Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) Advisory Council
The Advisory Council is a group of hospitality professionals who serve as advisors to the Hospitality and Tourism Management program and faculty. The members of the Advisory Council come from a variety of sectors within the dynamic hospitality industry. Focusing on program improvements, developing experiential learning opportunities, and promoting close cooperation among the community, they support the Hospitality and Tourism Program on a wide range of activities involving students, faculty and alumni.
Senior Vice President of Human Resources, The Cheesecake Factory
Dina is Senior Vice President of Human Resources for The Cheesecake Factory- named one of the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For” six years in a row. The Cheesecake Factory differentiates itself through their menu innovation, service and hospitality and operational excellence—each of which is dependent upon the strong performance of their 38,000 staff members and the common culture that binds them together. In her role, she is responsible to drive the overall effectiveness and strategy of the HR organization, building the capacity to meet their talent challenges, which include talent acquisition and development, leadership & organization development, executive compensation, strategic benefits design and delivery, succession planning and employer branding efforts.
Before joining The Cheesecake Factory, Dina was Corporate Human Resources Vice President at Thomson/Technicolor. Prior to joining Thomson/Technicolor, she spent her career with The Boeing Company, last as the Human Resources Division Director for Rocketdyne. Dina holds a Master of Science in Organization Development from Pepperdine’s’ Graziadio School of Business, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Psychology from California State University Northridge. She’s been honored as the Ventura County NHRA HR Executive of the Year. She is a Board Member of the Cancer Support Community, a Non-profit organization dedicated to providing free emotional support, education and hope for people with cancer and their loved ones. She is a member of The Senior Human Resource Foundation, HARRT, NHRA, & SHRM.
Director of People & Culture, Four Seasons Hotel, Westlake Village
Jim Cathcart is Director of People & Culture for Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village. He has 20 years of HR experience at Four Seasons properties in both Santa Barbara and Westlake Village. He is a resident of Oxnard, where he lives with his wife and two kids.
Vice President of Sales, Marketing & Client Experience, Town & Country Travel
Town & Country Travel is a boutique leisure luxury travel agency that has been a staple
in the Conejo Valley since 1984. They have moved adeptly with the evolution of the
travel industry through both embracing modern technology and honing the “old fashioned”
craft of exceptional service. Heidi’s responsibilities include managing supplier
and media relations, advertising, sales & marketing strategy, client relations and
events, and content creation across multiple platforms.
Prior to joining the Town & Country team in 2014, Heidi has worked in radio, advertising, and in the sports industry; all in various sales and media strategy capacities. She earned both her undergrad (’00) and MBA (’06) from California Lutheran University.
Director of Sales & Marketing and General Manager, Brighton Management
Victor Dollar joined Brighton in 2006 to oversee operations for a number of hotel properties within Brighton’s portfolio, Victor brings over 21 years of extended-stay, resort, full and select service experience to Brighton. His experience has ranged with positions from Director of Sales & Marketing, Assistant General Manager, and General Manager. He prides himself for his strategic endeavors to increase sales, rates, community relations, and ultimately profitability.
Victor is a service-minded leader known for his tremendous energy for success, and passion for motivating his team to achieve optimum results. During his employment at Marriott, he was awarded the coveted Silver Award from Marriott for Guest Satisfaction. He also serves as Chairman of Ventura County Lodging Association, as a Board Member of the Workforce Investment Board, and as a Board Member of the Ventura Visitors and Convention Bureau.
C-level Executive and Leader, former COO, CaliBurger (ret.)
Rand Ferris has over 25 years of executive-level operations experience in the restaurant, retail, and service industries. He has held senior leadership roles in the following well-known companies; Grand American Fare, Blum’s of San Francisco, The Nut Tree, IHOP, and Togo’s Eateries. Recently retired as Global COO of CaliBurger, an exciting new burger concept celebrating the technology, lifestyle, and culture of California with locations around the world. Rand also serves with pleasure on a number of non-profit Boards in the Los Angeles area and holds an MBA from The Anderson School of Management at UCLA.
Vice President of Development, Sea Glass Hospitality Partners
Marc Francois is a second-generation hotelier whose passion for the industry was cultivated at an early age. He helped co-found Sea Glass Hospitality having spent five years with RAR Hospitality working in a variety of capacities throughout his time there. Marc served most recently as Director of Business Development for RAR, previously holding positions as a Corporate Sales Director, Assistant General Manager, and General Manager for numerous hotels in the US & Canada.
Mr. François began his career working in Purchasing, Acquisitions, and Entitlement Planning at R.D. Olson Development in Irvine, CA. Among the highlights of his time at R.D. Olson were his work to help complete the sale of two Residence Inns by Marriott to Apple REIT, procure and develop the Renaissance ClubSport in Aliso Viejo, CA, and acquire the Timber Cove Inn, a luxury boutique hotel on California’s Sonoma Coast.
A Southern California native, Marc is a devoted Los Angeles sports fan and is actively engaged with advancing educational & employment opportunities locally and in the developing world. He contributes to and volunteers with The 610 Project, Haitian American Caucus, and Corazon de Vida. These foundations work to build, develop, and operate schools & housing for orphans and at-risk youth in Haiti and Mexico. Marc is an alumnus of California Lutheran University.
Executive Director, Camarillo Hotel & Tourism Association
Yuliana Gonzalez serves as the Executive Director of the Camarillo Hotel & Tourism Association. A
marketing-focused organization, Yuliana oversees the implementation of data-driven
marketing strategies and innovative advertising campaigns aimed at increasing hotel
occupancy and tourism in Camarillo. Utilizing key target markets and demographics
to strategically define audiences, she is constantly looking at new ways to inspire
travel. Her past work in marketing, PR and social media has led to successful campaigns
that have attained measurable results and brand exposure. A proud graduate of Cal
State Northridge, Yuliana received a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Chicano, a
Studies before finding her passion for marketing.
The Camarillo Hotel and Tourism Association
The Camarillo Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is responsible for marketing and promoting the City of Camarillo regionally, domestically and internationally as a tourism destination with the goal of increasing hotel overnight stays. This is accomplished by highlighting the uniqueness of the area and promoting it as a leisure, meetings and sports event destination. Now in its fifth year of existence, CHTA has developed marketing programs and established strategic partnerships to increase visitation to the City of Camarillo. Guided by its mission, “with leadership and innovation, CHTA will develop a robust hotel and tourism industry in the City of Camarillo through collaborative planning and by connecting people, ideas and resources”, CHTA is committed to creating a thriving tourism industry in Camarillo.
Executive Director, California Restaurant Association Foundation
Alycia Harshfield is Executive Director of the California Restaurant Association Foundation (CRAF), the philanthropic arm of the statewide advocacy group working on behalf of the Golden State’s 90,000 restaurant locations.
With an extensive background in nonprofit administration and a passion for charitable fundraising, Alycia joined the organization in 2009. In 2016, Alycia led the evolution of the California Restaurant Association Foundation – which was established in 1981 and has awarded nearly $1.75 million in scholarships in its 35-year history – to CRAF, which supports educational initiatives, as well as the state’s foodservice worker population of nearly 1.5 million.
In her time with the Foundation, Alycia has established several successful new programs, including Force in Training (FIT™), which focus on job readiness training for youth and Restaurants Care, an emergency assistance fund for restaurant workers facing unforeseen hardship. Before her current role, she served as Director of Fund Development & Communications for the Sacramento Children’s Home where she developed successful events and partnerships expanding the reach of the 150-year-old organization. A longtime member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, she also is active with the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers.
Alycia studied Communications at California Lutheran University. Following graduation, she lived in Japan teaching English for Sony Corp., followed by stints with Hasbro Toys and Japanese-owned Shinwa Medical. A native of Sacramento, Calif., Alycia now lives in Carlsbad with her husband and two beloved dogs.
Director of Government Affairs and Tourism, Greater Conejo Valley Chamber
Adam Haverstock has served as the Director of Government Affairs and Tourism for the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce for 5 years. In that role, he oversees the Chamber of Commerce’s government affairs program and is also the Director of Operations of the Conejo Valley Tourism Improvement District. Prior to working for the Chamber of Commerce, Adam was employed as a field representative for California State Assemblyman Jeff Gorell. He also served as Assemblyman Gorell’s campaign manager during two election cycles.
Adam lives in Moorpark, California with his wife Andrea and spends his free time watching football, snowboarding and brewing craft beer.
General Manager, Ventura Beach Marriott
Shannon Hillygus, is the General Manager of the newly transformed, Ventura Beach Marriott. With 285 guest rooms and nearly 16,000 square feet of convention space where guests tap into a different kind of energy – the kind that empowers the mind with new spaces, inspiring décor, and thoughtful amenities at every turn
Shannon led the hotel operations team as the Director of Hotel Operations beginning in 2002 before taking the role as General Manager in 2013. Locally he serves on the board of VC Coast, is an advisory member of Visit Ventura and the Board Chair of the Ventura Chamber of Commerce/trustee of the Ventura Chamber PAC.
Shannon began his hospitality career working various roles in the restaurant industry before pursuing a career in hotel management. His 23-year career in hotel management includes property portfolios with Radisson, Holiday Inn, Hilton Sheraton, and Marriott. He enjoys mentoring new leaders and actively engaging the education partners to inspire the next generation of hospitality professionals.
Chief Executive Officer, Urbane Cafe
Tom Holt, President & Chief Executive Officer – Mr. Holt is the founder, CEO, and Chief Believer
of Urbane Cafe. His first career was at the age of sixteen when he became a professional
motocross racer. As a racer, he traveled the world and won many championship races
in Brazil and South America from 1988 - 1990. After his racing days concluded he embarked
He graduated from California Lutheran University with departmental honors in Kinesiology with an emphasis in physical therapy. After college, Mr. Holt opened a Juice Bar in Camarillo, CA called “Juice Stop”. Mr. Holt continued to open three more successful locations and developed one of the first Mobil juice trailers. In 2002, he sold all his juice bars to a national retailer, Robeck’s Juice, and decided to open his own restaurant concept, seeing the need for delicious sandwiches and salads surrounded by fresh-baked bread. Urbane Cafe was born in September of 2003 in Mr. Holt’s home town of Ventura, CA with the hope of creating a great community café. Mr. Holt’s quickly realized that he was onto something hot and that Urbane Café offered a delicious product that guests began to crave. Mr. Holt has continued to develop the concept to its current form and has managed to self-finance his growth to this point.
Mr. Holt enjoys time with his family, running, triathlons, skiing and is passionate about supporting charities such as Boys and Girls Club and Project Understanding. He is currently on the State Board of the California Restaurant Association and is an active member of Young Professional Organization.
Senior Vice President, Caruso Affiliated
Rick Lemmo, Senior Vice President of Community Relations, is the liaison for the Caruso Affiliated Development team with key community members. In this crucial role, Mr. Lemmo and the development team work diligently to shape projects that respect each community’s unique character and the spirit of its residents.
In order to better understand each area he serves, Mr. Lemmo becomes involved in numerous local organizations, as well as mentoring other members of the Caruso team to engage with the communities we serve. He is currently a member of the Board of Regents for California Lutheran University, Immediate Past Chair of the Los Robles Hospital Regional Medical Center and Thousand Oaks Surgical Hospital Board of Directors, Past President of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, Current Chair of the Greater Conejo Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce, President of the Downtown Glendale Community Benefit District, Board Member of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce and past Advisory Board Member of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation in Carlsbad, CA. Lemmo was also privileged to serve as Founding President of the Thousand Oaks Boulevard Association, Founding Vice President of the Thousand Oaks Boulevard Business Improvement District and Founding President of Glendale Pops Orchestra, part of Glendale Arts.
Rick is a member of a wide variety of charitable, arts and community service-focused organizations. Being an active member of these entities builds and strengthens relationships that are important in monitoring the pulse of, and encouraging input from our communities. With his insight, Caruso Affiliated can better respond to each neighborhood’s needs while also allowing him the opportunity to provide and enjoy public service both regionally and locally.
Prior to joining Caruso Affiliated nearly 17 years ago, Rick Lemmo spent 27 years in the broadcast industry. It is this entertainment-based experience that has thoroughly prepared him for working with a developer that delivers such unique properties – destinations that are more than just places to shop, dine and be entertained, but places that become the center of a community where one can gather with family and friends.
Throughout his career, Mr. Lemmo has received numerous awards for achievement in business and community service, including “Business Person of the Year”-1999 (Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce), Corporate Partner of the Year-2011/2012(Glendale Chamber of Commerce), Rotarian of the Year-1999 (Thousand Oaks Rotary Club), Man of the Year-2006/2007(Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce) and Man of the Year-2012/2013 (Glendale Chamber of Commerce), 2013 Caruso Affiliated Dedicated Service Award.
Rick and his wife Lou Ann have three sons, Nicholas, Richard and Zachary, a lovely daughter-in-law, Colette and two precious Granddaughters, Ella Grace and Emilia Suzanne.
General Manager, Thousand Oaks Palm Garden Hotel
Steven Ortmann is the General Manager at the Palm Garden Hotel in Thousand Oaks. Steven started in the Hospitality Industry at just 17 years old and began his quick ascension through the Hilton brand hotels. Earning multiple employee recognitions with Hilton, Steven was quickly promoted to Assistant General Manager at just 21 years old. Steven quickly gained experience with property renovations so when the Palm Garden Hotel changed ownership, he was the perfect choice to take over as the General Manager of the property.
Steven continues to be recognized not only for his work accomplishments but his outstanding service to the community. As one of the founding members of the Conejo Valley Tourism Improvement District, Steven continues to dedicate his time and resources to the Conejo Valley, serving as both Vice-Chair and Chair of the board.
Steven has become the creative force behind the current multi-million-dollar renovation at the Palm Garden Hotel, overseeing and managing each design detail of the new guest rooms. His ability to maintain exceptional customer service while balancing a complete hotel renovation contributes to his recent achievement of the title “Outstanding General Manager of the Year” by the Stars of the Industry. Steven continues to grow in this industry and consistently seeks new opportunities to offer his services and support to our community.
Rudi Schreiner, cruise line executive, was born in Vienna, Austria. After graduating from high school, Schreiner went on to study architecture and anthropology in Vienna. During his studies, he received his first research scholarship to a tribal region in Eastern Nepal. During the following years, he continued his research activities in the Peruvian Amazon region, where at one time he spent seven months on a river raft, his first experience cruising the rivers of the world.
Schreiner came to the United States and spent several years in New Orleans, where he worked in the tourism industry and also graduated with an MBA degree from Loyola University. In 1982, he moved to Los Angeles to head Student Travel International, a tour operator, specializing in European bus tours for college graduates and alumni.
In 1992, he joined Uniworld as Vice President of Product Development. After the construction of the Main-Danube Canal was concluded in late 1992, Schreiner saw a strong future in river cruises between Amsterdam and the Black Sea. At Uniworld, he created new itineraries from Amsterdam to Vienna and to Budapest and within the next few years he also developed programs for all major European waterways, including the Rhine, Main, Danube, Elbe, Po and the Douro river in Portugal. With his architectural background, Schreiner also became involved in the design and in the construction of river cruise ships. In March of 2000, he left Uniworld and started up the USA office of Viking River Cruises, where he was President.
Schreiner has been frequently credited with his involvement in the development of the modern river cruise concept and has been promoting these products since 1993 to the travel industry. In 2002, Schreiner teamed up with Jimmy Murphy and Kristin Karst and founded AmaWaterways with the commitment to make it the best river cruise program in the world.
In 2003, in a marketing partnership with Globus (Lugano, Switzerland) Schreiner was also responsible for the development of the river cruise product of Avalon Waterways, a Globus subsidiary.
Today, AmaWaterways operates 21 of the most luxurious river cruise ships around the globe. AmaWaterways owns 16 ships in Europe, AmaDagio (2006), AmaLegro (2007), AmaCello & AmaDante (2008), AmaLyra & Amadolce (2009), AmaBella (2010), AmaVerde (2011), AmaCerto (2012), AmaPrima (2013), AmaReina & AmaSonata (2014), AmaVenita & AmaSerena (2015), AmaStella & AmaViola (2016). AmaWaterways also is co-owner of two magnificent ships on the Mekong, AmaLotus (2011) & AmaDara (2015) and AmaWaterways also operates three additional ships under lease agreements, AmaVida (2013) in Portugal on the Douro River, AmaPura (2015) in Myanmar and Zambezi Queen on Africa’s Chobe River (Botswana/Namibia).
In 2014, Berlitz published the first comprehensive European River Cruising Guide Book where Douglas Ward, the world’s foremost authority on cruising evaluated over 250 river cruise ships and Berlitz awarded AmaWaterways with the top 11 spots.
AmaWaterways has received numerous awards for “The Best River Cruise Line” and “Best River Cruise Ships” and Rudi Schreiner has been awarded “The Most Creative River Cruise Executive” in 2015 and in 2016.
Managing Partner, Continuing Life LLC.
Warren E. Spieker is Managing Partner of Continuing Life LLC. Continuing Life provides business services and support for Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) in California including, Morningside of Fullerton, La Costa Glen Carlsbad, University Village Thousand Oaks, and Stoneridge Creek Pleasanton. All four communities are over 95% occupied with high resident satisfaction ratings. The company is assisting in the 2019 opening of Reata Glen San Juan Capistrano and The Glen at Scripps Ranch and will provide support for those communities. Continuing Life is ranked #19 in Fortune Magazine’s 50 Best Places to Work in Aging Services.
Mr. Spieker joined Continuing Life Communities in 2001 and previously held Sales & Marketing, community start-up, and Vice President roles before becoming Managing Partner of Continuing Life in 2013. Prior to transitioning to senior housing, Mr. Spieker worked for the investment bank Alex. Brown & Sons in the San Francisco office.
Mr. Spieker serves on the board of the YPO Coastal San Diego chapter and has served on the Board of Trustees for Francis Parker School and The Friends of Del Mar Parks. He lives in Del Mar with his wife, Meghan, and their four sons.
He received a masters degree in business administration from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University where he coached the women’s rugby team to the national championship. He has a bachelor of arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley where he played rugby.
Executive Director, Ventura County Lodging Association
Brian Tucker is a team builder specializing in public/private partnerships. With a degree in marketing
and public administration and more than 20 years of experience, Brian continues to
design and implement high impact, data-driven communication strategies. He is well
versed in traditional and non-traditional media, stakeholder communication, strategic
planning and project management. An expert in tourism marketing with a passion for
the California experience, Tucker has worked with Grammy-award winning artists, economic
and workforce developers, tourism and destination experts, transportation professionals,
travel officials and political leaders to promote in-bound travel.
As Executive Director of the Ventura County Lodging Association, Tucker works closely with partner tourism organizations, Ventura Visitors and Convention Bureau, Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau, Camarillo Hotel & Tourism Association and the City of Port Hueneme to drive demand and promote overnight stays in Ventura County Coast in an effort to increase tourism spending in the region.
General Manager, Best Western Thousand Oaks
Felix Wang was born in St. Louis, MO but grew up in Houston, TX, after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA with a degree in Bioengineering, Felix moved to Los Angeles to begin his career with the global conglomerate Tyco International, where he worked for 6 years before retiring from electronics manufacturing. After a brief hiatus, he began a new career in the hospitality industry with Hyatt International at the Park Hyatt Los Angeles. Currently, he is managing the family business, including the BEST WESTERN PLUS Thousand Oaks Inn.
After his arrival in Los Angeles, Felix joined a group of recent college graduates that later founded TAP (Taiwanese American Professionals) where he served on the Board and as an Officer for over 5 years.
In addition, he worked with a group of young entrepreneurs from the Taiwanese American Chamber of Commerce to form the Young Career Adults Group of TACC, where he served on the Board of Directors for 10 years. Currently, Felix serves on the Board of the Rotary Club of Thousand Oaks, the Conejo Valley Tourism Improvement District, and TUF (Taiwanese United Fund), which fosters passion and pride in Taiwanese heritage in Taiwanese Americans and promotes cultural exchange for a better understanding and appreciation of Taiwanese culture.
Felix and his wife were blessed with a baby daughter in 2015. If he had spare time, Felix would go surfing, rowing, and skiing and play softball, baseball, tennis, and golf. He and his wife enjoy travel and new experiences in cultures, arts, and entertainment.
General Manager, Residence Inn by Marriott-Camarillo
Josie Williams began her career in Public Relations in 1984, with the Stardust Hotel after she graduated from the University of Las Vegas in Nevada. After graduating Josie then transferred to the housekeeping department in order to gain operations experience. In 1989, Josie began her career with Marriott as in Individual Development Trainee at the Los Angeles Marriott. Upon completion of the three month training she was assigned as the Housekeeping Manager at the Bethesda Marriott. In 1990 Josie was promoted to the Assistant Director of Services position and moved to the Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa. Four years later Josie’s passion took her to another dimension of hospitality where she transferred to the Timeshare Division of Marriott as the Director of Owner Services. In 1998 she accepted the position of General Manager of the Miami Lakes Courtyard. In order to be close to her family, as well as continue her growth in the many segments of Marriott, Josie relocated back to California where she opened the Springhill Suites Bakersfield. Josie’s latest adventure landed her in Camarillo to open the Camarillo Residence Inn in 2009.
Josie has been active in the community ever since she relocated to the area. She was the President of the PTSA Rio Vista Middle School in 2010 and was also on the school’s Site Council. Josie was one of the founding members of the Ventura County Lodging Association to get the TBID passed among three cities in West Ventura. She is currently the Secretary of the Ventura County Lodging Association and the Co-Chair of the Hotel Hospitality Education Committee. Josie played a vital role in passing of the Camarillo TBID and the formation of the Camarilla Hotel & Tourism Association this year, and is serving as the Vice Chair of the organization. Along with her many hats Josie is also one of the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
Josie holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Hotel Management from the University of Nevada and is trilingual; fluently speaking English, Spanish and Chinese.
Josie and her husband of 28 years, Ricky, have a wonderful daughter, Sedona. Josie’s love of travel is what drew her to the hospitality industry. She is also a great shopper and is a food network enthusiast in her free time.
Director of Service Excellence, Ojai Valley Inn
After some time at the Pacific Islands Club Resort in Guam, Kennon returned to Las Vegas for the refresh of The Tropicana. Kennon next traveled the world as a consultant and secret shopper for the Freeman Group before joining the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas team. For the last few years, Kennon has been enjoying the beauty and amazing associates of the Ojai Valley Inn. Kennon also does outside training and consulting, not just for hospitality organizations, but for companies wanting to elevate the service experience for their guests. Kennon is passionate about travel, serving others, and his family.