Syracuse Council Unifies Today
Two of the four Northeast Region councils – Syracuse and Eastern New England – have now unified, with the Yankee Council soon to follow. All nine hostels in this region have already transitioned to the new organization, and have been working under the leadership of Regional Vice President Deborah Ruhe.
Additionally, sights are also set on unifying the Los Angeles Council in the near future, which includes four of the six hostels in the Southwest Region. The San Diego Council is slated to follow in June. At present time, 17 of the 26 councils have been unified and we are staying on target to finish unification by the end of 2013.
The Network Rallies in Appreciation for Our Volunteers
In celebration of National Volunteer Week, April 21-27, HI-USA assembled a committee of staff and volunteers to plan a national appreciation effort. Of the many ideas that surfaced, the favorite was to provide staff with an HI-USA passport cover to send to each volunteer, accompanied with a thank you note. The respective hostel staff was then encouraged to personalize the message.
The committee also compiled an extensive list of volunteer appreciation ideas that hostels, councils, and regions would be able to implement locally. Here are some highlights of activities that took place throughout the week:
- HI-Austin hosted a volunteer appreciation picnic, complete with volunteer awards.
- HI-Boston and HI-DC each hosted a volunteer appreciation party.
- HI-Chicago installed a bulletin board behind the info desk with "shout outs" and kind words about all the volunteers, as well as hosted a Saturday brunch.
- HI-San Diego highlighted volunteers in their local e-newsletter.
- HI-Portland Northwest hosted a volunteer appreciation dinner.
- HI-Los Angeles and HI-Santa Cruz each hosted volunteer luncheons.
“We had tremendous support for this initiative across the network,” says Kassi Oliver, HI-USA Director of Volunteer Services. “Some of the hostels got really creative and it was a great way to energize our many volunteers.”
Sponsored by Points of Light, National Volunteer Week is about inspiring, recognizing, and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. It’s about taking action and encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change. For more information, visit www.pointsoflight.org.
Our Hostels, Our Regions
HI-San Diego, Point Loma Earns Gold Certification from STI
HI-San Diego, Point Loma earned its STEP Gold certification on April 25, building upon the bronze certification earned as one of 15 HI-USA hostels in a pilot eco-certification and sustainability monitoring program with Sustainable Travel International (STI). STEP, an acronym for Sustainable Tourism Education Program™, is a gold standard in sustainable tourism management and education, and is among the first global standards to be formally recognized by the United Nations Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria.
With certifications granted at the bronze, silver, gold, and platinum levels, HI-San Diego, Point Loma Hostel Manager Jenny Wise is very excited about this high-level designation. “We’ve worked really hard on our eco-initiatives, and it’s so gratifying to be validated with this prestigious recognition,” she says. “Of course I need to give some well-deserved recognition to Michele Machado, Sustainability Coordinator of the STEP pilot program, and to HI’s already high environmental and social standards for helping make this possible. I know that many of our hostels are already performing at the gold level, but just don’t have the certification."
Some of the hostel’s most notable green practices include:
- A San Diego specific self-guided eco-tour created by front desk staff member, James Jordan, who writes the curriculum for the San Diego Natural History Museum
- Using search dogs and super heating rooms for pest control instead of spraying chemicals
- Over 50% of the lighting in the hostel is LED, with all outdoor and common areas on motion sensors
- Every plant on site is organic, including the vegetable garden
- Using all non-toxic cleaning and maintenance supplies, as well as all post consumer recycled content paper products, implementing .5 to 1.6gpm water saving fixtures, and ensuring any light bulb that isn’t LED is CFL
Living Boston Strong
It has been said that how you act in times of strife says more about your character than how you act in times of well-being. The Boston Marathon incident that paralyzed a city proved that not just the city, but also the hostel staff is Boston Strong.
Nearly 200 runners were guests at HI-Boston, and thankfully, none were harmed by the incident. That day a pizza dinner was provided as eyes stayed glued to the television, and a resilient staff worked round the clock to ensure all guests felt self and protected. With public transportation at a halt the following Friday as the police hunted down the suspects, the Housekeeping Manager drove to pick up staff that would not have otherwise been able to make it to work.News of the tragedy quickly spread and Northeast Regional Vice President Deborah Ruhe received an outpouring of messages from around the world from supporters and friends sharing their concern for everyone impacted.
“At a time like this, it is comforting to know the critical role the hostel plays in promoting understanding and in supporting travelers from around the globe,” says Deborah. “And I couldn’t be more proud of the staff that rose to the occasion to support guests who were shaken by the events at a time when they, themselves, may have been upset and uneasy.”Boston Strong means the city will rise above this incident to be stronger that it was before and that its spirit will never be broken. HI-Boston, its staff and guests, lived this message and showed guests what it means to be a Bostonian.
Grant Awarded to HI-Portland Hawthorne for Eco-Improvements
Thanks to an $11,500 grant from the city of Portland, HI-Portland Hawthorne is able to replace its furnace this summer, as well as upgrade to insulated ducting, weather seal the entire hostel, insulate the attic, and install a whole-house air conditioner. With all of the projects totaling $14,500, the hostel will only have to pay $3,000 for these eco-friendly improvements that will ultimately result in cost savings.
As part of Portland’s Bucks for Buildings program, to earn this grant HI-Portland Hawthorne had to complete a comprehensive third party energy evaluation, consisting of a thermal scan to find weak points in the building’s weather sealing and heat exchange. The hostel’s utilities were also reviewed and a proposal was submitted to address the building’s inefficiencies.
This grant comes on the heels of a $2,000 grant from the Hill Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation just five months ago, which was used to improve carpeting, furniture, and other components of the hostel’s interior space.
“We’re very fortunate to have received all this grant money to make a wide range of improvements,” say Talbot Wallace, hostel manager at HI-Portland Hawthorne. “Guests, the environment, and our bottom line will all benefit.”
Fifth and Final RVP Announced
With the appointment of Sue Schaffner as the Regional Vice President of the Southwest Region, all five regions of the unified organization now have leadership in place. Sue takes on this role following 10 years serving as the Executive Director of the San Diego Council, where she oversaw the hostels in downtown San Diego and Point Loma, and developed and delivered community education and engagement programs.
Under her direction and leadership, HI-San Diego Downtown became the first U.S. hostel to earn the international HI-Q quality management certification, HI-San Diego Point Loma has been consistently rated as a top hostel in HI-USA quality ratings, and the Peace-Building Conference was introduced and replicated in other communities around the country.
In her new role, Sue will lead her region's programming, including hostel oversight, engaging current, future, and returned travelers, and providing educational experiences around HI-USA’s mission. In the coming months she will begin building her team and work alongside the other RVPs to build awareness and create interest in hostelling, even where a hostel is not present.
Please help welcome the entire regional leadership team (in the order they were hired):
- Jon Ridge, Central Region
- Dominic Petruzzelli, Mid-Atlantic/Southeast Region
- Deborah Ruhe, Northeast Region
- Danielle Brumfitt, Northwest Region
- Sue Schaffner, Southwest Region
Marketing VP From Hilton, Ritz-Carlton Appointed Vice President, Advancement
Please help welcome Laurie Wooden as the Vice President of Advancement, whose first day is today! She will be leading our marketing, communications, and resource development functions, and brings extensive experience in global branding and marketing communications, consumer insights and strategy development, and team building and training.
Most recently, Laurie was Vice President for Global Brand Marketing at Hilton Worldwide. Among her accomplishments, she launched a global multi-channel campaign for Conrad Hotels to elevate brand awareness, implemented a customer relationship management system to identify new customers, and introduced a new social media strategy to raise brand visibility.
Prior to that role, she served as Vice President for Business Innovation and Brand Strategy for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, where she inaugurated a brand extension, created a product and service vision for an urban-hotel concept, and led evolution of a three-year strategic plan.
Laurie can be reached at email@example.com.
VP of Community Engagement & Education Off to a Strong Start
Richard Devine has now been with us for several weeks as the Vice President of Community Engagement and Education, and has already made his way out in the field to begin visiting hostels. Richard came to us from United Way Worldwide, where he served as Senior Vice President for Field Engagement. In that capacity he led a team with a mission to improve collaboration across the 1,200 organizations in the United Way network, as well as helped local chapters successfully engage with and mobilize communities.
Prior to that role, Richard worked as Vice President of Global Programs with Survivor Corps, where he launched six new country programs, initiated 60 partnerships with organizations worldwide, and generated resources in support of the network. He also served as Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Global Partnership Program, providing consulting and training services to some 140 local nonprofit organizations worldwide.
Now at HI-USA, Richard looks forward to rolling up his sleeves and working with everyone to help make the goals of Vision 2020 a reality. He is committed to working closely with the network and stakeholders to build on what has already been achieved to create an even more successful HI-USA. Richard aspires to visit as many hostels and regions as possible, so don’t be surprised if you get a visit soon!
Richard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Incumbent Selected as West Group Sales Manager
The Northwest Region welcomes Nannette Mickle as the West Group Sales Manager. Nannette brings more than 10 years of experience working for the Golden Gate Council, originally starting as HI-Fisherman’s Wharf Front Desk staff, followed by Front Desk Manager, and most recently as Group Sales Manager for the Golden Gate Council over the past eight years.
As the Group Sales Manager, she oversees group reservations across five area hostels and actively engages as an HI-USA representative at national sales conferences. She also sits on the Board of the Student Youth Travel Association Foundation, which provides travel scholarships opportunities for disadvantaged youth.
In her new role, which is timed to start with the unification of the Golden Gate Council, Nannette will be responsible for developing new group sales opportunities across the West Regions, and aligning groups to better understand HI and its mission. She will continue to represent HI-USA at conferences, as well as work with the hostels department to implement Program Strategy and Vision 2020 as it applies to group guests.
Nannette can be reached at email@example.com.
3 New Positions Seek Candidates
The following three positions have recently been announced as part of the new organization. You are welcome to apply or forward them along to someone you think might be interested. If you are a current HI-USA employee, please remember to use the internal candidate application.
As part of HI-USA’s unification, there are initiatives under way for an Applications Systems Manager to oversee the consolidation of applications for support, financial, and technical reasons. Additional responsibilities include working with vendors to implement new software while becoming an expert with it, supporting efforts around CMS integrations and other database needs, and providing additional support as necessary.
The Data Systems Manager will support and implement systems to help unify the organization’s constituent management databases, as well as other web-based and in-house guest and member information resources. The manager will be responsible for assessing the integration that currently exists between disparate systems and, when necessary, work with outside resources to develop and support a modern, responsive, cloud-based, and robust customer relationship environment.
Working in close collaboration with the VP of Advancement, the Development Director will design and execute a comprehensive resource development strategy for the organization. The Director will also plan and execute both capital campaigns and ongoing annual fundraising efforts, including planned and major gifts, as well as oversee cultivation efforts, including donor appreciation events.