Behind The Scenes 2014

JillianR&R LimoJillian Aud

Executive Service Coordinator – 2 Years

Jillian joined the R &R Limousine staff in July of 2012. She hit the ground running and has spearheaded our Kentucky Bourbon Trail reservations.

Jillian brings a fun loving personality to our team and has become an intricate part of our growth and success by providing the highest level of customer service with her personal touch.

As our main contact for Bourbon tours Jillian has become a resident expert and is relied upon by both client and employees for the best way to enjoy everything the trail has to offer.

Nominated by Pat Kiesel

femalenophotoRana Al Bayati

Room Attendant – 1 Years

Rana’s story is a true inspiration. Rana is originally from Iraq and in 2004 as a single mother trying to support her young son during a war she took a position in the laundry department for the U.S. Army operations in Iraq. During the seven years Rana worked with the Americans she lived in constant fear for her and her son’s safety. She would tell friends and family that she was working for the Iraqi government having heard stories of other people being attacked and killed for associating with U.S. Troops. Having received threatening phone calls -Rana and her American manager worked together through a long and harrowing Visa process, finally arriving in United States through Catholic Charities of Louisville in January 2013.

With Rana’s excellent English skills and delightful personality we were excited to hire her in May 2013. Rana quickly became a star in our Housekeeping Department almost immediately earning praise from guests, coworkers and supervisors alike. Rana is a leader amongst the Brown’s growing Arabic speaking community of employees often being called upon to train and mentor new staff.

Since her arrival in Louisville many of her family members have also been able to come to Louisville to join Rana including her parents and sister who is also an exceptional Housekeeper for us. Rana and her son who is a 6th grader at Shawnee Academy are both delighted to be a part of the cultural landscape of Louisville and are currently saving to own their own home.

Rana Al Bayati our nominee in the Behind the Scenes category truly embodies the spirit of genuine Louisville hospitality. Rana has been a member of the Brown Hotel Housekeeping team since May 2013 and almost on a daily basis a guest will go out of their way to write a little note or stop by the front desk to thank Rana for the great care she took cleaning their room and her warm and gracious personality that makes everyone feel at home.

  • “My room was spotless and it was lovely to come home to. Perfectly made up with quiet classical music on the radio the towels decoratively folded – I loved it. She did a great job. I am a manager where I work it’s important to recognize good work and I just wanted to let you know Rana does a fine job & it was appreciated.”
  • “I just checked out of Room 801 and I am beside myself about how wonderful Rana was. We enjoyed running into her whenever she cleaned our room, it was exactly how we liked it. We want to pass on the compliment!”
  • “Rana – thanks for everything. Hope we can come back again. God bless!”
  • “The guest in room 817 called down to the desk two days in a row to rave about Rana the housekeeper. She said not only was her room perfect but Rana was an incredible and very interesting human being and we are a better hotel for having her. Please pass along the compliment”
  • “Today the guest in room 803 left behind an iPad and iPhone —without missing a beat, Rana brought both items straight to the front desk at the same time the guest returned to report the missing items. The guest could not have been more impressed, and the level of professionalism and grace with which Rana assisted the guest was outstanding. I’d like to pass on the guest’s commendation and my own —excellent job Rana!”

Rana, we thank you so much for everything you do and more importantly everything you are.

Nominated by Marc Salmon

SharonBivensSharon Bivens

Switchboard Operator – 20+ Years

Sharon has been our switchboard operator for 26 years. Her switchboard “home” has moved quite a few times in those years. Originally, she was located behind the front office and was the “voice” of the hotel. She answered phones, carried messages, before radios she was the person who was able to find anybody in the hotel and get your message to them. She was the life-link for many a guests’ needs or a fellow associates task.

Then she moved back to the employee entrance where she was the first person we saw each day and the last one in the evening. Her warm good morning and smile brightened many an associates day. For many years she met the daily deliveries of UPS, Federal Express, and the many vendors who service the hotel with directions, information and always that warm inviting smile. She also became our expert “package finder”. If ever a box was “missing” , Miss Sharon (as we all lovingly call her) always came through to help locate them. She has been the oil of joy that helped keep the back of house always running smoothly. It’s been a joy for 26 years to have been gifted by her presence at work.

Sharon is the person you would want to be most like if you were a new associate. Over the many years she’s been with the hotel, she has absorbed so much information and is always eager to share with anyone who has the need. She’s the initial trainer for every front desk new hire where she “works her training magic” sharing information and little “tidbits” to help them feel at ease. We always know where front desk has a new associate because the voice on our switchboard is not “Miss Sharon’s.”

In all her years, the only time she’s NOT on the switchboard is if she’s scheduled off. At least, that was the case until recently. This past year, Miss Sharon has had some serious health issues which has forced her off the board. We are all thrilled when we hear her distinctive “good morning, Sharon speaking” on the days she can work. It would be such an injustice to let this year go by without singing the praises of a woman who makes such an impact on all of our workdays and our families. If you have ever called the Seelbach you have most likely been greeted by her distinct caring and very help voice.

On Friday September 12, 2014 we lost our Seelbach Angel. Sharon still lives in all of us each day we enter the hotel. She will be greatly missed.

Nominated by Seelbach Family

ChrisCookChris Cook

Engineer 3 – 10 Years

Chris graduated from Southern High School before working in local auto and hardware businesses, which led him to the Hyatt Regency Louisville.

It’s been instilled in me for the past 10 years at the Hyatt to provide excellent customer service. I keep my standards high and I want to fulfill my end of the deal to help the guest have a good stay while here.

[from Facebook]

It is a great pleasure I nominate Chris Cook for the Behind the Scene ROSE Award, and here’s why. Chris started working at the Hyatt Regency Louisville a little over 10 years ago. At that time he was in his early 20’s and eager to learn as much as he could. Chris started at an entry level position but showed signs of advancing as he became fully engaged in the hospitality industry. Chris’s strong work ethic and his willingness to learn have allowed him to move into a position with more responsibility. Chris now holds the position of Engineer 3 which includes oversight of all laundry and refrigeration equipment along with all other day to day operations. It is very gratifying to see a young individual advance in their career by hard work and determination, but it is even more gratifying to see that person develop the skill set you need for the hospitality industry.

While the ability to perform repair and maintenance on equipment is very important it is only a part of what Chris brings to the table. Chris sees, and most importantly understands, the big picture. Chris knows that the success of Hyatt Regency Louisville depends on exceeding the customers’ expectations. Their experience is what will determine whether they will return to Louisville. Chris’s very positive, can-do attitude and understanding the importance of customer service is what sets him apart. Every day Chris contributes to our success and every day Chris contributes to the success of the City of Louisville. Developing people like Chris is what it’s all about and having someone really understanding the big picture is a pleasure. Chris would be an outstanding recipient for the ROSE Award.

Nominated by Eddie Carroll

ChastaFellerChasta Feller

Fun Enthusiast (Sales Coordinator) – 2 Years

Chasta Feller is the Fun Enthusiast at Mint Julep Tours, specializing in Public Bourbon Tours. She finds fun and adventure in all corners of the world, especially her lovely River City, Louisville. “I was an adventure travel guide for 4 ½ years, leading trips all over the U.S and Canada! When love brought me back to my roots, all I knew was, I had to be a part of Louisville’s thriving local scene, history and of course, BOURBON! Mint Julep Tours couldn’t have been a more perfect fit”!

When she’s not in the office, find her cooking organic veggies from her garden, drinking (and baking with) bourbon, jamming to good music, planting trees in our community, hiking, biking, camping and living each moment to the fullest! Her travel list includes 48 states and 11 countries.

I was an adventure travel guide for 4 ½ years, leading trips all over the U.S and Canada! When love brought me back to my roots, all I knew was, I had to be a part of Louisville’s thriving local scene, history and of course, BOURBON! Mint Julep Tours couldn’t have been a more perfect fit!

[from Facebook]

Chasta is a very valuable employee at Mint Julep Tours with the official title of “Fun Enthusiast”. She originally developed with MJT as our tour guide extraordinaire for bourbon, horses, city and adventure tours. She now manages the first contact with all of our inbound requests for visitors wishing to enjoy our city and state. She ALWAYS keeps the tourist’s needs, wishes and desires as her primary responsibility and service objective. Her integrity and honesty is beyond reproach and she treats every guest as if they were part of her family.

Her organizational skills allows us to manage several tours and tour groups a week, even in the most hectic of times, knowing the customer will be taken care of and extremely happy with the results. As one of the first people from Louisville that visitors speak with prior to coming to town, we should all be thrilled that Chasta is a remarkably gifted “front door” to this city we all serve and love to promote.

Nominated by Sean Higgins

stasiahesselStasia Hessel

Director of Production – 9 Years

Stasia Hessel, orginally from Bardstown, KY, a graduate of Bellarmine University began her “behind the scenes” career with the original owners of the Pie Kitchen before Adam Matthews purchased the company. She worked under his ownership in the commissary for a year before coming to Najla’s Specialty Foods in February 2006 and has been here ever since! She is one of 8 children and has been married to Edward for over 19 years.

Quite simply – without her, I would probably not be in business. I moved my company from New York in January 2006 because of my husband’s work with Humana. We had 3 young children under the age of 6 when we moved and having to start over while acclimating our family to a new community was challenging. Stasia was referred to me from our buyer at Dawn Foods. We hit it off immediately and she and I have been on this crazy track of artisan specialty foods in Louisville ever since. She is not just my right hand, but my left, both my feet, my brain, my heart, my stamina. She had a tremendous work ethic, a proprietary craft of specialty foods and wears a smile everyday regardless of the stress imposed upon her. Quality, pride, professionalism are her priorities. She is the epitome of behind the scenes – a fierce, productive leader to her staff, my backbone at trade shows and my internal clock when the carpool calls. I rely on her everyday and knowing she is there when I am not gives me peace of mind that every detail is covered. She is an inspiration to all that work with her.

Nominated by Najla R. Aswad

chrisKenealyChris Kenealy

Stock/ Packaging Assistant – Less Than 1 Year

Chris Kenealy is a client of Cedar Lake, the region’s largest non-profit care provider for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It is with great pride that he represents adults with disabilities in a professional atmosphere and demonstrates a commitment to contributing his talents to the community.

Since Chris’s employment at Rainbow Blossom, he has taken greater initiatives to practicing better health choices for himself, and also assisted with a recent presentation to demonstrate healthy cooking to Cedar Lake staff. He proudly brought and distributed small snack packs of a healthy seed/nut mix that he is in charge of packaging from bulk at the store.

While his efforts “Behind the Scenes” at Rainbow Blossom packing items for sale may not be very noticed, the influence of what the store contributes to health and wellness is felt by all; customers and behind the scenes workers.

Chris puts forth great effort to make a good impression on the customers. He even helped come up with a script to use when customers are entering the store and leaving the store. No matter what, he never misses the opportunity to say “Hello! Welcome to Rainbow Blossom.” Or “Have a nice day!”

He independently opens the store on Saturday mornings at 6 am. Tarc 3 will sometimes drop him off 45 minutes early. However, he will wait until 5:55 am to clock in, respecting the hours that Tracy, his supervisor, has given him. He is always asking me ways he can improve his efficiency with sweeping and mopping. His co-workers all adore him and have a deep admiration for his dedication and work ethic. Before starting at Rainbow Blossom, he researched their website and memorized the history of the store. When he met the owner, he basically recited the entire history to him: when the store opened, why it’s called Rainbow Blossom and that his “wife is named Pumpkin.”

Nominated by Ali Hawthorne

sharon21cSharon Malone

Cook – 8.5 Years

Sharon Malone (or Mama, as she is known by most) has been under the employ of 21c/proof On Main since practically day one. Sharon works tirelessly to exceed guest expectations as well as her own, however that isn’t the only reason Sharon is exceptional. Kitchen life is hard. It can be sometimes be a thankless job coupled with high stress and long hours. Sharon handles this with aplomb. Sharon is a grounding force, a humble and sweet reminder to all of us in the kitchen that no matter how busy, how big the workload may be: if we don’t have each other, we don’t have anything. She inspires us daily to be better leaders, better cooks and above all to be better people. We strive to acknowledge those within our team that are ambassadors to our culture of hospitality. Sharon is no exception and in our opinion, natural choice for a ROSE nomination.

Nominated by 21c and Proof Staff

justinnorthJustin North

Technician – 4 Years

Justin began his career in hospitality doing AV 13 years ago while putting himself through college where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree from Ball State University. His audiovisual journey started in Muncie, then Indianapolis to Chicago and now Louisville. Justin is also a musician doing solo projects and collaborative work since high school. He has a never ending well of creativity and it shows by his musical work having written and recorded close to a thousand songs to date. That creativity is apposite in all aspects of his life. He is well read and well mannered and is the type of person everyone who gets to know him everyone wished they knew.

From day one Justin’s work ethic has been second to none. He is thoughtful, efficient and shows great initiative. Justin is the type of person who first finds the hardest thing to do first or heaviest thing to carry. He has willingly wanted to learn as much as possible from a technicians perspective up to a Directors. His presence has been an enormous factor in the success of our business and his work ethic has allowed me more time to focus in other areas. He truly has a servants heart to serve and shows it daily.

Nominated by Craig Day

GarretRasmussenGarrett Rasmussen

BOH Dishwasher – 1.2 Years

Garrett Rasmussen is a BOH employee at the Sidebar on Whiskey Row. He lives in Indiana with his girlfriend Kim.

A lot of people think my job is pretty much the bottom of the barrel but I take pride in cleaning bathrooms and floors, it matters to people and it has to be consistently clean for them to come back.

[from Facebook]

The restaurant and hospitality industry is a tough one in regards to finding true and reliable staff. From day one Garrett has taken the up most pride in his work at Sidebar. He’s never late and doesn’t miss shifts. He comes in ready to work and never does anything without 100% devotion. In regards to my first statement it is sometimes hard to find people whom treat the business they work for like it is there own. Sometimes people don’t care if they throw a fork in the trash or drop a sleeve of cups and have to throw them away. Garrett not only treats things like his own he monitors product usage by himself and others and offers solutions. He also has taken on other responsibilities outside of his normal job description for the betterment of Sidebar. He orders and maintains things that nobody thinks about or realizes. Garrett only does things right the first time and when it comes to training new staff he is the most thorough at the job. Every person he has trained has been the best they can be at the duties to be preformed. Garrett is also the funny guy in the building. He often sends hilarious photos to staff and is someone whom will listen if you need to vent or just let it out. He’s also the wise guy and sarcastic about most things. We love him and depend on him. He took a weeks vacation and we actually had to hire new people in the meantime because Sidebar can’t get by without him. He is a valued employee and friend to all at Sidebar.

Nominated by Lissa Ramos

glemismarriottGlemis Rivera

Housekeeping – 5 Years

Glemis has been with the Louisville Marriott Downtown for 5 years and has contributed to our hotel on multiple levels. Glemis is a driving force in a housekeeping team that has consistently been ranked in the top 5% of Marriott hotels for cleanliness & service in the Americas.

Glemis has the well-deserved and unique honor of being assigned our Presidential suites on our VIP floors. Those suites and rooms have become home to international celebrities and dignitaries as well as both standing and past Presidents, Presidential candidates and heads of state. While we strictly protect our guests privacy we can disclose with prior permission that Glemis received the blessings of the Dali Llama during a personal audience in recognition of her service…an extraordinary honor. To many of us the profile of the guests that occupy the suites could be somewhat intimidating but to Glemis they are people who recognize her desire to please them and the personalized enjoy the fantastic towel art she creates and personalized touches she

While the recognizable celebrities that Glemis takes care of are of course important perhaps even more important are the Presidents and Chairpersons of Major City Wide Conventions who stay in her suites. The positive experience they communicate and the willingness to return to Louisville has added millions of dollars of economic impact to our city.

One of those guests shared: I have stayed in luxury 5 star hotels around the world and none compare to the level of detailed cleanliness and organization Glemis provides to her guests. You are fortunate to have her in Louisville

Glemis recently had the privilege to service one our prospective customers who was in town for a small group but was also looking to the Louisville Marriott for a larger future piece of business. The guest had arrived two days prior to our preconvention meeting and during the meeting the contact had inquired about which member of management was responsible for the housekeeping department. She went on to express her absolute fascination in the creative towel art and handwritten notes that Glemis had left during her first two days of stay and said that she has found herself wanting to return to her room during their afternoon breaks just to see what other creative animals she has waiting for her in her room. More importantly, Glemis had provided the guest with a room that was spotlessly cleaned and ready each afternoon prior to the guests return at noon without being told to do so. She stated that this type of proactive service and attention to detail is exactly what secures business and makes her feel that choosing the Louisville Marriott would be an easy decision.

Glemis has also used her spirit and personality to provide a smile to our guests and her fellow associates. We can always count on Glemis to be early to her shift and welcoming her co-workers

with coffee or an enthusiastic hello. Being a full time housekeeping associate and cleaning rooms eight hours a day five days a week without a single complaint and maintaining excellent inspection scores is part of the job for Glemis. She takes every opportunity to make a guest more comfortable or try to bring a smile to their face whenever possible. One final act we would like to share was with a family visiting over a holiday weekend. Glemis decided to take the kids dolls that were scattered throughout the room and create a neat tea party with the table that was provided so when the family returned there in the corner of the room were all the dolls sitting at the table and all the accessories neatly arranged. The father was so impressed that he personally left a note for Glemis and the housekeeping manager sharing his gratitude for her special touch and said that his kids were so careful to return everything as she had left it for their five day stay that he was hoping to take that picture for when they return home.

At Marriott we take great pride in our mission which is to be a Brilliant Host. Glemis embodies this service culture with her thoughtful touches and polished approach to delight our guests. The Louisville Marriott Downtown continues to be successful due our Brilliant Host, Glemis Rivera, and we feel that she embodies the spirit and culture that makes our team special and unique.


Nominated by Michael Howerton