at Cornell’s Hotel School.

I grew up living in the United States, Canada, Liberia, and Kenya, before returning to the U.S. to attend Cornell starting in 1982. I then worked on a refugee camp in southern Sudan (now South Sudan) for three summers during college. Since graduating from law school in 1990, my practice has been devoted to labor and employment law, primarily representing hotel and restaurant management companies and owners. My international background gives me a unique and valuable perspective in the hospitality industry, which draws its strength from cultural and ethnic diversity. The practice of labor and employment law in the hospitality industry requires as much sociology and anthropology as it does classic legal training, and I remain a dedicated student of these disciplines.

I have extensive experience litigating labor and employment cases in federal and state court, private and public arbitration, and administrative agencies including the EEOC, USDOL, NLRB, and numerous state and municipal agencies. Wage & hour class and collective action litigation represents a growing percentage of this work. I spend as much time counseling my hospitality clients to avoid litigation as I do aggressively representing their interests when claims are brought against them, focusing on training, leadership, compliance audits, and organizational design. I also counsel my clients in matters of traditional labor law, and represent their interests in union campaigns, collective bargaining, and related disputes. My labor practice extends outside the United States to include labor consulting in Canada, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

I am honored to be an adjunct professor at the Cornell Hotel School, a position I have held since 1998. I teach Hospitality Business Law, Employment Law and Labor Relations in the Hospitality Industry. The synergy between my law practice and my academic appointment the Cornell Hotel School – the premier hotel management program in the United States – is not only professionally enriching, but also makes me a more effective advocate for my clients.

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Michael Warech

Owner and Managing Director, Warech Associates, LLC

Dr. Michael Warech has over 30 years of experience designing, developing, and implementing data-driven human capital solutions that demonstrably impact an organization’s bottom line. He has sold, designed, developed and managed numerous engagements for a variety of Fortune 1000 companies, across multiple industry sectors. Michael’s consulting work focuses on talent management and other competency-based human resource system applications (i.e., selection, performance management, succession planning, learning and leadership development, and, career management systems), HR transformation, HR analytics/score carding, employee engagement survey design and analysis, organization design, employment branding, organization development and change management.

Prior to founding Warech Associates LLC in 2008, Dr. Warech served as Watson Wyatt’s (now Willis Towers Watson) North American Organization Effectiveness Practice Leader. There he was responsible for designing and managing Watson Wyatt’s groundbreaking Human Capital Index® (HCI) research which resulted in the 2002 book entitled The Human Capital Edge.  Prior to that, Dr. Warech was a Principal at WLH Consulting, Inc. From 1987 to 1996, Michael consulted with Organizational Strategies, Inc. and Assessment Alternatives, Inc., both located in the New York metropolitan area.

For the last four years, Michael has also served as a Learning Solutions Architect for Harvard Business Publishing’s Corporate Learning Group. In this capacity, he has sold, designed and implemented cutting-edge learning and leadership development programming for a myriad of target audiences across all industry sectors, addressing organizations’ critical human capital needs.

Finally, Dr. Warech serves as the Program Chair for the HR in Hospitality Conference & Expo™, the only HR event specifically designed for the hospitality industry. Now in its 12th year, HR in Hospitality attracts hundreds of HR, employment and labor relations professionals from hotels, resorts, restaurants, casinos, cruise lines and all sectors of the industry. Michael is responsible for developing the curriculum/agenda and securing the talent for the three-day event, as well as emceeing the conference.

Dr. Warech has published book chapters and papers in leading peer-review journals and has presented his work in the areas of talent management, metrics and analytics, HR transformation, and organizational measurement at global and national conferences including the Academy of Management, the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology, the Organizational Development Network, the International Quality and Productivity Center, the National Foreign Trade Council, and the HR Forum. Dr. Warech is sought out for his expert opinions on issues in the workplace and has been quoted in newspapers, magazines, and websites including the Washington Post, The Miami Herald, The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore-Sun Times, USA Today, Crain’s, Workforce Management Magazine, HR Executive Magazine, and CBS Marketwatch.

Dr. Warech completed his undergraduate work at Emory University and received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Applied Psychology from Stevens Institute of Technology.

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Christian White

Counsel, BakerHostetler

An experienced labor and employment litigator and advisor, Christian White focuses his practice on the management side of labor and employment law – concentrating on the hospitality industry. Christian counsels on issues related to discipline and discharge, employment discrimination, wage and hour compliance, and provides regulatory compliance training, as well as negotiates collective bargaining agreements, defends employers against union claims and grievances, and conducts labor awareness and contract compliance trainings.  Prior to joining BakerHostetler, Christian was Associate General Counsel for AccorHotels, where he spearheaded all labor and employment legal issues for the North American division of one of the largest hotel companies in the world.  As former “in-house” counsel, Christian is particularly mindful of the need for outside counsel to know the business and understand the need to address business practicalities and operational concerns.  As such, he seeks to give practical, efficient and effective advice that helps avoid or lessen disputes before they become larger concerns.

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Nancy Yaffe

Nancy focuses her practice on labor and employment law counseling and litigation with an emphasis on problem prevention.

Nancy defends all types of businesses against employee claims and lawsuits involving discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wage-and-hour violations. She defends both single plaintiff and class or collective action matters. Her clients include prominent southern California hotels, restaurants, retailers, as well as manufacturing, technology and all types of service providing companies.

With the goal of helping clients prevent employment issues, she provides pre-litigation counseling and advice to clients nationwide on employment-related issues including harassment, discrimination, ADA/disability compliance (including leaves of absences, reasonable accommodations, and the interactive process), wage-and-hour issues (including exempt classification analysis, overtime/meal break compliance, and pay audits), reduction-in-force planning and WARN Act compliance. She also conducts training presentations on sexual harassment prevention, employee relations, management training (and how to keep managers out of trouble), new legal developments and other timely employment issues. Additionally, Nancy drafts and reviews client policies, agreements and handbooks to ensure legal compliance, and conducts preventive audits and investigations into alleged workplace misconduct and pay practices.

Nancy also proudly serves as Co-Chair for the firm’s Women’s Initiative.

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Celeste Yeager

Shareholder, Littler

With over 17 years of experience, Celeste R. Yeager maintains a vibrant labor and employment practice litigating and consulting on behalf of management regarding a variety of employment topics, including age, disability, and Title VII discrimination; leaves of absence; health and safety; and traditional labor and unfair labor practices.

Celeste is board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in labor and employment and represents employers across the country in employment disputes before local, state, and federal administrative agencies and courts. Celeste routinely advises and consults with clients about human resource policies and procedures. She provides management training on various employment-related topics, including union avoidance. She also maintains an active traditional labor practice representing clients, both unionized and non-unionized, before the National Labor Relations Board.

Celeste is a graduate of the Leadership Arts Institute, a program of Business Council for the Arts.

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