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Local High Students Interview Black DC Hospitality Leaders for Black History Month

American Experience Foundation hosts a three-week virtual speaker series

(Washington, DC) – Destination DC (DDC), the official destination marketing organization for the nation’s capital, and its 501 (c) 3 public charity, the American Experience Foundation (AEF), are hosting a speaker series for 30 local high school students interested in a future career in the hospitality industry. For three weeks during Black History Month, AEF’s Wednesday Hospitality Club participants will interview local Black hospitality leaders and small business owners about their journey to success. The participating schools include Ballou Senior High School, Columbia Heights Educational Campus, Woodrow Wilson Senior High School, Maya Angelou Public Charter School and Theodore Roosevelt High School.


Speakers include:

·       (Feb. 10) Dr. Erinn Tucker, faculty director of Georgetown University’s Global Hospitality Leadership master’s program and co-founder of DMV Black Restaurant Week. DMV Black Restaurant Week celebrates and supports Black hospitality, food and beverage entrepreneurs and employees though awareness professional development, external resources and events.  Dr. Tucker has worked for over 20 years in hospitality and event management for restaurants and Fortune 500 companies.


·       (Feb. 17) Tyson Warren, general manager of Hyatt Regency Reston. Warren has been with Hyatt Hotels for over 22 years, previously serving as the General Manager of the Hyatt Regency Greenwich (Connecticut), Director of Operations of the Hyatt Regency St. Louis, and Director of Food and Beverage for the Hyatt Regency Sacramento. Warren also serves on the Board of Directors of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce. 


·       (Feb. 24) JC Smith, founder of Bailiwick Clothing, a DC-based apparel brand. Bailiwick Clothing is famous across Washington, DC for their hometown pride inspired designs. Smith founded the company in 2016 with his brother Jeff Smith, and has seen purchases from Mayor Muriel Bowser, Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris.


“It’s important for students to see a visual representation of diversity and inclusion of the industry, especially at the highest levels, and this speaker series will give students insight into achieving their goals,” said Elliott L. Ferguson, II, president and CEO, DDC. “I’m excited for them to get the chance to spend time with Black leaders making an impact in the Washington, DC region.”


Last summer, AEF hosted 72 local high school students for a virtual hospitality internship program. Before the program resumes in June, AEF is committed to keeping students engaged by meeting with them for one hour every Wednesday when speakers are invited to share their expertise. For Women’s History Month, students will hear from notable women business leaders.


“We look forward to having the speakers share their journey and wealth of knowledge through the series,” said Claire Carlin, executive director for AEF. “AEF is dedicated to keeping DC’s scholars inspired and on track for future success as the next generation of hospitality leaders.”


The American Experience Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity affiliated with Destination DC, enriches the lives of students through inspirational travel experiences and educational opportunities to cultivate the next generation of hospitality industry professionals. AEF offers students an introduction to the wonder of travel and exposure to hospitality career paths through: free field trips for low-income 8th graders from Washington, DC and across the country; scholarships to qualified DC high school Academies of Hospitality and Tourism students and graduates; and educational programs to connect students to hospitality industry professionals and ensure college and career readiness.


Destination DC is the official destination marketing organization for the nation’s capital, a private, non- profit membership organization of over 1,000 businesses committed to marketing the area as a premier global convention, tourism and special events destination with a special emphasis on the arts, cultural and historic communities.



Denise Osei, communications specialist

202-789-7097 (w); [email protected]




February 1, 2021

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