Angela Chen is the Employer Engagement Manager at FareStart, a James Beard award-winning non-profit social enterprise offering hospitality industry training to youth and adults experiencing barriers. Her team stewards FareStart’s Employer Advisory Council, manages employer relationships, supports trainee job placements, and implements engagement initiatives. Prior to FareStart, Angela earned a culinary arts degree from Chicago’s Kendall College of Culinary Arts and trained at Japonais by Morimoto and Canlis. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and started her career in strategic business development. Angela is energized by her current role which marries her passions of community building, relationship management, workforce development, and hospitality.
Litigation Partner @ Fisher Phillips
Expert Resources for You - Advisory Network
Catharine Morisset is a litigation partner in Seattle office of Fisher Phillips and a proud member of its Hospitality Practice Group. She represents local and national employers in litigation in state and federal courts, on appeal, and also before the EEOC and similar state agencies in all aspects of workplace law, such as the ADA, ADEA, FLSA, FMLA, FCRA, NLRA, Title VII, UTSA, and similar state laws. From the outset, Catharine works with clients to develop a strategy that leads to successful resolutions, whether it is a meticulous plaintiff’s deposition, motion to dismiss, favorable mediation, or trial success.
Catharine believes in working closely with clients to address workplace issues proactively and as a valued partner to develop a successful workforce. She uses her litigation experience to work closely with clients across all industries to provide effective preventive counseling and workforce training. This includes regularly advising and training clients on drug testing, background checks, hiring, diversity, wage-hour compliance, leaves, noncompetition agreements and reasonable accommodation.
Senior Business Development Executive @ STR
Chase Oeser is a Senior Business Development Executive for STR focusing on the Western Region of the United States. STR provides clients with premium, global data benchmarking and analytics. Chase is responsible for growing STR’s network of hotel partners and strengthening their overall data set. Along with increasing the volume of room-related data, Chase also leads efforts to expand benchmark reporting in categories such as Food & Beverage, Guest Segmentation, and Operating Statistics so hoteliers will have the most accurate information to make informed business decisions. Prior to joining STR, Chase spent the past 12 plus years as an owner/operator in the parking industry allowing opportunities to work with hotels, management companies, real estate firms, and destination companies to increase revenue while maintaining superior customer service.
CEO, Founder, and Lead Accessibility Consultant @ AbiliTrek
Ways to Enhance Accessibility
Daman Wandke, MBA, the CEO, Founder, and Lead Accessibility Consultant at AbiliTrek, began AbiliTrek in 2016 after experiencing many barriers in his travels. Daman has ten years of experience in IT accessibility consulting in both the public and private sector and has worked with multinational corporations as well. On top of his work at AbiliTrek, Daman spends his time educating the public on disability related topics. He has done many speaking engagements, including a TEDx, a TAG talk, and sat on panels at Western Washington University and Small Business Association events.
CEO @ Pandion Consulting & Facilitation
Dan has nearly 20 years' experience as an entrepreneur, professional travel guide, and workshop facilitator. Dan is the CEO of Pandion Consulting & Facilitation, a travel industry consultancy and facilitation company based in Seattle, Washington (USA). Pandion’s mission is to raise the standards, quality, and sustainability of the travel industry. This is accomplished through facilitating community development workshops, designing and delivering industry training, and direct consulting with businesses and destinations.
Director of the Nonprofit Education Foundation @ Washington Hospitality Association
Unique Ways to Source Employees
David Faro has extensive international hospitality experience ranging from facilities management to media relations. He has enjoyed key leadership roles in a variety of high-end, bespoke, hotel, culinary, and expeditionary adventures with respected brands worldwide. David holds an acute interest in traditional hospitality along with new tourism strategies and is a passionate media maker and storyteller. David is currently the Director of the Nonprofit Education Foundation for the Washington Hospitality Association. David speaks regularly to audiences about a variety of subjects related to international travel, history, and hospitality.
Co-founder @ Smart Pickle
Gabe Winslow is the co-founder of Smart Pickle, an A.I. Driven Restaurant Marketing Automation Platform aimed at helping small restaurant owners use A.I. to automate their marketing. By integrating with their POS systems, Smart Pickle builds and sends promotions to drive more transactions during a restaurant's slow times. Gabe is an entrepreneur who specializes in helping companies solve complex problems with simple, scalable solutions. He started Sq1, an ad agency in Portland that was one of Oregon's fastest growing companies, which he sold in 2015. He is also an investor and advisor to a number of other companies. Gabe has a passion for helping those in need in the world and serves on the Board of Directors for Medical Teams International and Forward Edge and has traveled to Guatemala and Uganda in his roles with those organizations.
Gerry A. Fernandez
Founder and President @ Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance (MFHA)
Unconscious Bias in the Workforce
Gerry A. Fernandez is founder and president of the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance (MFHA), a national non-profit organization that promotes the business benefits of cultural diversity in the food and hospitality industry while helping its members attract, develop, and retain multicultural talent. With over 35 years of experience in the industry, Fernandez has held leadership positions with several well known companies including General Mills, The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Hemenway’s Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar and The Capital Grille, now owned by Darden.
Fernandez founded MFHA in 1996 while employed at General Mills as a National Account Manager. Since then, MFHA has grown into a respected and well known non-profit with over 1,000 members. MFHA was the first organization to bring about a national discussion on diversity management in the hospitality industry and today, MFHA remains the only non-profit organization focused on promoting the business case for diversity within the restaurant, foodservice and lodging segments.
As President of MFHA, Mr. Fernandez has been influential in aiding dozens of companies with their diversity talent management initiatives and has been directly involved in creating programs designed to attract, develop and retain multicultural talent to the industry.
He is an accomplished speaker and has presented nationwide and in Canada, London, England, Vienna, Austria, the Caribbean, Mexico, and in Beijing, China.
Fernandez is a trustee of Johnson & Wales University, a member of the board of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, and a Life Member of the NAACP. He is a member of The Women’s Chef’s & Restaurateurs Association, the National Council of La Raza, The Women’s Foodservice Forum and the National Association of Black Meeting Planners.
In January 2000, Fernandez was named one of Nation's Restaurant News “50 Power Players" and in August 2001, he was recognized by Lodging Magazine as one of the 75 Profiles in Leadership. He received an honorary doctorate in Business Administration from Johnson & Wales University in 1999 and was named a 1998 “Rising Star” by Restaurant Hospitality Magazine. He also received the 1999 National Job Corps Association's “Alpha Award.”
Gerry Fernandez holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Foodservice Management from Johnson & Wales University where he also earned a Culinary Arts degree in 1976. Gerry is married, has three sons, six grandchildren and lives with his wife, Debra (Jackson) in Warwick, Rhode Island.
Director of Local Government Affairs @ Washington Hospitality Association
Share Your Story
John Lane is the association’s first director of Local Government Affairs. He steps into this new role after managing our local government affairs efforts for 18 months, working first on the Seattle Office of Labor Standards Enforcement Ordinance as well as restrictive scheduling and the city’s hotel Initiative 124. He has a law degree from Seattle University and has extensive public policy experience, including serving as a Washington state assistant attorney general and as the Office of Financial Management’s legislative and legal counsel. John has also served as a senior policy adviser to Gov. Jay Inslee on public safety and government operations and as the executive policy adviser to Gov. Christine Gregoire.
Protective Security Advisor @ Department of Homeland Security
Workplace Violence Prevention
Mr. Jonathan Richeson currently works at the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Infrastructure Protection, where he is a Protective Security Advisor for Washington State. He has a Bachelor’s Degree (cum laude) in Justice Administration from the University of Louisville and a Master’s Degree (with honors) in Homeland Security from the American Military University. PSA Richeson's mission is to proactively engage with federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government mission partners and members of the private sector stakeholder community to protect critical infrastructure through various mission areas including: Planning, coordinating, and conducting security and resilience surveys and assessments of nationally significant critical infrastructure Planning and conducting outreach activities and providing access to critical infrastructure security and resilience resources, training, and information Supporting National Special Security Events (NSSEs) and Special Event Activity Rating (SEAR) Level I and II events Serving as a liaison between federal and local government officials and private sector critical infrastructure owners and operators during and after an incident. Jon completed seven and a half years as an active duty Security Forces officer in the United States Air Force, with operational experience in law enforcement, security, and military working dogs. He is currently an Individual Mobility Augmentee assigned to HQ Air Combat Command Security Forces, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.
Director of State Government Affairs @ Washington Hospitality Association
Share Your Story
Julia Gorton, director of State Government Affairs, has been with the association for more than a decade, and oversees the Association’s state advocacy and political programs. Her most recent accomplishment has been leading the effort on the state’s paid family and medical leave act, which contained key provisions for hospitality businesses and employees. In 2017, she was appointed to the state’s Paid Family & Medical Leave Advisory Council. Julia sits on the board of Enterprise Washington, an organization that seeks positive political outcomes for the business community in Washington. Julia graduated from Western Washington University with a B.A. in political science and social studies, and currently lives in Olympia, WA with her husband, daughter and dog. Julia and her husband are licensed foster parents, and she volunteers on the Board of the Olympia Hands On Children’s Museum.
CEO, Co-Founder, Master Distiller @ Heritage Distilling Company
Beverage & Spirit Trends
Justin Stiefel was born in Renton, Washington and grew up in both Spokane, Washington and Anchorage, Alaska. Justin performed his first batch of distillation in the 7th grade while attending Mead Jr. High School and never looked back. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Idaho and his Juris Doctor, graduating magna cum laude, from Catholic University in Washington, DC. Here, he also completed certificated coursework at the U.S Naval War College focusing on national security and strategic decision-making.
In 2011 Justin, his wife and a few friends perceived of Heritage Distilling Co. (HDC) while sitting around a campfire. Quickly, they put together a business plan, along with financing, and soon opened the company in 2012. Now, Heritage Distilling Co. is the fastest growing spirits brand in the Pacific Northwest and the largest independently owned distillery in Washington. Additionally, HDC is the most awarded craft distillery in North America six years running out of nearly 1,200 distilleries, as well as the winner of multiple “Best of Category” awards.
Heritage Distilling is partners with the Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Sounders and Portland Trailblazers. Along with distributing products into all 50 states. They operate 6 distillery tasting rooms in Washington, including 2 in Gig Harbor, 2 in Seattle, 1 in Roslyn and 1 in Eugene, Oregon. Their biggest selling product – BSB-Brown Sugar Bourbon – is the fastest growing craft product in the Pacific Northwest and was named the “World’s Best Flavoured Whisky” by the World Whiskies Awards in London 2 years in a row.
Director of Accessibility and Communications @ AbiliTrek
Ways to Enhance Accessibility
Kyann Flint is the Director of Accessibility and Communications at AbiliTrek. She held the title of Ms. Wheelchair Washington 2017 and is now the coordinator of the state program. She enjoys writing, speaking, traveling, exploring the outdoors, and drinking coffee. Kyann uses a wheelchair for mobility and looks at her wheelchair like a pair of glasses that enables her rather than inhibits her but rather it is society’s social barriers that truly disable her. She lives her life to defy the defined disability.
President & CEO @ Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
Building a workforce and strong communities through the lens of equity, diversity and inclusion
Marilyn Strickland is the president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Recognized by leaders throughout the Seattle metro area for her principled, collaborative, and forward-thinking style, Strickland champions a regional approach to address our most pressing issues, including housing affordability, transportation, and economic opportunity. She is the first person of color and second woman to hold this role in the 136-year history of the organization. Strickland served as Mayor of Tacoma from 2010-2017, where she forged new ground on transportation, education, international investment and economic development. Prior to elected office, she held marketing communications positions in both the private and public sectors. She serves on the steering committee of the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, and is a trustee for the Urban Land Institute and Annie Wright Schools. She is a member of the International Women’s Forum. Strickland holds a B.A. from the University of Washington and a Master of Business Administration from Clark Atlanta University.
Wine Educator @ Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
Beverage & Spirit Trends
As National Wine Educator for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, he is responsible for a wide breadth of educational activities representing the entire portfolio of domestic and import wines. Paul is certified through the Court of Master Sommeliers and Society of Wine Educators and holds a degree in Marketing from Creighton University. Previously, Paul spent seven years managing Conn Creek winery, the historic and long time Ste. Michelle “pearl” in Napa Valley. Paul has a diverse background in hospitality management, wine list development and creating educational experiences that span nearly two decades. In
addition, he has spent time in the most important vineyards and wineries of Ste. Michelle’s import partners located in France, Italy, Spain, Chile and New Zealand. Paul and his wife
Meghan, both Kansas City natives, reside in St. Helena, California.
Principal/Owner @ AMP Services, LLC
Expert Resources for You - Advisory Network
Rick Braa is the Principal/Owner of AMP Services, LLC a Seattle based accounting and business consulting firm specializing in restaurants, breweries, food manufacturing, fitness clubs, hotels, and resorts. Rick specializes in consulting on strategy, process improvement, controls, financing, accounting, and information systems. Rick was formerly Partner at Clothier & Head, PS a nationally recognized CPA and Business Consulting firm where he led the expansion of its hospitality industry practice prior to merging with Peterson Sullivan. Prior to Clothier & Head, Rick was Director of Finance for Darigold, a $2.0 billion global enterprise. He held the top finance position for the $1 billion Consumer Products division and was instrumental in driving expansion for brands such as Nestle, Dreyers, and Silk Soymilk. Prior to that Rick served as Director of Finance for Restaurants Unlimited, Inc., one of the top multi-unit restaurant operators in the nation with greater than $150 million in annual sales. Brands included Palomino, Kincaid’s, and Cinnabon. He oversaw analysis, systems and internal controls for 11 years.
Rick has twice been awarded the Washington Restaurant Association’s “Supplier of the Year” and the Hospitality Financial & Technology Professionals highest award, the “Paragon”, recognizing his substantial and lasting contributions to the hospitality industry. He is a sought after speaker and author and has been published in many hospitality industry publications and quoted by reputable publications such as Newsweek and Forbes.
Partner @ Real Property Law Group
Expert Resources for You - Advisory Network
Sandip Soli is a partner in Real Property Law Group that serves clients active in hospitality and real estate. Notably, Sandip has represented Nordstrom, Aegis Living and other well-known clients, and serves as counsel to the Washington Hospitality Association, including on its Advisory Network. Sandip assists hospitality clients with corporate formation and governance, partnership agreements, management agreements, franchise agreements, master services agreements, vendor contracts and liquor licensing. In addition, he facilitates real estate transactions, including leasing, acquisitions, real estate finance, real estate development and construction contracts. In recognition of his experience, Sandip appears on the list of Best Lawyers published by U.S. News and World Report, and list of Super Lawyers published by Super Lawyers Magazine. Sandip received his law degree from the University of Washington and is licensed to practice in the State of Washington.
Allied Relations Manager @ Washington Hospitality Association
Stephanie Conway is the Allied Relations Manager. She oversees all Allied members, assisting them with their participation within the Washington Hospitality Association. Stephanie manages all programs, sponsorships, resources and new memberships. Born and raised in Washington state, Stephanie enjoys spending time with her husband, two daughters and three grandchildren. Through her value of relationship-building and eager attitude, Stephanie continues to contribute to the success of the association.
Executive Director and Co-Founder @ What’s Next Washington
Unique Ways to Source Employees
Susan is a founding board member and founding executive director of What's Next Washington (WNW). She is a national advocate within organizations that seek to empower and improve the lives of the formerly incarcerated by addressing recidivism, bias, and building leaders to advocate for regulatory, policy, and law reforms. Susan is active in the re-entry community and sits on the Washington Voting Justice Coalition (WVJC) and the FARE Housing Coalition. She helped pass the FAIR Chance Housing ordinance in Seattle, in 2017. This bill is the most progressive housing bill in the nation. She is a National Council of Formerly and Currently Incarcerated Women and Girls 2019 Reimagining Communities Fellow and was a 2018 Just Leadership USA (JLUSA) Fellow. Susan is a sought-after local and national, speaker with a passion for think tanks, organizing within and without difficult relationships, and building a nationwide base of support for all formerly incarcerated persons to participate and be heard. Prior to working in the nonprofit sector, Susan was employed in the mortgage industry as a loan officer and then as a foreclosure-defense consultant for 15 years. Susan Mason was incarcerated in federal prison from 2001-2003.
Vice President & CRO @ Washington Hospitality Association
Women Who Lead Roundtable
Teran Haase, Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer, has been with the association for nearly fifteen years. Teran oversees the Business Development department, working with her team to build cost savings programs for members to their ensure success. She specializes in strategic planning, budget creation and implementation, team development, volunteer and committee management as well as fiscal management and accounting. Teran is passionate about making a difference in member businesses and loves collaborating with business owners.
CEO @ T2 Team
Reducing high turnover by hiring right
Thomas Tomasevic, MBA is the CEO of T2 Team, a Puget Sound Leadership Development Consultancy. He has helped many businesses grow exponentially, find and retain talent, and perfect internal capabilities for long-term business stability.
Founder, President and CEO @ Ocean5
Sustainability in the Workplace
Troy Alstead is founder, president, and CEO of Ocean5 , the unique new place for playing, meeting, and dining in the South Sound, and Table 47 , the new farm-fresh restaurant located in Gig Harbor. In February 2016, he retired from Starbucks Corporation after 24 years with the company, having most recently served as Chief Operating Officer, responsible for leading the global operations of the business and its family of brands around the world. Troy joined Starbucks in 1992 when it was a privately held company with stores primarily in the Northwest US, and contributed to the company’s development into a global multi-channel consumer brand, with greater than 20,000 stores in 60+ countries, a global consumer products business, and a global manufacturing footprint and supply chain. Prior to becoming the company’s Chief Operating Officer, he served in a number of operational, general management, and finance roles, including the positions of Group President, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Administrative Officer. His career at Starbucks included more than a decade in the company’s international business, beginning with the initial formation of that business unit and the first expansion of Starbucks stores outside of North America. He held a progression of international leadership positions, including roles as Senior Leader of Starbucks International, President Europe/Middle East/Africa headquartered in Amsterdam, and Chief Operating Officer of Starbucks Greater China headquartered in Shanghai. In addition to his work with Ocean5 and Table 47, Troy serves on the boards of directors of Levi Strauss & Co., Harley-Davidson, and Topgolf International. Troy graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in business. He and his wife Connie have 4 children and live in Gig Harbor.