Thomas Walsh, HTA Board Chair
Thomas Walsh is an international Executive VP of UNITE HERE, the union of food service and hospitality workers in North America. He is also the President of Local 11, the UNITE HERE affiliate in Los Angeles and Orange Counties representing 20,000 members. He has served the members of UNITE HERE in various capabilities since 1985 when he first joined the union as a rank and file leader in Washington DC. He also serves as a labor trustee with UNITE HERE Health and various local health and welfare and retirement trust funds.
Kevin Gleason, HTA Board Secretary
Kevin Gleason is the Director of Labor Relations – West for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, whose brands include Westin, Sheraton, W Hotels, St. Regis, Luxury Collection, aloft, Element, Four Points and Le Méridien. A graduate of Cornell University’s College of Industrial and Labor Relations, Gleason is a thirty year Starwood veteran. Before assuming his current role, he held a wide variety of leadership positions with Starwood in operations, both in the rooms and food and beverage divisions. Gleason has also worked for Hyatt Hotels and Ritz Carlton Hotels.
Jamie Clough, HTA Board Trustee
Jamie Clough currently operates for Levy Restaurants as Regional Director of Human Resources for the West Division. Jamie oversees all aspects of Human Resources across a portfolio of over 40 Sports and Entertainment locations spanning from California to Texas. Jamie began his career in Levy UK’ before moving out to Los Angeles in 2013 and has since worked since extensively in the LA market at notable locations such as STAPLES Center and Los Angeles Dodgers. Jamie is a graduate of Loughborough University and is thrilled to serve on the Board of Directors for the Hospitality Training Academy.
Susan Minato, HTA Board Trustee
Susan Minato is the Executive Vice President and Staff Director of UNITE HERE Local 11, a union representing more than 20,000 hospitality workers in Southern California. She is also an International Vice President. Ms. Minato is a graduate of UCLA School of Law. She worked at the offices of the LA County Public Defender and the Inner City Law Center, which deals with habitability and safety issues for LA’s Skid Row residents. Later she worked as the staff attorney for the Utility Workers Union of America Local 132, representing The Gas Company workers in Southern California.Although interested in and challenged by the law, Ms. Minato was attracted to the power of worker organizing and direct action.She moved to UNITE HERE International Union in 1993 to pursue organizing. She accepted short posts in San Diego, Laughlin, and Las Vegas, Nevada, before moving to Los Angeles. Inspired by UNITE HERE’s leadership development program, she has spent the past 20 years organizing in the hospitality industry and training others to become leaders in a movement for social justice. Ms. Minato is a fourth generation Japanese American. Her family, which immigrated to California in 1888, worked as farmers and fishermen in the Los Angeles area and throughout the state before being incarcerated in internment camps in 1943. Ms. Minato lives in Northeast Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.
Kurt Petersen, HTA Board Trustee
Kurt Petersen graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1987, and received his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1992. Upon graduation from law school, Kurt joined the United Farm Workers of Washington State in Sunnyside, Washington, as an Organizer. Since 1995, Kurt has been with UNITE HERE, and is a national UNITE HERE Organizing Director and a Vice President of UNITE HERE Local 11.
David Schweitzer is Director, Employee & Labor Relations, Americas for InterContinental Hotels Group. David has been working in the hotel industry for 35 years and is celebrating nearly 30 years with IHG. In addition to roles in Human Resources as a hotel, area, and regional director, David has held numerous positions in hotel operations, sales, and information technology. David is a native San Franciscan and proud alumnus of San Francisco State University.
Melanie Luthern Allen is an associate at union side labor law firm Schwartz, Steinsapir, Dohrmann, and Sommers. She represents public and private sector labor unions in federal and state litigation including proceedings before state and federal administrative bodies. Ms. Allen’s practice includes a broad range of additional issues, especially legislative and regulatory matters. Prior to practicing as a lawyer, Ms. Allen worked at Unite Here Local 11 as a research analyst. She lives in Santa Monica, CA where she serves on the Steering Committee of Santa Monicans for Renters Rights.
Bernice Correa, SPHR, HTA Alternate Board Trustee
Bernice Correa is a Human Resources professional with over 25 years of experience in the Hotel Industry. She began her career with ITT Sheraton (now Starwood Hotels and Resorts) and has worked at several Starwood Branded properties in the Los Angeles/Long Beach/San Diego areas. In 2001, Bernice joined Hilton Worldwide as the opening Director of Human Resources at a property located in Orange County. Bernice graduated from Cal State Dominguez Hills with a B.A. in Labor Studies. In November of 2008, she transferred to the iconic Beverly Hilton Hotel as the Assistant Director of Human Resources and assumed the Director of Human Resources (her current role) in March of 2012.
Francis Engler, HTA Alternate Trustee
Francis’ commitment to helping others overcome barriers and break out of poverty was born out of his personal experiences and continues to drive him in his role as a Director for Local 11 and his work on HTA’s Board. Growing up, Francis saw injustice and inequality and witnessed many of those around him struggle due to lack of opportunity. Having been raised in poverty as part of a family of dairy farmers in rural Wisconsin, Francis’ mother instilled in her children the importance of hard work, a fact that would characterize her daily life when she was widowed and left with three young sons to care for. As an adolescent, Francis found inspiration, opportunity and support from the Church, school, and social programs. Discovering that more was possible, Francis earned a scholarship and graduated from Yale University, where he first encountered and joined UNITE HERE. Knowing the value of support and encouragement, Francis has made it his life’s work to help those in poverty build a path to self-sufficiency and family-sustaining wages through union employment in L.A.’s vast hospitality industry.
Kristin Reeg, HTA Alternate Board Trustee
Kristin Reeg is the Airport Director for UNITE HERE Local 11. Kristin is a Southern California native who graduated from Pomona College in 1995. She joined UNITE HERE Local 11 in 1997 after working for several years in hotels and restaurants while interning with UNITE HERE in the Bay Area. For the past 17 years, she has worked in all aspects of union organizing, and has been proud to make concrete changes in the lives of thousands of workers. She currently directs UNITE HERE’s airport organizing program, where hundreds of workers have been enriched by HTA programs.
Celsa Zamora-Padilla, HTA Alternate Board Trustee
Celsa Zamora-Padilla is the current Director of Human Resources at the Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel. Celsa began her hospitality career in 2002 as Human Resources Coordinator for Starwood Hotels & Resorts at the Westin Century Plaza Hotel & Spa and St. Regis Los Angeles, supporting 700+ associates in the complexed operation. In 2005, she was promoted to Human Resources Manager at the 350-room Westin Pasadena, where she was awarded Manager of the Year in her first year at the property. In 2009, Celsa was promoted to Director of Human Resources for the Westin Pasadena. She stayed on to continue leading the HR function at the property as it transitioned out of Starwood management in August 2011. In May of 2013, Celsa rejoined Starwood Hotels and Resorts as the Director of Human Resources for the Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown and led the transition of the 485-room hotel into a Starwood managed hotel. Celsa is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles with a BS in Biology. On her personal time, Celsa enjoys spending her time with her husband, her 8 and 17 year old sons and their 3 dogs.