Arlington ISD Hospitality Career Awareness Days Recap

THLA + AISD = Huge Success!

THLA Education Foundation staff partnered with Arlington ISD, Arlington Texas Live!, Workforce Solutions of Tarrant County, Gaylord Texan Resort & Spa, the Hotel Association of Tarrant County, Tarrant County College, and Travel and Sports Legacy Foundation in an Arlington ISD Career Awareness Day program to raise area high school students’ awareness of the many exciting hospitality and tourism occupations.

Currently, 1,700 AISD students are enrolled in Introduction to Culinary Arts. About one-third of the students will continue in the Culinary Arts program of study.

The partnership to offer this program was led in part by Debbie Wieland, THLA Education Outreach & Foundation Director. It was the lodging industry’s goal to attract the students who don’t pursue a culinary arts program of study to the Lodging and Resort Management or the Travel, Tourism & Attractions programs of study.

The event was hosted at the open-air Arlington Backyard at Texas Live! on March 21-23, 2023. The partnership sought to provide students with an opportunity to experience a venue that is part of the thriving tourism industry within Arlington.

Students commented that they learned about great scholarship options and that they received great career advice. Teachers stated today’s event was probably the best AISD event for CTE kids I’ve ever attended! The program was super informative, and the kids were engaged. “

Students from six Arlington ISD high schools attended the event. The students participated in hospitality career awareness activities to learn more about exciting career options in the hospitality and tourism sector.

The event was a big success and THLA looks forward to partnering with other Texas school districts to raise awareness of exciting occupations in the hotel industry.

If you would like more information, please contact Debbie Wieland, THLA Education Outreach & Foundation Director at or at 512-474-2996.






Industry Panelists

Hospitality industry leaders participated in a panel discussion moderated by Julie Faver-Dylla, Executive Director of the Hotel Association of Tarrant County.

The panelists shared their unique career journeys and what they like most about working in the industry. They also described how their company gives back to the community which is an important element Generation Z individuals consider when selecting an employing company. See the list of distinguished panelists below:


Company Affiliation

Karla Echols

Human Resources Generalist, Marriott Dallas/Fort Worth Westlake

Peter Werner

Embassy Suites DFW Airport South

Keri Parker Berry

Director of Convention & Event Services for the City of Arlington

Jessica De La Cruz

Texas Hotel & Lodging Association Membership Services Manager

Laura Pacioni 

Market Human Resources Recruiting Manager Marriott Dallas/Fort Worth Market 

Tom Eagan

Director of Sales & Marketing, Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center

Larry Dulski Sr.

Director of Finance & Accounting / Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center 

Reggie Woolridge

General Manager Marriott Dallas/Fort Worth Westlake

Tascha Gibson

Customer Service Agent, Live by Loews Arlington

John Yeung

General Manager, Delta Hotels by Marriott Dallas Southlake

Drew Hayden

General Manager, The Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel

Opportunities & Connections Made

The participants also engaged in an interactive “Kahoot” to grow and challenge their knowledge of the hospitality industry with winners awarded various prizes. Symone Dixon, from Tarrant County College, shared how she began her career as a professional event planner and highlighted some of her events.

The day culminated with a Career Awareness fair in which about 20 hospitality and tourism employers participated each day. The students interacted with the employers as they completed a scavenger hunt. Students who completed the scavenger hunt were entered into prize drawings. Students were also provided with contacts to secure summer employment.

See the list of participating companies below:

Marriott Dallas Fort Worth Westlake Workforce Solutions of Tarrant County
Gaylord Texan Resort Hotel Drover, Autograph Collection
Hilton Arlington Six Flags of Texas
Hyatt Regency DFW Embassy Suites DFW Airport South
Tarrant County College SE Sheraton Fort Worth
Delta Hotel Southlake Live! by Lowes Arlington
Main Event AC Hotel Fort Worth
Travel and Sports Legacy Foundation Great Wolf Lodge
Staybridge Suites Fort Worth West Marriott Dallas / Fort Worth Market
Hilton DFW Lakes Grand Hyatt DFW
Westin DFW Airport Hotel  


*Photographs by Jamiel Harris

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