Katherine Lugar is president and chief executive officer of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), the largest trade association representing the U.S. lodging industry. In this role, she is responsible for setting the strategic vision for AH&LA and all of its affiliates, while championing the industry’s voice on Capitol Hill, within the Administration and beyond Washington, D.C. Working directly with the volunteer officers and board of directors, Lugar has transformed AH&LA since joining three years ago, growing the 24,000-strong group to its highest point in the organization’s history and focusing its core mission on advocacy. In addition, she also oversees AH&LA’s two affiliate organizations, the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation (AH&LEF) and the Educational Institute (EI).
Since the beginning of her tenure at AH&LA, Lugar has been pivotal in transforming the association and spearheading the rollout of a new membership model and growing its base, which now represents more than 24,500 hotels in the U.S., including global brands, REITS and owners of hotels, management companies and independent properties. In just under three years, she led the association to grow to its highest point in its 100-year history, achieved record HotelPAC contributions, now surpassing $1 million in PAC contributions, increased the focus on advocacy and ensured greater industry engagement. Her success at AH&LA has been recognized beyond the hotel industry. In 2015, The Washington Post named her as a “leader to watch,” describing her as an “influence guru” inside the Beltway and for two years running, she was named by The Hill as one of Washington, D.C.’s top lobbyists.
She has also led the development of a three-year strategic plan that will guide the association as it navigates the numerous opportunities and challenges that face the hospitality industry. With a renewed focus on advocacy, Lugar’s depth of experience in public policy and Capitol Hill will help shape the agenda the industry seeks to center its priorities around: workforce issues, technology and distribution and travel and tourism promotion.
She has more than 20 years of experience in private sector public affairs, working on Capitol Hill and previously served as executive vice president, public affairs, with the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). While at RILA, she was the principal contact for the public affairs and government relations program. Her tenure at RILA was marked by several significant accomplishments, including the development and execution of a major campaign to regulate debit swipe fees (hailed by Politico as the biggest legislative battle of 2011) and the creation and implementation of a dual state-federal campaign to level the playing field on on-line sales tax collection.
Before her time at RILA, she was vice president of government relations for Travelers Insurance, serving as the company’s chief representative before Congress and the administration. Prior to that, she served as vice president of legislative and political affairs at the National Retail Federation.
Katherine Lugar’s career in Washington, D.C. began on the staff of Indiana Congressman Tim Roemer and she is a graduate of The University of Colorado – Boulder. She currently sits on several Boards, including US Travel Association, the Bryce Harlow Foundation and St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest national charity committed to funding research to find cures for pediatric cancer. She is also a member of the Chamber’s Committee of 100.