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12/09/2021

Don’t Miss ForWard @ HT-NEXT: Women at the Top

AHLA and HT are partnering to bring AHLA’s platform for advancing women in hospitality to our 2021 conference.
Michal Christine Escobar
Senior Editor (Hotels)
Michal Christine  Escobar  profile picture
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ForWard: Women Advancing Hospitality is AHLA’s platform for engagement and a vehicle to highlight female leaders in the hospitality industry. ForWard launched in 2018 as an annual conference to recognize the women of the hospitality industry and champion the next generation of leaders. Since then, it has grown to a year-round platform for engagement and as a vehicle to highlight female leaders. From in-person to online, thought leadership education to networking, ForWard harnesses the power of women to elevate the hospitality industry.

HT and AHLA are pleased to be bringing a session by ForWard advocates to HT-NEXT. This session will share insights into the leadership path for influential women in tech and their lessons learned along the way. Some of the topics that will be discussed during this session include: "How can we encourage more women to entertain a career in hospitality technology or commit to it as a long-term career?" and "How can we challenge the recruitment process to ensure female candidates are drawn to job descriptions?" and "What are some key ways we can implement change right now to create success?"

Register now to reserve your seat at HT-NEXT!

MEET OUR SPEAKERS

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Katie Moore, CMP, Vice President, Conferences & Events, American Hotel & Lodging Association

Katie Moore, CMP is the vice president of conferences and events for the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA). Katie leads the association’s events team and is responsible for the development and execution of all annual programs.

Katie started her career in the meetings industry with government meetings. She then joined the AHLA team, advancing to her current position and where she plays an integral role in new event strategy as well as boosting ROI and member satisfaction with existing programs.

At AHLA, Katie also serves as the staff liaison for the Resort Committee and ForWard Advisory Committee. She represents AHLA on the Encore Customer Advisory Board and Events Industry Council. Katie obtained her certified meeting professional (CMP) designation in 2010, and is a long-standing member of Meeting Professionals International, previously serving as vice president on the Board of Directors of her local chapter. She holds a B.A. in anthropology from Union College, in Schenectady, New York.

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Jeff Bzdawka, CEO, Knowland

Jeff joined Knowland as CEO in June of 2021 to lead the company in its role as a critical hotel partner during the industry recovery. As a seasoned hospitality professional with over 30 years’ experience, Jeff is known for his proven track record of building customer-focused solutions, scaling teams, and driving growth.

He most recently served as SVP, Global Hotel Technology at Hyatt Hotels, where he managed the property technology roadmap for its portfolio of 1,000+ hotels worldwide. Prior to that, he served as SVP, Global Hotel Operations for the hotel brand. Jeff also held executive roles with leading technology providers, including TravelClick and Pegasus Solutions. And he currently serves on the board of directors for BirchStreet Systems.

He was elected to the AHLA/HTNG Vendor Advisory Board and named co-chair to lead the council. and joins HTNG’s Executive Leadership Group (ELG), providing a platform to tackle critical technology needs and concerns for the hospitality industry.

As a leader, he embraces the service-profit chain theory of established relationships between profitability, customer loyalty, and employee satisfaction, loyalty, and productivity.

A hard-and-fast Green Bay Packers fan, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Wisconsin – Stout with a BS in Hospitality Leadership and is active with the university’s foundation and alumni programs.

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Sarah Fults, Vice President of Distribution at MGM Resorts International

Sarah Fults brings 26 years of hospitality experience to her role as Vice President of Distribution at MGM Resorts International. In her role at MGM, Sarah is responsible for discovering and implementing new technologies to optimize channel performance while driving operational efficiencies and reducing costs. She joined MGM in 2016 from Choice Hotels & Loews Hotels & Resorts where she managed the commercial, operational, and technical aspects of Third Party Distribution. 

A career hotelier, Sarah started working front desk and then as a Reservations Manager at The Sanctuary on Camelback in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was there she discovered the technical side of the hospitality industry as the beta partner for a new PMS and joined Anasazi in 1997 working in the property systems group. As the hotel industry embraced the Internet, Sarah was at the forefront as an Account Director with digital agencies Interactive Sites and Blue Square Studios. Having developed a passion for start-up ventures, she joined HBSI in 2005 where she worked on developing the first channel management solution and in 2008 Sarah moved to Austria and joined Hetras to develop the first SaaS Hotel Management System.

Sarah served on the HEDNA (Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) Board of Directors as President from 2017 – 2020.  She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Global Business, specializing in Marketing from Arizona State University.  In her spare time, she enjoys traveling internationally, fashion, interior design, and architecture.

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Kathy Hatala, Director of Sales, Blueprint RF

Kathy Hatala is the Director of Sales for Blueprint RF and leads the sales operations for the managed Wi-Fi company. With a focus on Hospitality, Kathy drives relationships with national hotel brands, property management companies and ownership groups. Blueprint RF is owned by Cox Enterprises, a communications company that has been family-owned for more than 120 years.

Prior to joining Blueprint RF, Kathy was SVP, Principal Consultant/National Accounts with Speakeasy, a global consulting firm focused on communication development. Kathy managed business development, primarily in the entertainment & media industry. Kathy has also held executive positions at Turner (now Warner Media) and Viacom Media Networks leading content distribution sales & marketing teams within the cable industry. She started her sales career at The Weather Channel.

Kathy has served for more than 20 years on the WICT Networks Southeast Board, an association dedicated to empowering and developing women in media, entertainment, and technology. She also serves as a Circle Mentoring Leader with Cox Communications Women’s employee resource group.

Kathy and her husband Jeff live in Atlanta, Georgia. She grew up in Wilmington, NC and attended North Carolina State University.

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Dayna Kully, Co-Founder and Partner, 5thGenWireless

Dayna Kully is the co-founder and partner in 5thGenWireless, a consultancy which helps hoteliers and vendors develop strategies to capitalize on the paradigm shifts created by the Internet Revolution. 5thGenWireless advises companies on product and marketing strategies to best adapt current hotel systems for the new Internet savvy guest.

Dayna has 40 years of experience in hospitality sales, channel development, marketing, and senior level management, specializing in technology. Dayna has held leadership roles in leading technology companies including AT&T, Corning, Enseo, Everest Broadband, General Electric, Mitel Networks, Northern Telecom and Sprint. Dayna also co-founded Brautovich/Kully, a marketing consultancy specializing in vertical market technology.

Dayna is an Executive Advisor to the Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG) Board of Governors, co-chairs the HTNG Modernizing Infrastructure Strategic Pillar and has helped spawn and guide multiple workgroups on topics such as 5G, CBRS, Cellular, Wi-Fi, Central Authentication, Passpoint/HS2.0 and Fiber-to-the-Room.

Dayna holds a Bachelor's degree with honors in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley.