PHOENIX — David Kong, recently retired president and CEO of BWH Hotel Group, has been named the inaugural recipient of the Arne Sorenson Social Impact Leadership Award on behalf of The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), The American Hotel & Lodging Foundation and The BHN Group.
When Kong emigrated to the U.S. from Hong Kong as a young adult, he began his career in hospitality as a dishwasher and quickly climbed the ladder, securing his role as president and CEO of BWH Hotel Group from 2004-2021. During his career, Kong developed initiatives focused on women in the hotel sector, provided scholarships to hospitality students in partnership with the AHLA Foundation and spearheaded BWH Hotel Group’s Future Leaders Group initiative.
This new award is named after Arne Sorenson, former president and CEO of Marriott International, who passed away in February 2021. The award will continue to be presented annually to a senior-level executive in the industry.
“Like Arne, David is an industry icon — an amazing leader and among the most respected people in our industry,” says Chip Rogers, president and CEO, AHLA. “The story of David’s career trajectory, from dishwasher to CEO, is inspiring to us all, as is his commitment to the next generation of hotel leaders and the communities we serve. It has been a joy to work with David, and I can think of no better way to honor him at the conclusion of his illustrious career than with this award.”
“The humanity-meets-business crossroads that Arne and David built their leadership styles around are more important than ever, so it’s an honour to acknowledge Arne’s legacy by having David as the inaugural recipient of this award,” says Jeff Higley, president of The BHN Group. “The impact of embracing a people-centric approach by prominently addressing key social issues serves as an agent of change far beyond the boundaries of the hotel industry. We should all be proud of the impact that Arne and David have contributed by being kind, thoughtful and forward-looking leaders.”