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Gingerbread-making AEF Experience

Invest in the next generation of travelers and hospitality professionals.

The American Experience Foundation (AEF) enriches the lives of students through inspirational experiences and educational opportunities to cultivate the next generation of hospitality industry leaders. AEF invests in young people, connecting them with the travel and tourism professionals, entrepreneurs, and executives to help ensure they can enter college and career with confidence.

  • INSPIRE - Free field trips to our nation’s capital for students from DC and across the country
  • TRAIN - Internships and educational opportunities to connect students with hospitality industry professionals
  • EDUCATE - Scholarships to qualified students and alumni from DC’s ten high school Academies of Hospitality & Tourism, Culinary Arts, and Mass Media

AEF is the official non-profit affiliate of Destination DC (DDC), the destination marketing organization for our nation’s capital. By leveraging the resources and networks of DDC and its nearly 1,000 member businesses, AEF is uniquely positioned to open doors for students, filling a need for career exposure and paths to success.

Dijon July 4th
AEF Concord Share

Kelly Cantarero-Flores, AEF Intern Summer 2020 & 2021, Wilson High School Class of 2022

"I will be forever thankful to have the AEF team as mentors and for all the valuable things I have learned from and through this internship. I feel more confident in my abilities and skill sets to enter the workforce."

Learn More About AEF

2023 Annual Review

2022 Annual Review

2021 Annual Review

2020 Annual Review

2019 Annual Review

2018 Annual Review

AEF Staff

Brittany Anderson

Brittany Anderson

Program Manager

202-789-7064

Email Brittany

 

Claire Carlin Headshot

Claire Carlin

Executive Director, American Experience Foundation

Senior VP, Partnerships & Alliances, Destination DC

202-789-7048

Email Claire

 

Christen Miller

Christen Miller

Partnership Manager

202-789-7009

Email Christen

 

Haleluya Demeke Headshot

 

Haleluya Demeke

Partnership Manager

202-789-7052

Email Haleluya

Charlie Ross Headshot

Charlie Ross

Assistant

202-789-7050

Email Charlie

 

Lisa Waldschmitt

Associate Director

202-789-7065

Email Lisa

 

AEF Interns

John "JT" Thompson, a young Black man, stands in front of brick background. He is wearing a navy blazer with the crest of Ballou's Academy of Hospitality and Tourism.

John "JT" Thompson

Senior, Ballou High School

Melany Mendez Casas, a young Latina woman, stands in front of a brick wall. She wears glasses and a black polo shirt.

Melany Mendez-Casas

Senior, Coolidge High School

Nalisa Jacobs, a young Black woman, stands in front of a brick background. She is wearing thick rimmed glasses, a white blouse, and a sweater vest.

Nalisa Jacobs

Senior, Ballou High School

 

 

 

Mailing Address

 

American Experience Foundation

901 7th Street NW

Fourth Floor

Washington, DC 20001

 

AEF Board of Directors

 

Chair
Michael Akin
President, LINK Strategic Partners

 

Vice Chair
Greg Casten
Co-Chair, President, Oceanpro Industries

 

Secretary
Gail Smith-Howard
General Manager [Retired], Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill

 

Treasurer
Stacy Eacho Smith

General Manager, Hyatt Place DC/White House

At-Large Members

 

Nizam Ali
Co-Owner, Ben's Chili Bowl

 

Michael Borris
Director of Global Accounts, Encore

 

Skye Curry
Manager, Global Quality, Marriott International

 

Elliott L. Ferguson, II
President & CEO, Destination DC

 

David Grosso

Partner, ArentFox, Shiff, LLP 

 

Bill Heater

Vice President & General Manager, Big Bus Washington DC

 

Abby Himmelrich
Teacher, McLean School

 

Eric Kincaid
Vice President of Sales, Choose Chicago

 

Tanisha Lewis

Vice President for Diversity, Inclusion and Social Impact, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

 

James MacGregor
VP Local Markets, American City Business Journals, Inc

 

Destiny Kibalama

Director of Recruiting & Human Resources, Clyde's Restaurant Group

 

Thomas Penny
President, Donohoe Hospitality Services

 

Rauf Shakir
Chief Executive Officer, USA Guided Tours

 

Charles Williams II

Senior Market Manager, Washington DC-Lodging, Expedia Group

 

Alex Wilson 
Director [Retired], Jackson- Reed High School Academy of Hospitality and Tourism

AEF Student Advisory Board

 

Chair

Zoe Roberts
George Mason University Class of 2022

 

Lauren Brown
Howard University Class of 2022

 

Kwame Brown

Full Sail University  Class of 2023

 

D'mani Harrison-Porter

Morehouse College Class of 2019

 

Diamond Hunter

Temple University Class of 2022

 

Cayla Lewis

Columbia Heights Educational Campus Class of 2019

 

Tadjanique Phillips

Columbia Heights Educational Campus Class of 2019

 

JP Roberts
Eastern Connecticut State University Class of 2026

 

Anura Sharma
Georgetown University Class of 2026

 

 

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