Director of Education & Workforce Development
Jai Girard - email@example.com
Jai joined VRLTA from James Madison University where she served as a Visiting Lecturer. She has over 15 years of hospitality experience. At JMU, Jai taught classes in hospitality and tourism (entrepreneurship, marketing, ethics, etc.) while also serving as the JMU’s student Club Managers Association of America faculty advisor and an Entrepreneurship Faculty Fellow with the Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship. Prior to joining JMU, Jai worked for hospitality organizations in Texas and founded a nonprofit in Texas while completing her graduate education at Texas A&M University. Jai is a triple Aggie with a Bachelors in Sociology, Masters in Youth Development, and will soon complete her PhD in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Sciences. Her dissertation research focused on hospitality consumer’s food waste. In her free time, Jai enjoys spending time with her wife, their 4 dogs, and learning about Virginia.
More about Jai...
What is your ultimate Virginia weekend getaway?
I love exploring the outdoors! I have lived a bit of a gipsy lifestyle in Harrisonburg for the last 2.5 years, so I am excited to lay down some roots and get to explore Virginia more! Being nestled with the Shenandoah Valley has been a dream- it’s really the first time I have been able to experience changing seasons and I can say that I am a fan! I love historic downtowns and am really looking forward to getting to see all the ones Virginia has to offer.
What is your favorite cuisine, and a favorite Virginia restaurant that serves it?
I love Thai food! Jai’s favorite Thai restaurant is Suphan Thai Cuisine, located in Virginia Beach. The owner of this restaurant also owned one in Okinawa, Japan where Jai grew up. Fun fact- her sister worked at the restaurant in Okinawa while in high school.
Which places are on your travel bucket list – Virginia and beyond?
I really want to visit Devil’s Backbone. I want to see all of the great places Virginia has to offer. As far as outside the state, Montenegro is on my bucket list!
Mountains or beach?
Growing up on an island, I am a beach person.
Eat out or carry out?
Eating out is the way to go. I love people watching so eating out allows me to combine two of my favorite things- food and people.
Favorite place for a beer or a cocktail?
I am still new to Virginia so I am on the hunt for my favorite place. Recommendations are always welcome!
Perfect day in your (Virginia) hometown?
Even though I have recently moved to Virginia, my parents lived in Fredericksburg for 13 years, so I have spent quite a bit of time there. I love walking around the shops in Downtown Fredericksburg, especially around the holiday season. I think my ideal day is grabbing coffee at Python, rummaging through antique stores (always on the hunt for the perfect German nutcracker), and popping over to Castiglia’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria.