AH&LA’s Appointment Lets Johnson’s Talents Shine

I’d like to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Carlson EVP of Development Nancy Johnson, who officially became the American Hotel & Lodging As- sociation’s (AH&LA) 2012 Chair last month during a black tie dinner at New York’s Mandarin Oriental.
Nancy and I met in 2001 when she was the director of development of Carlson’s select-service Country Inn & Suites (CI&S) by Carlson brand, which had just been launched. It was Johnson, along with then CI&S president Paul Kirwin (now president & CEO of AmericInn), who were the driving forces behind getting the newly formed brand off the ground. Today, there are more than 500 CI&S hotels around the world, and Johnson leads the Americas development effort for CI&S, Park Inn by Radisson and Park Plaza.
I will always remember the respect Nancy showed me a decade ago when I was a regional sales manager responsible for selling her advertising in HOTEL BUSINESS®. The bottom line is that she didn’t always buy what I was selling. However, she was respectful, always making an effort to have me feel as if I were the only person in the room. It comes as absolutely no surprise to me when I hear that this is how she treats everyone. This undoubtedly has been one of the secrets to her success over the years, and in my opinion, is one of the traits of a true leader.
Using this space to congratulate Nancy also allows me to discuss are still in a tiny minority. In this year’s Fortune 500, there are only 18 women CEOs. It should be 50/50, and some day it will be. But only if we as leaders—male and female—do something about it. We can not do anything about other industries, but we can do something about our own.”
I’m sure it was just a coinci- dence, but there was certainly a bit of irony that the same week Nancy was named the association’s Chair, the AH&LA released a new video on the importance of diversity to the lodging industry. The seven-and-a-half minute video, produced by the Association’s multicultural & diversity council, features seven prominent CEOs highlighting the importance of diversity to their companies. The comments emphasize the legitimate busi- ness reasons for promoting di- versity among their employees, vendors and guests.
Although, as an industry, many are beginning to experience bet- ter times, there are still plenty facing rough times out there. The AH&LA will be well served by Nancy Johnson, who will un- doubtedly share her development and operational expertise with any hotelier in need, whether they are an AH&LA member or not.That’s just her style.