Marina MacDonald, fourth from right, in November poses with Dorraine Lallani, far right, director of asset management at Westmont Hospitality Group, and members of the advisory council of the Red Roof Forum on Leadership for Women Entrepreneurs. Council members are, from left, Janki Patel, Kamini Patel, Patrixa Kumar, Bhavna Vasani, Rita Patel and Kajal Bhakta. AHLA on May 17 presented MacDonald, chief marketing officer at Red Roof, with its Paving the Way Award for launching the forum. (File Photo)

THE AMERICAN HOTEL & Lodging Association recognized Marina MacDonald, chief marketing officer at Red Roof, for her work in encouraging women to invest and lead in the hotel industry.

The association on May 17 presented MacDonald with its Paving the Way Award during its annual Stars of the Industry program in Washington, D.C.

Jenna Bush Hager, contributing correspondent on NBC’s TODAY Show and an editor-at-large for Southern Living magazine, hosted the ceremony and gave MacDonald her award. “I personally want to thank you for recognizing the importance of encouraging women to grow their careers and pursue leadership roles,” Bush Hager told MacDonald. “As the mother of two daughters, it is a great comfort to know there are women in every industry paving the way for them.”

MacDonald launched Red Roof’s first women’s leadership forum on Nov. 1 and 2 in New Orleans. Asian American women comprise the forum’s leadership advisory council, and they made up the majority of the franchisees at the event. Red Roof has made a concerted effort over the past two years to target Asian American hoteliers and women to invest in and grow its economy-segmented brand throughout the U.S.

MacDonald’s business associates say she is a confidante and mentor to other women within the company. MacDonald saw an opportunity to transition those individual connections into a companywide network.

This year’s Stars of the Industry winners were chosen from some 500 nominations from hotels of every size and in every sector. Each winner showed superior dedication, promise and passion for service in specific categories, ranging from emerging leader, to advancing women in the workplace, to excellence in innovation and general management.

“When hospitality is your business, your people are everything,” said Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of AHLA. “Since joining AHLA four years ago, I have consistently been amazed at the level of talent, professionalism, empathy and compassion that runs through the people who make up this industry. Being able to hear the stories and celebrate the accomplishments of some our best and brightest is an honor and an inspiration to all of us at AHLA.”