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MFHA Prepares for Leadership Transition

Gerry A. Fernandez, president and founder of the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance, will retire effective December 31, 2023. Beginning next year, Fernandez will support MFHA in an advisory role. MFHA will conduct a national search for his successor.

Gerry A. FernandezGerry A. FernandezFernandez spent 27 years at the helm of MFHA and nearly 50 years in the restaurant and hospitality industry.

Under Fernandez’s leadership, MFHA has helped countless restaurant, foodservice and lodging businesses improve their cultural competency, create diverse and inclusive work environments and attract more diverse talent, including in leadership positions, per a release from the MFHA. He also developed a supplier diversity directory and conducted the industry’s first diverse practices survey. In 2022, MFHA, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) and Cornell University issued a new DEI Report outlining the effectiveness of DEI practices among restaurant employees. An outcome of the report was MFHA’s launch of ELEVATE, an award-winning comprehensive framework and toolkit that any restaurant can use to build a successful DEI program.

“Gerry has a gift for convening thought leaders and for putting plans into action in service to our industry,” said Michelle Korsmo, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association and CEO of the NRAEF. “His innate leadership, commitment to others’ success, and passion for hospitality have helped thousands of restaurant and foodservice workers build a future of opportunity.”

“Gerry’s focus on access and training have allowed companies large and small to significantly enhance their DEI strategies and attract and retain a more diverse workforce,” said Rob Gifford, President, NRAEF.

Fernandez earned his bachelor’s degree in Foodservice Management and a degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University and successfully managed operations at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Hemenway’s Seafood Grill, Oyster Bar and The Capital Grille. He transitioned into foodservice research and development at General Mills, which supported him in the launch of MFHA.

Awards and recognition include – honorary doctorate in Business Administration from Johnson & Wales University, special recognition as a top leader and innovator by Nation’s Restaurant News, Lodging Magazine, and Black Meetings & Tourism,as well as The Black Culinary Alliance and the Rainbow/P.U.S.H. Coalition. Gerry is also an honorary Board Member of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and life member of the NAACP and the Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF).

The Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Journey

Gerry Fernandez recently joined other industry leaders for a powerful one-hour conversation about their own DEI journeys, and how they’re working to create transformational change.  The free webcast is available On Demand, here.