American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), American Hotel & Lodging Foundation, and BHN Group announce the appointment of David Kong, the recently retired President and CEO of BWH Hotel Group, as the first winner of the Arne Sorenson Social Impact Leadership Award. Kong will be honored at the AHLA Foundation’s highest funding gala, the Night of the Thousand Stars on January 23, 2022, as well as the 21st US Accommodation Investment Summit (ALIS) on Tuesday, January 25, 2022.
The Arne Sorenson Social Impact Leadership Award is a new award named after the late Arne Sorenson, former president and CEO of Marriott International, who died in February 2021. This award is given annually to accommodation industry managers who strive to drive change through strong leadership and social commitment. Nominations will be reviewed by the AHLA Executive Committee and representatives of ALIS.
“Like Arne, David is an industry icon—an amazing leader and among the most respected people in our industry,” said AHLA President and CEO Chip Rogers.
“The story of David’s career trajectory, from dishwasher to CEO, is inspiring to us all—as is his commitment to the next generation of hotel leaders and the communities we serve. It has been a joy to work with David, and I can think of no better way to honor him after his illustrious career than with this award.”
Kong’s lifelong hospitality career began when he emigrated from Hong Kong to the United States as a young adult with no money, work, or connections to support him. He started as a dishwasher and busboy and went up in rank, finally ending up as president and chief executive officer of the BWH Hotel Group from 2004 to 2021. During the course of his illustrious career, Kong has also held executive positions at KPMG Consulting, Hyatt Hotels, Omni International, and Hilton Hotels.
“The humanity-meets-business crossroads that Arne and David built their leadership styles around are more important than ever, so it’s an honor to acknowledge Arne’s legacy by having David as the inaugural recipient of this award,” said Jeff Higley, President of The BHN Group.