The Penn State Hotel and Restaurant Society and Penn State School of Hospitality Management will honor nine alumni during the 2017 Alumni Awards Reception in conjunction with the school’s annual Alumni in the Classroom event.
"Our alumni award recipients are great examples for our students who aspire to be future leaders in our dynamic industry. In our 80th anniversary it is wonderful to welcome them back along with nearly 100 alumni, representing six decades that will celebrate with them and participate in our annual Alumni in the Classroom program," said Brian Black, director of hospitality industry relations.
During the Oct. 11 ceremony, the following alumni will be recognized:
Alumni of the Year
John Metz is the chief executive officer, co-founder and executive chef of Sterling Hospitality in Atlanta, Georgia. Under the umbrella of this company, Metz created, and currently operates, 22 locations of Marlow’s Tavern, an upscale neighborhood gathering place.
Metz also co-founded and operates an upscale contract foodservice company, Sterling Spoon Fresh Culinary Management, which specializes in on-site restaurant management. This on-site foodservice and catering company runs corporate dining facilities in the Atlanta market.
Metz began his career at some of the finest restaurants in New York City, including The 21 Club, Tribeca Grill, Park Avenue Café, Montrachet, and Della Famina’s in East Hampton. Metz also served as executive chef and executive director of research and development for Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, the franchisor for T.G.I. Friday’s.
Metz also serves on the Industry Advisory Board for the Penn State School of Hospitality Management. He is on the National Restaurant Association’s board of directors, Georgia Restaurant Association’s board of directors, and The Atlanta Visitors and Convention Bureau’s board of directors.
After graduating from Penn State, Metz earned a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. In 2013, he received the prestigious Gold Plate Award from the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association.
Emerging Professionals – Graduates
Lydia Hanks is an assistant professor of hospitality management at The Dedman School of Hospitality at Florida State University. Hanks’ teaching areas include hospitality accounting, lodging operations, and service management. Her research focuses on consumer behavior, services marketing, and corporate social responsibility.
Emerging Professionals – Undergraduates
Melissa Navarro has been with Expedia Inc. for five years and currently serves as an area manager in Washington, D.C. In her current role, Navarro oversees a team of eight individuals and implements internal business initiatives and improves process efficiencies, in addition to developing and sustaining strong hotel partner relationships.
Don Pearse is the distributor broker and sales development manager at Ecolab for Sysco Foods Philadelphia, where he influences teams to grow, gain, and retain Ecolab customers shipped via Sysco Foods across several product brand offerings, umbrella price structures, and customer industry segments.
Maci Schau is an assistant director at Hilton’s Revenue Management Consolidated Center (RMCC) in Dallas, Texas. She started her career as a revenue analyst with the RMCC and currently supports a team of revenue managers overseeing up to 80 hotels in the Hilton family of brands.
Allison Struebing is the general manager of Stoney River Steakhouse and Grill, owned by J. Alexander’s Holdings Inc., in Towson, Maryland, the first female to hold that title in the company’s history. She started her career with Hillstone Restaurant Group, progressing through several roles as a bar manager and senior assistant manager, while also overseeing the 2013 internship program and assisting in kitchen management.
Alumni Industry Achievement
Bart Berkey spent 10 years with Hyatt Hotels in various on-property and corporate-level positions. He then broadened his experience by serving in vice president roles for StarCite, The Long Beach CVB, and The St. Louis CVC. Berkey migrated to Ritz-Carlton, in a sales leadership role, before becoming the company’s first recruiter for sales and marketing. His current position as the global sales office leader for Marriott International Luxury Brands has just been expanded to include St. Regis, W Hotels, and The Luxury Collection brands.
Doug Gehret is area vice president of operations for Hilton Worldwide. In this role, he provides leadership of hotel operations in South Carolina and central Florida for Hilton owned and managed assets and Hilton Grand Vacation properties. Most recently, Gehret served as general manager of the 1,417-room Hilton Orlando, one of Orlando’s premier hotels connected to the Orange County Convention Center and recognized as a three-time Hilton Connie Award winning property.
Marc Goldberg joined the Compass Organization as a regional vice president with Morrison HealthCare, where he is responsible for the leadership, growth, and development of business in the Mid-States Region, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Washington, D.C. His portfolio includes national brands such as Au Bon Pain and Starbucks and a number of prominent clients including The Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Children’s National Medical Center.