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Situational Awareness Training Empowers 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

Back in September, the RI Hospitality Association (RIHA), in partnership with the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce Women’s Business Council, hosted the latest installment of its Women in Hospitality series at the Providence Marriott Downtown.

With national and regional headlines frequently touting horror stories detailing physical altercations between customers and our industry’s staff members (many of whom are women) — which began to occur more often during the pandemic as public health and safety guidelines were shifting — RIHA developed a plan to educate, inform and empower local women in hospitality to recognize the signs of danger and to defend themselves appropriately and effectively.

To that end, RIHA brought in Lt. Michael Fallon and Det. Tracie Miller-Dygon from the Providence Police Department’s Training Division to the Providence Marriott Downtown’s ballroom to offer self-defense awareness training covering defensive tactics, situational awareness and more for a crowd of more than 100 women working in the hospitality industry.

Det. Miller-Dygon demonstrated a number of valuable and effective self-defense techniques, which unfortunately Lt. Fallon was on the receiving end of. In addition, RIHA sent each seminar attendee home with a custom pepper spray keychain.

The self-defense awareness training was followed by a cocktail reception, featuring The Botanist Gin and Cointreau presented by Rémy Cointreau, and a poolside party at the hotel’s pool, Aqua. This provided the chance for attendees to learn from and network with a diverse and accomplished group of women in the hospitality industry.

As part of the seminar and networking event, attendees contributed donations of men’s and women’s business attire for the East Providence, RI-based nonprofit Foster Forward, which aims to support children and youth, families and the child welfare system as a whole, to grow, connect, improve and move forward, while also managing its Storefront: a resource for all foster families who can pick up free, gently used clothing, toys and other essentials.

With a number of successful Women in Hospitality events under our belt, RIHA will continue to encourage women in the industry to celebrate, support and collaborate with one another more frequently. As we look toward planning more events, we would appreciate any feedback or input you might have.

Please consider sending a note to with your experiences, concerns or ideas that you would like to discuss with other women in hospitality. Your thoughts will help us to shape the most relevant content for our members and those who attend our public-facing events.

Please stay tuned for more updates on what we have planned for Women in Hospitality and be sure to spread the word to those who may be interested in attending future events. For more information and to inquire about future events, please call RIHA at 401-223-1120 or visit our website at

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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