BETHESDA, Ma. – The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, together with Howard University, is establishing the Marriott-Sorenson Center for Hospitality Leadership.
The partnership is in memory of former Marriott president and CEO Arne Sorenson, who died on Feb. 15 from pancreatic cancer. The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation will provide a $20 million endowment to launch the center at Howard University, one of the nation’s leading historically Black colleges and universities. The center will be housed at the university’s School of Business.
In addition, Marriott International announced the creation of the Arne M. Sorenson Hospitality Fund, which will support the critical programmatic and career development elements of the center. This fund is dedicated to helping the industry build leadership talent in hospitality. Marriott has pledged the first donation of $1 million and is inviting other companies, organizations, and individuals from other industries to provide support as well.
“I can think of no better tribute to the amazing legacy of Arne Sorenson than to focus on educating and advancing future leaders of the hospitality industry,” said J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr., executive chairman and chairman of the board, Marriott International. “Arne’s passion for creating a culture of opportunity brought real change in the executive ranks of our company. But work remains to be done. Our industry needs a pipeline of diverse leadership talent, and that’s exactly what this center will achieve. We hope that other hospitality companies will join us in designing the program and providing experiential opportunities to generate talent that will meet the needs of the industry well into the future.”
“Now is the opportune time to launch this work,” said Mieka Wick, executive director of The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. “The hospitality industry is evolving in new and exciting ways, and there is a clear need for a forward-looking program designed to prepare leaders for this dynamic environment. A deeper commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is imperative, not only because it is the right thing to do but because it is also good for the industry.”
“Lack of diversity in the executive ranks of companies across America has long been a headline and has been further elevated in the national conversation as we are in this important moment of racial reckoning,” said Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, president, Howard University. “Through this partnership with The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation and Marriott International, we are best positioned to further our existing commitment and address this most pressing issue.”