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Officers & Directors

Officers & Directors

Senior Management

Monty J. Bennett
Monty J. Bennett
Chief Executive Officer & Chairman of the Board
Monty J. Bennett Mr. Bennett is the Founder, Chairman, & Chief Executive Officer of Ashford (NYSE MKT: AINC) and serves as the Founder, Chairman, & Chief Executive Officer of both Ashford Hospitality Trust (NYSE: AHT) and Ashford Hospitality Prime (NYSE: AHP). Mr. Bennett is a member of the American Hotel & Lodging Association's Industry Real Estate Finance Advisory Council (IREFAC), the Urban Land Institute's Hotel Council, the Global Advisory Council of Hoftel, a worldwide hotel ownership group, and is on the Advisory Editorial board for GlobalHotelNetwork.com. He is also a member of the CEO Fiscal Leadership Council for Fix the Debt, a non-partisan group dedicated to reducing the nation's federal debt level and on the advisory board of Texans for Education Reform. Formerly, Mr. Bennett was a member of Marriott's Owner Advisory Council and Hilton's Embassy Suites Franchise Advisory Council. Mr. Bennett is a frequent speaker and panelist for various hotel development and investment conferences including the NYU conference and the ALIS conference. Mr. Bennett received the Top-Performing CEO Award from HVS for 2011. This award is presented each year to the CEO in the hospitality industry who offers the best value to shareholders based on HVS's pay-for-performance model. The model compares financial results relative to CEO compensation, as well as a stock appreciation, company growth and increases in EBITDA. Mr. Bennett holds a Master's degree in Business Administration from Cornell's S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management and received a Bachelor of Science degree with distinction from the School of Hotel Administration also at Cornell. He is a life member of the Cornell Hotel Society.

Mr. Bennett's extensive industry experience as well as the strong and consistent leadership qualities he has displayed in his role as the chief executive officer and a director of Ashford Trust since its inception are vital skills that make him uniquely qualified to serve as the chairman of our board of directors.
David A. Brooks
David A. Brooks
Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel
David A. Brooks Mr. Brooks is the chief Operating Officer, General Counsel & Secretary of Ashford (NYSE MKT: AINC) and serves as Chief Operating Officer, General Counsel & Secretary of both Ashford Hospitality Trust (NYSE: AHT) and Ashford Hospitality Prime (NYSE: AHP). Prior to joining Remington Hotel Corporation and Ashford Financial Corporation in January of 1992, Mr. Brooks, a former licensed CPA and attorney, practiced law with the law firm of Sheinfeld, Maley & Kay in both Houston and Dallas offices.

In January of 1992, Mr. Brooks joined Remington Hotel Corporation, and its affiliate, Ashford Financial Corporation, in the capacity of Executive Vice President and General Counsel. While at Remington, Mr. Brooks negotiated and closed the acquisition of over $1 billion in hotels and hotel related mortgages making Remington/Ashford the largest buyer of hospitality related assets from the RTC. In addition, Mr. Brooks managed the development of seven hotels and asset managed over 145 predominately non-performing hospitality loans (with a book value of approximately $750 million).

In 2003, Mr. Brooks, together with the Ashford management team, successfully negotiated and completed the initial public offering for Ashford Hospitality Trust, Inc., raising approximately $220 million in capital for the newly formed real estate investment trust.

Mr. Brooks earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from the University of North Texas in 1981, his Juris Doctorate from the University of Houston Law Center in 1984 and his CPA from the State of Texas in 1984 (currently non-practicing status).
Douglas A. Kessler
Douglas A. Kessler
President
Douglas A. Kessler Mr. Kessler is the President of Ashford (NYSE MKT: AINC) and serves as the President of both Ashford Hospitality Trust (NYSE: AHT) and Ashford Hospitality Prime (NYSE: AHP). He is currently on the Board of Directors of AHP, and was previously on the Board of Directors of AHT. Mr. Kessler has spearheaded virtually all of Ashford's key initiatives including: IPO, investments, sales, capital market activities, property financing, corporate credit facilities, joint ventures, and strategic direction. Mr. Kessler has been responsible for sourcing, evaluating & closing several billion dollars of capital transactions as the company's asset base has grown in excess of $4 billion. Notable transactions include the $2.4 billion CNL transaction and the $1.3 billion Highland Hospitality investment, which was nominated for Transaction of the Year at Americas Lodging Investment Summit. He oversaw $1.2 billion of asset sales along with Ashford's $400 million debt platform. He has been responsible for in excess of $5.8 billion of property financings as well as the corporate credit facilities. He has led all corporate capital market efforts including: $1.6 billion common equity, $450 million preferred, and $75 million convertible preferred.

Mr. Kessler has 30 years’ experience in real estate corporate strategy, investments, sales, finance, asset management and capital markets. He is a member of ULI's Hotel Council and a frequent speaker and panelist at domestic and international lodging industry conferences. Previously, Mr. Kessler spent 10 years with Goldman Sachs' Whitehall Funds. Mr. Kessler earned his MBA and BA from Stanford University.
Deric S. Eubanks
Deric S. Eubanks
Chief Financial Officer
Deric S. Eubanks Mr. Eubanks is the Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of Ashford (NYSE MKT: AINC) and serves as the Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of both Ashford Hospitality Trust (NYSE: AHT) and Ashford Hospitality Prime (NYSE: AHP). Mr. Eubanks oversees all corporate finance and financial reporting initiatives and is involved in all capital market activities including equity raises, debt financings, and loan modifications. He oversees Investor Relations and is responsible for overseeing and executing Ashford Hospitality Trust's and Ashford Hospitality Prime's hedging strategies. Mr. Eubanks formally served as the Senior Vice President of Finance. Prior to his role as Senior Vice President of Finance, Mr. Eubanks was Vice President of Investments and was responsible for sourcing and underwriting hotel investments including direct equity investments, joint venture equity, preferred equity, mezzanine loans, first mortgages, B-notes, construction loans, and other debt securities for Ashford Trust. Mr. Eubanks has been with Ashford Trust since its initial public offering in August of 2003. Mr. Eubanks has written several articles for industry publications and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and industry round tables. Before joining Ashford Trust, Mr. Eubanks was a Manager of Financial Analysis for ClubCorp, where he assisted in underwriting and analyzing investment opportunities in the golf and resort industries.

Mr. Eubanks earned a BBA from Southern Methodist University and is a CFA charter holder. He is a member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society of Dallas-Fort Worth.
Mark L. Nunneley
Mark L. Nunneley
Chief Accounting Officer
Mark L. Nunneley Mr. Nunneley is the Chief Accounting Officer of Ashford (NYSE MKT: AINC) and serves as the chief Accounting Officer of both Ashford Hospitality Trust (NYSE: AHT) and Ashford Hospitality Prime (NYSE: AHP). He has served as the Chief Accounting Officer of Ashford Hospitality Trust since May 2003 where he is responsible for the tax, accounting, ad valorem tax and treasury functions. From 1992 to 2003, Mr. Nunneley served as Chief Financial Officer of the Company's predecessor. He previously served as a tax consultant at Arthur Andersen & Company and as a tax manager at Deloitte & Touche. During his career, he has been responsible for the preparation, consultation and review of federal and state income tax, franchise and sales and use tax returns for hundreds of partnerships, corporations and individuals. Mr. Nunneley is also responsible for the ad valorem tax function which includes successfully appealing and receiving refunds in the millions of dollars. Mr. Nunneley is a certified public accountant and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Texas Society of CPAs and Dallas Chapter of AICPAs.
Jeremy J. Welter
Jeremy J. Welter
Executive Vice President of Asset Management
Jeremy J. Welter Mr. Welter is the Executive Vice President of Asset Management of Ashford (NYSE MKT: AINC) and serves as the Executive Vice President of Asset Management of both Ashford Hospitality Trust (NYSE: AHT) and Ashford Hospitality Prime (NYSE: AHP). Mr Welter has served as the Executive Vice President of Asset Management for Ashford Hospitality Trust since January 2011. In his current role, Mr. Welter presides over Ashford's lodging portfolio consisting of 123 hotels, 25,716 rooms, and valued at over $4 billion. He oversees property performance and operations, capital investment and execution, risk management and brand relations. He also directs strategic positioning of all Ashford's lodging assets including: rebranding, repositioning, new property leases, ground lease extensions and buyouts. He is responsible for joint venture relations and serves as a member of the Executive Joint Venture Committee for the Highland Portfolio. As a member of Ashford's executive team, Mr. Welter actively participates in corporate strategy sessions and company board meetings. Under his leadership, Ashford's asset management team has consistently outperformed its peers in EBITDA flows and margin improvement. Specifically, Mr. Welter's asset management team cut approximately $6 million of costs out of 28 Highland hotels resulting in EBITDA flows of 94% on 5% RevPAR growth during its first full calendar year of ownership. In less than two years, NOI at the Highland portfolio has grown over 30%. Mr. Welter actively participates in Marriott, Hilton, Starwood and Hyatt owners' conferences and meetings and is an active participant in Marriott's Owners' Advisory Committee. Mr. Welter is a speaker and panelist for various lodging investment and development conferences, including NYU and The Lodging Conference.

Mr. Welter earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Economics from Oklahoma State University where he served as student body president and graduated Summa Cum Laude. He was also named top overall graduate in the Spears School of Business and top overall economics student by the faculty and administration.
J. Robison Hays
J. Robison Hays
Chief Strategy Officer
J. Robison Hays Mr. Hays is the Chief Strategy Officer of Ashford, Inc. (NYSE MKT: AINC, “Ashford”) and the Chief Investment Officer of Ashford Investment Management (“AIM”), the securities investment arm of Ashford. He also serves as the Chief Strategy Officer of Ashford affiliates Ashford Hospitality Trust (NYSE: AHT) and Ashford Hospitality Prime (NYSE: AHP). Mr. Hays is responsible for the formation and execution of the strategic initiatives of the company. He oversees financial analysis as it relates to Ashford's corporate strategy, including acquisitions, divestitures, refinancings, hedging, capital market transactions and major capital outlays. Mr. Hays is responsible for setting the macroeconomic and real estate industry views for Ashford and AIM and oversees asset allocation and security selection for AIM. Mr. Hays previously served as Senior Vice President of Corporate Finance & Strategy and has been with Ashford since April 2005.

Prior to joining Ashford, Mr. Hays worked in the Corporate Development office of Dresser, Inc., a Dallas-based oil field service company, where he focused on mergers, acquisitions, and strategic direction. Before working at Dresser, Mr. Hays was a member of the Merrill Lynch Global Power & Energy Investment Banking Group in Texas.

Mr. Hays has been a frequent speaker at various lodging, real estate and alternative investment conferences around the globe. He earned his A.B. in Politics with a certificate in Political Economy from Princeton University and later studied philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, Italy.

Board of Directors

Benjamin J. Ansell, MD
Dr. Ansell was elected to the board of directors in May 2009 and currently serves as our lead director and chairman of our compensation committee. Dr. Ansell is the founder of and current Director and Chairman of the Board of the UCLA Executive Health Program, where he has been responsible for marketing and selling executive health program services to more than twenty Fortune 500 companies and 4,000 individual customers. Dr. Ansell also founded and serves as the Director of UCLA Medical Hospitality, which coordinates health services, concierge and some hospitality functions within the UCLA Health System. Dr. Ansell is also a senior practice physician within the UCLA Health System specializing in cardiovascular disease prevention and early detection strategies. Over the past two decades, Dr. Ansell has acted as senior advisor to the pharmaceutical industry and financial community with respect to U.S. marketing, sales and branding strategies for cardiovascular medication.

Dr. Ansell has significant entrepreneurial and management experience including brand development and positioning, sales and marketing, finance and establishing strategic relationships with both corporate and individual clients and customers. Additionally, Dr. Ansell successfully completed the director certification program at the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management in 2009.
Monty J. Bennett
Chief Executive Officer & Chairman of the Board
Mr. Bennett is the Founder, Chairman, & Chief Executive Officer of Ashford (NYSE MKT: AINC) and serves as the Founder, Chairman, & Chief Executive Officer of both Ashford Hospitality Trust (NYSE: AHT) and Ashford Hospitality Prime (NYSE: AHP). Mr. Bennett is a member of the American Hotel & Lodging Association's Industry Real Estate Finance Advisory Council (IREFAC), the Urban Land Institute's Hotel Council, the Global Advisory Council of Hoftel, a worldwide hotel ownership group, and is on the Advisory Editorial board for GlobalHotelNetwork.com. He is also a member of the CEO Fiscal Leadership Council for Fix the Debt, a non-partisan group dedicated to reducing the nation's federal debt level and on the advisory board of Texans for Education Reform. Formerly, Mr. Bennett was a member of Marriott's Owner Advisory Council and Hilton's Embassy Suites Franchise Advisory Council. Mr. Bennett is a frequent speaker and panelist for various hotel development and investment conferences including the NYU conference and the ALIS conference. Mr. Bennett received the Top-Performing CEO Award from HVS for 2011. This award is presented each year to the CEO in the hospitality industry who offers the best value to shareholders based on HVS's pay-for-performance model. The model compares financial results relative to CEO compensation, as well as a stock appreciation, company growth and increases in EBITDA. Mr. Bennett holds a Master's degree in Business Administration from Cornell's S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management and received a Bachelor of Science degree with distinction from the School of Hotel Administration also at Cornell. He is a life member of the Cornell Hotel Society.

Mr. Bennett's extensive industry experience as well as the strong and consistent leadership qualities he has displayed in his role as the chief executive officer and a director of Ashford Trust since its inception are vital skills that make him uniquely qualified to serve as the chairman of our board of directors.
Thomas E. Callahan
Mr. Callahan was elected to the board of directors in December 2008 and currently serves as chairman of our audit committee and as a member of our compensation committee. Mr. Callahan is currently the National Practice Leader of CBRE Hotels and PKF Consulting USA, a CBRE Company, an international real estate advisory firm specializing in the hospitality industry, with responsibility for the overall operations and management of the company. He was previously Co-President and Chief Executive Officer of PKF Consulting USA. Prior to forming the predecessor to PKF Consulting USA, in 1992, Mr. Callahan was Deputy Managing Partner of Pannell Kerr Forster, an international public accounting firm specializing in the hospitality industry.

Mr. Callahan has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the hospitality industry, involving economic, financial, operational, management and valuation experiences. In addition, Mr. Callahan has extensive experience in evaluating organizational structures, financial controls and management information systems. Mr. Callahan also has significant relationships and contacts in the hospitality industry that are beneficial in his service on the board.
Amish Gupta
Mr. Gupta was elected to the board of directors in May 2014 and currently serves as a member of our audit and nominating/corporate governance committees. Mr. Gupta is currently the chief operating officer of RETC, Limited Partnership, a property tax advisory firm that has represented over $20 billion in asset value nationally. He has led RETC since 2010, where he is responsible for overall operations and strategy. Prior to joining RETC, Mr. Gupta served as a real estate associate at The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm headquartered in Washington D.C. with more than $189 billion in assets under management, for three years.

Mr. Gupta received his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and his BA from Emory University. Mr. Gupta's extensive real estate experience, stemming from his experience with the RETC and the Carlyle Group, combined with his business acumen, will generate valuable insights into the economic environment of the real estate industry for the board.
Kamal Jafarnia
Kamal Jafarnia was appointed to the board of directors effective January 2013 and currently serves as chairman of our nominating/corporate governance committee and a member of our compensation committee. Mr. Jafarnia serves as Senior Vice President of W.P. Carey Inc., as well as Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer of Carey Credit Advisors, LLC. He is also Chief Compliance Officer and General Counsel of Carey Financial, LLC. Mr. Jafarnia joined W. P. Carey Inc. in October of 2014 and currently serves as Senior Vice President. Prior to joining W. P. Carey Inc., he served as Counsel to two American Lawyer Global 100 law firms in New York. From March 2014 to October 2014, he served as Counsel in the REIT practice group at the law firm of Greenberg Traurig, LLP. From August 2012 to March 2014, Mr. Jafarnia served as Counsel in the Financial Services & Products Group and was a member of the REIT practice group of Alston & Bird, LLP. Before his tenure at these firms, Mr. Jafarnia served as a senior executive, in-house counsel, and Chief Compliance Officer for several alternative investment program sponsors. Between 2008 and 2012, he served as counsel at American Realty Capital, a real estate investment program sponsor, and served as Chief Compliance Officer of its affiliated broker-dealer, Realty Capital Securities, LLC.

Mr. Jafarnia received his JD from Temple University School of Law and LLM from Georgetown University. Mr. Jafarnia is a licensed attorney admitted to practice law in four states and the District of Columbia and has spent a majority of his career specifically as a regulatory compliance officer. He has over 16 years of experience in the real estate and financial services industry as an attorney, owner, principal, compliance officer and executive. His experience in these multiple roles provides unique perspectives and benefits to the board, including specifically with respect to regulatory compliance. Mr. Jafarnia also has and maintains numerous relationships in the real estate industry that may be beneficial to his service on the board.
Philip S. Payne
Mr. Payne was elected to the board of directors in August 2003 and currently serves as a member of our audit committee. Mr. Payne is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Ginkgo Residential, LLC. Ginkgo Residential was formed in July 2010 to assume all of the property management activities of Babcock & Brown Residential of which Mr. Payne was the CEO. Ginkgo Residential is primarily involved in the acquisition, management and substantial rehabilitation of middle market multi-family properties in the southern United States. Prior to joining Babcock & Brown Residential, Mr. Payne was the Chairman of BNP Residential Properties Trust, a publicly traded real estate investment trust that was acquired by Babcock & Brown Ltd, a publicly traded Australian investment bank, in 2007. Mr. Payne joined BNP Residential in 1990 as Vice President Capital Market Activities and became Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in January 1993. He was named Treasurer in April 1995, a director in December 1997, and was elected Chairman in 2004. From 2007 until 2009, Mr. Payne served as a director of Meruelo Maddux Properties, a publicly traded company that focused on residential, commercial and industrial development and redevelopment in southern California. Mr. Payne is a member of the Urban Land Institute, founding chairman of ULI's Responsible Property Investing Council and is former co-chairman of ULI's Climate, Land Use and Energy Group and also serves on the board of advisors for ULI's Center for Sustainability. Mr. Payne is also a member of National Multi Housing Council.

Mr. Payne has extensive knowledge and experience in real estate, finance, and the real estate financial reporting process. He has been involved in real estate and public company activities and reporting for more than 20 years. He has experience as a chairman of the board, chief financial officer, board member and chairman of the audit committee of a publicly traded company and has served in a variety of roles at various private real estate companies, including principal, chief executive officer, chairman of the board and chief executive officer.
Alan L. Tallis
Mr. Tallis has served on our board since his appointment in January 2013. Mr. Tallis is currently principal of Alan L. Tallis & Associates, a consulting firm principally engaged in serving the lodging industry. From March 2008 through February 2011, Mr. Tallis served as Executive Vice President, Asset Management for our company, and from February 2011 through January 2012, Mr. Tallis served as a consultant to our company. From June 2006 to May 2007, Mr. Tallis served as a senior advisor to Blackstone Real Estate Advisors following its acquisition of La Quinta Corporation. From July 2000 until May 2006, Mr. Tallis served in various positions with La Quinta Corporation, most recently serving as President and Chief Development Officer of LQ Management LLC and President of La Quinta Franchising LLC. Prior to joining La Quinta Corporation, Mr. Tallis held various positions with Red Roof Inns, including serving as Executive Vice President—Development and General Counsel from 1994 to 1999.

Mr. Tallis has over 30 years of experience in the lodging industry. His diverse experience has included extensive transaction work, brand management and brand relations. In addition to his extensive experience in the lodging industry, Mr. Tallis' service with our company, first as our Executive Vice President, Asset Management and then as a consultant, allows him to bring a valuable perspective to the board.

Chairman Emeritus

Archie Bennett Jr.
Mr. Bennett began his career in the hotel industry in 1968 with the development and management of the Holiday Inn in Galveston, Texas. Since that time, he has been involved with the development, acquisition and management of hundreds of hotel properties, the value of which exceeds $1 billion. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and is a recognized authority on the subjects of hotel development, finance, acquisitions, sales, and management. He has been featured in national business and industry publications including National Real Estate Investor, Hotel/ Motel Management, Lodging Hospitality and Commercial Real Estate News. Mr. Bennett was a founding member of Industry Real Estate Finance Advisory Council (IREFAC) of the American Hotel & Motel Association and served as its chairman on two separate occasions.
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