AHLA Foundation names 2023 Peggy Berg Castell Award recipient

The AHLA Foundation, the charitable arm of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, named Julienne Smith—chief development officer, Americas, at IHG Hotels & Resorts—as the 2023 recipient of the Peggy Berg Castell Award. Presented at The Lodging Conference last week, the award highlights women trailblazers who are paving the way for more women to rise to the top of the hospitality industry.

In her role overseeing the growth of IHG Hotels & Resorts in the Americas region, Smith is actively involved in supporting women through mentorships and sponsorships, and partners with organizations that help women navigate the hotel ownership process. She also led the development of IHG LIFT, an owner growth program in the U.S. and Canada focused on creating more hotel development support for historically underrepresented groups within IHG and across the hospitality industry. Smith also serves on the Global and Americas Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Boards within IHG, is on the AHLA Foundation Board of Trustees and serves on several industry conference advisory and planning committees, including AHLA’s ForWard. 

The award recipients are selected by an independent group of industry leaders and stakeholders, including the leadership of The Lodging Conference. Award winners are selected because they embody one or more of the following qualities:

  • Change-maker: Leads strategic improvement programs for their organization.
  • Trailblazer: Opens new paths in the industry.
  • Gender Equity Champion: Creates opportunities for women.
  • Principled Professional: Demonstrates ethical business conduct within their organization and industry.

“Increasing representation of women as well as other diverse and under-represented groups in the hospitality industry is something I’m passionate about as it builds upon our already powerful foundation and will ultimately strengthen our entire industry,” Smith said in a statement. “I’m honored to be in the same company of incredible women who have previously been recognized with this award, and I’m very grateful to the AHLA Foundation for this recognition.”

With the acquisition of the Castell Project by AHLA Foundation last year, the Castell Award was renamed the Peggy Berg Castell Award to give tribute to the legacy and commitment of the Castell Project’s founder. The award will continue under AHLA Foundation’s ForWard initiative.    

“The beauty of this award is the spotlight it puts on the women in this industry who are championing and elevating women, continuing the tradition of Peggy Berg (for whom the award is now named),” said Anna Blue, president of AHLA Foundation. “Julienne's leadership is inspirational; she's leaving an important mark on this industry in so many ways.”