Niagara University's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management held its 12th annual convocation Thursday, Oct. 18, in the university's Alumni Chapel. Sponsored by the Maid of the Mist Corp., the convocation is the college's showcase event, during which it annually honors national and international leaders in the hospitality and tourism industry.
This year's honorees were Nancy Johnson, executive vice president, development, the Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group; Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member Nancy Lieberman, also an accomplished commentator, author and motivational speaker; and Catherine F. Schweitzer, the executive director of The Baird Foundation who was instrumental in bringing the National Preservation Conference to Buffalo last October.
"Our convocation is an excellent opportunity for our students and those in the Western New York community to hear from some of the brightest minds in the tourism and hospitality industries," said Dr. Gary Praetzel, dean of NU's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
Johnson, who received the Lifetime Hotelier Achievement Award, oversees business development efforts for Carlson's select service hotel brands, including Country Inns & Suites By Carlson and Park Inn. She is currently chair of the American Hotel and Lodging Association and has been named one of the 200 Most Powerful Women in Travel by Travel Agent magazine. One of her proudest achievements is founding the Women in Lodging Council for the AH&LA, a 1,700-member organization that provides mentorship, networking and development opportunities to promote female leaders in the hospitality industry.
The college's Lifetime Sport Achievement Award was presented to Lieberman, an inductee of five basketball halls of fame and the first female to coach a men's professional basketball team. In 1976, Lieberman became the youngest basketball player in Olympic history - male or female - while helping the U.S. to a silver medal at the Summer Olympics. Several years later, she came out of retirement to become the oldest player in WNBA history at age 50. Since her playing days concluded, Lieberman has covered basketball for ABC, NBC, ESPN and NBA-TV, and has written for The Dallas Morning News, The New York Times and USA Today. She is also is also an accomplished author and conducts speaking engagements for Fortune 500 companies and nonprofit organizations. Her son, T.J., is a freshman at Niagara University.
When Schweitzer received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Arts & Preservation, it marked the latest honor in what has been a banner year for the noted Buffalo ambassador. Thanks to her work in attracting the National Trust for Historic Preservation to the region last fall, Schweitzer has been recognized by Preservation Buffalo Niagara, the YWCA of Western New York, the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site and The Buffalo News.