TORONTO — Cathy Stephens, director of Operations at the Fort Garry Hotel, Spa and Conference Centre in Winnipeg has been awarded Choice Hotels Canada’s first-ever Mark Pearce Memorial Scholarship.
The $2,500 legacy scholarship was created in memory of Mark Pearce, who was senior vice-president, International Division, for Choice Hotels International and former head of the Canadian office, and is designated for post-secondary education in the hospitality and tourism industries.
“Cathy has a true passion for hospitality and is dedicated to growing and improving her skills, making her the perfect recipient for the scholarship,” says Brian Leon, president, Choice Hotels Canada. “She embodies the qualities that Mark most admired — even in her personal motto of ‘Learn more, grow more, give more.’”
Stephens has been in the hospitality industry since 1990, when she answered an ad to be a room attendant at a hotel in the middle of the Alaskan Highway. In 2016, she applied to the online Masters of Tourism Management program at Royal Roads University, despite having been out of university for 25 years. In 2020 she was recruited by the new owners of the Fort Garry Hotel, having previously worked there from 2001 to 2008, as its new director of Operations. At the time, the hotel was joining Choice Hotel Canada’s Ascend Hotel Collection and Stephens credits her ongoing education as key to assisting with that transition.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to receive this honour, especially in the name of a man so well recognized and admired in the industry,” she says. “I’d like to recognize the owners and employees of the Fort Garry Hotel, along with my colleagues and friends in the Winnipeg tourism-and-hospitality community, who continue to support and encourage me on this journey.”
The Mark Pearce Memorial Scholarship is intended to help support careers in the hospitality-and-tourism industry and elevate the next generation of industry leaders with a focus on hotel or restaurant management. Jointly funded by Choice Hotels Canada and the Choice Canada Franchise Advisory Board (CCFAB), applications are open to franchise owners, hotel-level associates, Choice Hotels Canada head-office staff, as well as their dependent children. The Mark Pearce Memorial Scholarship will be accepting 2021 applications later this year.
The announcement of the Memorial Scholarship follows the Mark Pearce Spirit of Hospitality Award, which was awarded to Tammy Cayen, assistant general manager at the Comfort Inn in Sturgeon Falls, Ont. last September.