DALLAS—Douglas A. Kessler is voluntarily resigning as president/CEO of Ashford Hospitality Trust to pursue other professional opportunities. The company’s board of directors has appointed J. Robison Hays III to replace him.
Kessler’s resignation and Hays’ appointment will be effective Thursday, May 14, 2020, the date of the company’s annual meeting of stockholders. Hays has been serving as the company’s chief strategy officer, a position he has held since May 2015. Kessler will remain with the until May 14 to assist with the transition and be available to the company for a year on a consulting basis.
“I would like to thank Douglas for his invaluable leadership and contributions to Ashford Trust during his considerable tenure,” said Monty J. Bennett, chairman of the board, Ashford Hospitality Trust. “He has been an extraordinary colleague and instrumental in the growth of Ashford Trust since its IPO in 2003. We wish him well in his future endeavors. We believe Rob is the ideal candidate to execute the vision for the company going forward. Having joined Ashford Trust in 2005 and serving most recently as our chief strategy officer, Rob has been actively involved in all aspects of the company. Given Rob’s breadth of experience and demonstrated leadership capabilities, we believe the transition will be seamless.”
Kessler is also resigning as senior managing director of Ashford Inc.
Hays will resign as co-president/chief strategy officer of Ashford Inc. and assume the role of senior managing director. He will also resign as chief strategy officer of Braemar Hotels & Resorts Inc., and will no longer be an officer of Braemar. He will also no longer serve as chief strategy officer at Ashford Trust.
Prior to serving as chief strategy officer, he was SVP-corporate finance and strategy since 2010. Before joining the company, Hays worked in the corporate development office of Dresser Inc., a Dallas-based oil field service and manufacturing company, where he focused on mergers, acquisitions and strategic initiatives. Before working at Dresser, he was a member of the Merrill Lynch Global Power & Energy Investment Banking Group based in Texas.
The leadership change comes after the company faced criticism from some for receiving $126 million in funds from the Paycheck Protection Program, as part of the CARES Act.