CHLA Hospitality Foundation Formed to Support Industry Education in California

The California Hotel & Lodging Association (CHLA) announced today that its Education Foundation has partnered with the Hotel & Restaurant Foundation (HARF) to form a new foundation to support hospitality education in California: the California Hotel & Lodging Association Hospitality Foundation.

The Hospitality Foundation boasts $3.4 million in funds, which will be used toward scholarships and educational support for students interested in pursuing careers in the hotel and restaurant industries.

“By combining the impressive strengths of these two foundations, future leaders of the tourism and hospitality industries will benefit exponentially,” CHLA President and CEO Lynn S. Mohrfeld said. “Our goal is to invest in students, foster their careers and create outstanding new hospitality leaders.”

CHLA also announced today that its Board of Directors appointed Deb Kurtti as the Hospitality Foundation’s Executive Director, bringing with her more than a decade of experience in foundation management, government and community relations and business development.

“With her exceptional combination of energy, industry knowledge and proven leadership, Deb is the perfect candidate to lead this effort,” Mohrfeld said.

Kurtti, a California native from the Bay Area, has worked as the Executive Director of HARF for the past year. Previously, she was the Executive Director of the Quality Care Health Foundation, the educational and workforce arm of the California Association of Health Facilities. Kurtti is involved in a leadership position with the Meeting Professionals International Sacramento-Sierra Chapter and also she sits on the Capital Regional Council of the California Society of Association Executives. 

“I am grateful to the board for the opportunity to lead this exceptional new organization,” Kurtti said. “I am eager to put my passion and skillset to work to build upon the great efforts HARF and CHLA’s Education Foundation already had in place, while finding new opportunities to foster and support the future of our industry.”

HARF was one of the oldest and largest hospitality scholarship granting organizations in the country. Since 1948, HARF granted merit-based scholarships to thousands of hospitality students throughout California, awarding more than $2 million to more than 740 students in the past decade. HARF’s scholarship recipients now work in hotel, restaurant and the tourism industries as chefs, managers and business owners across California and around the world. The organization brought with it $3.2 million of the $3.4 million in funds for the new foundation in the merger with CHLA’s Education Foundation.

The new foundation is overseen by an executive committee whose members are seasoned hospitality industry leaders from some of the largest and most respected hotels in California. The board includes Chair Michael Pace (GM, Intercontinental Mark Hopkins, San Francisco), Co-Vice Chairs Tom Patton (GM Ramada Inn Santa Barbara) and Roger Huldi (The W Hotel, San Francisco), Secretary James Lim (GM, Omni Hotel San Francisco), and Treasurer Thomas Costello(Former Director of Hospitality Program, University of San Francisco).

Students who would like to apply for a scholarship through the California Hotel & Lodging Association Hospitality Foundation, may visit The Foundation asks students who meet basic requirements to submit an application and other required information, write a short essay, and, if selected, appear before an industry interview panel.

About California Hotel & Lodging Association
Recognized as one of the most influential state lodging associations throughout the country, the California Hotel & Lodging Association’s mission is to protect the rights and interests of owners and operators and be their indispensable business resource.

Media Inquiries:

Deb Kurtti
Phone: 916-554-2660