Our Leadership Team
As CEO of First Hospitality, David has over 25 years of global operating experience in managing high performing teams and in executive roles in both private and publicly held organizations. He coordinated over $10 billion of real estate and capital market transactions across multiple geographies and currencies. His experience ranges from fee-simple equity transactions to mortgage and mezzanine lending and complex joint venture and structured transactions.
David began his career in public accounting, consulting, and financial institutions before he found his true passion in the hotel and travel space. He has been immersed in the lodging investment and operating space for more than 20 years now. He especially enjoys harmonizing the right capital structure with the right real estate, branding, and operational solutions to optimize investor returns in lodging, and related investments.
His formative institutional experience was with GE Capital Real Estate, Guggenheim Partners, and Ernst & Young, LLC [in Los Angeles, Boston, Stamford CT, and New York]. Before joining First Hospitality, David served in executive roles at JC Resorts in La Jolla, CA and Denihan Hospitality in New York City. David received his B.A. from Western Michigan University, located in his hometown of Kalamazoo, MI. He was an adjunct professor in the Carroll School of Management, Boston College.
David is sought after for comment in leading publications such as Forbes, The Los Angeles Times, Lodging Magazine, and other industry publications. Additionally, he has made appearances on numerous television news programs. He is a frequent speaker at various real estate and lodging industry panels. He is a member of the Urban Land Institute Hotel Development Council.
David lives in Chicago with his wife Susan and their two dogs. In his free time, he loves to ski, mountain bike, ride motorcycles, and catch up with his three children. He is passionate about improving the lives of underprivileged youth and supporting research to cure Multiple Myeloma with the MMRF.
As Chairman, Stephen provides strategic guidance to the company and works with First Hospitality's partners to unlock the value of their hotels.
Stephen has more than 50 years of hospitality experience and currently serves on the Advisory Boards of Hilton, Marriott, and Hyatt hotels. He founded First Hospitality in 1984 and has grown the company portfolio to 50+ hotels nationwide with revenues exceeding $250 Million. Throughout his career, he has successfully developed and financed more than $1 billion in hotel real estate. Also, he is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work with Hilton Hotel Corporation and was inducted into the Chicagoland Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame in 2007. The firm has received numerous awards reflective of his innovative and creative approach to development and hospitality.
Stephen has been an active board member for several not-for-profit organizations, including The Board of Jewish Education of Metropolitan Chicago, Midwest Board of the Weizmann Institute, a key sponsor of the Holocaust Education Program at Elmhurst College, as well as a member of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra Board (CYSO). He is married to his wife Terry and is the father of three children.
As the CFO, Roger is responsible for investment acquisitions and dispositions, property development, capital raising, and deployment. Furthermore, he works on finance, accounting, treasury, and administrative assignments for the company.
Roger is a proven executive and leader with over 35 years of experience in the real estate industry. Prior to joining First Hospitality, he served as Senior Vice President of Financial Operations for Trizec Properties Inc. and was a key member of their executive team. Roger has held positions in various real estate firms, including Prime Capital, a private commercial mortgage loan and balance sheet lender, Banyan Management Corp., a diversified group of real estate investment trusts, VMS Realty Partners, a diversified real estate investment and syndication firm, and the Equity Group where he contributed to their tax, investor relations, financial reporting, information services, acquisition, and disposition activities. Roger holds a B.A. in Finance and a B.S. in Accounting from Western Illinois University.
In his free time, Roger enjoys downhill skiing, hiking, biking, and being outdoors. Additionally, he's a father of three boys and helps support and administer various youth hockey programs in Northern Illinois.
As the General Counsel and a member of the First Hospitality Executive Committee, David oversees all legal and compliance matters for First Hospitality. He's responsible for examining and drafting IT, employment, real estate and vendor contracts, managing copyrights and trademarks, and preserving business records.
Prior to joining First Hospitality, David served as the General Counsel for Grand Vehicle Works, a large automotive chassis and body manufacturer in Highland Park, IL. Before that, he served as the General Counsel for United Homes Inc., a multi-state home builder and was a partner in Shefsky & Froelich, Ltd., a large law firm in Chicago. David's education includes a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and a J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law.
In his free time, David enjoys spending time with his wife Edie of nearly 30 years, his son Zachary who lives in Denver, and his English bulldog, Maggie. Additionally, he was a youth and high school football referee for 22 years before becoming a high school football coach.
As Senior Vice President of Operations, Chris is responsible for the overall performance of First Hospitality's hotel portfolio in all key metrics. These metrics include top-line performance, bottom-line results, guest service, associate satisfaction, and the overall care and maintenance of the physical assets. Chris supports regional team members to provide support and guidance to the hotel team to maximize returns for key stakeholders, most notably First Hospitality's owners, guests, and associates. Additionally, he works with all of the divisions within the corporate office to ensure that First Hospitality's focus is aligned with their business needs and objectives.
Chris started his career at a young age by working in seasonal resorts where he grew up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. From there, he attended and graduated from The School of Hospitality at Boston University. Chris then spent the better part of 18 years working for Starwood Hotels & Resorts where his career took him to six cities and seven different Westin hotels. He then joined Provenance Hotels where as Regional Director he oversaw a small group of art-filled, independent boutique hotels. Most recently and before joining First Hospitality, Chris was Vice President of Operations for Sage Hospitality. During his four years with Sage, he supported a portfolio of up to 18 hotels in the independent, soft branded and branded categories.
In his free time, Chris enjoys traveling locally and internationally, especially to his wife's native South America. Chris has been married to his wife Marcela for 14 years and they have one son, Matteo. They live in the greater Atlanta area.
As the Vice President of Revenue Strategies, Mirela oversees and guides revenue management for the Hilton portfolio within First Hospitality. Her department focuses on increasing market share and profitability for each of the hotels. Despite each hotel's differences, Mirela ensures that the revenue management team uses the same positive results through detailed analysis, a proactive market approach, and sophisticated pricing strategies to achieve desired results. Within her team, Mirela's goal is to always develop strong talent while fostering a culture of accountable revenue management.
Mirela has 17 years of experience in the hospitality industry, with 11 of those years spent in revenue management. Prior to joining First Hospitality, Mirela held an Area Director of Revenue Management role with Kokua Hospitality. Before that, she spent four years with Interstate Hotels & Resorts and seven years at TPG as the Area Director of Revenue. Mirela's hospitality career began in 2002, where she served as a Front Desk Agent at the Hilton Garden Inn in Evanston, Il.
In her free time, Mirela enjoys training for the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. She is fundraising for the American Lung Association, where she hopes to raise $1750 to help them with the important work they do. Moreover, Mirela immigrated to the United States in the late 1990s after escaping the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and is a proud parent to two girls.
As the Regional Vice President of Sales, John leads the full-service hotels' sales efforts by striving to generate top-line revenue through developing and executing strategic marketing plans. His responsibilities include working closely with the on-property Directors of Sales & Marketing, collaborating with and reporting to key executives on portfolio's revenue generators and formulating creative and unique selling methods. Additionally, he assists in achieving ADR goals, helps create marketing plans for new developments and assists in the transitioning of hotels to First Hospitality management.
John has over 15 years of experience in the hotel, restaurant, and convention center industry. Prior to joining First Hospitality, John served as the Senior Marketing Manager where he managed hotels in Santa Barbara and Beverly Hills. Before that, he worked at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants as a Senior Sales & Marketing Manager and as an Area Director of Sales & Marketing at OLS Hotels & Resorts. Additionally, he began his professional career as a Lead Financial Analyst at Hunden Strategic Partners, where he was responsible for over 50 hotel and mixed-use development projects. John holds a B.S. in Business Administration and Management and a M.S. in Hospitality & Tourism Management from Roosevelt University.
In his free time, John enjoys bicycling, hiking and exploring beaches with his two Pitbulls named Tank and Maya. Additionally, he's an ardent supporter of the LGBT community.
Christina Santarelli-Foster is a results-driven marketing executive with over 15 years of experience in lifestyle branding, experiential and digital marketing, and national partnerships. Christina has played an influential role in the hospitality scene and food & beverage industry in leading the wave of the next generation of leaders. She has garnered national partnership and has worked alongside national partners such as Bravo TV, Barilla, Food Network, PGA, Disney, Harley Davidson and American Girl.
In 2009, Christina led the opening of Hilton's first franchise brand, theWit Hotel located in the heart of Chicago, along with the hotel's two award winning restaurant and catering events marketing. With her passion surrounding food and beverage, in 2016, Christina joined Levy and previously was the Senior Director of Marketing & Communications leading Levy's brand vision and its portfolio of 200+ properties coast to coast. Ranging from Sports & Entertainment, Convention Centers and Restaurants, Christina truly believes that the power of food, beverage and hospitality is one to be celebrated and enjoyed by all.
New to the First Hospitality family as Vice President of Marketing, Christina is no stranger to what excellence in hospitality is and the spirit it brings to the table.
As the Vice President of Revenue Analytics, Mike is responsible for overseeing the Revenue Management teams and strategies for First Hospitality's full-service hotels. With a track record of success as a revenue team leader, he is responsible for helping individuals and hotels achieve their potential. Mike strives to create a culture of sustained success through process and innovation. He mentors his revenue team by providing them with the tools, training, and guidance to achieve desired outcomes. This blend of expertise and passion helps First Hospitality stand out as an industry leader in revenue management.
Mike has 21 years of experience in the hospitality industry, with the past decade primarily focused on revenue strategy. His oversight duties have included monitoring 16 brands from coast to coast within various urban and dynamic markets. Additionally, Mike has brand expertise and certifications with some of the industry's most prestigious brands, including Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, and IHG. Prior to joining First Hospitality, Mike spent over 20 years at White Lodging in various roles including Corporate Director of Revenue, Regional Revenue Manager, General Manager and Director of Services. Mike holds a B.S. in Hospitality and Tourism from Purdue Northwest.
In his free time, Mike enjoys playing and coaching baseball, and traveling. Additionally, he's a proud husband and father of 2 sons and 1 daughter.
As Vice President of Investments for First Hospitality, Jason assesses and coordinates the company's strategic initiatives, including underwriting acquisitions, raising capital, and evaluating sales across First Hospitality's national portfolio of owned and managed hotels.
Prior to joining First Hospitality, Hutcheson worked for AJ Capital Partners as an associate supporting acquisitions, developments, and capital markets for Graduate Hotels. Hutcheson also spent four years working for CBRE, most recently as a senior financial analyst supporting hotel investment sales in the Midwest. During this role, Hutcheson had the opportunity to work with clients that included Fortune 500 companies, REITs, and high-net-worth investors and his work received a Deal of the Year nomination at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in 2018. Hutcheson received a Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern University and a Masters of Business Administration with concentrations in real estate and leadership from Kellogg School of Management.
When not working, you can often find him running or biking along Chicago's lakefront trail.
As the Vice President of Accounting, Deborah oversees the Property Operational Accounting for the corporate shared services accounting team. She is resSan Francisco, Californiaponsible for directing and coordinating the external audits for the portfolio and ensuring compliance with accounting and industry standards. Additionally, she develops and maintains the company's policies and procedures, thereby creating a strong internal control environment, and provides analytics and operational support to the senior management team.
Deborah has over 20 years of experience in accounting and finance within the real estate and hospitality industry. Prior to joining First Hospitality, she served as Vice President of Accounting at Spire Hospitality for 5 years, where she oversaw the corporate shared services for accounting and acquisitions. Prior to Spire Hospitality, she served as Senior Vice President of Accounting for 13 years at Shell Vacations, an international timeshare company that was acquired by Wyndham Vacation Ownership in 2012. Deborah previously worked with Deloitte in their Assurance & Advisory segment for 8 years in the San Francisco and Chicago offices, where she specialized in manufacturing, distribution, and not for profit industries. Deborah holds a B.S. in Accounting from Golden Gate University, San Francisco, California.
In her free time, Deborah loves to travel and explore places and restaurants with her spouse and three children. She is actively involved in Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and can often be found proudly cheering for her kids at numerous sporting events. In addition, Deborah's fourth child is her golden-doodle dog.
As Vice President Corporate Controller and Treasurer, Tanda oversees the Corporate, Owner and Development Entities for the accounting team, as well as the Treasury function. She is responsible for accounting and compliance of the Corporate entities and leading the external audits. She supports the Owner and Development entities, provides oversight to all capital activity and is responsible for external reporting. Additionally, Tanda leads the Treasury function with direct oversight of accounts payable, new property onboarding and cash flow reporting.
Tanda has over 20 years of experience in accounting and finance within the real estate and hospitality industries and experience in public accounting. Prior to joining First Hospitality, she served as Senior Controller of the Timeshare Division at Shell Vacations/Wyndham Vacation Ownership. In that position, she oversaw $140M in revenue generated over 30 operating entities and provided accounting oversight, debt refinancing accounting and compliance, and operational support. Prior to her experience within the industry, Tanda worked at Deloitte in their Assurance and Advisory group servicing clients in the real estate, retail and financial services industries. She also worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers in its Transaction Services Group focusing on buy/sell side due diligence and deal transactions. Tanda holds a B.S. in Accountancy from the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign and is a Certified Public Accountant.
In her free time, Tanda is a mom of three boys, and she and her husband can often be found at a hockey rink, baseball field or football field.
As the Vice President of Learning & Performance Management, Travis works to foster an engaging work environment and instills a people-centric culture that supports personal and professional growth while achieving best-in-class results. His responsibilities include sourcing and developing talent and identifying internal rising stars. Additionally, Travis serves as a coach and mentor by providing learning experiences for his peers in all aspects of hospitality management and leadership by collaborating with them to create and sustain industry-leading systems and processes. Moreover, he holds multiple certificates with Marriott, Hilton, IHG, National Restaurant Association, American Hotel Lodging Association, Predictive Index, Franklin Covey, and Leadership Inspired.
Travis is a seasoned industry veteran, with over 30 years of experience in hospitality. Before transitioning into his current role, Travis served as First Hospitality's Corporate Director of Training and was the company's Inner Circle award-winning General Manager during that tenure, an award given to General Managers based upon their property's flow-through, STR, Smith Travel RevPar improvement and rank, guest scores compared to brand, internal associate opinion survey, awards/recognition by the brand, and more. Prior to joining First Hospitality, Travis worked at White Lodging and Sage Hospitality and had multi-brand General Manager experiences in select and full-service hotels and restaurants as the Regional Director of Training and Recruiting. Before that, Travis was the General Manager of a Marriott Connect U hotel. Travis holds a B.S. in Organizational Management from Purdue University.
In his free time, Travis oversees a volunteer-based community garden, Drake Gardens in Chicago and has been in a partnered relationship for 15+ years. Additionally, he's the proud pet parent of an Italian Greyhound, is a member of the All Saints Episcopal Church, and rides horses whenever possible.
As the Vice President of Operations, Nick oversees the Chicago, Milwaukee, and Louisville markets. His responsibilities include managing a mixture of full and select service Hilton, Marriott, IHG, and Independent properties. With over 12 years of hospitality experience, his responsibilities include overseeing an Area General Manager and has recently had a focus on opening new hotels, brand transitions, and management takeovers.
Before transitioning into his current role, Nick served as an Area General Manager where he oversaw 5 hotels in the Milwaukee and Louisville markets. Nick began his career with Marcus Hotels and Resorts at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva, where he held various positions, culminating with Guest Service Director. Prior to joining First Hospitality, he was the General Manager of the Ridge Hotel in Lake Geneva and the Iron Works Hotel in Beloit, Wisconsin. Nick holds a B.S. in Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management from Iowa State University. He was heavily involved in campus life, as he was elected President of the local chapter of the Sigma Chi fraternity.
In his free time, Nick enjoys golfing, watching college basketball, and spending time with his wife and their 3 children. His family enjoys traveling, seeing extended family, the holidays, attending his daughter's dance competitions, and swimming in the summertime.
As the Vice President of Operations, Anthony oversees a collection of hotels with oversight of multiple area General Managers. He is responsible for leading the execution of exceptional business standards concerning guest experience, operations, talent development, and financial performance to meet specific goals and achieve desired results. He also ensures all hotels meet brand standards by verifying that First Hospitality SOPs are being followed and executed. Anthony ensures that budgets and deadlines are fulfilled by establishing accountability and by engaging with all associates by providing supportive communication.
Anthony has over 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry and has held two roles at First Hospitality before transitioning into his current role. He began his journey as General Manager for two different Hilton Garden Inn properties in Minneapolis and was promoted to Regional Director of Operations. Prior to joining First Hospitality, Anthony served as a General Manager for a Des Moines Hampton Inn and Embassy Suites in his hometown Minneapolis. Anthony holds a B.S. in Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management from Iowa State University.
In his free time, Anthony enjoys watching baseball, spending time with his family at their cabin in Iowa, and golfing with friends. He has been married for over a decade to his wife, Samantha. They have two incredible little girls.
As the Corporate Director of Culinary & Beverage, Tiffany is responsible for growing the company's restaurant and beverage programs and portfolio, as well as improving the operational excellence of the food and beverage department for all First Hospitality properties. Additionally, she ensures fiscal responsibility to the division and supports the properties by crafting smart and sound business decisions.
Tiffany is a seasoned Chef & Beverage veteran with over 34 years in the food & beverage industry spending much of her career designing and opening dozens of hotels, restaurants, and cruise ships. She has experience working with first-class worldwide companies including Walt Disney World, Gaylord Entertainment, Alexandria Group, Destination Hotels and GoldKey Hospitality.
In the years just prior to joining First Hospitality, Tiffany was the Corporate Executive Chef for Kessler Collection's. During her time at Kessler, she oversaw the Food & Beverage programs of 13 hotels.
In addition to running her own consulting firm for over 5 years with clients in the United States, South America, Caribbean, Canada, Europe, and Asia, Tiffany's résumé also includes credentials as a Level 1&2 Sommelier, member of the Escoffier Society, Silver Medal at the 1993 Culinary Olympics in Berlin, Germany. Gold medalist in the Dallas Culinary Society for FSM Competition, Cooking at The James Beard House, and winning chef at the Culinary Classic World Cup.
In her spare time, Tiffany enjoys skydiving, rock-climbing, B.A.S.E jumping, kayaking, white water rafting, hang gliding, hiking, snow & water skiing, race car driving, mountaineering, traveling all over the world and flying single-engine planes. Tiffany is also an award-winning cyclist and tri-athlete. Tiffany also volunteers for Florida Eco Club and Habitat for Humanity of Central Florida.
As Director of Investments for First Hospitality, Justin supports all phases of the acquisition process, including underwriting, conducting due diligence, and supporting capital raising efforts as First Hospitality expands its national portfolio of hotels.
Prior to joining First Hospitality, Justin spent time as a Director with Cushman & Wakefield's Valuation and Advisory practice specializing in hospitality and gaming. Justin also spent over five years with HVS Consulting & Valuation, as a licensed Certified General Real Estate Appraiser, working on market and financial feasibility studies, product/brand recommendations, and the valuation of hotel, motel, resorts, and mixed-use developments. During this time, Justin has valued and consulted on billions of dollars of various hospitality assets for commercial banks, investment banks, and private investors/developer, among others. In addition to his valuation and advisory experience, Justin has over five years of hotel and food and beverage operational experience including revenue management. Mr. Kaminski received a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality & Tourism Management with a concentration in Finance from Purdue University.
In his free time, Justin loves to watch sports and go golfing, bowling, snowboarding, or anything active. Additionally, Justin loves to travel with his wife Kara, and do anything and everything with their dog Teddy.