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Past Honorees

2023 Honorees   |   2022 Honorees

 


2023 Honorees:

 

ATTRACTIONS

Haley Ward – Hudson Yards Experiences

Haley Ward

Haley Ward serves as Vice President of Sales for Hudson Yards Experiences at Related Companies. Haley joined Related in 2018 and oversees a viable and active sales program for third-parties, strategic partnerships, and business development for the attractions at Hudson Yards including Edge and City Climb. Haley’s brings more than a decade of global sales experience serving cultural institutions including WICKED the Musical on Broadway and The Metropolitan Museum of Art where she headed up international tourism sales and marketing efforts. Hailing from South Dakota, she has made New York her home for the last 12 years when her work isn’t sending her around the world.

BIDS/GOVERNMENT AFFILIATED

Reagan Stulbaum New York City Tourism + Conventions

Reagan Stulbaum

With more than 20 years of dedication to New York City Tourism + Conventions and the NYC tourism industry, Reagan truly embraces the organization’s mission to maximize travel and tourism opportunities throughout the city. After many years of promoting New York City to the travel trade, she now oversees the organization’s Tourism Ready Program which focuses on helping local organizations build their tourism business and supporting the development of community-based tourism. Reagan also works with the company’s Sustainable Tourism committee and is on the Executive Committee of Tourism Cares. A native New Yorker, she is passionate about developing responsible and sustainable tourism throughout the city.

CULTURAL ARTS

Laval Bryant-Quigley – The Brooklyn Museum

Laval Bryant-Quigley

Laval was born in Harlem and raised in Brooklyn. She attended the Calhoun School, pursued a degree in business at Brooklyn College, and holds two certifications in Business Strategy at Mckinsey & Company and Cornell University for Marketing Strategy. Laval has lent her expertise to spaces like The Metropolitan Museum of Art; however, her passion for community led her to the Brooklyn Museum. She is the Director of Community Engagement and Partnerships. Her current goal is to create more economic opportunities in cultural tourism. Her relationships with spaces throughout New York City continue to build visibility to the borough's cultural diversity.

HOTEL CONCIERGE

Kathleen Nugent-Harris – Loews Regency New York Hotel

Kathleen Nugent-Harris

Kathleen Nugent-Harris, Concierge at Loews Regency New York, is a detailed-oriented and creative professional well-versed in providing superior customer service in a luxury environment. Kathleen was the first female concierge hired at the iconic hotel and has worked there for nearly 40 years. Kathleen has participated in concierge educational panels, mentored colleagues and has written and been featured in articles about her concierge experience and NYC recommendations. She strives for excellence and is a member of The New York City Association of Hotel Concierges and the international Les Clefs d’Or. Kathleen loves traveling and has lived on four continents embracing the beauty of different cultures and languages. Fluent in French, Spanish and English she uses her facility with languages to put her guests at ease.

HOTEL MANAGEMENT

Megan Ferguson – Lotte New York Palace

Megan ferguson

Megan Ferguson is Director of Sales at Lotte New York Palace. She has been with The Palace for the past 13 years and proud to lead one of the city’s most passionate and driven sales teams. The team is extremely customer focused and consistently exceeds revenue goals to provide for the over 800 employees. Previously, Megan was with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts for 8 years. Megan is a graduate of Cornell University. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling, enjoying New York City, reading, and spending time with her family.
 

MEETING/EVENT PLANNER

Jaclyn Bernstein – Empire Force Events

Jaclyn Bernstein

A NYC Event Production, Hospitality & Tourism professional, leader, insider & champion!  Owner of NYC’s Longest Independent & Locally Owned Destination Management Company – only job worked at from college, then bought the company…  Momentous Honors: BizBash’s “Top 500 People in Events, Must-Know Event Pros, Most Influential Event Professionals & Influencers”; NYC Tourism + Conventions Board of Director; Lifetime Achievement Award - International Live Events Association (ILEA); 4 Halls of Fame / Legends - Meeting Professionals International NY, BizBash, ILEA NY, Event Solutions; Inaugural Woman of The Year – ILEA NY; Smart Women in Meetings – Visionary Award Winner.  During pandemic – Live Events Coalition NY Co-Founder.  Grew-up in Brooklyn on welfare, now lifelong respected industry caregiver & icon!

MULTI-TENANT DESTINATIONS

Ellie Chamberland – The Howard Hughes Corporation | The Seaport

Ellie Chamberland

Ellie is VP of Marketing for the Seaport at The Howard Hughes Corporation. In this role, she works to drive awareness, traffic and revenue to the Seaport’s businesses through activations, partnerships and campaigns. HHC owns, manages and develops commercial, residential and mixed-use real estate across the country and at the Seaport, HHC is revitalizing approximately 450,000 square feet with dynamic culinary, entertainment and cultural experiences. Prior to HHC, Ellie spent six years in marketing at Scholastic Book Clubs, giving teachers and students access to affordable books. Ellie lives in Brooklyn with her fiancé, Chris and pup, Barrow.
 

NIGHTLIFE

Alli Torres – Freehold Hospitality

Alli Torres

NYC native Alli Torres began hospitality at 18, later venturing West to train with Top Chef, Rich Sweeney. Winning Best New Venue (Florent) and later, Bartender of the Year (Refinery Hotel), Alli also ran the beverage program for icon Jonathan Waxman (1Hotel). The female team was praised with accomplishments from Cochon, to dinner at James Beard House. Also, a recurring competitor for Speed Rack; an international competition for Breast Cancer Awareness in addition to; Branca Games, Great Bar Race, TopWomen in Whiskey and Cocktail Portal’s Top 10. She is currently Operating Partner (Freehold) with more on the horizon!

RESTAURANT OPERATIONS

Andrea Roman – Fireman Hospitality Group

Andrea Roman

Andrea Roman brings vast experience of creating, selling, marketing and managing all aspects of events and partnerships in the world of restaurants. She started her career 30 years ago working for some of the mavericks in the restaurant world. She began at the once famous Sign of the Dove, then moved onto The Fireman Hospitality Group in 1995. She went on to The Palm Restaurant Group, Planet Hollywood International and returned to The Fireman Hospitality Group in 2012. Her philosophy is a restaurant is not only about the guest experience but also the role and responsibility it has to the community, She is proud and grateful her experiences let her to be a part of the Tourism Community.

RETAIL

Kristen Esposito – American Dream

Kristen Esposito

Kristen Esposito is the Founder of Esposito Global Partners, a consulting firm specializing in brand marketing and strategy for the retail, shopping, and tourism industry. As a global marketer renowned nationally and internationally, Ms. Esposito held senior leadership positions at the world’s largest department store, Macy’s, and the world’s largest shopping mall operator, Simon Property Group, as well as a tourism strategist for Tanger Outlets. Currently, she is leading American Dream’s tourism strategy, promoting their unparalleled 3.2 million square feet of world-class entertainment, retail, and dining. Additionally, in 2021 Ms. Esposito was appointed to the Brand USA Board of Directors by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce as a representative for the retail sector, a position she still holds today.
 

THEATER

Charlotte St. Martin – The Broadway League

Charlotte St. Martin

Charlotte St. Martin is President of The Broadway League, since 2006. The Broadway League is the trade association representing commercial theatre in the US and around the world. During her tenure, Ms. St. Martin has successfully managed various challenges affecting the industry including a world pandemic, labor strikes, economic downturns, and government issues. Under her tenure, the League has created numerous new development and educational programs. In addition to her role in presenting the annual Tony Awards with the American Theatre Wing, the League manages the National High School Musical Theatre Awards. She has spent nearly three decades with Loews Hotels, where she held a variety of positions including Executive Vice President of Operations and Marketing, and President and CEO of Loews Anatole Hotel.
 

TOUR GUIDE

Susan Birnbaum – Guides Association of NYC

Susan Birnbaum

Susan is the owner of SusanSez NYC Walkabouts, a tourism business dedicated to providing an authentic experience of NYC. With her 20 years of experience in the touring industry, Susan has created a unique and innovative platform that has allowed her to explore the city and share its history and culture with her guests. She is passionate about her work which is evident in the way she connects with her guests and takes them on an unforgettable tour of the city. She is a docent at the Museum of the City of New York, a recipient of The Bronx Tourism Award and this year she was the recipient of the GANYC Guiding Spirit Award.

TOUR OPERATOR

Georgette Blau – On Location Tours

 Georgette Blau

Georgette Blau was inspired to start On Location Tours when she moved to New York City. Her first apartment was a stone’s throw from where The Jeffersons (George & Louise) lived. She had an a-ha moment and began scouting other New York City locations that had been used in filming TV shows and movies. Using her passion for TV and movies as inspiration, she took that moment and created On Location Tours. She grew up in Norwalk, CT, and now lives in New Rochelle with her husband, son and daughter. She sometimes performs stand-up comedy, and enjoys writing and architectural preservation.
 

TOURISM GENERAL

Debra Harris – Hush Tours, Inc.

Debra Harris

Entrepreneur, businesswoman and founder of Hush Tours Inc, Debra Harris is no newcomer to entertainment. Married with two children, Debra started a promising endeavor and was instrumental in launching the careers of today’s hottest comedians and actors promoting the NY comedy scene in the 1990’s. In 1996 Debra had a courier/messenger company consisting of vans and trucks. In 2002 she began a business that blended hip-hop culture with tourism. The passion behind the roots of this music genre along with the talented hosts makes Hush Tours an extraordinary concept. The tour celebrates NYC as the Birthplace of Hip Hop.
 

TOURISM MARKETING

Laura Kleger – Guggenheim

Laura Kleger

Laura Kleger is the Senior Director, Digital, at the Guggenheim Museum, where she has guided the museum’s digital experience for over a decade. Through her leadership on digital strategies, products, and content, Kleger’s team enriches visitors’ on-site experiences and expands the museum’s mission to invite global audiences to wonder, learn and enjoy art together. Kleger has worked as a digital agency leader, film producer, and artist-curator, and also serves as a New Inc mentor. The innovative work realized under her leadership has been celebrated by NPR and The New York Times, and won numerous Webby, Anthem, and film festival awards.

TRANSPORTATION

Blanca Espinosa – White Rose Experiences

Blanca Espinosa

Blanca Espinosa is the Founder and CEO of White Rose Experiences, a leading luxury transportation provider in New York City. She is a native New Yorker with 40+ years of experience in the travel industry. She took a leap of faith during the pandemic and launched her own business. Drawing upon her industry background, she brought a new vision of “luxury” to the transportation industry. She is entering her second full year with growth far exceeding anyone’s expectations. She wants this to be a reminder to all women in the industry – go for it, spread your wings, and fly ladies!

SPECIAL AWARDS

UP AND COMER

Hayley Coriaty – One World Observatory

 Hayley Coriaty

Hayley is the Tourism & Trade Sales Manager for One World Observatory in lower Manhattan. She serves as a Board of Director for the New York State Tourism Industry Association and a Board of Director Executive for Beautiful People a non-profit providing accessible sports and recreation to children and young adults with disabilities. She graduated with a degree in Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management and further put herself through Project Management courses. She started her journey in tourism working for a Marriott and Hilton Hotel before being brought on as the first local employee to bring LEGOLAND® New York Resort to fruition. After five years with Merlin Entertainments, she came into Manhattan to open Great Jones Distilling Co. Hayley enjoys traveling, cooking, and is passionate about advocating for people with disabilities.
 

COMMUNITY SERVICE

Lakshmee Lachhman-Persad – Accessible Travel NYC

Lakshmee Lachman-Persad

Lakshmee Lachhman-Persad (she/her) is the founder of Accessible Travel NYC, a travel guide for people with disabilities. She’s a marketer, educator and consultant with 25 years of experience in the travel and tourism industry and is an influential changemaker with a powerful focus on positive disability representation and disability inclusion. Lakshmee uses her many service roles to help support and uplift the marginalized communities she is proud to be a part of. Her work is anchored in Disability Pride and intentional Disability Joy. She was awarded the prestigious Sapolin Public Accommodations Award from Mayor Adams for her community advocacy and winner of the Advocate of the Year at PCMA’s distinguished Visionary Award. She is a Board of Director with New York City Tourism + Conventions.

 

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT

Christine Metivier – City Cruises USA

 Christine Metiver

Christine Metivier currently serves as Co-Chief Operating Officer of City Cruises U.S. that operates a portfolio of water-based dining, sightseeing, private charter, and transportation experiences in 16 cities and delivers best-in-class guest experiences for over 3.5M guests annually. Christine brings thirty years of expertise leading sales and operational teams. She began her career as an Event Manager in Boston then transferred to New York City over twenty years ago to support the launch of the European-inspired, glass-enclosed vessel, Bateaux New York. She has served in a myriad of roles to include Director of Sales, General Manager and Regional Vice President.
 


2022 Honorees:

 

 

ATTRACTIONS

Nastassia Welter – Summit One Vanderbilt

Nastassia Welter

Nastassia Welter is a passionate, disruptive, and innovative thought leader with 20 years of experience in the tourism, hospitality, and entertainment industry, who has worked globally with the top brands/CEO’s & international organizations such as Disney, Citysightseeing, Leisure Pass and IHG Hotels, leading travel trade partners and clients, in China, Australia, Europe, Canada, USA and Latin America. Nastassia’s humble beginnings are a constant reminder that no matter your background or race, anything is possible if you have the courage to follow your dreams and always be kind. 

BIDs/GOVERNMENT AFFILIATED

Kelly Ann Curtin – NYC & Company

Kelly Ann Curtin

Curtin has been in the membership, sales, meeting & event industry for over 30 years. As part of the leadership team at NYC & Company, her current role includes oversight of NYC & Company’s membership growth, retention, and programs in addition to the destination services strategy. Further responsibilities include working with NYC & Company’s Board and various committees of the membership and as well as leading the fundraising for the NYC & Company Foundation. Curtin became a Certified Meeting Planner in 2002 and serves on several industry Boards including: the Javits Center Customer Advisory Board, the Broadway Association, Big Apple Greeter, Live Events Coalition and is a Vice Chair of the New York State Tourism Industry Association.

CULTURAL ARTS/MUSEUMS

Carly McCloskey – MoMA

Josephine Danielson

Carly McCloskey is proud to have 15 years of experience in the New York City cultural sector. During her current tenure at MoMA, she has worked on projects ranging from Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs to the major museum expansion that opened in 2019. Prior to MoMA, she spent four years at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, including work on Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. Before the world of museums, Carly worked in marketing for Broadway shows and the Paul Taylor Dance Company. In her spare time, she volunteers with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and fosters dogs with Korean K-9 Rescue.


 

HOTEL CONCIERGE

Josephine Danielson – Four Season Hotels and Resorts

Josephine Danielson

Josephine began her career in tourism and hospitality in the sky as a Flight Attendant with Pan American World Airways. Following her time with Pan American, Josephine joined Four Seasons Hotel New York in Midtown, Manhattan as a Concierge. Shortly after, Josephine was promoted to Chef Concierge and has been a member of Les Clef’s d’Or, wearing her keys with pride! Today, Josephine is well known throughout the city and the industry as both a passionate and a relentless leader. Throughout her career as Chef Concierge, she has received recognition consistently as a manager and as a department head of the quarter as well as recognition at the Big Apple Stars.

HOTEL MANAGEMENT

Becky Hubbard – Lotte New York Palace

Becky Hubbard

Rebecca Hubbard, General Manager of the iconic Lotte New York Palace, is a seasoned professional with over 25 years of experience. An inspiring leader with a longstanding reputation for exceptional quality, Becky is known for her warmth, passion, and commitment to excellence. Becky has held leadership roles with Marriott and Starwood Hotels, including The Ritz-Carlton and The Essex House.  Currently she sits on the Executive Board of Directors for The Hotel Association of New York City, the Executive Board of Directors for NYC & Company and is the Chair of the Finance Committee for NYC & Company.

MEETING/EVENT PLANNER

Corrine Statia Thomas – Absolute Events By Corrine, LLC

Corrine Statia Thomas

After relocating to the United States from England, Corrine Statia Thomas became a Corporate Executive with two well-known corporations. Over 17 years ago Corrine transitioned from corporate to entrepreneurship. Corrine owns and operates a Full-Service Meeting & Event Planning company that serves companies, associations and non-profit organizations in helping them to create successful and memorable experiences. With over 20 years of industry experience, Corrine has felt called to share her knowledge by creating a business growth coaching program to empower and build up small business owners to become ‘Founders’ who create the impact they were created for.

NIGHTLIFE

Caroline Hirsch – Caroline’s on Broadway

Caroline Hirsch

Caroline Hirsch, founder and owner of Carolines on Broadway, is a successful entrepreneur, producer, visionary and innovator in the entertainment industry with an illustrious career spanning 40 years. Her namesake club – which opened as a cabaret in Chelsea before moving to the South Street Seaport and then to its current location in Times Square – is one of the most enduring and respected comedy brands and a leading destination for live entertainment since 1982. Caroline created and the New York Comedy Festival, which features 200+ comedians in 150+ shows across all five boroughs. This November marks the 18th year of the festival.


RESTAURANT OPERATIONS

Joanne DeSantis – Cucina 8 ½

Joanne DeSantis

Introduced to the hospitality industry at Helmsley Hotels and the Waldorf Astoria, Joanne made her path in sales and marketing within the restaurant sector. Growing up in an Italian American household where everything centered around the kitchen, she developed her hospitality skills and found a natural ability of making people feel right at home. Serving the dining and entertainment needs of the tourism and travel trade for decades, Joanne is focused on creating memorable experiences, displaying welcoming hospitality, and building lasting connections. She has led the Group Sales effort of high volume restaurant operations such as Tavern on the Green, World Yacht Dining Cruises, The Rainbow Room and Windows on the World, and Carmine’s. Currently, Joanne manages Groups and Events at Cucina 8 ½ a high profile midtown hotspot. Come Visit!


RESTAURANT OWNERSHIP

Ellen Hart Sturm – Ellen’s Stardust Diner

Ellen Hart Sturm

It’s hard to imagine a life more quintessentially New York than Ellen Hart- Sturm’s. The Miss Subway title she was honored with in 1959, became her ticket to a brighter future. Looking back, we can say that her whole life is connected with the restaurant business. Today, she is the founder and owner of the extraordinary Ellen’s Stardust Diner, the first 1950’s-themed eatery with its singing waitstaff (“Stardusters”) in New York City, which opened in 1987. Stardust Diner has since served as a launching pad for many of its waiters/vocalists who have gone on to achieve success in Broadway musicals and touring companies, domestic & international. Also, Ellen was the first who, in 1979, advocated the creation of sections for smokers and non-smokers in her restaurant.

RETAIL

Julie Payne – Hershey’s Chocolate World

Julie Payne

Julie Payne is the Group Sales Consultant at Hershey’s Chocolate World and represents both the Hershey and Times Square locations to promote domestic and international visitation. Obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree of Tourism from Mansfield University, Julie started as a Group Tour Manager. She achieved the Certified Tour Professional designation from the National Tour Association and Certified Tour Industry Specialist designation from the American Bus Association. In 2018, Julie founded Attractour, LLC, a company focused on business development for the tourism industry. Over 30 years in this industry and she is devoted to her friends, family and her Berniedoodle, Baxter.

THEATER

Allison French – Broadway In Bound

Allison French

Allison French is the Senior Director of Broadway Inbound, the division of The Shubert Organization responsible for the wholesale ticketing of live entertainment in New York City. She currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the SYTA Youth Foundation, which provides travel experiences for youth and students who would otherwise not have the resources to participate in those enriching and life-changing opportunities. One of her favorite travel destinations is India, and here in New York City she can often be found (other than at a Broadway theater) on the 2nd floor at Sardi’s, catching up with her Broadway colleagues.

TOUR GUIDE

Emma Guest-Consales – Guides Association of NYC

Emma Guest-Consales

Dr. Emma Guest-Consales is President of the Guides Association of New York City (GANYC). She joined GANYC in 2011, served on the Board since 2015, and was first elected President in 2019. Emma is Tour Ambassador Captain at the One World Observatory, a guide for Bowery Boys Walks, and offers private tours of the city’s neighborhoods, museums, and historic locations in English and Italian. She also volunteers at the Watson Library in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Emma holds a doctorate degree in Italian Renaissance art, and has taught classes on the history, art, and architecture of New York City.

 

 

TOUR OPERATOR

Cindy VandenBosch – Turnstile Tours

“Cindy”

Cindy VandenBosch is the Founder and President of Turnstile Tours & Studio, a tour company and consulting practice based in Brooklyn. Working in partnership with nonprofits and small businesses, Turnstile has provided its over 60,000 visitors with in-depth experiences that explore the infrastructure, people, and places that maintain, sustain, and nourish New York City. Cindy and her team at Turnstile Studio also consult organizations on audience-centered interpretation and inclusive experience design. She is an accessibility advocate, adjunct professor at NYU’s Tisch Center of Hospitality, and has advisory roles with Travel Unity, the Street Vendor Project, and the Historic House Trust of NYC.

TOURISM

Kathie Stapleton – HSMAI & MPI

Kathie Stapleton

Kathie Stapleton initially joined HSMAI in 1968 as part time summer help for her father Frank W. Berkman, CHME, then Executive Vice President of HSMAI. Today she is the Executive Director of Greater New York Chapters of the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International and the Greater New York Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. She was the recipient of the Big Apple Chapter’s “Golden Apple” award in 1981 and the MPIGNY’s “President’s Award” in 1995. In that same year, Meeting News named her one of the 25 most influential people in the meetings industry. On October 21, 2009, Kathie was inducted into the BizBash Hall of Fame.

TRANSPORTATION

Donna Haynes - MTA

Donna Haynes

Donna is a successful marketing professional, specializing in tourism and partnership promotion. As Assistant Director, Promotional Partnerships at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the last 13 years, she has cultivated revenue-generated advertising initiatives and redeveloped Metro-North Railroad’s leisure travel package program. In the past year, her portfolio was expanded to include systemwide customer engagement; including the popular Welcome Back New York campaign. Donna received the Group Travel Award from New York State Tourism, for her success with representing the Hudson Valley as a travel destination and contributing to the region’s economic growth and currently serves on New York State Tourism’s Interagency Task Force.

 

2 Special Awards

UP AND COMER

Jasmine Gerald – Jasmine’s Caribbean Cuisine

Jasmine Gerald

Ms. Jasmine Gerald is a self-made, serial entrepreneur whose latest venture, Jasmine’s Caribbean Cuisine landed her on Times Square’s Restaurant Row. She is a 25 year veteran of the beauty and self-care industry. Her prominent clients span the film, music, beauty, technology and financial services industries. Her talents have been showcased internationally and globally. Her business ventures register presences in the US, Europe and Africa.   Ms. Gerald is co-founder of Core Radiance, a holistic beauty, hair care line. She coaches and mentors rising professionals and at-risk youth.  She intends to open and multiply Health and Wellness clinics across the Caribbean.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT

Mary Farrell – Tishman Speyer/Rockefeller Center

Mary Farrell

Mary's hospitality career began in high school with her first gig at Corbisiero's Italian Restaurant in Freehold, NJ. After that, working in various positions in the tourism industry from bartender to representative for Restaurant Associates, where she honed her working skills and gained experience. Mary sold and marketed FIT programs, group events, buy-outs and large-scale events in the RA accounts: United Nations, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, The American Museum of Natural History, and more. She followed up that role with two years representing Broadway shows. She’s been the Senior Director of Sales at Rockefeller Center for over 16 years. Her primary responsibilities are to oversee sales of the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, Rockefeller Center tours, Rockefeller Center's world-famous ice rink, Rockefeller Center shopping and dining. She also proudly sits on the Board of NYC & Company, where she was just reelected to her fourth, 2 year term.