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Volunteer Voice: Cassandra Hill, Executive Director, Choice Hotels Owners Council

Q1) In honor of National Black Business Month, we would like to profile you and your work with Choice Hotels Owners Council. Could you tell us about your franchising journey?

I began my career in the hotel industry over 20 years ago as a night auditor. I spent the first 10 years learning everything that I could about this industry and what a person had to do to be successful. After working with several management companies and elevating to VP positions that produced substantial revenues for property owners, I became disenchanted because the” ownership life” did not seem to be available to everyone.

There were few minorities and fewer women that looked like me that were Owners of the hotel. I decided that the path where I could make a difference was not in the hotel, but in a position that allowed for interaction with current and future hotel owners. My desire was to help educate and provide resources that would make the journey to hotel ownership not only easier but achievable for minorities, which led me to the role that I currently fill as the Executive Director of Choice Hotels Owners Council.

The mission and goals of CHOC and my personal mission and goals are aligned. The Associations’ mission statement is: “To represent the Licensees of CHOC through a unified voice, protecting the greater interests of its members by providing ideas, advocacy, programs, and services”. Our shared goal is to work with present and future members to assist them in having the best franchise journey possible. In this role I have been able to meet individuals and share with them that the path to hotel ownership is theirs if they want it. My message is that all things really are possible and that everyone is in control of their own success.

Q2) Can you tell us about how the Black Franchise Leadership Council (BFLC) is helping to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in franchise systems?

The goal of the BFLC is to assist everyone to become an entrepreneur and not just a select few. The four committees that comprise the BFLC, Access to Capital, Community Involvement, Marketing, and Education provide a wealth of information centrally located that turn what can seem a daunting impossible dream into infinite possibilities! The BFLC provides awareness, education, and advocacy for minorities to franchising. We want to increase the number of successful minority owners substantially and consistently. The BFLC continues to cultivate new relationships and partnerships to help individuals identify opportunities with franchisors that elevate them from employees to owners. (Join the BFLC here).

Q3) What is the one most important piece of advice you would give to fellow IFA members seeking to grow in the franchise industry?

The most important piece of advice that I would give to fellow IFA members is to never give up on your dreams and most importantly never give up on yourself. Being part of the IFA will help you achieve your passion and fulfill your purpose. You will meet so many people that walk with you through the journey and share knowledge, support, and friendship. There is always someone that will embrace your uniqueness, your strengths and weaknesses and will always celebrate you! The journey may be a little longer and a little harder for underrepresented races and genders but, the IFA is an association that meets you where you are, never says never and ensures that everyone is as successful as they choose to be.