WSU Chain Restaurant Management Conference Focuses on Diversity

PULLMAN, Wash. — National leaders in the hospitality industry are due at Washington State University Monday, March 5, to participate in the 16th annual Chain Restaurant Management Conference.

The conference will run from 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. in the Compton Union Building on the WSU campus. A Hospitality Career Night for HRA majors seeking career placement and internship opportunities follows the conference from 7:30-9:30 p.m. in CUB Cascade Rooms 123-127.

“Diversity Education and the Restaurant Industry: Forging Ahead to New Heights” is the theme of the event, sponsored by WSU’s Hotel and Restaurant Administration program. Attending the conference will be numerous hospitality professionals from near and far.

“Each year we try to choose a theme of relevance to the hospitality industry, and this year’s topic is right on target,” says W. Terry Umbreit, HRA director. “The industry is experiencing a large labor shortage, and finding good employees is important. We have invited top executives from many of the leading chain restaurant companies so we can hear what their companies are doing to educate their employees on diversity and about hiring quality employees.”

This year’s guest speakers include Gerry Fernandez, president of Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance; Tom Russo, president and CEO of American Hospitality Concepts; Sally Smith, president and CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings; Gilbert Winslow, regional supervisor of human resources for McDonald’s Corp.; and Sara Beckstrand, director of human resources for Institutional North America, ECOLAB.

One of HRA’s instructors, Wanda Costen, is moderating this year’s conference. A sociology doctoral student, she is also a consultant with Costen Integrated Resources Consulting. The firm provides guidance to organizations on how to maximize the effectiveness of their human resources.