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Our alumni are passionate, committed, and engaged about RIT and the Department.

Puttin’ on the RITz, an annual student run fine dining event is an excuse for our alumni to return home!  A number of alumni return regularly to address our classes and share their experiences with our students.  Our alumni are employed in every segment of our industry.  For example, in fine dining, lodging, consulting, technology, human resources, retail operations, event management, travel and tour operations, convention and visitors bureaus, destination management organizations, and beverage management.  They occupy leadership positions such as VP, General Manager, or COO while some chose entrepreneurship.  Our alumni are active, committed, and willing to support recent graduates achieve their professional and career goals.  A dedicated group of staff and faculty remain in contact with alumni as they progress through their career lending whatever support is required.

Image of Clay Westbrook
Clay Westbrook
American Flatbread Company
Lareau Farm Inn
Clay Westbrook
President, American Flatbread Company, Lareau Farm Inn

I greatly valued my experience at RIT; it was the right balance of academic, hands-on learning through co-ops in the industry, and extracurricular activities. The academic training offers a mix of business, technology, leadership, and most importantly a community dedicated to lifelong learning from a wide array of disciplines.

As I have made transitions in my career, noted the accomplishments of my RIT peers, and become more aware of the experiences other colleges provide, my decision to attend RIT has been affirmed.

Image of Stephanie Treccia
Stephanie Treccia
Manager, Events & Stakeholder Initiatives
Northern Trust Asset Management
Stephanie Treccia
Manager, Events & Stakeholder Initiatives, Northern Trust Asset Management

RIT provided me with the education to support my success in the Hospitality Industry. I was able to get into a Management Training program through Hilton Hotels and was fortunate to receive two great job offers once graduating from RIT — one with Disney World in Florida, and one with Stouffer Hotel Group in Washington DC. While I opted to move to NJ after graduation, I began working at the Hilton at Short Hills in Short Hills, NJ in their Management Training Program. RIT is a fabulous institution and its hospitality program will bring students much success, especially to those putting in the necessary time and effort to shape themselves into exemplary hospitality professionals in the work environment.

Image of David I. Cohen
David I. Cohen
General Manager
Hôtel Plaza Athénée
David I. Cohen
General Manager, Hôtel Plaza Athénée

David I. Cohen was named the General Manager of the Hôtel Plaza Athénée in 2015.  A seasoned hotelier who has more than 30 years professional experience in the industry, he began his career as a Four Seasons Hotel management trainee at New York City’s Pierre Hotel in 1984.  Here his management skills were honed and for the past 30 years his career has continued to evolve predominantly in New York City but with international stints in Switzerland and throughout Europe.

Prior to joining Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Cohen ran his own hotel consulting business and previous to this he oversaw New York hotel operations for TPG Hospitality (a hotel management company that operates more than 100 North American based hotels).  Cohen also held General Manager positions for New York’s historic Warwick Hotel and Le Parker Meridian as well as Resident Manager of the RIGHA Royal. In addition, he was a member of the opening team for The Ritz-Carlton Battery Park and The Ritz-Carlton Central Park South.  Having been involved in all aspects of hotel operations from Executive Steward to Director of Food & Beverage, Cohen has a keen understanding of the business.

Cohen often compares hotel to theatre – with the managers as the actors, guests as the audience and the furnishings and fixtures as the props.  Cohen himself knows a thing or two about the theater as this General Manager is also a professional actor on the side.   In 2014, he enjoyed playing a Hotel Manager in “Blacklist” and golf pro in “Billions” with Paul Giamatti.  He said his acting career “takes him into a different world”.

Born in Bronx, Cohen grew up in New Jersey.  He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the Hospitality School at Rochester Institute of Technology as well as a degree from the Centre International de Glion in Switzerland.  In addition, he holds an Associate’s degree from The University of Hartford in Connecticut.

Cohen, his wife Melissa, and their eight-year-old-son Ryan reside in Manhattan.  In 2009, their family established the Cohen Esophageal Cancer Initiative.  He is also an Adjunct Professor at New York University at the Tisch Hospitality School.

Cohen, who spends a great deal of time walking the floors of the hotel and interacting with guests, believes in being a facilitator and fully supporting his managers who are responsible for their individual areas.    “I have been extremely lucky to work for a distinguished group of hoteliers who have taught me a lot,” says Cohen.  With a long term career goal of managing an independently owned, five-star luxury hotel in New York City, he is thrilled to be at Hôtel Plaza Athénée and looks forward to maintaining the hotel’s classic sensibility while guiding it into the future.