Alpesh Patel - CHA - Chief Executive Officer
A graduate of Cornell’s School of Hospitality Administration, Alpesh was formerly with Ernst & Young’s Hospitality Advisory Services group in New York City. As a hospitality consultant at E&Y, he partnered with several major hotel developers, operators, and lenders on a wide range of activities, which included conducting feasibility studies for new hotel developments, structuring debt and equity financing for portfolios or single assets, and assisting owners with public/private hospitality projects.
In 2003 Alpesh relocated back to Knoxville to take over the family business, which, at the time, was a small operation managing five lodging operations in the economy segment. With the ultimate goal of only owning or managing high quality assets affiliated with premium brands, Alpesh decided to restructure Kana completely. To that end, the company sold all its existing assets, and began an aggressive development strategy. In less than five years, Kana Hotel Group emerged as one of the top Hilton franchisees in the country.
Alpesh’s upbeat, and hands-on management style, mentoring and leadership qualities have had a significant effect on the strong performance and growth of the Kana Hotel portfolio. His day to day oversight at the company includes new hotel development, on-going capital projects, and long-term company planning.
Alpesh presently resides in Knoxville with his wife, Ami.
Kevin Mahoney - President
With over 25 years industry experience, Kevin has served in various capacities including General Manager, Regional Manager, Vice President of Operations, and ultimately, President for InnDeavor Hospitality Company, New Generation Hospitality, and later, INNovative Hotels. Kevin has operating experience with Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Radisson, Sheraton, Hampton Inn, Park Plaza, Holiday Inn Express, Hotel Indigo, and various other franchise affiliations.
During the earlier years of his career with InnKeepers Ltd., he oversaw the growth and development of the company while directing acquisitions and bringing new Hotels on-line. Later with GF Management, Kevin served as the General Manager of one of the company’s largest assets which also served as the regional office. Kevin left GF Management to become Vice President of InnDeavor Development Corp, and later President of InnDeavor Hospitality Company. In this capacity he oversaw the complete operations of InnDeavor’s growing Hotel portfolio in four states and directed new acquisitions as well as third-party Management opportunities. During his time with InnDeavor the company doubled the size of its managed hotel portfolio.
Kevin moved on to serve as President and lead the formation of a Mid-Atlantic based aggressively growing Management and Hotel Ownership group. Kevin added 11 properties within 18 months under the flags of Sheraton, Indigo, Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn and Holiday Express, and other branded products. Kevin served on the task force for the emerging Hotel Indigo Brand by IHG in 2008, and was appointed to the Indigo Brand Committee for 2009. Kevin later formed INNovative Hotels which grew from a small asset base of only two properties to, at its peak, servicing 34 hotels across many brands. He has served as Chairman of the Hilton Garden Inn Owners Advisory Council, and currently sits on the Embassy Suites by Hilton and Tru by Hilton Owners Advisory Councils.
Shawna Tyree - VP of Revenue Management
Shawna maintains over 16 years of experience in Hospitality Revenue Management at both the property level and with multi-property portfolios. Shawna moved from single property Revenue Management early on to multiple asset oversight with a large Hotel Management Company based in Maryland. After advancing to Regional Revenue Manager, overseeing 10 hotel assets across several brands, she was recruited by Maryland based CHA Management. In this capacity, she served as Corporate Director of Revenue, responsible for their 17 hotel properties from Vermont to Colorado. Shawna was a co-founder at INNovative Hotels, assisting in growing the company to servicing 34 hotels across many different brands and markets. Her strong analytical ability, combined with knowledge of hotel sales, operations and reservation systems, assist in driving top-line revenues and increasing overall market penetration at each property. She is a Marriott and Hilton certified Revenue Manager and maintains intimate knowledge of the Marriott, Hilton, IHG, Starwood, Choice and Best Western systems, allowing her to maximize franchise contribution and generate competitive price positioning in volatile markets.
Stephanie Smith - Senior Regional Director of Operations
Stephanie Smith began her hospitality career with Kana Hotel Group in 1995 at the Holiday Inn Express – Knoxville East, serving as a guest service representative, guest service manager and finally general manager. Throughout Kana Hotel Groups’ spectacular growth, her administrative responsibilities grew and changed. In 2007, she assumed the duties of a field based Regional Director of Operations, overseeing new hotel openings, operations, guest service and marketing. Stephanie is an executive leader who empowers others to succeed. She is unquestionably a people-person who forms strong bonds and relationships in every area of commitment.
Stephanie is a native of Knoxville and currently resides in the Strawberry Plains community.
Revenue Maximization Team
Carrie Fritz - Corporate Director of Revenue Management
Entering the field in 1992 at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort, Carrie embarked on an upward progression leading her to the Tampa Marriott Waterside in 1999 to function as a Group Housing Supervisor, and during her time there she grew a strong passion for Revenue Management. Carrie joined McKibbon Hotel Management in 2003 starting her career in Revenue Management, overseeing 15 plus hotels ranging from central Florida to Tennessee including Marriott and Hilton select service and extended stay brands. A sequential move with advancement in responsibility in the spring of 2008 brought her new challenges with the offer of Regional Revenue Manager with LBA Hospitality overseeing 14 hotels throughout the state of Florida. Carrie has acquired Revenue Management Certifications in both Marriott and Hilton brands. Carrie continues to deliver a mastery of industry skills, drawn from twenty plus years of learning and experience in the hospitality industry. This experience combined with a pleasant demeanor and a desire for excellence helps Carrie to motivate a strong team approach to projects, company growth and revenue production.
Laura Echevarria - Corporate Director of Revenue Management
Laura began her hospitality career 22 years go at the Front Desk of the Embassy Suites Tampa Airport hotel and held a number of operational positions at this hotel including Revenue Manager. After 13 years at the property, she continued to grow her hotel knowledge by taking a position within Hilton’s call center in Tampa for a year before returning to the property level. Her passion for revenue management lead her to open the Embassy Suites Tampa Downtown and manage the revenue for this convention center hotel before transferring to the be a Regional Revenue Manager at the Hilton corporate office in Memphis with Embassy Suites. In her role as regional for Embassy Suites she managed a portfolio of 30-40 hotels in the Great Lakes states area working with a variety of management companies. She continued to broaden her brand knowledge by working with Hampton Revenue Management where her portfolio consisted of 13 different management companies and 100+ hotels across the US and Mexico. She also collaborated with the other focus service brands on various projects including the development and pilot of the new GRO (Global Revenue Management) system. Laura is Hilton certified in all Hilton systems and completed her certification in Hilton’s Revenue Management University (RMU). Laura’s experience with Hilton and revenue management makes her an excellent addition to the Kana revenue team.
Laura, her husband and daughter are natives of Tampa, FL but currently reside in Cordova, TN a suburb if Memphis while her daughter completes college.
Michelle Collins - Corporate Director of Revenue Management
Michele brings 24 years of Hilton brand experience to her position. She started her career at the Hampton Inn in Syracuse, NY where she worked in Front Office and Night Audit. She moved to the Embassy Suites Syracuse in Front Office and transitioned to Reservations/Revenue Management. Upon relocating to Phoenix, AZ she became Revenue Manager for an Embassy Suites property. In 2000 she was given Revenue Management duties for 6 different properties, including Embassy and Doubletree brands in Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff. Over the next 16 years she worked with Embassy brands in Phoenix and Palm Desert, as well as 2 Hilton Resorts in the Phoenix Market. Michele is Hilton certified and successfully completed Hilton Revenue Management University. She has a BS in Hospitality Management from the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
Jennifer Richardson - Corporate Director of Revenue Management
Jennifer Richardson brings 30 years of hotel experience to the Kana Hotel Group. She started at the front desk with a full-service Marriott during college. During that time Jennifer decided to pursue her career in the hospitality industry and received her BS degree in Hospitality Management from Georgia State University. After college she spent several years with Marriott in operations and sales before settling into Revenue Management which is her true passion. Jennifer worked with many different Marriott properties before beginning multi-level revenue management. She was one of the first managers with Marriott to begin market based revenue management for multiple hotels including full and focus service properties. She is certified in both Marriott and Hilton revenue management systems. In addition, Jennifer has her CRME designation. She loves the challenge associated with getting hotels to their highest levels of RevPAR performance.
Jolene Carey - Corporate Director of Revenue Management
Jolene began her hospitality career after 13 years with Eastern Airlines, her first Hospitality position was very exciting as she was on the opening team at the “Shades of Green Hotel on Walt Disney World” for the US Department of Defense. She later joined Interstate Hotels and Resorts as Regional Director of Revenue Management where she led the revenue management process for brands including Starwood, Marriott, Hilton, Intercontinental Hotel Group and Independent hotels for several years she was on the hotel transition team for Interstate both domestically and internationally. At Kana Hotel Group, she is responsible for the strategic implementation and measurement of initiatives for maximum revenue profitability through segmentation management, inventory pricing and channel distribution fostering the growth of topline revenue for a diverse portfolio.
Melissa Burke - Corporate Director of Sales
Melissa brings over 20 years of hospitality experience to her current role with Kana Hotel Group, with prior experience ranging from hotel level sales and operations to Regional Director of Sales for a group of 8 hotels in Central Alabama. She has held Director of Sales positions with Hilton Worldwide, Starwood and IHG brands. As Director of Sales with Hilton Worldwide, she led sales teams, coops and clusters, participated in multiple brand Beta programs, and obtained Hilton Certified Revenue Manager status. Melissa also received the 2003 Embassy Suites RevPAR Growth Award for an Airport Hotel and the 2005 Diamonds in the Desert Hilton Family of Brands DOS of the Year Award. Her knowledge of sales, marketing and revenue management has developed her into an industry leader with relationships spanning the US and Germany. Melissa holds a B.S in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration from the University of South Carolina.
Melissa currently resides in Hoover, AL with her husband and son.
Sarah Geller - Corporate Sales Manager
After the concierge took four-year-old Sarah on an hour-long tour of the inner workings of the San Francisco Marriott Marquis, her employment path was inevitable. Sarah began her hospitality career at the age of 15 as an intern at the Opryland Hotel and then at age 16 by working the front desk at the Hilton in Downtown Nashville. After graduating from Purdue University with a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management, Sarah went on to work as a Sales Manager at several Marriott and Hilton properties in Nashville. She joined Kana in 2014 as Director of Sales for their first Home2 Suites in Clarksville, TN, and she joined the Corporate Team in 2015. Since joining Kana, Sarah has traveled across the Midwest, Middle Atlantic, and Southeast training numerous new employees. Her strong knowledge of sales, marketing, computers, hotel openings, and hotel reservation systems allows her successfully to penetrate each market area.
Sarah currently resides in Nashville, TN.
Regional Operations Team
Ted Januszkiewicz - Regional Director of Operations
For the past 30 years, Ted's passion for the Hospitality Industry has grown as he has explored many roles in this business, which have included Chef, Food & Beverage Director and General Manager. During this time, he has enjoyed affiliations with Radisson Hotels, Holiday Inn, Sheraton, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn and Embassy Suites. Ted joined Kana Hotel Group in April 2008 as General Manager of the Hilton Garden Inn Mooresville, where he quickly achieved superior results. Ted was then promoted to the field based Regional Director of Operations position, where he oversees multiple brand assets. He is a graduate of Johnson and Wales University.
He and his wife live in Mooresville, North Carolina, where they enjoy the company of their four daughters and two grandsons.
Kathy Pennington - Regional Director of Operations
Kathy has almost 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry; twelve of those have been with Kana Hotel Group. Those years have encompassed several brands, including Holiday Inn Express, Comfort Inn & Suites, Drury Hotels, Hampton Inn and Hilton Garden Inn. Her roles have ranged from front line to Operations Manager, General Manager and now Regional Director of Operations.
She is knowledgeable in all phases of hotel operations including new property openings. Kathy has a passion for developing top performing hotel teams that deliver high quality results. She has helped to lead her hotels to multiple award-winning achievements from the Hilton and IHG brands, including the Hampton Inn Lighthouse and Circle of Excellence Awards as well as the IHG Torchbearer and Quality Excellence Awards.
Kathy currently resides in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Kenny Goldman - Regional Director of Operations
Kenny brings over 19 years of overall industry experience to bear in his role as Regional Director of Operations. He has single and multiple unit oversight experience in Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, full service Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, as well as other brands. Many of Kenny’s hotels at both the individual and regional level have been top of brand and Award Winning hotels throughout his long career, speaking to his strong operational and leadership capabilities. His vast knowledge in all areas of operations and property renovations make him a strong regional support in the field, and a great addition to the Kana team.
Kenny currently resides in the Birmingham, AL area.
Casey Anthony - Regional Director of Operations
Casey brings more than 20 years of experience to the table as Regional Director of Operations. Having grown up in an area like Myrtle Beach Casey began his career at an early age and has worked his way up through the ranks. He has single and multiple unit management experience with Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Candlewood Suites, Comfort Suites, as well as other brands. After joining Kana Hotel Group in 2008 as General Manager at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Knoxville-Clinton, Casey went on to open and manage the Hampton Inn Knoxville-Clinton in 2012. During this time he has led his properties to numerous awards including Newcomer of the year and 2 consecutive Torchbearer Awards. Casey excels at working with others and helping to grow to their potential. His extensive knowledgeable in all areas of the industry make him a great resource and an asset to those that work with him.
Casey resides in Morristown, TN with his wife and two children.
Brett Miller - Regional Director of Operations
A graduate of Florida International University's School of Hospitality Management, Brett has worked his way up the ranks through the F&B side of the Industry, from 1981 - 1986 as a Captain in the then famous New York eatery "Maxwell's Plum" to current position as RDO. Brett brings a "Hands-on" positive, can do, and service oriented mentality which has allowed him to not only succeed but excel in all aspects of Hospitality. Brett worked with Turnberry Associates based out of Aventura FL for eight years during which time he transitioned from primarily high end Country Club F&B Management to the Hilton Nashville Downtown as the AGM. After four years as AGM there, he moved to the beautiful and newly renovated Historic Union Station Hotel downtown Nashville as GM. From there in an effort to further his career into a regional position, he took on Management roles at HGI's and Hyatt Places until becoming a GM managing the HGI Nashville/Smyrna where the property has consistently ranked in the top ten in the region for Service, Loyalty, Problem Resolution, F&B, and Cleanliness.
Brett presently resides in Nashville with his wife, Danielle and two Children, Emma and Chase.
Cindy Dennis - Senior Controller
Cindy has over 27 years of hospitality experience, most recently with Interstate Hotel Group as Director of Finance. Prior to Interstate, Cindy was the VP of Finance for Hospitality Management Associates overseeing the accounting operations for their entire portfolio. In her role with Kana Hotel Group Cindy handles the corporate and new construction accounting responsibilities in addition to the day-to-day accounting for our Focused Service brands including accounts payable, bank reconciliations, month end financial prep, and financial statement review.
Lisa Clark Duncan - Regional Controller, Select Service Brands
Lisa has been with Kana Hotel Group since 2007. Her prior experience includes over 10 years as a staff accountant and auditor with Pilot Travel Centers. Lisa handles the day-to-day accounting responsibilities relating to our Select Service brands including accounts payable, bank reconciliations, month end financial prep, and financial statement review.
Elizabeth Jacob - Regional Controller
Liz joined Kana Hotel Group in 2013, bringing over 10 years of professional senior level accounting experience. Liz started out as a Commercial Property Manager of retail shopping center, multi-tenant mid-rise Class “A” office buildings and corporate campuses before managing the accounting department of a commercial retail and mixed-use developer with multiple offices located throughout California. Her interest in the hospitality industry began as the Controller for a Knoxville-area golf course. Her accounting responsibilities include accounts payable, bank reconciliations, detailed analysis, and financial statement review.
Molly Paone - Regional Controller
Molly has been with Kana Hotel Group since 2007. As Human Resources Administrator she has handled the full scope of payroll for all properties in addition to corporate employees. Molly now oversees Accounts Payable, incident reports, and insurance company communications.
Sheila Booe - Accounts Payable Administrator
Sheila came to Kana in 2013 as the Administrative Assistant with over 30 years of experience in customer service, accounts payable, and banking. Her hospitality experience includes working with Days Inn where she worked as the night auditor while pursuing her education in business management, and later with Holiday Inn Express in guest relations.
Administrative Support Team
Kelley Wilson - Executive Assistant
Kelley came to Kana in 2011 with 20 years of diverse experience in customer service, print production, and supervision. Her hospitality experience includes working with the Days Inns Worldwide Reservation Center where she worked as a Reservation Agent, and later as an Assistant Supervisor in the Guest Services Department. Kelley is the first point of contact at the corporate office. She provides information and assistance to all departments, while assisting Alpesh Patel and Kevin Mahoney with special projects as well as new Hotel openings / development.
Lisa Biddle - Accounts Payable Administrator