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Leslie Hale on CRE, the economy, and diversity

July 1, 2020

Leslie Hale on CRE, the economy, and diversity

Leslie Hale

President & CEO, RLJ Lodging Trust

Pioneering REIT CEO Leslie Hale, discusses the state of the hospitality industry, diversity, and what the future holds.

On June 24, Walker & Dunlop's CEO, Willy Walker, hosted the Walker Webcast with Leslie Hale, the CEO of RLJ Lodging Trust, and the first African American woman to become CEO of a publicly traded REIT.

A few highlights from the discussion include:

  • The outlook on the Hill for rental relief and another stimulus bill 
  • Leslie’s career path from her childhood in LA, to her time at Howard and Harvard Universities, to becoming the CEO of RLG
  • Why Leslie is not a “unicorn,” and her playbook for attracting and retaining a diverse workforce 
  • RLG’s hospitality portfolio performance and the changes that are already in progress to make hotels safe
  • The paradigm shift within the retail industry and the future role of brick-and-mortar stores like Macy’s, where Leslie sits on the board

A bit about each speaker:

Willy Walker
Willy Walker

Willy Walker is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Walker & Dunlop. Under Mr. Walker’s leadership, Walker & Dunlop has grown from a small, family-owned business to become one of the largest commercial real estate finance companies in the United States. With a $32B transaction volume in 2019, Walker & Dunlop is ranked top three with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and HUD.

Leslie Hale

Leslie Hale is President and Chief Executive Officer of RLJ Lodging Trust, and serves on the Board of Directors. Prior to August 2018, she served as Chief Financial Officer since 2007, Executive Vice President of Real Estate & Finance since 2013 and Chief Operating Officer since 2016. Ms. Hale is responsible for all financial matters and daily operations across RLJ. She is intricately involved in the company’s investment decision-making and long-term strategic planning. In addition, Ms. Hale oversees the execution of all asset and corporate level transactions, investor relations, and the management of the Company’s Asset Management and Design and Construction functions. Ms. Hale earned a BBA degree with a concentration in Finance from Howard University, graduating summa cum laude. Ms. Hale earned her MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was a Goldman Sachs and Robert F. Toigo Fellow. She currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Macy’s, Inc. and as a trustee of Howard University.

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