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A Starry Night for Hospitality Professionals

The American Hotel & Lodging Association’s fifth annual gala raised record funds and brought industry leaders around the world together.

By Amanda Christensen

On January 22, attendees of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) Foundation’s Night of a Thousand Stars gala gathered for an evening of honor and celebration at the Omni Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza. “Every January, the hospitality world comes together for one special evening to celebrate Stars of the Industry Award winners and raise critical funds for the AHLA Foundation’s program,” says Anna Blue, president of the AHLA Foundation.

The AHLA Foundation has a longstanding history of boosting the talent pipeline through recruitment and retention programs alongside advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) across the hotel industry while also supporting the fight against human trafficking.

“From training more than 800,000 hotel employees on human trafficking prevention to allocating more than $1 million annually in academic scholarships, our initiatives continue to serve as a force for good,” Blue notes.

This year, the event raised a record $1.2 million, which was over $400,000 more than last year’s gala. Sponsored by Hilton and Qwick, it brought in a robust and diverse audience of more than 500 people from around the globe. Alongside the record fundraising and sold-out ticketing, Blue reflects on how this event was special to her.

“This was my first Night of a Thousand Stars, and I absolutely loved watching the whole community come together—from high-level executives to individuals just starting out on their hotel journey,” she says. “This year, we featured Asia Magee’s journey from a tough childhood to a thriving hotel employee; [and watched] the North Star winner Sandra Hudgins take joy and pride in her work in laundry each day.”

The event is a medium for telling stories of the hotel industry, from celebrating a young girl’s dream to become a hotel cook, to honoring one hotel that identified and saved a survivor of human trafficking. “You could feel every person’s passion for the AHLA Foundation’s initiatives; there is a complete buy-in and commitment,” Blue adds. “The hospitality industry cares about its workforce, and Night of a Thousand Stars serves as a reminder that this a people-first industry.”

All photos are courtesy of the AHLA Foundation.

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