Panel Biographies

Dr. David Corsun, Director, Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management at University of Denver

Dr. David L. Corsun earned his Ph.D. from the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell
University in 1999. His major area was organizational behavior. Dr. Corsun also holds a
BS in Hotel Administration from Cornell and an MS in Food Service Management from
New York University. He is currently Director of the Fritz Knoebel School of
Hospitality Management in the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver,
and has previously taught at UNLV, Washington State University, NYU, and Cornell.
David’s research interests are in the areas of empowerment, diversity, and labor-
management relations. His work has been published in Annals of Tourism Research,
Journal of Management Inquiry, Human Relations, Journal of Management
Development, Cornell Hotel & Restaurant Administration Quarterly, Journal of
Hospitality and Tourism Research, and International Journal of Contemporary
Hospitality Management. Prior to attending graduate school, Dr. Corsun was a restaurateur in New York City, working in a management and/or consulting role in operations such as Tavern on the Green, The Greene Street Café, Live Bait, El Rio Grande, and Lincoln Center. He was
also the chef-owner of Zanzibar & Grill, a jazz restaurant, from 1987-1990.

Laurel Donnellan, Founder and CEO, Compassionate Leaders Circle

Laurel is a compassionate leadership and career change expert with experience coaching/consulting with individuals and organizations including the University of Denver, Cornell University, Toyota, Disney, Viacom, and the New York City Board of Education. She has an undergraduate degree from Cornell University in Hotel Administration and an MA in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. Laurel specializes in career, leadership, and organizational development that improves engagement and has designed programs for corporate universities, schools, universities, an ashram, and a prison. She has published several books including Pause for Purpose and Born To Do: The Practical Guide To Loving Your Work, has been featured on NPR and worked with executives in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Laurel is a contributor at Forbes.com where she writes about Compassionate Leadership and hosts the Compassionate Leaders Circle Podcast where she interviews leaders from all sectors impacting their organizations and communities through kindness and purpose. She has dedicated the last twenty-four years to researching, developing, and validating change models that help people find work they love and help organizations provide loveable work.

Hannah Major, Director, Manifest

Hannah R. Major earned her BSBA from the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality
Management at the University of Denver. Her focus post-education centered on
events and the creation of experiences. Already having four years of industry
work experience, Hannah was ready to head for the pacific islands and Four
Seasons’ exemplary Manager in Training program upon graduation. Her first
position in Recreation taught her teamwork, her time in Weddings and Events
showed her what her career’s passion and skillset would be, and as Manager of
‘Ulu Restaurant’s breakfast operation she learned team management. Returning
to Denver Hannah worked with a luxury travel club, Exclusive Resorts, that was
changing private villa rentals around the world and curating truly bespoke Once
in a Lifetime Journeys (OIAL). While on the OIAL team Hannah spent several
years living abroad in Spain and France. Presently, she finds herself as Director
of Experiences for Manifest, an experiential travel club and private air service.
Outside of her work, Hannah is an active member of Fritz Knoebel’s alumni
community, and enjoys coaching business skills and teaching financial literacy in
the Denver Public School system through Operation Hope.

Debbie Brown, Consultant and Former VP of HR for Americas, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

An accomplished & passionate HR and hospitality leader, Debbie enjoyed a multi-dimensional career with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. As the VP of HR for Americas, she was the HR leader for 50 hotels and over 10,000 employees in the US, Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Widely recognized as an employer of choice, Four Seasons has been on the FORTUNE “Best 100 Companies to Work For” for the past 23 years.   Combining her HR & hospitality experience, she currently provides consulting services to small and mid-size private and family-owned businesses in which hospitable services is a key business deliverable and a company value. Debbie has a result-driven record of solving problems by identifying innovative – and pragmatic – solutions in the increasingly complex HR arena. She is quick to connect and build trust with a diverse work group from the line-level (multi-generational) to the C-suite. A sample of her work includes building a strong employee culture that is a “best place to work”, all aspects of opening or transitioning in/out of a property; HR best practices & compliance; expert witness; workplace investigations; leadership coaching and training; and all aspects of talent management. Debbie is a past member of the University of Denver School of Hospitality Executive Advisory Board, the American Hotel and Lodging Association HR Committee, the Cornell Institute for Hospitality Labor & Employment Relations as well as Washington State HR Executive Roundtable. She is currently on the board of The 5th Avenue Theatre; as well as an adviser to Virginia Mason Hospital on service excellence. In 2018, she was awarded a Lifetime HR Achievement Award by Cornell University. Originally from Minnesota, Debbie graduated from the University of Denver and began her hospitality career with Hyatt Hotels. She is based in Seattle, Washington.

Richard Gonzmart, Restaurateur and Philanthropist

The fourth-generation “caretaker” of the Columbia Restaurant Group, Richard Gonzmart has been named – as part of more than 100 awards – Community Hero by the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Boys and Girls Clubs and Big Brothers and Big Sisters. He also has been officially named a Luminary, a Visionary and a Philanthropist of the Year as well as Father of the Year, Hispanic Man of the Year, Businessman of the Year, Alumni of the Year at Jesuit and Academy of the Holy Names, Outstanding Citizen of the Year and Tampa Police Citizen of the Year. He has been inducted into five Hall of Fames, among them, the Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRoNA) Hall of Fame. He is a three-time James Beard semi-finalist for Outstanding Restaurateur. Gonzmart serves or has served on dozens of non-profit boards and organizations, including Tampa General Hospital’s governing board. He is passionate about the education of our youth and young adults, and about finding a cure for cancer. His late mother Adela co-founded the University of South Florida Latino Scholarship Fund more than 25 years ago. Pope Francis recognized him with the highest recognition of the Catholic Church, the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice. Richard’s great-grandfather started the world-famous Columbia Restaurant in Tampa’s historic Ybor City in 1905. Still 100 percent family-owned, it’s now the oldest restaurant in Florida. There are seven Columbia restaurants in the state. Other restaurant concepts include Casa Santo Stefano, Cha Cha Coconuts, Ulele, Goody Goody and Café Con Leche Ybor City, increasing the number of restaurants to 14 and brands to six. Richard has been married to his high school sweetheart and first love Melanie Gonzmart since 1973. They have two daughters, Lauren Gonzmart Schellman and Andrea Gonzmart Williams. Andrea works with her father in the family business. He has five grandchildren: Twins Isabella and Michael, Maximilian, Alexander and Amelia, who represent the 6th generation.