Dr. Debra Cannon Wins GRA Lifetime Achievement Award

Following a two-year postponement due to COVID-19 pandemic, the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) is thrilled to announce Dr. Debra Franklin Cannon, Ph.D. as the recipient of the 2022 Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Cannon serves as the Director of the Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality in the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University (GSU). Dr. Cannon will receive her award on September 27, 2022, as part of the GRACE Awards at the Georgia Aquarium.

A hospitality industry and academic educator of 43 years, Dr. Cannon specializes in human resources and quality service management. She has an extensive background in the hotel industry having held positions at both property and corporate levels with the Ritz Carlton and Hyatt Hotels.  She co-authored the textbook, Training and Development for the Hospitality Industry, serves on several academic editorial boards and is a frequent contributor to industry publications.  On the GSU faculty since 1991, Dr. Cannon has been the School’s Director since 2001. Under her leadership, the School has expanded to highly ranked undergraduate and graduate programs and is one of the few programs in the nation dually accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Accreditation Commission of Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA).

In beginning her career in hospitality, Dr. Cannon says, “I fell in love with the fast pace of the business, changing each day, and the thrill of making a positive difference in someone's day.”  Further, that the most rewarding parts of her career are the “success stories of students graduating and finding careers that they love and helping the industry find the talent they need. The career paths in the hospitality industry are varied and encompass more choices than ever which is very exciting.”

The GRACE Awards Gala, an inclusive event honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to Georgia’s restaurant industry, will take place at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, GA on Tuesday, September 27, 2022. At the event, winners for Restaurateur of the Year, Industry Partner of the Year, Hospitality Hero of the Year (formerly Distinguished Service), Restaurant Manager of the Year, Restaurant Employee of the Year, and ProStart Student of the Year.  New to 2022, the GRA added Restaurateur Rookie of the Year and the GRA Hall of Fame, as well as a new category nominated and voted on by the Georgia restaurant community - 'Georgia On My Mind' People's Choice Awards.  The GRACE Lifetime Achievement and Chairman’s award winners will also be honored.  All finalists are peer-nominated, ensuring the most deserving in the industry are recognized. Winners are chosen by the GRACE Academy, comprised of former GRACE finalists and honorees, as well as current GRA Board members.

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