Gerry Fernandez is founder and president of the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance (MFHA), a national non-profit organization that promotes the business benefits of cultural diversity in the food and hospitality industry while helping its members attract, develop, and retain multicultural talent. With over 35 years of experience in the industry, Fernandez has held leadership positions with several well known companies including General Mills, The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Hemenway’s Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar and The Capital Grille, now owned by Darden.
Fernandez founded MFHA in 1996 while employed at General Mills as a National Account Manager. Since then, MFHA has grown into a respected and well known non-profit with over 1,000 members. MFHA was the first organization to bring about a national discussion on diversity management in the hospitality industry and today, MFHA remains the only non-profit organization focused on promoting the business case for diversity within the restaurant, foodservice and lodging segments.
As President of MFHA, Mr. Fernandez has been influential in aiding dozens of companies with their diversity talent management initiatives and has been directly involved in creating programs designed to attract, develop and retain multicultural talent to the industry.
He is an accomplished speaker and has presented nationwide and in Canada, London, England, Vienna, Austria, the Caribbean, Mexico, and in Beijing, China.
Fernandez is a trustee of Johnson & Wales University, a member of the board of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, and a Life Member of the NAACP. He is a member of The Women’s Chef’s & Restaurateurs Association, the National Council of La Raza, The Women’s Foodservice Forum and the National Association of Black Meeting Planners.
In January 2000, Fernandez was named one of Nation’s Restaurant News “50 Power Players” and in August 2001, he was recognized by Lodging Magazine as one of the 75 Profiles in Leadership. He received an honorary doctorate in Business Administration from Johnson & Wales University in 1999 and was named a 1998 “Rising Star” by Restaurant Hospitality Magazine. He also received the 1999 National Job Corps Association’s “Alpha Award.”
Gerry Fernandez holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Foodservice Management from Johnson & Wales University where he also earned a Culinary Arts degree in 1976. Gerry is married, has three sons, six grandchildren and lives with his wife, Debra (Jackson) in Warwick, Rhode Island.