Women’s History Month is a fitting time to look at the leaders in our midst—regardless of their title—and learn from their heroic approach to hospitality innovation. We asked three women at three powerhouse meetings hotels about their approach to bringing everyone along and were impressed by the passion that unites them. Some have worked in hospitality their entire careers, while others found their own routes to their roles. They are all driving creative, thoughtful change and are role models for event professionals everywhere.

We asked them to share the three words that describe their approach to elevating events, to remember the moment they felt they belonged in the meetings industry, how they make everyone feel welcome and the next goal they are pursuing. Read on to meet these brilliant meeting profs.

woman in black shirt smilingSusie Klein

Director of Business Development, Miraval Resorts & Spas (Berkshires, Austin, Arizona, The Red Sea) 

Intentional, Transformative, Collaborative 

Moment I Found My Home in Hospitality: “I began working in hospitality because I thrived on making meaningful connections. The more I learned about different areas of corporate travel and events, the deeper my love for the industry grew. As my career progressed and I began making connections in the sales world, I realized how significant my client relationships had become. We celebrated milestone moments in life together, became more than associates, found a common bond and invested in our relationships. This bond is something that is unsung in the event world: the ability to take time to build deep connections.”

Read More: Dear Female Leaders, Stop Struggling and Start Succeeding

Welcoming Strategy: “Creating a space that’s warm and inviting is key to making those around me feel valued and welcomed. My kitchen is the heart of my home where I enjoy cooking and spending time with family. My kitchen is the space where I have created unforgettable memories, gatherings, and conversations with my children. Being at an event is no different, where my clients feel their ideas and contributions are heard and take the approach of creating a deeper connection with them. These spaces are places where I can build relationships and make those around me feel welcome in a group setting.”

Next Goal: “As the director of business development at Miraval Resorts & Spas, I will focus on  elevating our Wellbeing Retreats and their transformative nature, inclusive offerings and the lasting positive impact they provide for corporate groups. Our retreats allow groups to rediscover themselves, each other, and a sense of wonder and purpose. They are not simply a group retreat, it is a well-being journey. Miraval’s Wellbeing Retreats foster a culture centered on wellbeing and self-care and provide an environment that enhances leadership skills and empowers individuals to thrive personally and professionally.”

woman in white long sleeve shirt crossing arms and smilingSummer Shoemaker

General Manager, San Diego Mission Bay Resort, California

Refined, Cohesive, Efficient 

Moment I Found My Home in Hospitality: “I knew this industry was right for me when walking with a client on day one of a large program. Their stress levels were at ease and they cared more about getting to know each other because they knew that even the smallest details were already handled and everything was set for success. The relationships developed within the many layers of a hotel team that make these events happen is also inspiring. To be part of this ‘service symphony’ and watch complicated events come together, teardown, and resetting the next one successfully day after day is a rewarding part of the industry.”

Read More: Empowered Women Take Center Stage

Welcoming Strategy: “The hospitality industry is more than a job or career—it is a lifestyle, a passion and a call to connect with others everyday.  Whether guests, employees, vendor partners, or friends; I do my best to show genuine hospitality. This is more than just a welcome message and a handshake, but rather a commitment to create emotional connections, build memories together, find time, show empathy, and lead with my heart first.”

Next Goal: “Carving out quality one-on-one time with my teenage son!”

woman in blue shirt smilingAlissa O’Briant

Director of Sales & Marketing, Bernardus Lodge & Spa, Carmel Valley, California

Creative, Personalized, Experiential

Moment I Found My Home in Hospitality: “The moment I truly felt I belonged in the meetings and events industry was during a high-pressure corporate conference that needed to be perfect.  Working through a myriad of intricate details, collaborating with multiple departments and vendors, and then witnessing the culmination of months of tireless planning I felt an overwhelming sense of fulfillment. Seeing happy attendees engaged, connecting and having fun felt so rewarding I knew I found my niche+—an industry where it wasn’t just about carrying out logistics but more about crafting moments that leave indelible impressions.”

Welcoming Strategy: “I foster inclusion by promoting open communication, listening to different ideas, and celebrating the unique strengths each member of my team brings. Through encouragement, kindness, and a collaborative environment productivity thrives and we also make sure to have a lot of fun along the way.  In events, my goal is to create a sense of hospitality that ensures every guest feels special and valued. In life, I make personal connections by being empathetic, understanding, supportive, and finding laughter in as many things as possible.”

Next Goal: “To seek experiences that challenge me to grow and evolve, whether it’s through travel, education, or finding new hobbies.”