A Sense of Beginning

Dawn Gallagher, Chief Commercial Officer, Crescent Hotels & Resorts

What initially inspired you to get into the hospitality business? My grandparents owned a motel when I was young, and I enjoyed spending time with the housekeeper during the summers. As I progressed to college without a clear major in mind, I explored various electives, one of which was called “Hospitality Marketing.” I immediately loved it and discovered my passion for the field, feeling a sense of belonging in the realm of hospitality.

Who were some of your mentors or role models, male or female, and what were their most valuable lessons? My strongest mentor/role model was Jean Spaulding; she was a regional director of sales and marketing for Starwood. She instilled in me the importance of standing up for my beliefs and showed me that anything is possible. 

Another mentor, Tom Bardenett, was a valuable partner during our collaboration at Interstate. From him, I learned valuable lessons on navigating lateral relationships within an organization to garner support and momentum, and how it strengthens your personal brand within a company.  

In your opinion, how is the lodging industry doing in terms of getting women into leadership positions? Within the last couple of years, I see a much stronger focus on elevating women into leadership roles in the industry. Prior to that time, there wasn’t a specific focus on advancing women in the field. If you were a woman in a leadership position, you were likely one of very few. We are now beginning to break down the “boys club” in this business, although depending on the sector we have a long way to go. I am proud to work for an organization that emphasizes women in leadership with 60% of our corporate team being female.  

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