MCLEAN, Va. – Hilton (NYSE: HLT) announced today the recipients of its 2023 CEO Light & Warmth Award, recognizing 15 individuals and two teams from Hilton-branded hotels. The CEO Light & Warmth Award is the company’s highest honor celebrating Hilton team members around the world who bring Hilton’s values to life through their inspiring leadership and passion for providing exceptional hospitality.
In 2023, more than 700 team members from Hilton’s global managed and franchise network were nominated by their colleagues. Finalists were selected by a committee of representatives from across the company, with the winners chosen by Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton.
“True to our founding purpose, our CEO Light & Warmth Award winners are making the world a better place through hospitality and inspiring everyone they meet. These leaders – and all our nominees – are what makes our hospitality so special and our future so bright.”
Each of the individual 2023 CEO Light & Warmth Award winners receives a one-time net award of $10,000, with each team member from the recognized hotel team receiving $1,000 each. Hilton’s CEO Light & Warmth Award debuted in 2011 has since recognized more than 100 recipients.
At Hilton, team member recognition is a foundational pillar of the hospitality leader’s award-winning workplace culture and an example of their commitment to creating a great place to work for all 460,000 team members globally. Hilton has been recognized as a World’s Best Workplace by Great Place to Work for eight consecutive years and recently received the coveted ranking of No. 1 World’s Best Workplace, marking the first time a hospitality company has achieved the top honor in the global ranking.
Americas CEO Light & Warmth Award Winners
Charilyz Abrams, front office director, Caribe Hilton
Charilyz Abrams is a beloved leader who not only goes above and beyond for her team but also for her guests. When a young guest dealing with cancer was coming to stay at the hotel, Charilyz created an unforgettable experience for him and his family by decorating their room with his favorite character, Spiderman, and wearing Spiderman attire for check-in.
Kristi Galbiso, PBX operator, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Alana - Waikiki Beach
With a strong commitment to “passing it forward,” each month Kristi finds a way to help someone in need. She always looks to bring joy to others and has helped both guests and team members during difficult times.
Tim Lewin, general manager, Embassy Suites by Hilton St. Louis St. Charles
Tim makes it a priority to create an inclusive and supportive workplace for his team and guests, partnering with a local nonprofit to start a housekeeping training school at the hotel. Now entering its third year, the eight-week program provides skills and jobs in an integrated environment for numerous disabled adults.
Marylee Magee, general manager, Hampton Inn & Suites Mooresville/Lake Norman
Marylee leads with compassion in everything she does and ensures each of her team members are well cared for in both their personal and professional lives. Her natural ability to put others before herself has created an amazing workplace culture for her team.
Toni Ramos, development coach, Hilton Reservations and Customer Care
A champion for diversity and inclusion, Toni Ramos collaborates with Hilton’s team member resource groups (TMRGs) to ensure all team members are represented and feel supported.
Kelly Riordan, front desk agent, Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Airport-Liberty Station
Every day, Kelly surprises guests with thoughtful gestures through handwritten cards to celebrate milestones, decorating guests' rooms for special occasions or delivering flowers to a guest who is experiencing hardship. She is consistently recognized by guests for her friendly and warm demeanor.
Asia Pacific CEO Light & Warmth Award Winners
Kogi Kolendaisamy, food & beverage sales manager, DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur
Kogi’s special events transcend the boundaries of conventional dining and offers her guests and community more than just a meal. She implemented the “Books for CARE” project within the hotel, which provided support for an orphanage by donating books, necessity items and recreational activities.
Anna SeoYoung Yoon, events manager, weddings, Conrad Seoul
A favorite among wedding guests, Anna received one of the highest numbers of recognition letters from guests following their weddings. Despite a busy wedding season at the hotel, Anna joined a task force to support the sister hotel to set up guidelines, vendor contracts and a wedding showcase.
Abdullah Shamman, human resources executive, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
From training to hiring and retaining talent to his willingness to provide support, team members are Abdullah’s number one priority. Through the Ministry of Family and Gender, he recently trained more than 40 hotel leaders on how to inclusively welcome new team members.
Kevin Tian, purchasing manager, DoubleTree by Hilton Quzho
Through mentoring, Kevin provides all of his team members the opportunity for advancement by spending extra time to teach them important skills. He is also an active participant in Travel with Purpose, Hilton’s Environmental, Social and Governance strategy and the Rooftop Farm Project where the hotel’s fourth floor farm grows organic vegetables to be shared for free to guests, team members and the community.
Hilton Jiuzhaigou Resort
Hilton Jiuzhaigou Resort launched an initiative to support those needing shelter in the community. Through the initiative, unhoused residents were able to receive basic care and earn an income selling hand crafted items and agricultural products they have grown. Since the launch of the project, over 100 people have been housed. The team includes:
- Doris Gong, HR clerk
- Diana Guo, HR clerk
- Connie Li, learning & development manager
- Joe Qiao, assistant learning & development manager
- Anna Yang, TM residence supervisor
- Oliva Yuan, HR trainee
- Erica Zhang, HR director
- Katrina Zhang, HR clerk
- Lisa Zhou, assistant HR manager
Europe, Middle East and Africa CEO Light & Warmth Award Winners
Ahmadqaes Ahmady, front office agent, Hilton Mainz
Despite facing adversity, Ahmadqaes handles challenges with determination and an unwavering spirit. As a refugee from Afghanistan, he makes himself available to other youth refugees and always looks for ways to go spread the warmth of light and hospitality to guests.
Peter Avis, restaurant general manager, London Hilton on Park Lane
Peter is the true embodiment of hospitality. He not only enhances the workplace for his team members by fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment, but he also brings innovative ways to elevate the guest experience.
Senayet Habte, assistant food & beverage manager, Hilton Doha the Pearl
In addition to having an immeasurable impact on guests and team members, Senayet regularly contributes to causes and charities in her home country of Ethiopia. She participated in YMCA Ethiopia and the Green-Print campaign where she and her family planted over 500 trees.
Aysha Haidari, guest relations ambassador, Al Seef Heritage Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton
Aysha’s passion for hospitality has fostered innovation, enhanced customer experiences and added tremendous value to the company. In recognition of her hard work, Aysha has been selected by the Department of Economy and Tourism in Dubai to be the UAE National Ambassador – private sector Emiratization.
Kevine Laure Ketchantcha Atontch, kitchen clerk, Hilton Yaounde
Kevine actively participates in conferences, leadership seminars and interviews to help bridge the gap between the hearing and deaf communities. Using her hearing impairment to educate others, she organized and led Deaf Week during THRIVE month and taught her team members sign language.
Hampton By Hilton Edinburgh Airport
Over the past year, Hampton By Hilton Edinburgh Airport property has been instrumental in offering support to the arrival of Ukrainian refugees. The team fostered relationships with these guests and provided weekly kids clubs and a language hub in the lobby area to make them feel at home. The Hampton By Hilton Edinburgh Airport winners are:
- Maxwell Dickson, operations supervisor
- Susan Elwick, operations supervisor
- Kara Farncombe, sales manager
- Kris Lukis, guest services manager
- Sean McMaster, kitchen manager
- Graeme Melrose, maintenance manager
- Louise Mulholland, operations supervisor
- Sarah Paterson, operations supervisor
- Michael Riddell, operations supervisor
- Craig Webster, general manager
Hilton is a leading global hospitality company with a portfolio of 22 world-class brands comprising more than 7,500 properties and nearly 1.2 million rooms, in 126 countries and territories. Dedicated to fulfilling its founding vision to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality, Hilton has welcomed over 3 billion guests in its more than 100-year history, was named the No. 1 World’s Best Workplace by Great Place to Work and Fortune and has been recognized as a global leader on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for seven consecutive years. Hilton has introduced industry-leading technology enhancements to improve the guest experience, including Digital Key Share, automated complimentary room upgrades and the ability to book confirmed connecting rooms. Through the award-winning guest loyalty program Hilton Honors, the more than 180 million members who book directly with Hilton can earn Points for hotel stays and experiences money can't buy. With the free Hilton Honors app, guests can book their stay, select their room, check in, unlock their door with a Digital Key and check out, all from their smartphone. Visit stories.hilton.com for more information, and connect with Hilton on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.