2018 Hospitality Awards Honorees

J. Patrick Leahy Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

John Belden
President & CEO, Davidson Hotels & Resorts
John Belden first knew that he had a motivation to work in the hospitality industry after a kitchen job at the Catawba Island Country Club in Ohio. During this time, he learned the importance of how management interacted with both guests and staff. He began his career as a hotel consultant for Laventhol & Horwath then transitioned to the development teams at The Residence Inn Company followed by the Holiday Corporation. During all of this, he was also working as a member of the founding concept development team for Homewood Suites.

John studied at Michigan State University where he worked towards a degree from the business college with an emphasis in hotel, restaurant, and institutional management. During this time, he learned from several mentors on not only the task-oriented things in business, but how to lead, inspire, and motivate people.

He later joined Davidson Hotels & Resorts as SVP of Business Development and became President & CEO in 2006. After 25 years with Davidson, John understands what a successful hotel company should do: create value that is sustainable for the long-term. While that sometimes may take greater effort and more expense up front, he has shown that it creates a much greater experience long-term.

Ambassador of Hospitality Award Recipients 

Shevket Dardovski
Vice President, SP+

Shevket Dardovski grew up in Chicago’s southwest suburbs when his family emigrated from Yugoslavia. At an early age, he learned the value of believing in your talents and always making an extra effort in everything that you do. He is a lover of all Chicago sports and a devoted family man. With the simple life goal to always make people happy, Shevket has stuck to this and has always gone above and beyond. Shevket began his career in 1975 when he held positions at all levels of operations in the parking industry. From front line staff to Facility Manager, Area Manager, and Director of Operations, he is familiar with every aspect of the business, now giving him direct responsibility for the management of the majority of SP+’s hotel portfolio in Chicago. His primary goal is focused on increasing the core customer service values for hotel guests within the portfolio. Throughout his 30+ years of experience, Shevket has made time to stay active in various business associations including: BOMA, Chicago Loop Alliance, IHLA, IHLA’s Educational Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, and The Magnificent Mile Association. He has always made himself available to work closely with clients, ensuring complete satisfaction with all of the parking operations of each facility.

Lori Healey
CEO, Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority (MPEA/McPier)

Lori Healey received a B.A. in Economics from Kansas State University and extended her education with an M.S. in Public Administration. She has held several senior leadership positions under the administration of Mayor Richard M. Daley, overseeing more than $1 billion of combined investment into the city’s economic development, programs, and projects. In her current position, she oversees the development of The Collection at McCormick Square which includes a 10,000 seat event center and the 1,206 room Marriott Marquis Chicago hotel. While she has shown success in all of her endeavors, what makes Lori truly stand out in her work is the passion she has for civic involvement in Chicago. She has held several board member titles from Local Initiatives Support Chicago to Loyola University Health System, making her an excellent leader in not only the hospitality industry but the Chicago community.

Mark Lauer
General Manager, Sheraton Grand Chicago

Mark Lauer believes in being intellectually curious and driven by team wins and not individual success. Mark has made mentoring and guiding future leaders of the hospitality industry a priority, reinforcing the idea that good leadership requires self-knowledge, awareness, and individual leadership style. He has said: “You are judged by the team you build”. With this in mind, we know Mark as a great leader with the ability to motivate and inspire in any situation. Since the beginning of his career in 1980, he has brought passion for the industry that is evident by the long list of organizations which he has lent his time and expertise to throughout his career. In his current position, he oversees all of the finance, sales, and marketing operations at his property. Throughout his career, which began at Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile in 1980, he has held several leadership roles including Director of Marketing and Hotel Manager at Waldorf Astoria New York and as General Manager at the New York Hilton Midtown. Mark studied at Loyola University and later became a board member for the Avenue of the Americas Association, Historic Hotels of America, Hotel Association of New York City, Nebraska Hotel/Motel Association, and Omaha Chamber of Commerce.

Jay Stieber
Executive Vice President & General Counsel, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises

Originally from New York, Jay Stieber has made a name for himself in Chicago and all over the U.S. with the outstanding work he has done since joining the Lettuce Entertain You team in 1995. Jay has traveled extensively throughout the world and has been involved in several national organizations and associations, giving him a myriad of experiences to pull insight from. As one of the partners of LEYE, Jay’s responsibilities include dealing with issues involving strategic and tax planning, real estate, governmental affairs, bank relations, investor relations, and other legal matters. He has been instrumental in almost all of LEYE’s many projects. Jay earned a B.S. in accounting from DePaul University and a J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law. He is currently Chairman of the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and the Restaurant Law Center. He is also a former Chairman of the Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA) and now serves on its Executive Committee. Currently, Jay is a board member of the Chicago Chamber of Commerce and its Political Action Committee and a member of the Economic Club of Chicago. He is happily married and in his free time enjoys golf, cooking his favorite gazpacho recipe, and catching up with Northwestern University football.