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Arlington-Alexandria Chapter Program & Networking Reception
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Are you looking for more employee resources and also be a good community partner? Then this event is for you!

When: Wednesday, September 18, 2019
3:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Where: Hilton Crystal City
2399 Richmond Highway
Arlington, Virginia  22202
United States
Contact: Kristen Karrfalt

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VRLTA Arlington-Alexandria Chapter

September Chapter  Member Program + Networking Reception

 The Arlington-Alexandria Chapter will host a panel discussion with the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, La Cocina, and some of their partners in the hospitality  community. Learn the mission of both organizations and the positive impact they have made with Hilton, B.F. Saul Hospitality Group, and Think Food Group.  The hospitality partners have been able to grow their teams by access to new talent through La Cocina and helped their existing employees grow their skills by working with the Literacy Council.  Please bring your management teams so they can learn how they can benefit from working with these hospitality community partners. 

 Mix and mingle after the program at a networking reception sponsored by the Hilton Crystal City

Panelists will include:

Roopal Mehta Saran, Executive Director of the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia

Roopal Mehta Saran is Executive Director of the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia (LCNV). LCNV’s mission is to teach adults the beginning skills of reading, writing, speaking, and understanding English so they can access employment and educational opportunities and more fully and equitably participate in the community. Since its founding in 1962 by a grassroots group of volunteers who were alarmed by the number of adults who were functionally illiterate, LCNV is proud to have served over 53,000 students coming from more than 90 countries and speaking more than 50 languages.  Each year, LCNV’s 15 staff members serve 1,500 adults with the help of nearly 500 LCNV-trained volunteers who give around 20,000 hours of service.  Roopal is responsible for strategic planning, board development, managing a $1.2 million budget and a 15-person staff, and beginning-level ESL educational programs. LCNV’s fasted growing program, Destination Workforce®, builds partnerships with local employers to bring customized, industry-specific English language and workplace soft skills training to employees with very limited English proficiency.  LCNV has been offering classes with a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, Capital One’s headquarters, and at Jose Andres’ ThinkFoodGroup restaurants in Washington, DC.   

She previously served as the Director of Account Management at KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to bringing balanced and active play to the daily lives of all kids. Prior to KaBOOM!, she worked at First Book, a national non-profit literacy organization, as Senior Director of Community Development.  Before her move to the nonprofit sector, she worked as an attorney representing school districts and state Departments of Education. Roopal received her BA in English and MA in Education from Stanford University and her JD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Roopal serves on the National Advisory Board of the Haas Center for Public Service, the hub for service at Stanford University that serves as a model for how universities prepare students to be of greater service to the public and on the Virginia Career Works – Northern Board, the local workforce development board. She currently lives in Falls Church, VA with her husband and three children, where she volunteers with her Girl Scouts Council as a Service Unit Cookie Manager.

Paty Funegra, Founder & CEO of La Cocina

Patricia Funegra is a passionate change maker. She founded La Cocina VA in 2013 with a vision to create real career opportunities for the unemployed and spur economic growth in the DC metro area. At La Cocina VA, a vocational and technical education non-profit organization, participants gain culinary skills and certifications essential to succeed in the food industry and create their own small businesses. As Chief Executive Officer, she has worked tirelessly to educate and empower women, immigrants and minorities, and to build a comprehensive network of support to assure their success and serve our local community.

Paty began her career in business development and the insurance industry. She worked as a manager and director of development for various companies in Peru where she grew up. She earned a degree in Business Administration with a focus on Marketing at Universidad de Ciencias Aplicadas in Lima, Peru. In 2010, she moved to the United States to begin working in international development at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC. It was there that she found her true calling as a catalyst for social change.

Over the past four years, through persistence, dedication, and fearless positivity, Paty has built and expanded La Cocina VA to become a renowned and respected institution in our community. She has built a robust network of partners and forged deep inroads into local immigrant communities. Her unwavering commitment to helping those in need is unparalleled and she has received numerous awards and recognition for her efforts.

Paty was recently appointed by the Governor of Virginia to a seat on the Virginia Board of Workforce Development. As the only Latina and representative of the nonprofit sector, she is working at the state-wide level collaborating between government, philanthropist and private corporations to eliminate racial and economic inequity.

Megan Kehler, Manager - Recruitment Operations Center, Hilton

Megan Kehler, Manager of the Recruitment Operations Center in Mid-Atlantic and New York City, is passionate about connecting hospitality professionals with meaningful careers at Hilton, the top company to work for in the U.S.

 Megan received a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management from the Pennsylvania State University. Upon graduation, she accepted a leadership position in food and beverage at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. Her career progressed when the Hilton McLean offered her a General Manager title at Harth Restaurant. While in her role, Megan had the opportunity to join two task force teams at Hilton San Francisco Union Square and Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort.

In 2016, Megan shifted careers and joined the Recruitment Operations Center at Hilton, where she spent two years searching for top talent in the DMV region.

In her current position, while leading the Recruitment Teams in the DMV and NYC Region, she also focuses on building a stronger pipeline through sourcing and community outreach in order to win the war on talent.

Megan resides in Sterling, Virginia and likes to spend her time visiting the beautiful wineries with her husband, Dan. When she is not busy cheering on the Pittsburgh Penguins, you can find her researching new cities and planning her next adventure. 

Donna Giarratana, Human Resource Manger, ThinkFoodGroup 

Donna Giarratana is a driven, personable, guest-centric hospitality professional who believes in making a difference. With a career in hospitality spanning over 20 years, Donna has worked for Marriott, Silver Diner and Thompson Hospitality in many roles from Server to Executive Assistant to restaurant leaders. Currently, Donna is engrained in her role as a Human Resources Manager at Jose Andres' Think Food Group, based out of Washington DC. Every day she “Embraces Complexity” with the ever evolving challenges and celebrations within her role. She tries to bring the best from everyone while helping to support more than 2,000 employees all over the country (11 restaurants and 1 home office) including processing payroll, employee relations, health and wellness initiatives, establishing procedures and lives the company mission to "Change the World Through the Power of Food."  Donna has been with TFG since 2012, when she was brought on-board as an Executive Assistant to the CEO/COO, with a focus on supporting the daily world of the leaders, the technology/IT infrastructure for the home office and restaurants and Office Management for a team of 75 home office employees.

Donna loves the Washington Capitals, travelling to new destinations, plays on 3 softball teams as a catcher, is a Day-of Wedding Coordinator, volunteers each year on the Leadership Team of Celebrate Fairfax (formerly Fairfax Fair) where she received the "Volunteer of the Year" award in 2018, and loves to sing. She is currently the President of the Vocal Arts Ensemble, a choir in the Fairfax Choral Society and is on the Board of Directors. She graduated from George Mason University with a B.A. in Communications in 2000, achieving the Dean's List. She currently resides in Sterling, Virginia.

Tish McFadden, Director of Human Resources, DoubleTree by Hilton McLean Tysons 

 Hailing from the United States Virgin Islands, Mrs. Tish McFadden is a graduate of Howard University School of Business, where she received her Bachelors of Business Administration in Management, with a minor in Hospitality Management. Tish also received her Masters of Science degree in Human Resources Management from the University of Maryland University College, and is a certified Professional in Human Resources with the HR Certification Institute. With over 17 years of HR experience, one of the highlights in her career was being featured in SHRM’s January 2012 HR Magazine, for utilizing Realistic Job Previews to trim turnover, which has become a best practice in various industries. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019
3:00 - 4:00 PM Chapter Program
4:00 - 5:30 PM Networking Reception


2020 VRLTA Partners