Castell Project, AHLA Foundation announce merger

The organizations have a long history of investing in and advancing women in hospitality

Castell Project
Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, left, with Peggy Berg, founder and chair of the Castell Project, far right, and Rosanna Maietta, president and CEO of the AHLA Foundation, announced the merger of the foundation and the Castell Project during the Hunter Hotel Conference on Wednesday in Atlanta.

THE CHARITY WING of American Hotel & Lodging Association, the AHLA Foundation, announced merger with the Castell Project to strengthen and accelerate the industry’s commitment to elevate women in hospitality. Castell Project is a nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of women to the highest levels within the hospitality industry.

As part of the merger, both the entities will focus on facilitating leadership development for current and prospective women in the industry, according to AHLA. They also will strengthen the college talent pipeline through mentorships and exposure to career paths and engagement with the future workforce.

The two merged organizations hope to help more women become speakers and leaders through AHLA’s ForWard: Advancing Women in Hospitality and other industry events and expanding a speakers’ bureau of hospitality leaders who are women, besides conducting ongoing research related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, including women in hospitality leadership and diversity benchmarking.

“Women are critical to our industry—as the owners, leaders, workforce, and guests of today and in the future,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we also celebrate Castell’s efforts to advance women leaders and owners in hospitality. We welcome them to the AHLA family, and together we will be stronger as we continue advancing women in the industry.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 57 percent of employees in the accommodation sector are women. However, Castell’s 2022 Women in Hospitality Leadership report pointed out that they hold only one leadership spot for every 10.3 men, up from one in 11.2 in 2019.

“The announcement marks an exciting new chapter for the AHLA Foundation and Castell as we work together to advance women leaders and owners in hospitality,” said Rosanna Maietta, president and CEO of the AHLA Foundation. “With our shared mission and focus, we believe that joining forces will lead to more rapid change for our industry.”

Last year, the AHLA Foundation announced a new $5 million, multi-year commitment and action plan to advance DE&I in the industry.

In 2018, AHLA launched ForWard to recognize the women of the hospitality industry and champion the next generation of leaders, with an annual conference, a virtual series, and Forward@ events embedded into major industry events. In 2021, 76 percent of AHLA Foundation scholarship recipients and 60 percent of participants in the Foundation’s apprenticeship program were women.

Meanwhile, Castell has built a community of more than 100 women in its leadership development program cohorts. More than 300 executive women who connect with students, and a speakers’ bureau of more than 1,000 hospitality leaders are women.

“Joining forces with the AHLA and AHLAF will bring reach and strength to Castell’s work, opening leadership in hospitality to women and people of color,” said Peggy Berg, founder and chair of the Castell Project. “We are excited to be engaging in this important work with the team at both organizations.”