Executive Director Message
Fran Brasseux, Executive Director, ICHRIE
After 6 months of leadership work in 2021, our three ICHRIE Interim Directors, Rai Shacklock, Fred Mayo, & Reg Foucar-Szocki, supported by our ICHRIE President, Executive Committee, Board of Directors & Special Committees have accomplished an impressive, comprehensive review of our key services - membership, communication, teaching & learning, technical support, organizational structure & culture. Their recommendations for advancement in those areas was approved & supported by the ICHRIE President, the Executive Committee, the ICHRIE Board of Directors, & demonstrated how leadership and collaboration can achieve extraordinary results.
I am the new Executive Director at ICHRIE officially starting on June 21st. I made an early visit to our headquarter office in Richmond on June 8th & 9th. Reg met me there from his nearby (2-hour drive) from his career job as a professor at the Hart School of Hospitality, Sport & Recreation Management at James Madison University in Harrisburg, Virginia. He wanted to share his knowledge with me personally & make the introduction to our staff - Amie Grayson and Shaina Wilson. In accepting this role I bring 40+ years of hospitality & association experience. My early impressions of our leadership groups & the volunteer work they did this past year is a reminder of how lucky we are to have this kind of commitment and passion to hospitality & to ICHRIE.
I started my sales & marketing career at Pan American World Airways & enjoyed that exciting global organization for 13 years. The knowledge I gained & the relationships I made there have followed me throughout my career. The experience set me up for a better understanding of cultural diversity, global sales & marketing & the value of customer relationships. It set my love for travel & tourism & established it as my career path.
The next 11 years, I learned sales & marketing skills can transfer anywhere in a career, & I transferred them to the business of hotels. I was based in New York City at the Americas headquarters of Forte & Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts & worked my way from Director of Meeting & Incentives to the Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, the Americas. I fell in love with hotel management - all aspects.
Pictured Fran Brasseux with Shaina Wilson and Amie Grayson, with ICHRIE President Joy Dickerson in Richmond in late June 2021
I had commuted to New York from a home in the Washington, DC area for all those years, & really wanted to “go local” in my next career move. This opened up a different opportunity which came up at Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) headquartered just a few miles from my home. Association management is a unique skill set to learn but having the understanding of our members – sales, marketing & revenue management professionals, gave me an edge to understanding what would be more deeply valued by members. I ended 17 years there in 2020, as the Executive Vice President, HSMAI, & President of the HSMAI Foundation.
When I was approached by different ICHRIE leadership to apply for the Executive Director role, I knew personally about ICHRIE’s work from my time at HSMAI. But in my own more recent research, I learned from industry & academic leaders about the level of respect ICHRIE had earned over the past 75 years. Our mission, our values & the story of our pandemic year when 200 volunteers got involved in 15 different review committees, directed by three trusted former ICHRIE Presidents, with the support of a very strong board of directors and an amazing President & Executive Committee, deeply impressed me. This successful collaboration in the "ICHRIE New Beginnings Plan" moved ICHRIE forward at a time when many associations were rapidly stepping back.
It is an honor to now help ICHRIE complete the New Beginning Plan, & to also continue to innovate, grow, & add value to our members; to connect our services and programs more with industry; to ensure more transparency in all our work, & to continue to support diversity, equality, & inclusion in everything we do. We have a lot of work still to do, & my hope is more members will join this very worthwhile effort to help our vision to be the global leader of hospitality & tourism education, industry engagement, & talent development.
Meeting the ICHRIE staff in Richmond, Virginia for the first-time last month, I uncovered in our early conversations the diverse & special talents of both Amie Grayson and Shaina Wilson. They both love what they do and take pride in the quality of their work. Amie, as Membership & Networking Director, has been with ICHRIE for 13 years, has her undergraduate degree in graphic design, & is the mother of twin boys, age 7. Amie’s graphic design talents are behind a lot of ICHRIE work, like the recent cover of ICHRIE Research Reports.
Shaina joined ICHRIE 2 years ago as our Operations Coordinator. She has a background in customer service from work at USAA insurance, & a personal passion for women and children’s rights.
I have been married for 37 years, have three talented grown children, & 5 incredible grandchildren, & an orange cat named Mango - not so talented or incredible, but special in his own way.
Shaina & Amie in the ICHRIE headquarter office in Richmond, Virginia.