Forrest and Johnson join AAHOA executive team

The association’s COO Humphrey now executive VP as well

Michael Forrest, left, and Ashli Johnson

Michael Forrest as AAHOA’s new vice president of franchise relations. Ashli Johnson is the association’s new vice president of education.

Forrest previously held franchises and worked with companies including Burger King, Dippin’ Dots, Gloria Jean’s Coffees, and Wing Zone, according to AAHOA. He has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in business management from Purdue University Global.

Johnson has taught and led programs at Virginia State University, Georgetown University, University of Central Florida and most recently as the assistant dean of the University of Houston’s Hilton College of Hotel & Restaurant Management. She also served on several industry boards and led committees for industry organizations such as the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers, and the Latino Hotel Association.

She graduated the hospitality program at the University of West Florida and holds a masters degree in hospitality and tourism management with a focus in hotel investments from Florida International University.

“Strong relationships and open dialogue between owners and brands will be imperative to a smooth recovery, and I am confident that Michael’s experience as a franchisee and franchisor will help us strengthen our relationships in the industry,” said Cecil Staton, AAHOA president and CEO. “Ensuring owners have the resources and information they need to stay ahead of the curve as our economy and our industry ramp back up is equally as important, and that is why I am pleased that Ashli will be heading up our education team, one of the fastest-growing areas in AAHOA. Her two decades of experience with top hospitality brands will be an asset to AAHOA members’ professional development.”

Forrest said he is most motivated by connecting business owners and franchisees with their brands.

“It’s an important time for the hospitality industry, something that no franchisee could plan for, and I’m excited to advocate for the interests of franchisees, ensuring they have the tools and resources to survive and stay afloat during these challenging times,” he said.

Johnson said she was happy to provide her expertise and “design-thinking approach” to AAHOA.

“As an organization that I’ve looked up to for quite some time, I’m excited to contribute, develop, and deliver member-centric and innovative programming to take AAHOA to the next level of educational offerings,” she said.

AAHOA COO Rachel Humphrey, who had also been serving as the association’s vice president of franchise relations, will now serve as AAHOA’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

“Rachel’s new role is a direct reflection of where AAHOA is today, the unique challenges that our organization and industry face, and is foundational to preparing AAHOA to achieve the ambitious goals set forth in our new strategic plan,” said Staton. “AAHOA is a complex entity with many moving parts, and the development and addition of these roles are a direct commitment to our aspirations set forth in the strategic plan and to structure AAHOA in a way to achieve optimal success.”

In early February, Robert Stuckey joined AAHOA as vice president of business development.