Hospitality awards to honor Hyatt, Chipotle leaders

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John Carberry
Tom Pritzker
Steve Ells

Cornell's School of Hotel Administration (SHA) will honor the leaders of Hyatt Hotels Corp. and Chipotle at the school's premier event, the fifth annual Cornell Hospitality Icon and Innovator Awards gala in New York City June 4.

Tom Pritzker, executive chairman of Hyatt Hotels Corp., will receive the 2013 Cornell Icon of the Industry Award; Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill, will be presented with the 2013 Cornell Hospitality Innovator Award. The school will host the gala at Cipriani 42nd Street.

The Cornell Icon of the Industry Award recognizes the accomplishments of outstanding leaders in the hospitality and travel industry and contributions to one's community or society. The Cornell Hospitality Innovator Award honors extraordinary leaders who have created, built or sustained contemporary, market-leading innovation in hospitality and travel enterprises.

Launched in 2009, the awards gala has become the largest event on the SHA calendar. Last year, the event attracted more than 900 leaders and innovators in the hospitality and travel industry from 17 countries. Proceeds from the event help support SHA scholarships and programs.

Pritzker is being chosen for his contributions in hospitality, business and philanthropy in the areas of architecture, civics, education, science, medicine and culture. He is chairman of the Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the renowned Pritzker Architecture Prize, and he serves as chairman of the Art Institute of Chicago. Pritzker is chairman of Marmon Group Inc., a diversified manufacturing concern, and chairman and CEO of The Pritzker Organization, the merchant-banking operation for some members of the Pritzker family.

"His business acumen reaches well beyond the hospitality industry, and his philanthropic contributions have helped spur economic development, advance the arts and promote scientific research," said Michael D. Johnson, dean and E.M. Statler Professor of Hotel Administration.

The Cornell Hospitality Innovator Award is given annually by SHA's Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship.

Ells, a classically trained chef, opened the first Chipotle in Denver in 1993 with a commitment to using ingredients from sustainable sources. The New York Times wrote that Chipotle provides "a chance to witness -- and taste -- a shift in American fast food," and Newsweek, called him "an environmental champion" for his commitment to supporting sustainable agriculture. Chipotle's business success has prompted accolades from such sources as, which named Chipotle one of the world's top-20 sustainable stocks; the Motley Fool, which called it the "most socially responsible company"; and Jim Cramer, host of CNBC's "Mad Money," who has said that Chipotle has the "best management team in the hospitality industry."

"True innovation is not about simply creating a better version of what has already been done; it is about creating an entirely new way of thinking. Through Chipotle, Steve Ells has redefined the way the world thinks about fast food, and we look forward to recognizing his extraordinary contributions to the industry," Johnson said.

To register for the gala, visit

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