The RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) recently honored several Newport residents, and people who work at Newport-based establisments, at its “Stars of the Industry” Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony at Twin River Casino.

The Stars of the Industry Awards recognize the outstanding achievements of members of the hospitality, foodservice and tourism industries.  Award recipients were chosen not only for their dedication and contributions to their careers, but for their involvement in their local communities.

“It’s an honor to congratulate this year’s Stars of the Industry winners for all of their incredible accomplishments,” said Dale J. Venturini, President and CEO of RIHA. “With more than 70,000 Rhode Islanders working in the hospitality industry, it is important to take the time to recognize their hard work. It is because of their dedication that the hospitality industry continues to be a cornerstone of the state’s economy.”

Newport Stars of the Industry award recipients include:

Representative Lauren CarsonRhode Island House of RepresentativesHospitality Ambassador of the Year
Steven KalbleNewport Area Career & Technical CenterTeacher of the Year
Selina Kardel

Robert Burnetti

Hotel Viking

Hotel Viking

Hotel Employee of the Year

Hotelier Of The Year

Cynthia O’MalleyThe Preservation Society of Newport CountyTourism Employee of the Year
Juan PleitezHotel VikingHotel Employee of the Year
Debbie Craft

Jake & Kelly Anne Rojas

Gregg’s Restaurants

Tallulah On Thames

Restaurant Employee of the Year

Farm To Fork Award

With more than 650 foodservice and hospitality members in Rhode Island, the RI Hospitality Education Foundation (RIHEF) has been the voice of the hospitality and tourism industry in the state since 1982.  For more information,  visit

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Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).