Asian American Hotel Owners Association Lines Up Former Sec. of Defense Robert Gates as Meeting Keynote

February 3, 2014

Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense for President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush and author of the newly-published book “Duty: Memoirs of A Secretary at War”, will be the keynote speaker at the 2014 AAHOA (Asian American Hotel Owners Association) Annual Convention and Trade Show on tap March 19 - 22 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. 

“AAHOA prides itself on providing information to our members as well as to our industry that is timely and relevant,” said Mehul Patel, AAHOA chairman.  “The appearance by Robert Gates certainly continues this rich tradition, with our guests able to hear directly from one of today’s most prominent newsmakers.”    

About 4,000 hotel owners and industry leaders are expected to attend, as AAHOA marks its 25th anniversary with a full agenda of guest speakers, education sessions, panel discussions, and workshops. 

Also part of the event, Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson will square off in a “point-counterpoint” debate of today’s most vital political issues that will be moderated by Christina Bellantoni, editor-in-chief of the Capitol Hill newspaper “Roll Call.”

“Advocacy in Washington is increasingly important to AAHOA members, as evidenced by the opening last year of our permanent lobbying office in D.C., so this presentation will let us hear about many important matters directly from political insiders,” Patel said.

Gates was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, by President Obama in 2011.  Before becoming secretary of defense in 2006, Gates was president of Texas A&M University.  He had served 27 years as an intelligence professional, including as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 1991 to 1993.

Currently, Gates serves on the board of directors of Starbucks and is a partner in the consulting firm of RHG LLP, together with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and others. 

Gibbs is a long-time advisor to President Barack Obama, serving as White House Press Secretary from 2009 to 2011.  He was a senior strategist to the Obama 2012 Reelection Campaign and continues to counsel the president about political strategy.

Thompson represented Tennessee in the U.S. Senate from 1994 to 2002.  He was a Republican candidate for president in 2008 and played a major role in the Watergate hearings of 1973 - 1974.  As a character actor, he has appeared in many films and TV shows, notably for five years on the series “Law & Order.”

Bellantoni has covered politics in Washington since 2003, including as White House reporter for “Talking Points Memo.”  She is the former politics editor of “PBS NewsHour”.

AAHOA has more than 12,500 members, who together own more than 20,000 hotels which have a combined market value of almost $130 billion and which represent more than 40 percent of all U.S. hotels.

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