Hilton president and CEO named 2020 Hospitality Executive of the Year

August 19, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State School of Hospitality Management in the College of Health and Human Development and the Penn State Hotel & Restaurant Society (PSHRS) have named Christopher J. Nassetta, president and chief executive officer for Hilton, as the 2020 Hospitality Executive of the Year.

Hilton is one of the world’s leading hospitality companies that owns, manages, franchises and leases thousands of properties across the globe.

Christopher Nassetta

Christopher Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton, has been named the 2020 Hospitality Executive of the Year by the Penn State School of Hospitality Management and the Penn State Hotel & Restaurant Society.

IMAGE: Hilton

The School of Hospitality Management and PSHRS will recognize Nassetta for his leadership and many accomplishments in the hospitality industry at a gala reception at The Nittany Lion Inn in State College on April 2, 2020.

In 2019, Hilton was ranked No. 1 on Fortune's list of the 100 best companies to work for in the U.S.

Nassetta, who joined Hilton in 2007, is being recognized for his strategic leadership of the company that, across its nearly 5,900 properties, accounts for more than 939,000 rooms in 114 countries and territories.

“This recognition is truly an honor, but I have to give all the credit to our Hilton family of more than 400,000 team members, as well as our many guests, owners and partners,” said Nassetta. “We are a business of people serving people, and I am deeply inspired by the incredible ways our hospitality has positively impacted the people and communities we served for the last 100 years. Thank you to the Penn State School of Hospitality Management and the Penn State Hotel & Restaurant Society for recognizing what is truly a group effort.”

The event not only recognizes Nassetta, but also provides the unique opportunity for Penn State Hospitality Management students to directly interact with and learn from one of the leading executives in the hospitality industry.

“Leading a company that has century of demonstrated success to greater heights is a remarkable task. Chris Nassetta has not only done that, but has crafted a team of professionals and outlaid a vision for Hilton that will take the company to new levels of success in the next 100 years,” said Donna Quadri-Felitti, Marvin Ashner Director of the School of Hospitality Management at Penn State. “We look forward to welcoming Chris, along with many Hilton-employed Penn Staters and Hilton friends and partners, to campus where our students and our community will celebrate his accomplishments and can hear from and learn firsthand from Chris.”

PSHRS has honored a number of industry leaders through this prestigious award since 1960. Its recipients represent a “Who’s Who” of extraordinary individuals who made indelible marks on the profession. 

“In receiving this recognition, Chris joins an impressive group of hospitality innovators and leaders who have had an exceptional impact on our industry,” said Matthew W. Schuyler, Penn State Class of 1987, vice chair of the Penn State Board of Trustees, and Hilton's chief human resources officer. “As a Penn State alum and a Hilton leader, it brings me great pride to see an institution I care deeply about bestow such a significant honor on a man I respect and have learned a great deal from in our partnership to create a great place to work for all over the last decade.”

“We are excited to add Chris Nassetta’s name to the pantheon of hospitality icons who have received this award previously, including Barron Hilton, president and chairman of the board of Hilton, in 1969,” added Ryan Spear, president of Spear Travel Group and president of PSHRS.

Prior to his role at Hilton, Nassetta was president and chief executive officer of Host Hotels & Resorts Inc. for seven years, and also served in the posts of executive vice president and chief operating officer. Before joining Host Hotels & Resorts, Nassetta co-founded Bailey Capital Corp. in 1991, where he was responsible for the operations of the real estate investment and advisory firm, and spent seven years at the Oliver Carr Co., ultimately serving as chief development officer.

In addition to his leadership role at Hilton, Nassetta serves in leadership capacities at a number of different organizations, including the World Travel & Tourism Council, where he is chairman; the CoStar Group Inc.; the Federal City Council; the Economic Club of Washington, D.C.; the Arlington Free Clinic; the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; and the Real Estate Roundtable.

Nassetta graduated from the University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce with a degree in finance. He currently serves on the McIntire School of Commerce Advisory Board.

For more than 80 years, the Penn State School of Hospitality Management has been a leader in higher education and research in service to the hospitality industry. With innovative courses, a tradition of engaged scholarship, and discipline-shaping research by world-class faculty, the school inspires all students to pursue excellence in scholarship, exhibit a strong work ethic, and become effective and ethical innovators.

To learn more about the dinner and reserve attendance, visit www.hhd.psu.edu/shm/hospitality-executive-year-event.

About the Penn State Hotel & Restaurant Society

The Penn State Hotel & Restaurant Society was founded to strengthen all hospitality professions and enhance the reputation of the Hospitality Management program. PSHRS is an Affiliate Program Group of the Penn State Alumni Association and the College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society.

PSHRS provides a means for achieving closer fellowship among alumni, faculty and students. PSHRS serves those who are currently attending Penn State in hospitality management or who are graduates of the program, as well as those who work within the hospitality management industries and have attended Penn State or are "friends" of the program.

About the School of Hospitality Management

Established in 1937, Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management is one of the nation’s oldest and most respected schools of hospitality management. Its top-ranked undergraduate and doctoral programs prepare global leaders with a rigorous, diverse curriculum focused, since its inception, on engaged scholarship, featuring partnerships with Penn State's Hospitality Services, Housing and Food Services, and top global hospitality brands. It’s also home to the oldest Penn State alumni program group, the Penn State Hotel & Restaurant Society. For more information about the school, contact Brian Black, director of industry and alumni relations, at bab180@psu.edu or 814-865-1853.

Last Updated August 19, 2019