Julie brought more than 15 years hotel sales experience to the Hotel Association of Tarrant County when she accepted the role as our Executive Director in 2010. As the Senior Sales Manager for the DFW Airport Marriott South for more than 10 years, she built relationships both for the hotel and within the industry that will bring great value to the Hotel Association of Tarrant County. It is to Julie’s proven success as a true leader on the association’s board of directors and to her amazing impact as a volunteer that we attribute her rise to our ultimate organizational leadership position. She will prove to be an asset to building our membership and growing our association for all of our Tarrant County hospitality partners. Julie is an active member of HSMAI, MPI, NAPW and is on the board for the Texas Hotel & Lodging Association, The Arts Council of Fort Worth & Tarrant County and the DFW Area Tourism Council. In her spare time she enjoys volunteering and traveling with her husband Eric.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Steve Haley Past President
Hilton DFW Lakes Hotel & Conference Center
Steve is in his 23rd year with Quorum Hotels and Resorts of Dallas and a graduate of Florida State University with his degree in Hotel/Restaurant Administration. He is actively involved in the Grapevine community with the Grapevine CVB, Grapevine Chamber of Commerce and recent graduate of Leadership Grapevine.
Steve’s family includes wife, Maggie, and sons, Brett and Christopher. His hobbies include coaching youth sports, getting in a few rounds of golf and entertaining friends and family.
A 25-year veteran of the lodging industry, Al began his career at the Exel Inn hotel chain in Denton at the age of 19. By the age of 21, he was promoted to General Manager, becoming the youngest GM in the history of the company. Following management positions in Denton, Dallas and Austin, he joined Tharaldson Lodging. In his current position as Area Director, he oversees 11 hotels in Central Texas. In 2006, he was named the Rocky Mountain/South Central Region Area Director of the Year. An advocate for hospitality education, Al DeBerry has served on the Professional Development Panel of THLA’s Annual Short Course for the past six years and currently serves on the Hospitality Action Team for the Super Bowl XLV Host Committee. Mr. DeBerry will also serve on the 2010 Executive Committee for the Texas Hotel & Lodging Association.
Nancy Sorrells has a business degree from Oregon State University. Her hospitality career began working the front desk on weekends and holidays during college. Her career has taken her from the front desk to sales, to operations and general management. She has worked from a beachfront resort on the Oregon Coast, to a ski lodge at Lake Tahoe, to hotels in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Fort Worth, Texas. Her most recent assignment was ten years as a General Manager with Winegardner and Hammonds. She managed the DFW Airport Marriott South for the last 8 of those years. Nancy has received several Leadership awards from Marriott International and sales and management awards from Winegardner and Hammonds. Nancy was instrumental in the growth of the hotel association in her role as president for several years. Recently, Nancy has joined Interstate Hotel Group and is the current General Manager of the Sheraton Hotel in Arlington. She is current Treasurer for the Association and an active member.
DFW Marriott Hotel & Club at Champions Circle
Jim Campbell is General Manager of the Marriott Hotel and Golf Club at Champions Circle. Jim joined the hotel in February 2008 at the same time that HEI Hotels and Resorts purchased the hotel and golf course changing from the Doral Tesoro to its current Marriott flag. Since moving to the Fort Worth area, Jim has been involved with several community, civic and professional organizations.
He serves on the Board of Directors of the Hotel Association of Tarrant County, the Northwest Independent School District Education Foundation and the Tarrant County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Jim is also a member of the Northwest Communities Partnership, the Highway 114 Stakeholders and the I-35 Coalition.
Board Member Extraordinaire
Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center
Gracie Vega currently serves as the Vice President of Human Resources for Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas and, after successfully leading the recruiting process to hire over 2,000 new STAR employees, Gracie was promoted to her current role in 2005. Gracie has over fifteen years of hospitality experience and has been recognized for her many accomplishments including receipt of the Gaylord Entertainment Excellence in Leadership Award in 2010. She was also nominated for the 2005 Gaylord President’s Award for “Integrity”; chosen as the 2001 “Human Resources Director of the Year” by Wyndham Hotels; recognized by the International Association Personnel in Employment Security in 2000 and 2001; and honored by the “Welfare to Work” Partnership in 1999. She has served as Vice President for the Hospitality Human Resources Association in the DFW area. In addition to her role on the HATC board, Gracie is a board member of Workforce Development of Tarrant County.
Board Member Extraordinaire
Q Hotels, LLC
Jags Patel brings 33 years of formidable tried-tested-proven innovative and entrepreneurial know-how to Q Hotels. With a wealth of resources and relations, Jags provides the vision, leadership and the critical close working relationships with our operating partners (associates) and team members that make it possible for Q Hotels to achieve and sustain growth.
Highly active in the operation and ownership of various franchise type properties over the years, Jags also earned a stellar reputation as a recognized member and chairman of prominent industry organizations and committees. He served as chairman of the Texas Hotel & Motel Association (TH&MA) and Director at Large for AAHOA, and chaired the Membership Growth and Benefits Committee where he was actively involved in the planning and organization of annual AAHOA conferences.Today, Jags is the Texas representative of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, continues to be active in hotel industry organizations and committees, and is chairman of Q Hotels. Among Jags’ passions and interests are aviation, technology, the Dallas Cowboys and his two children.
Board Member Extraordinaire
2013 Vice President
Courtyard by Marriott Blackstone
Jed Wagenknecht grew up in St Louis Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in the hospitality program. His first job was with Marriott at a Residence Inn as a sales manager. After moving to a few cities back east in different sales positions, he landed his first GM job in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Then, Jed moved to Birmingham, Nashville and Memphis before finding his home in Fort Worth at the Blackstone. Jed lives in Saginaw with his lovely wife and twin boys. He enjoys hunting, fishing and anything to do with the outdoors.
Jay has nearly 20 years of hospitality experience, beginning his career with The Ritz – Carlton Hotel Company in Aspen Colorado. He also worked in St. Thomas, USVI, Palm Beach, FL, Williamsburg VA, and Uncasville, CT before moving to Texas in 2006. Jay joined Omni Hotels as the Director of Operations for the Omni Fort Worth in February of 2013.
Originally from Hanover, Massachusetts, Jay has a degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Hartford. He and his 2 children Ryan and Rachel enjoy spending time on the lake, skiing and cheering on the Boston Red Sox.
Board Member Extraordinaire
Super 8 Grapevine
Alex Kramer graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Hospitality Management and has worked in the hospitality industry for many years, including positions with Hyatt and Hilton. Alex now manages the Super 8 Grapevine/DFW Airport Hotel.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________Tim Dant Board Member Extraordinaire Hyatt Regency DFW
Board Member Extraordinaire Baymont Inn & Suites North
A 1993 graduate from The University of Oklahoma with a BBA in Management, Tina’s career started out in retail at the Limited, Inc. She moved to the DFW area in 1997 and started her career in advertising with The Wall Street Journal. She managed the Southwest region until 2004, when her father invited her to join the family hotel business. Her first portfolio hotel, The Baymont Inn and Suites, opened in December of 2004, and she purchased the second hotel, Comfort Suites, in 2006 where she spearheaded all operations and marketing. In 2010, she turned those responsibilities over to a hotel management company.
Board Member Extraordinaire
Courtyard by Marriott Las Colinas
A long-term member of the Hotel Association of Tarrant County, Sarah has provided leadership and guidance to our organization for many years. Sarah truly believes in long-term career relationships, evidenced by her roles with Marriott for 23 years. Her role at the Las Colinas property has spanned the last 5 years, and she is a past president of The Hotel Association of Tarrant County.
Carlos currently lives in the North Dallas area. He recently had his first newborn little girl with his wife of 3 years. His first job was as a room attendant while in high school. Continued working in the hotel business in all the different positions of a hotel while attending college. After college, became a General Manager in Oklahoma before returning to the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
He’s been with TMI Hospitality 14 years, starting as a General, then Area Director, and is currently a Regional Vice President overseeing 40 hotels in Texas.
Originally born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he and his family like traveling to different parts of the Caribbean and hiking the different Islands, snorkeling, diving and deep sea fishing.________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Creston Woods currently as General Manager for Benchmark Hospitality at Deloitte University. His involvement in the project began in the pre-opening design and construction phase 2010. He was responsible for creating and implementing the operations plan which included all aspects of hospitality services, building operations, energy management, transportation and fitness center management. Creston is the liaison with ownership on a day-to day basis, achieving superior guest satisfaction and financial results, exceeding owner expectations.
Prior to joining Benchmark, Creston was already a recognized leader in hospitality. Most specifically, he was responsible for the significant turn-around at The Carolina Inn on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, successfully integrating the hotel into the university culture and earning AAA Four Diamond Awards and Forbes Four Star awards by focusing on and training to Five Diamond/Star service standards.
Additionally, Creston led the development team for the technologically advanced and sustainable Paul J. Rizzo Conference Center. He also provided regional support and responsibility for the R. David Thomas Center at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, Dodgertown (Vero Beach. FL) and Janelia Farm Research Campus Conference Center (Ashburn, VA), a private, biomedical research facility used “landscape architecture” to make this sustainable project a unique international learning and research environment.
Previous experience include General Manager, Operations and Sales & Marketing positions with Hilton, Doubletree and Sheraton Hotels.
Creston received his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Miami University, Oxford, OH.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Rosa Malave Board Member Extraordinaire University of North Texas
Mrs. Rosa A. Malave, M.S. Lecturer and Career Development Coordinator at the University of North Texas, College of Merchandising Hospitality and Tourism. A native of Puerto Rico, Mrs. Malave moved to Arlington, Texas in August 1999 and enrolled in El Centro College and the University of North Texas-where she earned a Bachelor of Science with a major in Hospitality Management and minor in Business, followed by a Master of Science in Hospitality Management with a minor in Human Resources. She has held management and sales positions with La Madeleine French Bakery and Restaurant, as well as Coco Lopez. As an educator for over four years, Mrs. Malave utilizes her great passion and love for hospitality in her position at the University of North Texas; providing direct career development assistance to students and alumni, as well as, lecturing for the College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism internship courses. She also coordinates the Hospitality Career Expo every year. Off campus, Mrs. Malave is fortunate to have an extraordinary family.
The youngest of Amelia and Justo’s five children, Rosa has three sisters, Ana, Jenny, and Carmen and one brother, Justo. She is happily married to her marvelous husband, Alfonso. Today, Mrs. Malave encourages people to follow their dreams, no matter the challenges. “A winner is a dreamer, who never gives up.” – Nelson Mandela
Kristofer Carlson chose a career path directly related to the family business he grew up in. In the early 1940s his grandfather was a bartender and his dedication to the business led him to purchase the family’s bar, The Harbor Inn in in Delavan Wisconsin in 1961.
The Harbor Inn introduced Kris to the restaurant/bar industry and he quickly discovered that he would follow in his grandfather’s footsteps with his career. For Kris, growing up in a family with a strong work ethic and keen understanding of the business was instrumental as he chose his field of study. In 2004 Kris graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stout where he got his degree in Hospitality, Tourism and Restaurant Management.
With an eye towards building a well-rounded career experience, Kris has worked in the hospitality industry, restaurants, food and beverage management and spent almost 5 years in tourism as the Food and Beverage Director for Norwegian Cruise Lines working in Europe, Hawaii, the Caribbean, Alaska, and other areas throughout the world. After working for the cruise line, Kris’s next job transferred him to Charlotte, North Carolina where he became the Food, Beverage and Engineering Director at Stanford Hotels for the Hilton Charlotte Center City.
Kris became the Assistant General Manager at Pittsburgh Marriott North in October 2012 and was promoted to General Manager in March of 2013. The valuable experiences in his family’s business led Kris to have a great passion for food and wine and a dedication to event and guest satisfaction; all the right ingredients for a successful career in the hospitality industry. Today, Kris is very happy to have moved to the Dallas area with his wife Bea to take over the DFW Airport Marriott South as of October 2013.
Lance has worked for Hyatt Hotels for 26+ years. He has worked in “10” Hyatt Hotel Properties as well as the Corporate Office as Director of Rooms based in Chicago for 2 years (2008-2010). Lance has received the following awards:
-2005 Hyatt Hotels and Resorts Director of Rooms of the Year
-2010 Hyatt Hotels and Resorts GM of the year Nominee (Hyatt Westlake)
-2012 Hyatt Hotels and Resorts GM of the year Nominee (Grand DFW)
Lance was born in Attleboro, MA. He graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelors in Business Administration, Minor Marketing.
Lance has served on Board of Directors for Grapevine CVB for past two years.
He is married to Lissette, and has two girls, Isabella (12) and Natalia (8), who both love soccer.
Rick began his love of the hospitality industry shortly after securing his first hotel job as a bellman/valet car attendant in the mid 80’s in Columbia, South Carolina. It was this job that prompted Rick to change his college major to Hospitality at the University of South Carolina where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism in 1989.
Rick worked his way into management roles over the first few years in the business and soon broke into General Manager and Regional Manager Positions with The Promus Companies in Memphis, Tennessee in the mid 90’s. Since that time, Rick has worked with some of the largest and best known management companies in the hospitality industry including CapStar, MeriStar, Interstate, HEI and Crescent Hotels & Resorts managing, renovating, repositioning and opening hotels under the Starwood, Marriott, IHG and Preferred brand affiliations. Rick is currently working with TOG Hotels in a soft renovation and market repositioning of the Radisson Fossil Creek in Fort Worth.
Rick has served as a Director on the boards of the Palm Beach Business Development Board, the Palm Beach County Hotel & Lodging Association, the Fort Worth Convention & Visitor’s Bureau and looks forward to serving on the Board of Directors of the Hotel Association of Tarrant County.
Rick enjoys all outdoor activities, he is a musician and collects and refurbishes pinball machines in what spare time he has. He has lived in Fort Worth for five years with his wife Susy and eight year old son Jadon and is a member of Calvary Chapel in Fort Worth.
Jimmy is currently the General Manager at the Hilton Hotel in Arlington, and has been the GM there since 2009. He graduated from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI with a degree in Culinary Arts as well as Hospitality Management. He has worked for Interstate Hotels & Resorts for 24 years.
Jimmy is from Indialantic, Florida, and is a huge Florida State Seminoles Football fan. I played one year of college basketball at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida._______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Ronnie Price
Ex Officio Board Member
Ronnie Price became President & CEO of Experience Arlington in April 2013 following a nationwide search. He comes to Arlington with over 16 years of hospitality leadership, sales and marketing experience.
Before coming to Arlington, he was the Assistant Executive Director of Sales & Marketing for the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau. During his time there, he was responsible for a $20 million annual budget and 44,000 hotel rooms.
Prior to the San Antonio position, he worked successfully for Marriott International, leading in different capacities including sales, marketing and revenue management.
Price currently sits on the Final Four LOC (Local Organizing Committee), Chamber of Commerce Board, Texas Travel Industry Association (TTIA) Board and National College Football Championship Game Executive Committee.
He and his wife, Jennifer, have relocated to Arlington with their three children and dog.____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Bob Jameson
Ex Officio Board Member
Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau
Bob Jameson began his career in the hospitality field in 1977, as a tram driver at the Santa Clara Marriott Hotel. He progressed to Front Office Manager at Marriott’s Rancho Las Palmas Resort in Ranch Mirage, California and on to Resident Manager at Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, Arizona for Marriott International.
In 1985, Jameson joined The Americana Hotel in Fort Worth, Texas, as Resident Manager and a member of the management team responsible for that hotel’s transition from Americana Hotel Company management to the independently operated Worthington Hotel. He was named President and General Manager of the Worthington Operating Company in 1987. In 1999, The Worthington was purchased by Marriott International and was renamed The Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel. Jameson re-joined Marriott International.
In 2013, Jameson was selected to become President & CEO of the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau. Jameson is a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of Downtown Fort Worth, Inc. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors for The Cliburn Foundation, The University of North Texas School of Hospitality and Merchandising, The Arts Council of Fort Worth, The Fort Worth Promotion and Development Fund, The Multi-Cultural Alliance, and the Recovery Resource Council.
Jameson was born in Long Beach, California, and raised in Garden Grove, California. He graduated from the University of San Francisco in 1976, with a Bachelor of Arts in History.
Ex Officio Board Member
Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau
Currently the Assistant Executive Director of the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau, Michael is responsible for the leading daily operations providing direction, supervision and consultation for all departments of the Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Grapevine Convention Center, and the Grapevine Vintage Railroad.
Previously Michael worked for American Airlines from 2005 – 2012 as the Publisher of the In-Flight Portfolio which includes AmericanWay, Celebrated Living and American Airlines Nexos, a collection of publications reaching over 2.4 million readers each month. Prior to American Airlines, Michael worked for the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau from 1997–2005 as the Director of Marketing and Communications.
In addition, his background has included work with the City of Farmers Branch, Rosewood Hotels, Brinker International, and Hyatt Regency Hotels.
Michael is a 1989 Graduate of the University of North Texas, School of Hospitality Management. Michael serves as the Chairman of the Board of Governors at UNT (2006-present), Hotel Association of Tarrant County Board Member (2006-2009 and 2013-present), and Society of American Travel Writers Board Member (2013-present).
Michael and his wife Ellen have been married for 19 years and they have a 12-year-old daughter, Lauren. They currently live in Southlake, Texas.
Ex Officio Board Member
Texas Hotel & Lodging Association
THLA serves over 2,500 lodging related member businesses from the smallest B&B properties to the largest convention center hotels. The International Society Hotel Association Executives (ISHAE) recognized THLA three times for the Best Governmental Affairs Program of any hotel association in the nation. ISHAE also recognized THLA for the best Educational Program, and three times for the best Membership Program in the nation.
Since joining THLA, Scott and his staff successfully passed every legislative bill offered over the last ten years, and led the effort to defeat legislative initiatives that would have saddled lodging operators with additional surcharges, taxes, and burdensome regulations.
Scott holds a Masters degree in Public Administration and is a licensed attorney with over 20 years of experience. Prior to joining THLA, Scott served as Chief of Municipal Affairs for the Texas Attorney General and as First Assistant General Counsel for the Texas Municipal League.
Affiliate Board Member
Neal has six years’ experience in the Texas energy market as a Commercial & Industrial Energy Manager for large clients in North and Central Texas. Neal helps clients manage the operating expense through electricity rate procurement, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. He specializes working with property owners (commercial, hotel, and multifamily) as well as local manufacturers, museums, non-profit organizations, sports and entertainment venues, including a certain location in Arlington that recently played host to back-to-back World Series’.
Previously, Neal was in the technology field supporting customers with customer relationship management software across the Communication, Media, and Entertainment industries. He supported a North American account base – travelling from Vancouver to Charlotte, Montreal to Seattle and many stops in between. He’s been to Europe twice doing two stints in London as well as visits to Paris and to Amsterdam.
He is very thankful to give up the suitcase lifestyle for spending nights at home with his wife and two kids.
Neal wasn’t born in Texas but arrived as fast as he could. Grew up in Plano starting at the age of three, attended Stephen F Austin State University in Nacogdoches, and has been in Dallas/Fort Worth ever since. Neal is probably the biggest baseball fan you will ever meet as well as an avid golfer. In fact, give him a call if you ever need a fourth. One fact that some people may not know about Neal is that he is a second generation Eagle Scout.
Aaron Ogburn Affiliate Board Member
Regions Pest Prevention, LLC
Aaron Ogburn has 21 years of experience in the service industry. He thrives on education for himself and others with an MBA, Bachelors in Business Management, and Associates Degree in Business. Aaron is Vice President of Operations for Regions Pest, LLC. Through this position he is able to deliver his passion of customer service to others. He uses technology, science, and innovation to ensure each customer receives superlative service each and every time. With his dedication to customer service, creating long term relationships come naturallyAaron’s spends his free time with his family, playing golf, and reading.
Affiliate Board Member
Premier Elevator Services, Inc.
Affiliate Board Member
Jeff Buhler previously held the position of Vice President of Operations with Middleton Lawn & Pest Control, a pest management organization that was acquired by Massey Services in December 2009. Jeff joined Middleton in 2000 as a Branch Manager and brings more than 15 years of operational experience to his position.
After joining Massey Services, Jeff served as Executive Vice President over the Landscape Division. In December 2010, Jeff was named Senior Vice President, Customer Service. In his current role, Jeff oversees management development and training, customer care operations and quality assurance.
Prior to joining Middleton, Jeff coached college basketball at Western Connecticut University. He received his degree in Religion and Psychology from the University of Florida and his MBA from Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business. He currently serves as President of the Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity, the first non-sectarian fraternity in the United States. Jeff’s community involvement includes serving on the boards of Camp Ridgecrest for Boys,the YMCA and the Orlando Science Center.
Holiday Inn Express Mineral Wells
Cathy has served in the industry since 2005 as General Manager of Holiday Inn Express properties in Salado, Burleson and Mineral Wells. She is currently the General Manager of the Holiday Inn Express Mineral Wells. Cathy served as the project manager for the Holiday Inn Express in Mineral Wells as well as the Candlewood Suites-Fort Worth West when both properties were built in 2008 and 2011 respectively. She serves on multiple community Board of Directors throughout the DFW area as well as in Mineral Wells where she resides with her husband. Prior to running hotels, Cathy owned and operated her own advertising, marketing and event-planning company for sixteen years.