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Florida International University & Women’s Hospitality Initiative Partner to Launch Groundbreaking Hospitality Leadership Course


MIAMI—As part of its ongoing commitment to advance opportunity and remove barriers for future women leaders, Florida International University (FIU) and its Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management has partnered with the Women’s Hospitality Initiative (WHI) to implement WHI’s groundbreaking academic course, “From the Classroom to the Boardroom: Leadership for Women in Hospitality.”

The for-credit course, which examines the challenges and paths to success for women leaders in the hospitality and restaurant industries, is being offered in Spring 2021.

“FIU has long been at the forefront for hospitality education because we are constantly reassessing and updating our curriculum to meet the moment,” said Chaplin School’s Vice Dean Diann Newman. “Statistics show that women hold only eight percent of hospitality leadership positions. This partnership with Women’s Hospitality Initiative will ensure that our students—69 percent of whom are female—will emerge from this course with the knowledge, capabilities, and confidence needed to compete in today’s business climate and become the future women leaders of this industry.”

The course is taught by Chaplin School Assistant Professor Lisa Cain.

Industry-Specific Curriculum

Developed and launched by WHI, the course exposes students to an industry-specific business and leadership curriculum, while providing strategies to recognize and eliminate gender and unconscious bias, racism, and other obstacles that hinder the upward mobility of women into leadership and ownership roles. Other issues addressed include: leadership branding, emotional intelligence, navigating politics and power dynamics, building relationships, networks and allies, as well as building an inclusive team culture.

The centerpiece is a rotating guest speaker series that incorporates lessons and strategies from today’s top women leaders, available to view live on the FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management Facebook page. Speakers include:

  • Jan. 25—Elizabeth Blau, Blau + Associates and WHI
    The Business Case for Women in Leadership
  • Feb. 1—Ernisha Randolph, Sweet Butter Hospitality
    Building a Team, Team Dynamics and Transitioning from Peer to Leader
  • Feb. 8—Chef Michelle Bernstein
    The Importance of Continuous Improvement
  • Feb. 15—Jenna Swigert, Open Table
    Alex Lourdes PhD, Café Lola and Saint Honoré Doughnuts & Beignets
    Leveraging Social Media to Build a Business in the Restaurant Industry

Visit go.fiu.edu/womeninhosp for a full list of speakers, topics, and times.

“FIU is one of the top hospitality schools in the country, so we are incredibly grateful to have the support of such prominent women,” said Women’s Hospitality Initiative Co-Founder Elizabeth Blau. “We’ve had great success with our first class of students at UNLV and CIA, and now we look to continue to achieve the same success in Florida and ultimately on a national level. It has been such a positive experience working with Dr. Cain, Associate Dean Newman, and FIU leadership. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for these graduates.”