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Published on : Thursday, May 21, 2015
While we hate to lose Kathleen at Marriott, all of us who have worked with her these past nine years are not surprised by her desire to serve our country. Throughout her career and at Marriott, Kathleen has demonstrated her passion for promoting diversity, mentoring and elevating women, protecting the planet, all the while enhancing global understanding and economic opportunity through travel and tourism. She brings drive, creativity, tenacity, and compassion to everything she does. In nine short years she has left an indelible legacy, and we’re confident this is not the last we’ve heard of Kathleen. She has been a force in helping us be better, not just at business, but as a global citizen. We wish her tremendous success.
Matthews was recruited to join Marriott in June 2006, after a 30-year career in broadcast journalism, where she was a local news reporter and anchor of the evening newscasts for the Washington, D.C., ABC- affiliate station WJLA-TV, and host of other programs, including the nationally syndicated “Working Woman” program.
From the outset, Kathleen drove innovation in her communications and public affairs role, launching Marriott’s social media presence through Bill Marriott’s blog, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, and invigorating the company’s outreach in government affairs and corporate citizenship. Under her leadership, Marriott launched our Global Green Council and worldwide sustainability strategy with goals to conserve energy, water, build LEED certified hotels and convert our headquarters in Bethesda, Md., to LEED Gold. Working with Conservation International and a Brazilian NGO, the company invested $2 million to preserve an endangered section of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest the size of Delaware through sustainable economic growth rather than clear-cutting forest and jungle. In Asia, she spearheaded a successful effort to help conserve China’s water resources.
As a leader in global and national affairs, Matthews was asked to serve as Vice-Chair of President Obama’s Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, and she chaired the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Travel and Tourism, where she advocated for more efficient and secure travel across borders through smart visa and entry policies. She was a powerful advocate for global tourism as a strategy to create new jobs and economic development from tourism. She was active in Marriott’s engagement with the Congress, White House, Departments of State, Commerce, and Homeland Security.
An opportunity advocate, Matthews was a leader within the company’s Global Diversity Council. She promoted LGBT equality through partnerships with the Human Rights Campaign, NGLCC, PFLAG and Immigration Equality, and was an effective proponent for the advancement of women at Marriott and in communities around the world through our procurement strategy to support women-owned businesses. In Africa, she launched a partnership to provide hotel jobs for young Rwandan women, and similar programs in India, Haiti and the U.S. to bring disadvantaged youth into hospitality careers. Matthews led a four-year initiative with the Clinton Foundation to open a Marriott hotel in Haiti, fostering opportunity and economic development in the wake of a devastating earthquake; she cited the hotel’s opening this year as one of her proudest moments.
Bill Marriott had the vision to recruit Kathleen to join the company in 2006. He told me, “We knew when we brought Kathleen to our leadership team she would be a game-changer. And she has been. Our company and industry are stronger because of her energy and enterprise, and we’ll miss her. But it’s no surprise to see her excitement at pursuing service on behalf of her neighbors in Maryland and her country.”