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RIHA Column: Accelerating the Advancement of Women in Hospitality

Dale J. Venturini, President and CEO of Rhode Island Hospitality Industry Association.

Dale J. Venturini, President and CEO of Rhode Island Hospitality Industry Association.

By Dale J. Venturini, President & CEO, RI Hospitality Association

In mid-February, the Rhode Island Hospitality Association (RIHA) hosted its first ever Woman Hospitality Owners Council to accelerate the advancement of women in the hospitality industry through leadership development, networking and problem solving.

The forum of Rhode Island-based female business owners gathered at Twin Oaks Restaurant in Cranston, Rhode Island for a dinner hosted by owner, Susan DeAngelis. The evening’s discussion focused on the challenges that are currently facing the hospitality industry, but we also shared the stories of our own experiences working in the industry and tips for how women can work together to encourage others to get into the industry.

As the official voice of the industry in Rhode Island, RIHA has a responsibility to empower all members. With March’s celebration of Women’s History Month serving as inspiration, we wanted to hear from the brave, forward-thinking women who are taking our little state’s most important industry by storm. The establishment of RIHA’s Woman Hospitality Owners Council comes at a time when we are seeing the significant growth of women-owned businesses in our state.

As you may know, RIHA is not only a women-led business, but its entire staff is also comprised of talented women who are dedicated to the development of Rhode Island’s hospitality sector. We don’t just talk the talk … we walk the walk. We keenly understand the challenges that women face in
our industry.

The feedback from these leaders demonstrates that there is a consistent desire to feel supported and to establish an open dialogue about the challenges that they face, the experiences that they have had, and the solutions that they have found. By establishing the Woman Hospitality Owners Council, we hope to encourage female leaders to freely collaborate, communicate and to contribute to the advancement of their peers and colleagues through conversation, common issues and education.

While our Council’s first forum was an invite-only event, we are planning to open future events to all women-owned hospitality businesses, to generate an even more diverse conversation, learn from one another, build a larger network, and to foster a community of likeminded professionals who are looking to bring success not only to women-owned restaurants and hotels, but to the industry as a whole.

Now that we are able to safely gather again, we are hoping to make up for lost time by encouraging women in the industry to celebrate, support and collaborate with one another on a more regular basis. As we look to planning upcoming events, we would appreciate your feedback and input.

Please feel free to send a note to Sarah@RIHospitality.org with your experiences, concerns or issues that you’d like to discuss with other female business owners. Your thoughts will help us to shape the most relevant content and ensure that this Council is beneficial and well attended.

Please stay tuned for more updates on the development of RIHA’s Woman Hospitality Owners Council and be sure to spread the word to those who may be interested in joining. For more information and to inquire about future events, please call RIHA at 401-223-1120, or visit our website at rihospitality.org.

A veteran of more than 25 years in the hospitality industry, Venturini is considered by many to be the voice of the industry in the state of Rhode Island. She has been instrumental in improving the industry’s educational and training programs in the state, as well as enhancing the bottom line of the business she represents. Venturini splits her time between the office and the State House, a constant presence for her membership.

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