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Women in Senior Leadership - What Drives Brand Loyalty in Today's Marketplace

  • 04/11/2016
  • 11:30 AM - 2:30 PM
  • The St. Regis Hotel 923 16th and K Streets NW Washington D.C.

The School of Hotel Administration (SHA) at Cornell University launches the new Cornell Hospitality Thought Leadership Series with a luncheon and panel on April 11, 2016 at The St. Regis Hotel in Washington, D.C.

This event features a dynamic panel of senior-level women leaders representing sectors across the hospitality industry, convening to discuss brand loyalty.


Cost - Alumn - $60.00, Non-Alumni - $75.00

Agenda - Registration: 11:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.,

Lunch: 12:00 p.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Panel: 12:30 - 1:30 p.m.

Q&A: 1:30 - 1:45 p.m.

Networking & Dessert Reception: 1:45 - 2:15 p.m.




Kathy LaTour

Associate Professor of Services Marketing

Cornell University School of Hotel Administration

Kathy LaTour is an Associate Professor of Services Marketing at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University. She is an expert in the area of marketing hedonic experiences, with a particular focus on wine and gambling. LaTour’s research takes a consumer psychological perspective toward how marketers should approach branding, experience design, communications, and loyalty programs. She uses both experimental designs and in-depth interview techniques to better understand consumer behavior. Her major research focus has been on the complexity of human memory.

LaTour received her Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1997; from 1997-2001 she served as a Visiting Scholar in the Mind of the Market Lab at the Harvard Business School; and from 2004 to 2011 she was on the faculty of the UNLV Hotel school.



Elizabeth Blau MS'14

Founder and CEO

Blau + Associates

James Beard Award Nominee Elizabeth Blau is the founder and CEO of restaurant development company Blau + Associates, and is widely credited with transforming Las Vegas into the world-class culinary destination it is today.

A graduate of the prestigious Cornell School of Hotel Management, Blau began her career with famed restaurateur Sirio Maccioni. Blau’s work caught the attention of casino developer Steve Wynn and as the mogul’s vice president of restaurant development she revolutionized Las Vegas dining by attracting award-winning chefs to the groundbreaking Bellagio. In 2004, Wynn again recruited Blau to join Wynn Las Vegas as executive vice president of restaurant development and marketing.

In 2002, Blau founded Blau + Associates; a firm dedicated to creating world-class hospitality experiences. Assembling an impressive team of experts, Blau quickly turned the firm into one of the foremost restaurant development companies in the field with an impressive client list that includes Le Cirque, New York’s Rainbow Room, Montage Resorts, Ritz Carlton Hotels and Resorts, Trump Casinos, and Viceroy Hotels and Resorts among many others. Additionally, Blau and her group operate four restaurants in Las Vegas, including local favorites Honey Salt, Made L.V., and Andiron Steak and Sea, as well as Buddy V’s Ristorante at the Venetian Palazzo, a collaboration with TV’s Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro.

Blau’s awards and accolades among the industry are numerous, and she is dedicated to serving both her industry and her community. She is a judge on CNBC’s Restaurant Startup alongside Tim Love, Joe Bastianich, and Chef Antonia Lofaso. She has also appeared as a judge on Food Network’s Iron Chef America, is an annual judge for Hotel Magazine’s best restaurants, and has been featured on the Travel Channel and the Martha Stewart Show. Blau has delivered addresses at storied venues such as the Culinary Institute of America, Cornell University, and the Ecole Hoteliere in Lausanne, Switzerland, and is a member of the James Beard Foundation. Blau passionately supports local organizations including Three Square and Communities in Schools, and also serves as a trustee for the Culinary Institute of America. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband Kim, their son Cole, and their two golden retrievers Brookie and Dodger.


Suzanne Boda

Senior Vice President, Hubs & Gateways

American Airlines

As senior vice president, Hubs and Gateways, Suzanne Boda oversees American’s domestic airport operations. Boda held the role of senior vice president Asia, Canada, Europe (ACE) and Cargo Divisions during integration. Previously she held the US Airways’ senior vice president position over airport customer service, international and cargo where she oversaw the airline’s Charlotte, N.C.; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; international and cargo operations.

Boda began her aviation career with Northwest Airlines in 1983 as a passenger service representative and Japanese interpreter at Northwest’s Minneapolis hub. She served as Northwest’s vice president, inflight services; vice president, customer service station operations and vice president, customer service of Northwest’s hub in Memphis, Tennesee.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Asian studies and in Spanish from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota.


Janet Brashear

Managing Director & Head of Hospitality and Travel Practice

Accenture Strategy

Janet Brashear is a Managing Director at Accenture Strategy, leading the Travel and Hospitality practice. She has over 25 years of experience with companies in the consumer, hospitality and travel industries.

Brashear was a senior executive at Marriott International for 12 years with roles including the Chief Strategy Officer and head of Global Operations. She was an integral part of the Executive Committee, setting the strategic agenda, assessing new business opportunities for organic growth and acquisition, and spearheading transformational change initiatives. In addition, she ran the global shared services group with rooms, food & beverage, engineering, and procurement support services for over 3,000 properties.

She also led an equity research team for 5 years on Wall Street for Sanford C. Bernstein covering the hospitality sector. Brashear covered the gaming, lodging and cruise industries, generating insight and perspectives based on detailed analysis, advising on key industry controversies, and assigning buy/sell/hold recommendations for investors. As one of the Street’s leading analysts, she reported on companies such as Marriott, Starwood, Hyatt, LVS, MGM, Wynn Carnival, and Royal Caribbean. The Wall Street Journal named her their top stock picker in their 2010 "Best on the Street" ranking for Hotels & Casinos.

Brashear started her career with Procter & Gamble and also was the EVP of Strategy for a healthcare company, Amerigroup (now a division of WellPoint). She now lives with her family in the NYC area and holds a Bachelor’s degree from William & Mary and an MBA from Harvard Business School.


Vicki Freed

Senior Vice President, Sales and Trade Support & Service

Royal Caribbean International

Vicki Freed is Royal Caribbean International’s senior vice president of Sales, Trade Support and Service.

Freed oversees the company's sales department, the largest sales team in the cruise industry. She also manages RCCL’s Trade Support and Service division, which includes Reservations, Group Sales and Customer Service as well as the cruise line’s Consumer Outreach division.

Freed serves on the board of the Jewish Adoption and Foster Care Options (JAFCO) and she is a trustee of the United Way of Miami-Dade County. She also served as the first and only female chairman of the Cruise Line International Association, the marketing and travel agent training arm of the North American cruise industry.


Lisa Holladay

Vice President, Global Brand Marketing

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company

Lisa Holladay is the Vice President of Global Brand Marketing for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. In this role, Holladay is responsible for building and executing the global brand marketing strategy as well as leading corporate eCommerce, CRM, partnership and field marketing activities. In addition, she oversees marketing operations for the EDITION hotels, including digital, mobile, field marketing and eCommerce.

Previously Holladay was the Vice President of Brand Management where she led the organization’s brand-wide initiatives, including the ongoing evolution and deployment of the global brand strategy. She was accountable for defining the guest experience, from building brand preference for customers and investors, to on-site product and service touch points.

Prior to joining The Ritz-Carlton, Holladay was with Mercedes-Benz USA, where she held leadership positions in public relations, advertising and branding for the Mercedes-Benz, AMG and Maybach brands. In these roles, she directed the overall brand image and positioning for Mercedes-Benz as a luxury lifestyle company, by extending the brand outside of the traditional automotive marketing space into the daily lives of customers.

After earning her Bachelor’s Degree from Clemson University and her Master’s Degree from Georgetown University, Holladay began her career with Edelman Public Regions in Washington, D.C. She has held positions with the Challenger Center for Space Science Education and the Association of California School Administrators.

She is a member of the Association of National Advertisers, the Forbes Executive Women’s Board and serves on the Advisory Board of the Erwin Penland Brand Communications School at Clemson University.

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