photo of Carol Brown

Carol Brown, associate professor and chair of the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program at Roosevelt University, has been named Leader of the Year by the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities.

The winner of one of Marriott’s highest national honors, Brown is being recognized for creating a Roosevelt University course that teaches students how to plan and run an annual fundraising event for the benefit of Marriott Foundation’s not-for-profit Bridges from School to Work program in Chicago.

“As social justice is at the heart of Roosevelt’s mission, my goal has been to encourage empathy for marginalized populations by immersing students in civic stewardship,” said Brown, a 12-year hospitality and tourism management professor at Roosevelt and a resident of Chicago.

“Service learning is an incredibly effective pedagogical tool,” she added. “The mission of Marriott Bridges Foundation also aligns perfectly with Roosevelt.”

So far, approximately 320 Roosevelt students have taken Hospitality Management 311, a leadership and organizational course that has raised more than $100,000 over 11 years for Marriott’s Bridges program, which helps prepare new Chicago high school graduates with disabilities for competitive jobs.

“This is a course that has transformed my students, giving them self-confidence and empathy,” added Brown, who started the course in 2006 after learning of the potential for empowerment and change that a course teaching theory in the classroom and experience in the field can offer.

“I loved the idea of involving our students in doing work outside the classroom for the benefit of others, and have felt strongly that students going into the hospitality industry can benefit from this kind of experience,” she said.

Brown received the foundation’s 2017 Leader of the Year award at the Marriott Foundation Bridges gala in Washington, D.C. on June 8.  She is only the second person ever selected for the national honor.

“The Leader of the Year award is meant for someone who sets himself or herself apart, taking our organization to a higher level,” said Tad Asbury, vice president and executive director of the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities.

“Carol is someone special who has made contributions far and beyond what we expected, elevating our work as a foundation to new heights,” said Asbury.

Since starting the course, the Marriott Foundation’s Bridges program at 850 W. Jackson Street, Chicago, has expanded in scope. Roosevelt students work with Bridges youths weekly on interviewing preparation, following up with employers, and building their self-confidence.   Roosevelt students also regularly mentor the program’s young people with disabilities in their job searches.

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