Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association Announces Hospitality Award Winners

The Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association (IHLA) honored the hospitality industry’s finest at its 23rd annual Hospitality Awards Luncheon. Held in conjunction with the National Restaurant Association Restaurant-Hotel Show at McCormick Place, more than 400 professionals gathered to honor those who have made outstanding contributions to the hospitality industry in Illinois over the past year.

Hosted by Catherine De Orio, host of the Emmy award-winning television review show, “Check, Please!” and Executive Director of the Kendall College Trust, the afternoon was regaled with inspiring stories of stewardship and positive industry impact.

IHLA’s annual honors include the Ambassador of Hospitality Awards and the J. Patrick Leahy Lifetime Achievement Award. The Ambassador of Hospitality Awards champion four individuals who advocate for the greater good for the hotel community and those it serves. The J. Patrick Leahy Lifetime Achievement Award is given to one individual who has had a successful career of high achievement, a lifelong commitment to the hotel industry, and who has made significant contributions to the hospitality industry in Illinois. The Award was first given in 2003 to J. Patrick Leahy, executive vice president of American Hotel Register, headquartered in Vernon Hills, Illinois.

Pat Leahy spent his entire life serving the hotel industry, and he epitomized the word “hospitality.” He contributed greatly to the hospitality industry in Illinois by serving on IHLA’s Board of Directors for more than 20 years and co-chairing the association’s Annual Hospitality Gala for 19 years. Leahy was also a founding member of IHLA’s Educational Foundation Board of Directors. During his 20-year tenure, he helped the foundation award hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships to deserving Illinois students pursuing hospitality management degrees.

In 2007, Leahy passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. The following month, IHLA’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to rename the Lifetime Achievement Award in his honor. IHLA is proud to have its highest award for Lifetime Achievement preserve the legacy of its very first recipient.

This year’s deserving recipients represent a who’s who of leading industry executives:

  • J. Patrick Leahy Lifetime Achievement Award
  • John Belden, President & CEO, Davidson Hotels & Resorts
  • Ambassador of Hospitality Awards
  • Shevket Dardovski, Vice President, SP+
  • Lori Healey, CEO, Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority (MPEA/McPier)
  • Mark Lauer, General Manager, Sheraton Grand Chicago
  • Jay Stieber, Executive Vice President & General Counsel, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and Chairman, National Restaurant Association

“We are thrilled to give our most prestigious awards to five deserving recipients who have made significant contributions to the hospitality industry statewide. This 2018 class of influential leaders join a legacy of honorees who have made a significant impact on our industry,” says Marc Gordon, IHLA President and CEO.

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