Dean’s Advisory Council

The Dean’s Advisory Council is the FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management’s principal body serving to provide an external perspective on the School’s objectives. The Dean’s Council is comprised of executive-level alumni and dedicated partners who have a strong desire to support the School’s mission and goals with seasoned experience in the hospitality industry. Council members provide guidance on industry trends, strategic planning, recruitment and placement, and serve as global community ambassadors


Lani Kane-Hanan

Executive Vice President, Resort Development, Revenue & Inventory Management and Product Innovation, Marriott Vacations Worldwide

Lani is a third generation hotelier with over 25 years of experience in the hospitality and related industries. Currently, she is responsible for all MVW’s Resort Planning, Construction & Development, Inventory and Revenue Management, and Product Innovation activities. Her teams’ efforts support the Ritz-Carlton Destination Club, Grand Residences, and Marriott Vacation Club brands, world-wide. She serves as an Executive Officer of MVW.

Prior to joining MVW in 2000, Lani was part of the senior leadership team of the real estate consulting practices of Arthur Andersen and Horwath Hospitality in Miami, Florida where she specialized in development, acquisitions, and strategic planning for mixed-use real estate projects and companies.

Ms. Kane-Hanan received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Hospitality Management from Florida International University, where she serves on the Dean’s advisory board. She serves on the Board of Directors of the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), and as the Chairperson of ARDA’s Meetings Committee. Lani is the co-founder and president of Women In The Industry (“WIN”), a national non-profit organization which advocates, educates and connects women in the vacation industries. She is a member of the Urban Land Institute and serves on the Recreational Development Council. Lani holds memberships in several other professional associations and is a frequent guest speaker for various universities, hospitality conferences and organizations. She resides in Weston, Florida with her two sons, Austin and Blake.


Bruce Blum

Founder and President at Liberty Hotel Advisors, LLC

Blum offers 30 years of principal-oriented hotel experience including ten years at The Chartres Lodging Group, LLC, a leading hotel private equity firm that’s among the largest US based ownership groups with its portfolio of luxury and upscale hotels throughout the US and Japan. There, as Partner, he was instrumental in its aggressive portfolio growth, capital raising, asset management and advisory activities and served as Managing Partner of Kokua Hospitality, LLC, its property management affiliate. Prior to Chartres Lodging’s formation, he served as CEO of Doral Hotels & Resorts, nine years as a private company and then as its President for three years, while a division of NYSE listed MeriStar Hotels & Resorts, the predecessor entity of Interstate Hotels & Resorts, the world’s largest independent hotel operator. Blum has been instrumental in the capitalization/recapitalization, acquisition, development, and/or sale of more than $3 billion of hotel and resort projects in addition to his asset management and operating responsibilities.

He graduated from the Florida International University (FIU) School of Hospitality & Tourism Management with honors, was awarded the FIU Medallion by its Board of Trustees for exemplary professional and civic endeavors, serves on its Advisory Board and is Task Force Leader, Real Estate Master’s Program Development. He also is a member of the GFI Capital Investment Committee and New York Hospitality Council.

Burt Cabanas

Founder and Chairman of Benchmark Hospitality International

Founder and Chairman of Benchmark Hospitality International. Burt Cabañas is a leading U.S.-based hospitality management company and recognized global leader in the management and marketing of resorts, hotels and conference centers. Benchmark Hospitality was launched in 1980 as an independent company and today operates worldwide from offices in The Woodlands (Houston), Texas, with regional offices in New Jersey, Washington State and Japan.

Prior to establishing Benchmark, Mr. Cabañas served five years as a director of operations for fifty percent of the wholly-owned properties of the hotel division of The Stouffer Corporation preceded by six years of service at Doral Hotel and Country Club in Miami where he served as director of operations for three of those years.

Mr. Cabañas is a 1976 graduate of Florida International University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. He also has served as Chairman of the Industry Advisory Board for the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at FIU. Received both the Florida International University Torch Award by the Alumni Association and the Medallion Award by the University. He is a founding board member and past president of the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC). Mr. Cabañas also received The Mel Hosansky Distinguished Service Award from the International Association of Conference Centers in recognition of outstanding service to the Association and to the conference center industry.

Mr. Cabañas and his wife reside in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, and The Woodlands, Texas. They have two grown children. His son, Alex Cabañas, serves as President and CEO of Benchmark Hospitality International.

Wayne Chaplin

President and Chief Executive Office, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits

Wayne E. Chaplin was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1956. After graduating Magna Cum Laude from the University of Miami with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Wayne Chaplin received a law degree from the same institution. Following a period practicing law at a Miami-based firm, he joined Southern in 1984.
As Chaplin prepared himself for a future leadership role in the company, he quickly learned the importance of customer service.
In 1987, Chaplin was appointed to Vice President of Operation. In 1989 he was named first vice president and chief operations officer, overseeing all divisions of the company’s distribution operations.

By 1992, Chaplin was appointed to the Company’s Executive Management Committee and became and office and director at that time. In 1994, he was appointed president and chief operating office and in May 2014, Chaplin was named president and chief executive office of Southern Wine & Spirits of America.

Commenting on three key lessons he learned from his father, Southern Chairman Harvey R. Chaplin, Chaplin said, “First and foremost, the most important thing in business are our people—the professionals we employ. People make an organization what is is and what it can be. This truly resonates with my belief in people and their ambition and commitment to hard work. Second, in business your word is more valuable than anything else you have, and the expression of your work must be your true bond. Finally, never forget your roots. You should never forget where you began so that you treat people and their problems as if they are your own.”

Chaplin adds, “My approach to business has been formulated by working with some extremely talented people who found Southern. Each of them has mentored me on their own special expertise. Individuals like my father, Jay Weiss, Mel Dick, and Herbert Joseph are the executives that have helped me develop the business acumen I have today.”

Looking to the future, Chaplin says,” The challenge is that the ground rules are going to change in the way business is conducted. We want to be on the forefront of those changes.” Equally important to Chaplin is maintaining the company’s tradition of grooming talent and promoting from within. Most of the company’s senior executives and state general managers have been with the Southern Family for 15 to 20 years—most having worked their way up through the organization.

Regarding his day-to-day responsibilities, Chaplin enjoys “working with suppliers to see that their brand building and sales objectives are executed successfully. If we can accomplish these goals, then we can continue expanding our national footprint. In addition, because of our uninterrupted growth, we will continue to take advantage of economies of scale in every area of our operations—enabling us to re-invest the savings into supplier brand building and customer service.”

Beyond his day-to-day corporate responsibilities, Wayne Chaplin is very active, along with his father, Harvey R. Chaplin, in overseeing the wide range of national, state, and local charitable causes the company supports—from education and humanitarian relief activities to numerous corporate social responsibility initiatives hosted across the enterprise. “Since our founding in 1968, Southern has taken a progressive, active, and constructive role in community, state, and national affairs. These are fundamental values for the company. At Southern, we want to give back and we strive every day to be responsible members of the communities in which we live,” said Chaplin.

In addition to Chaplin’s corporate-related philanthropic activities, he volunteers in various leadership activities at the University of Miami. Currently, he serves on the University of Miami’s Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee. He also serves as the Chairman and Member of the Executive Committee at the Mount Sinai Hospital of Miami Beach.

To sum up his overall business philosophy, Chaplin says, “Our challenge as the market leader is to identify better ways to be efficient and effective. This will benefit not only Southern, but also our supplier and trading partners.”

Senior Vice President, Strategic Partnerships, Nor1

A 30 year veteran of the hospitality industry, Sharon Duffy joined Nor1 in early 2014 and is currently the SVP of Strategic Partnerships. Nor1, Inc. is the technology leader in travel merchandising. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, Nor1 provides data-driven pricing and merchandising solutions to maximize incremental revenues for hotels and resorts worldwide such as Hilton, IHG, Carlson Rezidor, Accor, and Wyndham. Nor1′s patented, dynamic decisions intelligence engine PRiME®, powers Nor1′s Active Merchandising Platform, including its signature eStandby Upgrade®, eReach™, and CheckIn Merchandising™ products. Sharon is primarily responsible for leading Nor1’s client relations and Global Partnerships, but also plays a very active role on both the business development and product development sides of the business. Her diverse role allows Sharon to stay revenue focused, while also ensuring the business needs of the customers are considered in development decisions.

Prior to her role at Nor1, Sharon’s career progressed through roles of increasing responsibility at Hilton Worldwide with her most recent position as Vice President of Brand and Franchised Revenue Management. Sharon lives in Los Angeles and received her B.S. in Hospitality Management from Florida International University.

President and Chief Operating Officer, Fontainebleau Miami Beach

President and Chief Operating Officer, Fontainebleau Miami Beach. Philip Goldfarb brings decades of hospitality industry experience to the iconic hotel. In this role, Goldfarb oversees all aspects of the oceanfront resort, with more than 20 acres and over 1,500 rooms and suites. Under Goldfarb’s leadership, Fontainebleau launched BleauLive, the hotel’s entertainment platform that merges one-of-a-kind vacation experiences with performances by top musical artists. He has also been instrumental in numerous resort physical plant enhancements, including new restaurant concepts and multi-million-dollar renovations of guest room towers. Prior to joining Fontainebleau, Goldfarb served as President and Chief Operating Officer for seven years at Turnberry Associates, Fontainebleau’s parent company, and spent the six years prior as President and COO of All Florida Hospitality Management.

Goldfarb’s previous affiliations include 13 years at Doubletree Hotels Corporation, at the time a General Electric subsidiary. There, he served as General Manager, then as Southeast Regional Director of Operations, overseeing 15 hotels in Atlanta and throughout Florida, and finally as Vice President of Development, responsible for managed and franchised development. Goldfarb served for over a decade on the Broward County Tourist Development Council, and was awarded with the Distinguished Tourism Trustee Award in 2005. Goldfarb also played a significant leadership role as chairman, on the Marketing and Advertising Committee, spearheading major community initiatives such as Super Bowls, Breeders’ Cups, the expansion of the Convention Center, the opening of the Bank Atlantic Center and the September 11th recovery efforts.

Goldfarb is a graduate of Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality Management and in May 2014 he was appointed Chairmanship of the Hospitality School’s distinguished Board of Directors. Goldfarb has served as Vice Chair most recently and on the School’s board for almost a decade. He was awarded the Hospitality school’s “Torchbearer Award” as well as the University’s prestigious “FIU Medallion” in 2007.

Goldfarb also takes personal pride in his philanthropic contribution and involvement with charitable organizations including “Best Buddies,” “Big Brothers, Big Sisters” and “The Christopher Reeve Foundation.” In 2012, Goldfarb was honored by South Florida Business Journal as one of “2012 Power Leaders” and in 2013, the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce awarded Goldfarb its prestigious “Excellence in Tourism Award.” In addition, Haute Living Magazine named Goldfarb one of the top 100 most influential people in Miami for 2013 and again in 2014.

Wendy Kallergis

President & CEO, Greater Miami & The Beaches Hotel Association

Wendy Kallergis works closely with various tourism and hospitality partners to continue to grow Miami as a top-tier worldwide travel destination. The GMBHA is a membership-based organization comprised of 160 hoteliers and 300 allied members across Miami-Dade County. The association’s goal is to unify the travel, tourism and hospitality industry with business and government leaders locally, nationally, and internationally in order to enhance the visitor experience through education, advocacy and networking.

Kallergis and her team work closely with the hospitality schools’ internship and training programs to provide jobs locally for graduates. The GMBHA Sustainable Hospitality Council is spearheading best practices in sustainability to include implementing the Florida Green Lodging Program Certification. The GMBHA’s partnership with the National Immigration Forum’s New American Workforce has received national recognition by helping hospitality employees become new American citizens. Kallergis was recognized as a White House Champion of Change October 22nd, 2014 for promoting citizenship in the workplace.

Kallergis was born and raised in Maine and grew up with a love for food and cooking as part of a restaurant family. After earning a B.A. in French Language from George Washington University, she immediately set out to France. There she attended the University of Paris earning a degree in French history, language and art followed by the prestigious Cordon Bleu L’Ecole de Cuisine earning a Diplome French Cuisine. She subsequently concluded her studies at the Modern Gourmet Cooking School in Annecy, France with a Diplome Professional Chef and Diplome Professional Teacher.

Upon returning to the United States, Kallergis continued her career in the culinary arts as a Chef Garde Manger in Restaurant Nora in Washington D.C. then as Executive Chef of Finesse Fine Foods, an off-premise Catering & Prepared Foods Boutique, also in Washington D.C. that catered many events at the Smithsonian and pre-inaugural dinner for Ronald Regan.

Kallergis resides in Coral Gables with her husband, Nick, and 2 children; Nicholas, 26, Assistant City Attorney, City of Miami Beach and Katherine, 23, Reporter, The Real Deal

She serves on the following Board and organizations:

  • Black Hospitality Initiative of Greater Miami Board of Directors
  • Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau Board of Directors
  • FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality Management Industry Advisory Board of Directors
  • Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
  • Academy of Hospitality and Tourism Board of Directors
  • Miami-Dade College Culinary Institute Business Advisory Council
  • Active member of Les Dames d’Escoffier
  • Member International Women’s Forum, Miami Chapter


Harry Keys

Owner & Co-founder, B Cellars Winery

Duffy has worked in the industry since he was a teenager and is the third generation to run the Duffy. He is a wine lover and thoughtful risk taker. Prior to his role at B Cellars, Duffy had a 20-year stint as a senior-level executive with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, playing a pivotal role in guiding the hotel management company and its branded residential businesses (Four Seasons Residence Clubs and Four Seasons Private Residences).

While Duffy served as senior vice president, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts experienced tremendous growth and achieved its status as the premier luxury-lodging brand in the world. He oversaw operations, marketing, public relations, and finance for the company’s interest in the U.S., Canada, and the Asia-Pacific region, where he resided for more than six years.

In additon to this role at B Cellars, Duffy heads Keys Associates, which he founded in 2003 to provide asset management, development, marketing and related consulting services in hospitality and residential real estate industries, with an emphasis on integrated developments. Duffy’s worldly perspective, braod reach, and synergistic marketing style has brought to B Cellars a global approach to attracting and retaining a savvy, sophisticated consumer. He shares co-found Jim Borsack’s penchant to superior quality in all things in life, and adheres to an “only the best will do” mentality.

Duffy holds a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management from Florida International University, and has studied viticulture and enology through the University of California at Davis.

Jay Litt

President, The Litt Group Capital Project Administration & Consulting

Jay Litt has worked in and operated hotels for over 45 years. Most recently, Jay was Executive VP of Asset Management for Waramaug Hospitality with a portfolio of over 40 assets. He also oversaw over $100 million in renovations. Prior to that, he was the Senior VP and Executive VP of Operations at Wyndham International, as well as the Chief Procurement Officer of Patriot American Hospitality. Additionally, Litt has served as SVP of Operations at Interstate Hotels & Resorts. His experience in the industry includes all levels of properties from select service inns to luxury hotels.

According to Litt, “most hotel consultants typically have strong financial and accounting backgrounds but have no idea how to operate a hotel nor have the knowledge necessary to run one to its fullest potential.” This operational experience, critical in assisting owners and lenders with hospitality challenges, is what Litt now leverages within his own consultancy.

When working with hotel real estate, consider the two halves that determine your property’s value: 1). the actual real estate; 2). the operating business. Litt is an expert in both areas. He is currently a hotel advisor to large funds and private individuals and provides “operations-based asset management” for projects to which he is retained.

Litt’s expertise is highlighted in the Scotsman Guide, where he frequently contributes articles and editorials on the current state of hospitality real estate both nationally and internationally. He provides advisory services to owners and funds including finding opportunities for third party investments.

Litt served in the Peace Corps in the Philippines for several years, and is a proud alumnus of the first graduating class at Florida International University’s School of Hospitality Management.

Paul Livrieri

Executive Vice President of Operations, Longhorn Steakhouse

Paul Livrieri oversees 485 restaurants operating in 41 states as the leader of the operations team at LongHorn Steakhouse. Mr. Livrieri has worked in the restaurant industry for 30 years; 21 of those years with the LongHorn team. During that time he has been a restaurant manager, Managing Partner, Director and Senior Vice President of Operations. Prior to joining Long­ Horn, he spent five years on the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Food & Beverage team as a multi-unit operations leader. He received an AS. in Hotel and Restaurant management from Paul Smith’s College in 1982, and a B.S. in Hospitality Management from Florida International University.

Mr. Livrieri and his wife reside in Windermere, Florida with their two sons, Brian and Justin.

Senior Vice President, Operations & Learning, Loews Hotels

Jenny Lucas started working in hotels when studying Hotel & Restaurant Management at James Madison University. Having traveled extensively while growing up overseas, the hospitality industry seemed like a logical way to turn a personal hobby into a lifetime career. After college she joined Stouffer Hotels & Resorts as a Management Trainee and continued with Stouffer through the transition to Renaissance Hotels & Resorts. In 1997 she joined Loews Hotels as Director of Restaurants at the Loews L’Enfent Plaza Hotel in Washington DC.

Through her roles in Food & Beverage she had unique experiences focused on training including both relaunching and opening new restaurants and hotels. After 8 years in Food & Beverage management, having found a new passion, Jenny jumped at the opportunity to shape and develop a new position in the role of Regional Director of Training for Loews Hotels for the DC/Annapolis area. In 2002 she moved to Loews Hotels’ corporate headquarters in Manhattan when promoted to Manager of Education and Career Development, and in 2007 she assumed oversight of the department. In 2013, Jenny assumed her current role leveraging her roots in hotel operations with the expertise in training as Senior Vice President of Operations & learning.


John McKibbon

Chairman, McKibbon Hotel Group Hotel Management

John has worked in the industry since he was a teenager and is the third generation to run the company. He became president in 1992 and began expanding through development with Marriott, Hilton and Starwood. His passion for serving others is evident not only in his business activities but in his community endeavors. John is a past President of the Courtyard by Marriott Franchise Council and the Residence Inn by Marriott Association. He was honored by his alma mater, Florida International University in 2009 with the FIU Medallion for Outstanding Alumnus. John serves on various community boards in Tampa, Florida including Metropolitan Ministries and Florida Health Sciences Center, Inc.

Watch his 2016 commencement speech here. 

Chief Human Resources Officer, Carnival Corporation & PLC

Jerry joined Carnival Corporation & plc in March of 2011, as Chief Human Resources Officer.  In this capacity, he reports to the CEO and is responsible for supporting the more than 120,000 employees and crew members across Carnival Corporation & plc’s worldwide organization, which includes offices in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Prior to joining Carnival, Montgomery was the president and founder of the Orlando Strategy Group, a consulting firm focused on labor relations, human resources, corporate social responsibility and sustainability programs. Prior to founding the Orlando Strategy Group, Montgomery served The Walt Disney Company throughout a 30 year career in progressive Human Resources, Public Affairs, and Corporate Social Responsibility roles.

He is an active volunteer and community contributor and served as the vice chairman of the Governing Board of the South Florida Water Management District, appointed by Governor Charlie Crist.  He presently is the Chairman of the Florida Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and is also on the Board of Advisors for the Biltmore Company in Asheville, North Carolina.

He graduated from Harvard with his Bachelors of Arts degree, and earned a Masters of Business Administration from the Crummer School of Business at Rollins College.

Ed Mugnani

President, Western Division, Eurest Dining

Ed Mugnani oversees an eclectic mix of Business & Industry Dining including: Financial Institutions, Oil & Gas, Technology, Startups, Manufacturing , Entertainment and Retail operations. Mugnani has been in the food dining restaurants, fast casual restaurants, off-premise catering and retail operations to his current role of President since joining Eurest in 2003. He received an A.S. in Hotel/Food & Beverage Management from Johnson & Wales University, a B.S. in Hospitality Management from Florida International University and service industry for over 20 years. He has applied his participative leadership style from fine is fluent in Spanish. He is a member of the Society for Foodservice Management and is active in numerous charities.

Eric Pfeffer

Founder and President, The Pfeffer Group

As leader of the Hotel Division, Eric Pfeffer oversaw the world’s largest lodging franchisor with more than 6,500 hotels on five continents under the Super 8, Days Inn, Ramada, Travelodge, Howard Johnson, Knights Inn, Villager, Wingate Inn and AmeriHost Inn brands.

During his 20-year career as a hotel and franchise executive, Pfeffer was credited with forging strong relationships among franchisees and colleagues. He was appointed Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Wyndham’s Hotel Division in September 1998 after serving as the Hotel Division President and Chief Operating Officer. Prior to that, he built up the international operations as its first employee with the title of Managing Director of the Global Services division for nearly two years, overseeing international sales and services for the company’s hotel and real estate brands. Pfeffer served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Howard Johnson International, one of the company’s hotel brands, from 1991 to 1996. Among other things, he has been credited for the Brand’s success in the international arena.

During his career with the Howard Johnson brand, Pfeffer progressed from Front Desk Agent to General Manager, Area Manager, District Manager, Regional Manager, Regional Vice President, Senior Vice President of Operations, Executive Vice President and, ultimately President & Chief Operating Officer.

After his retirement to Florida from the “Corporate World” Pfeffer was elected President of the International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IH&RA) in 2002 and 2003. Pfeffer previously served as IH&RA Vice-President in 1997 and IH&RA President in 1998.

Pfeffer was an advisory board member of the New York Tisch Hospitality and Sports Management School of NYU and is Emeritus member of the Tisch Center Advisory Board.

Sergio Rivera

Director of ILG and President and CEO of the Vacation Ownership Segment

Sergio “Serge” Rivera, who joined the ILG board of directors in May, was most recently president of The Americas for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, with responsibility for the performance and growth of Starwood’s brands and businesses in North America, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Polynesia. He previously served as president and CEO of Starwood Vacation Ownership (now Vistana Signature Experiences), and has more than 25 years of experience in real estate development and finance, design, operations, consumer marketing and sales, and brand development.

Rivera is currently a director of Welltower, Inc., a NYSE-listed REIT that invests with leading seniors housing operators, post-acute providers, and health systems. He also is a member of the Urban Land Institute, a trustee of The Nature Conservancy Florida Chapter, a member of the Advisory Board of the University of Central Florida Rosen College of Hospitality Management, and a member of the Florida International University Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management Dean’s Advisory Council.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in business administration from Florida International University.

Louis Stervinou

Managing Director, Eastdill Secured

Louis is responsible for sourcing and placement of hotel related investment sales, financings and loan sales. Over the past 20 years, he has focused on hospitality transactions totaling $15 billion comprising of over 250 properties and approximately 60,000 rooms. Notable completed transactions include Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Westin St. Francis, One&Only Palmilla, The Four Seasons Mexico City, The Hotels AB Portfolio, Kahala Mandarin, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and Four Seasons Resort Maui.

In conjunction with Colliers International Hotels, Mr. Stervinou has transacted $2 billion in Canadian lodging asset; sales and financings including the Fairmont Canadian Resort Portfolio, Courtyard Edmonton and Residence Inn Downtown Montreal. Representative clients include AEW Capital Management, Colony Capital, Farallon Capital Management LLC, Goldman Sachs, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, Dubai Investment Group, Chartres Lodging Group LLC and Lubert Adler. Prior to joining Eastdil Secured, Mr. Stervinou was employed as a Managing Director with Colliers International Hotels and held an Associate position with Knowlton Realty. Mr. Stervinou holds a Bachelor of Science in Hotel Administration from Florida International University and AOS from The Culinary Institute of America.

Bill Talbert

President and Chief Executive Officer, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau

William D. Talbert, III, CDME has served as President and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) for the past sixteen years and Chief Operating Officer for the prior nine years. His major accomplishments include assisting with the passage of the Travel Promotion Act of 2010; negotiating inter-local government funding agreements; preparing four successful Super Bowl bids and three Pow Wow bids. Under Talbert’s leadership, the GMCVB was awarded the prestigious accreditation from the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program in November 2007.

In May 2013, Talbert was named to the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board which serves the U.S. Secretary of Commerce on matters relating to the travel and tourism industry in the United States.

Currently, he is a member of the Board of the U.S. Travel Association (USTA); an Advisory Board member of Brand USA; a re-appointed member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of VISIT FLORIDA, its Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair.

Talbert’s professional affiliations include having served as past Chair of the Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) Board of Directors, past Chair of the DMAI Foundation Board of Trustees, and past Chair of the Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations (FADMO).

Talbert holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from Florida Atlantic University and bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida. In 2006, he earned the Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) designation – the highest educational achievement in the destination marketing industry.

Brad Vassar, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits

Brad Vassar serves as EVP and COO of Southern Glazer’s.  Mr. Vassar was appointed Executive Vice President and COO at Southern in May 2014. 

Prior to joining Southern in 1991, Mr. Vassar worked as a salesman at Berberian Brothers in Northern California.  He joined Southern as a District Manager for the Central Valley in California and later became Brand Manager for Sacramento Valley.  In December 1997, he was appointed General Manager of Southern California.  In December 2004, he was appointed Executive Vice President and General Manager of Southern Wine & Spirits of America.  Mr. Vassar is a graduate of the University of the Pacific. 

Regynald G. Washington ’74, Chief Executive Officer and an active member of the Board of Directors of Hojeij Branded Foods

Regynald G. Washington is a former elected officer and board member of the National Restaurant Association and served as chairman of the board for the administrative term of 2003-2004.

Prior to joining HBF in 2010, Regynald was Vice President of Worldwide Food and Beverage operations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, with food and beverage responsibilities for Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland Paris Resort, Disneyland Hong Kong Resort, and Disneyland Tokyo Resort. Regynald also had additional responsibilities for new products and concept development for Walt Disney World Resorts. His previous experience also includes serving as Vice President and General Manager for Disney Regional Entertainment, where he had responsibility for the strategy, direction and growth of Disney’s ESPN Zone sports entertainment and food and beverage brand.

Regynald has earned dual certification as a Foodservice Management Professional through the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and as a Certified Food & Beverage Executive, a credential issued by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Regynald is a graduate of Florida International University, holding a Bachelor of Science degree in International Hotel & Restaurant Administration.

In 2015, Regynald gifted a significant donation to Georgia State University’s Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration in the J. Mack Robinson College of Business. The graduate program is now named the Regynald G. Washington Master of Global Hospitality Management.