AHLA announces new hires, new members

The American Hotel & Lodging Association has added three new people to its team, including Chirag Shah in the newly created role of SVP of federal affairs. Photo credit: rawpixel (Close-up of two people shaking hands with other people in the background)

The American Hotel & Lodging Association has appointed Chirag Shah to the newly created role of SVP of federal affairs. In this role, Shah will lead the AHLA’s federal relations team, developing and executing advocacy strategy on Capitol Hill and with the new Biden administration. 

“Chirag is well-known and widely respected by both Democrats and Republicans and on both sides of the Capitol, having worked on advocacy issues for the hotel industry for nearly a decade,” said Brian Crawford, executive VP of government affairs at the AHLA. “I have worked alongside Chirag for a long time and couldn’t be more excited to have him join the AHLA team. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve worked together to ensure our industry has access to increased liquidity and debt forbearance for the hotel sector, that employees have jobs to return to once travel demand returns and businesses are protected from undue liability concerns. I know he’ll hit the ground running.”

Shah comes to the AHLA from AAHOA, where he served as VP of government affairs and counsel. During his tenure, AAHOA garnered support for critical small business issues including tax reform, workforce relations, U.S. Small Business Administration lending and economic stimulus in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Chirag led AAHOA’s political strategy, growing its political action committee from $250,000 to more than $1 million. Before joining AAHOA, Shah served as a deputy director and legal advisor at the Republican National Committee, the campaign manager for Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, and in multiple roles for U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.-02).

Additional Hires

In addition, the AHLA named Laisha Dismuke VP of human resources. Dismuke will be responsible for overseeing the HR function, including developing and implementing a strategic approach to talent acquisition and retention, managing the internal operations and working with the AHLA HR Committee and the AHLA Foundation Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force to provide guidance and ensure alignment with both organizations. Before joining the AHLA, Dismuke served as cultural consultant at Female Quotient, working with the leadership team to activate internal diversity, equity and inclusion solutions for change and creating metrics for accountability. Previously, she worked with CropLife America for more than a decade and served as the strategic HR advisor and cultural resource for all initiatives and directives related to staff at the association. 
Finally, AHLA is rounding out its state and local ground team with the addition of Sharon Sykes as director of state and local government affairs, covering the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions. Specifically, Sykes will work closely with AHLA state lodging association members in the following states to further elevate the industry’s advocacy effectiveness: Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Virginia. She also will play a role in expanding AHLA’s state and local grassroots apparatus. Sykes comes to the AHLA from the National Federation of Independent Business after managing advocacy campaigns throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

New Members

AHLA also recently welcomed several new members and partner organizations.
New members are Graduate Hotels, Raines Hospitality, SH Hotels & Resorts and Irvine Companies. Delos, a wellness real estate and technology company, joins the AHLA as a Gold Partner; and Accenture, Carrier and Rubbermaid Commercial Products join as Silver Partners.