Lifetime Awards

The Albert E. Koehl Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Marketing and the Winthrop W. Grice Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Public Relations awards recognize individuals who have spent a major portion of their careers in the hospitality and travel profession and have contributed to the betterment of the industry in a significant and lasting way, over an extended period of time.

HSMAI Lifetime Award 2020 Nominations are now closed. Selections will be announced in early 2021.

2019 Honorees

Leland “Lee” Pillsbury: Albert E. Koehl Award for Hospitality Marketing

Pillsbury is a managing director of Thayer Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on early-stage investments in technology companies targeting the travel and hospitality industry. Lee was also a founder and chairman of Thayer Lodging Group and was CEO from its founding in 1991 until its sale to Brookfield Properties in 2014. In addition, he is also was the founder of TenX Healthcare, a corporation focused on transforming the patient journey through surgery. He began his career at Marriott, where he rose to become executive vice president and head of the strategy for lodging.

Lee has been involved in the purchase and sale of over 70 companies and played a major role in the launch of over 20 new companies. He now serves on the Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards of several companies Thayer Ventures has investments in.

In recent years, Lee was named Hospitality Executive of the year by Penn State University and Entrepreneur of the Year by Cornell University in 2016. He is a member of Cornell’s Board of Trustees and serves on its Executive Committee, Investment Committee, and chairs its Buildings and Properties Committee. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University and an MBA from JL Kellogg Graduate School at Northwestern.

Bjorn Hanson. Ph.D.: Winthrop W. Grice Award for Public Relations

Hanson is the executive vice president of the entity that owns The Pierre hotel in New York and is a director of Summit Hotel Properties. He is the recipient of numerous notable awards, including, One of the 33 Most Influential People in the Travel Industry by Travel Weekly, One of the 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry by Meeting News, One of the Lodging Industry’s Innovators by Lodging, and more.

In addition to these accolades, Bjorn founded the Hospitality & Leisure practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he served as Global Industry Leader of Hospitality & Leisure. He was responsible for hospitality & leisure audit, tax, and advisory services, globally. Bjorn then retired from PwC in 2008 and joined the full-time faculty of New York University (NYU). In 2010 he was appointed dean of the New York University Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management.

Today, Bjorn is a member of the Editorial Board of the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly and is a Reviewer for The Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, and serves an active researcher and consultant specializing in expert witness testimony for major hospitality industry matters.


Committee Chair
Gary Leopold, CHME
CP Travel/Connelly Partners

Peggy Bendel
Bendel Communications International

Melinda Bush, CHA
President & CEO
HRW Holdings/Hospitality Resources Worldwide, LLC

Lou Hammond
Lou Hammond & Associates

Michael Leven, CHME

Roger Dow
President & CEO
U.S. Travel Association

Rene Mack

Gordon Lambourne
VP, Communications
National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation

Laura Davidson
Laura Davidson Public Relations

John J. Russell, Jr., CHME
Sentry Hospitality

Barbara Talbott
Founder & CEO
GlenLarkin Advisors

Peter Warren , CHME

Peter Yesawich, Ph.D.
Vice Chairman
MMGY Global

David Kong
President & CEO
Best Western International

Richard S. Kahn
President, KTCpr

Melanie Brandman
CEO, The Brandman Agency