Entrepreneurship at Cornell has announced that Leland C. Pillsbury ’69 has been named Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year 2016. He will be honored April 14-15 during Cornell’s annual entrepreneurship celebration conference in Ithaca.
Pillsbury was CEO, founder and chairman of Thayer Lodging Group from 1991 until its sale to Brookfield Properties in 2014. He serves as a senior adviser to Brookfield and remains active in hotel real estate transactions and travel technology. Pillsbury has played a major role in the launch of more than 15 new companies and is a founding investor in Thayer Ventures, a venture capital fund targeting hospitality and travel technology companies.
Prior to launching Thayer, Pillsbury spent 19 years at Marriott, where he led the company’s entry into time sharing, Fairfield Inns and Residence Inns.
Pillsbury, a graduate of the School of Hotel Administration (SHA), is a member of the Cornell Board of Trustees and its executive committee, chairman of its buildings and properties committee, member and past vice chairman of its investment committee and a member of several other standing committees. He is also a member of the SHA Dean’s Advisory Board.
In 2006 Pillsbury and his wife, Mary, endowed the Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship at SHA. In addition to offering numerous courses in entrepreneurship, the institute hosts the Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans each fall on campus; an annual hospitality business plan competition; the Innovation Network, which brings top industry executives together to explore global innovation; and recognizes the innovator of the year as part of the Icon and Innovator of the Year Awards.
Pillsbury has served as the Frank H.T. Rhodes Class of 1956 Visiting Scholar at Cornell 2011-13.
The Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year award is given annually by Entrepreneurship at Cornell to a Cornellian who exemplifies entrepreneurial achievement, community service and high ethical standards.
Kathy Hovis is a writer for Entrepreneurship at Cornell.