EXECUTIVE TEAM

/EXECUTIVE TEAM
EXECUTIVE TEAM 2021-03-23T22:19:05+00:00

Deborah L. Cannon
President
Qualifying Broker

Ms. Cannon is a 40+ year hospitality veteran.  She currently serves as the President and COO of CUSA, LLC – a nationally ranked and recognized hospitality and property management company.  Ms. Cannon has worked in all facets of hotel operations and sales & marketing and has managed, over her career, over $550 million in hotel assets.  Ms. Cannon’s expertise and experience spans full-service hotels and resorts, to boutique luxury hotels, to select service and limited service hotels.  Ms. Cannon and CUSA have managed in over 45 states and the West Indies.

Ms. Cannon began her career with Hyatt Hotels focusing in sales & marketing.  She was then with Peabody Court (Member of Leading Hotels of the World) as a Director of Sales and moved from there to Brookshire Hotels as Regional Director of Sales – overseeing sales & marketing for 15 hotels and then Corporate Vice President of Marketing & Sales – overseeing over 30 hotels and progressing into corporate development with Brookshire.  She established Cannon & Associates – a full-service marketing company and then joined in the founding of Cornerstone Management later becoming CUSA, LLC and today serves as its President and COO.  CUSA, LLC is ranked in the Top 100 Management Companies in the United States and has been consecutively ranked in the Top 100 for the last 20 years.  CUSA, LLC is a pure third-party service management company and boasts an impressive number of awards and accolades for its managed hotels.  CUSA, LLC has the distinction, under Ms. Cannons, leadership of being an approved management company for all of the major franchise brands in the country to include, but not limited to:  Marriott Hotels, Hilton Hotels, IHG, Choice, Wyndham, Radisson.  CUSA, LLC has over 500 employees across the United States and is a leader in the industry, enjoying an outstanding reputation for excellence in service and results for its clients.   Ms. Cannon has managed hospitality assets through 4 economic downturns from the late 80s through to the COVID crisis of 2020.  Specifically, in 2020 – CUSA’s hotel portfolio (which includes select service, limited, full and extended stay) performed 50% better in overall RevPar than the US Average – (75% better in occupancy).  CUSA has been able to exceed the national averages in all categories of occupancy, rate and RevPar – its portfolio has achieved an average 126.8% RevPar Index over the last 3 years.

Ms. Cannon is a licensed Broker in the State of Georgia with reciprocal licenses in multiple states.  She oversees, in addition, to the corporate staff of CUSA – 3 licensed real estate agents.  Ms. Cannon is also a certified Receiver, since 2009, with the State of New York Receivership Certification Program with the New York State Bar Association.

Ms. Cannon serves as Chairman of the Board (2001 – Present) of First Care Women’s Clinic and Chairman of the Board (2016 – Present) of Waymark Foster Kids Program, Finance Committee – FBCW (3 year term – 2021 – 2024), Past President HSMAI.  She has been active in community/charitable organizations for over 40 years.  Ms. Cannon has outstanding leadership skills, she is an excellent communicator and cares deeply about others – desiring to see associates and owners grow and flourish.  She is creative and organized and understands all aspects of hotel and corporate operations from sales/development to financial/feasibility.

Charles S. Taylor
Chief Operating Officer

Mr. Taylor began his career with Hyatt Hotels Corporation working in four and five star hotels from 230 to 1200 rooms. Mr. Taylor accepted the position of Manager of the internationally recognized 1000 room Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. after leaving Hyatt Hotels, and later the position of General Manager of the four star Whitehall Hotel for Lex Hotels of Great Britain. Joining Beaumont Hotels in 1979 as Regional Director, Mr. Taylor has overseen all facets of operations to include:  spa, conference center, food & beverage, golf course/country club and resort properties.  Mr. Taylor remained with Beaumont until 1986, at which time he became President and partner of the newly formed Brookshire Hotels. After five years of building Brookshire Hotels into a nationally recognized management company and completing a private placement with a Wall Street investment group, Mr. Taylor established Cornerstone Management & Development, a full service management company located in Columbia, Maryland.  He later moved that company to Atlanta, Georgia.  Mr. Taylor serves as serves as the Chief Operating Officer for CUSA, LLC.

Melissa Mancini
Vice President of Operations

Ms Mancini is a seasoned professional with over thirty-three (33) years in the hospitality industry. At the inception of her career in 1988, Ms. Mancini joined Brookshire Hotels, a Maryland based hospitality management company, with a portfolio of full-service, limited service and resort properties located throughout the United States. Melissa had the unique opportunity to learn the hospitality industry from the ground up in both the corporate office and property level, under the direction of Charles Taylor the founder and Chief Operating Officer of CUSA, LLC. Ms. Mancini has held a variety of positions from front office to sales to reservations to maintenance to human resources to General Manager.

In the early days, Ms. Mancini had the opportunity to work with Sheraton, Omni, Radisson, Choice and Wyndham, where she was responsible for everything from quality audits, front office, systems & programs, reporting, human resources, brand compliance, sales & marketing and operations.

Ms. Mancini joined CUSA, LLC at its inception in 1991 and today oversees all facets of hotel operations and sales and marketing for the CUSA portfolio of hotels. As the Vice President of Operations, Ms. Mancini maintains strong relationships with all of the major hotel brands to include but not limited to: Marriott, Hilton, IHG, Wyndham and Choice hotels. Her exceptionally diverse background has enabled her to work with hotels from roadside inns to full-service convention hotels. Ms. Mancini is excellent at achieving top line revenue goals and bottom line results, she is goal oriented and driven to surpass customer expectations.

Ms. Mancini holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business and minor in Marketing from the University of Towson in Towson, Maryland. She also has completed the Marriott Excellence Training Program.

Ed Samson
Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Samson has over 25 years of executive leadership experience in real estate investment and property operations including finance, corporate strategic planning and analysis, portfolio development, syndications, limited partnerships, acquisitions/dispositions, and asset management.  Mr. Samson has held position in various capacities as Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, President and Vice President of Property Management Operations.  Placed financing and re-structured debt in excess of $300M.  Experienced with all aspects of property management and financial operations of multi-family, commercial, hotel, retail, conventionally financed, tax credit and affordable housing real estate.  His responsibilities encompassed 50,000+ multi-family units, 2.5M+ Sqft. of commercial properties and 7,000+ rooms in the hospitality industry.  Mr. Samson holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with emphasis in Business Management and Finance and a Master’s Degree (MBA) in Business Administration from Pepperdine University in Los Angeles, California

Steve Grainger
Corporate Controller

Mr. Grainger, a graduate of Oakland University (MI), has over 35 years experience in the Hospitality industry. With a background in Operations,  Mr. Grainger moved to Finance with Hilton Corporation. After Hilton, he served as Director of Finance with Omni Hotels for several years before joining Orient-Express Hotels, a Five-Star luxury company based in London.  He served as Director of Finance of North America, managing Domestic and International properties of over $200M in revenues. After Orient-Express, he worked as Senior Vice President of Finance and COO of Ginn Clubs & Resorts, a private Resort and Planned Community Developer based in Florida. Following this work, he continued as Corporate Controller with a private developer of hotels, commercial, and multi-family units based in Charleston, SC.  He then joined Crestline Hotels and Resorts, serving as Director of Centralized Accounting, with successful integration of 106 hotels, including Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, and IHG properties. Prior to joining CUSA, he served most recently as Director of Finance of the Mandarin Oriental Atlanta. As Corporate Controller, he has ongoing responsibilities for accounting services of CUSA.

Debra Sutton
Regional Controller

Ms Sutton a native of Michigan, has over 30 years of Accounting/Finance experience in the Hospitality industry.  Ms Sutton started her career with The Don CeSar, as Accounting Manager on St. Pete Beach, FL (Interstate Hotels). Ms. Sutton traveled on Task Force Assignments with Interstate during her tenure, and gained experience in new builds and acquisitions. After 10 years Ms Sutton transferred to Blacksburg VA to Sheraton 4 Points as Controller/HR Manager.  The Hotel was later acquired by Wyndham International. For the next 10 years Ms Sutton transferred to Michigan as Controller/HR Manager for the Wyndham Garde Hotel in Novi, Mi which later changed brands and became a Doubletree By Hilton and was acquired by Aimbridge Hospitality.  Ms Sutton then returned to Florida to continue her career with Remington Hotels.  Prior to joining CUSA, she served most recently as Controller of The Pier House Resort and Spa and The La Concha Hotel in Key West, FL.  Ms. Sutton serves as Regional Controller at CUSA LLC.

Dante Mancini
Corporate Director of Operations Multi-Family and Commercial

Mr. Mancini has worked with CUSA since 2005 as a Commercial and Multi-Family Property Manager. Dante began his career with Enterprise Rent A Car in property management and regional operations for over ten years. Mr. Mancini’s operational experience covers all aspects of Commercial and Multi-Family property operations. His specialties include: insurance negotiation, revenue management and cost control. Dante is a graduate of Towson State University in Maryland with a degree in Business.

Adam Biesecker
Corporate Director of Development

Adam joined CUSA Hospitality in 2016 and brought with him over 30 years of top tier business development experience.  Adam’s background is in technology sales, he successfully developed strong and lasting relationships with tech giants like Cisco, Dell, IBM, AT&T, Verizon, and many more.  In 2016 Adam decided he wanted to tackle a different vertical of business and was presented the opportunity to come work with CUSA.   “After I met with Debbie Cannon and Chuck Taylor, the leadership of CUSA, I knew that our values and business practices lined up and I wanted to be part of this wonderful team.”  Adam’s philosophy on sales is simple, do the right things for your clients.  Don’t mislead them and always be accessible to them.  Look out for their best interests even if at times it feels as though it’s not in your best interest.  Adam is a graduate of GA State University with a bachelor’s degree in business marketing. He has been married for 32 years to the love of his life Jana, and they have three incredible children.  Adam volunteers in several ministries, he leads a homeless ministry in Atlanta, he is also on the board of Kids3 Foster Care Ministry and Abiding Word Counseling.

Todd Neuenschwander
Corporate Director of Operations Hotel Division

Todd, a native Californian and son of a hotelier studied at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. After graduation, he joined Hilton Hotels as a chef in a large Southern California mountain resort with nine unique restaurants, lounges and retail shops. A decorated gold culinary awards winning chef for food presentation and ice carving displays, Todd accepted the position Executive Chef at an exclusive Four Star, Four Diamond Radisson resort on Miami Beach.   Todd expanded into food and beverage operations management in major full service brands such as: Courtyard by Marriott, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn and Radisson Hotels. After spending many years in the Orlando market and working for one of the world’s busiest restaurant, Rain Forest Café at Downtown Disney,  he began fulfilling his childhood dream and became a full service hotel General Manager. Most recently, Todd worked for Radisson and Hilton Garden Inn Brands in premier markets including Atlanta, Georgia and San Francisco, California. Currently, Todd oversees operations and food & beverage within CUSA’s hotels and is the Corporate Director of Operations for CUSA, LLC

Rudy Ferraro
Corporate Director of Operations

Rudy Ferraro is a seasoned professional with more than thirty-three (33) years of leadership experience in the hotel and restaurant industries. Since 1984 Rudy has been in top leadership positions in hotels from the Tampa Airport Hilton, the Lake Lanier Islands Hilton Golf resort, and the Hilton Atlanta Northwest. In 2000 Mr.Ferraro began his multi-property background as the Area General Manager for both the Northwest Atlanta Hilton, as well as, the Holiday Select Decatur. In 2005 Mr. Ferraro expanded his career as Managing Member of SBS Hospitality Management—a company founded by Mr. Ferraro and his business partner. In 2014, he was approached by CUSA and became Corporate Director of Operations overseeing regional sections of CUSA’s portfolio.

Mr. Ferraro’s skill set includes distressed and difficult property turn arounds, full-service operations such as the 773 Royal Dearborn Hotel and Conference center with more than 64,000 sf of meeting space, 2 labor unions, and numerous food and beverage and retail outlets – which he worked with CUSA to turnaround and successfully sell. His career also includes extensive training facilitation including public business seminars, quality and sales training. In addition, Mr. Ferraro has consulted for fine dining restaurants such as Cité of Chicago. Included in his background is a writing career covering 13 years as a columnist for the hospitality trade magazine “Trade Talk”, contributing author for “Today’s Restaurant News” and “Food Service Industry News” Magazines; and Mr. Ferraro is a published author of the book “Choose Your Way There”. He is a Certified Hotel Administrator and holds a Master Degree in Business Administration with a minor in Human Resources. Mr. Ferraro has had General Manager certifications in three different franchise brands, recently completed the Marriott Executive Excellence Program.

Christina Elias
Corporate Director of Operations

Christina Elias, a native of Pennsylvania, is a graduate from The University of Pittsburgh with a Degree in Business Administration and Hospitality and brings more than 30 years of experience in the Hotel Industry to her position as Regional Director of Operations. She began her career as part of the IHG team in Morgantown, West Virginia. Christina’s experience ranges from full-service hotels to beach properties, and limited-service facilities. She is well versed in Revenue Management, Hotel Accounting, and Operational Effectiveness. As a valuable part of the CUSA corporate team, she very effectively transitions incoming properties to the CUSA culture and process, is a CUSA corporate internal auditor ensuring property compliance for both brand and CUSA standards for all IHG, Hilton, Choice, Independent, and Wyndham brand franchised properties. Chris effectively ensures all life-safety, emergency, franchise and CUSA reporting, accounting and procurement, and human resource standards for each hotel. She also provides oversight and guidance for her own portfolio of properties throughout the US.

Christina Elias has served as General Manager of properties with both Interstate and Janus Hotels and has been part of the CUSA team for more than 12 years; starting off with CUSA in 2009 as General Manager of one the company’s premier hotels in the busy Atlanta Market. She has successfully completed multiple brand certifications that range from Marriott, IHG, Hilton, Wyndham with specialized certifications that include Revenue Management, Human Resources and Accounting, and the exclusive Marriott Executive Excellence training. Christina has successfully collaborated on updating CUSA’s policies and procedures manuals, and is currently engaged in the SHERM certification process.

Kimberly Houze
Corporate Director of Sales and Marketing

Kim Houze began her career in hotel sales in 1991 at the prestigious Lake Lanier Islands Hilton Hotel and Resort.  After graduating from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations/minor in Business.  Ms. Houze was selected by Hilton Hotels for an internship and completed the internship at the Hilton Hotel in Gainesville, FL.  Ms. Houze was challenged and thoroughly enjoyed working in the hotel industry, she knew that her career would be focused in this industry.  For her entire career in hospitality, now in her thirtieth year,she has been involved in sales efforts, managing sales and catering teams for full-service hotels, golf and resort properties, select service hotels, limited service hotels and extended stay properties.  She spent the majority of her career with Hilton Hotels as the Director of Sales and Catering for the Hilton Atlanta Northwest in Atlanta, GA.  Ms. Houze also had great success working as an Area Sales Director with US Hotel Investors where she was responsible for overseeing the Holiday Inn Select in Decatur, GA, the Hilton Atlanta Northwest, and the Belleview Biltmore Golf Resort  in Clearwater, FL. Ms. Houze has worked with CUSA, LLC as the Corporate Director of Sales and Marketing for over 16 years.

During Ms. Houze’s extensive career in hospitality, she was always actively involved in membership in various leadership and hotel organizations.  She was the President of HSMAI Georgia (Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International) for two years as well as the President of Cobb Executive Women.  She has served as Vice President of Cobb Republican Women.  Ms. Houze also served on the Board of Directors for The Cobb Chamber of Commerce as well as served on the Board of Directors for the Cobb Convention and Visitors Bureau.  She is an active member of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau.  She is also a member of Leadership Cobb and the Honorary Commanders Association in Cobb County, GA.

Ms. Houze currently has oversight of the entire Sales and Marketing team, Directors of Sales and Regional Sales Directors for CUSA Hospitality Management.  Under the direction of Ms. Houze, RevPar average index achievements with CUSA properties have been outstanding and that is reflected in the following current statistics: 2018 index 122.15, 2019 index 130.9, 2020 index 137.5.  For many years she has worked directly with the Revenue Management teams at Hilton, Marriott, IHG, Wyndham and CHOICE Hotels and is a seasoned, highly skilled revenue management partner with expertise in each of their systems and programs.

Holly Forsyth
Regional Director of sales

Holly Forsyth has been with CUSA, LLC. since 2008 as both an on-site Director of Sales and Regional Director of Sales across multiple branded and independent properties.  Mrs. Forsyth utilizes her background in hospitality, customer service, and food & beverage in her Sales and Marketing position with CUSA.  She enjoys creating and executing successful revenue and sales management efforts. Holly’s passion for travel and tourism is one of her strongest assets when working with clients, county chambers, and Convention & Visitor Bureaus alike.

Kathy Frazier-Kenney
Regional Director of Sales

Kathy Kenney is a Florida Native with over 20 years’ experience in the Hospitality Industry. Kathy originally joined CUSA in 2008 and in 2014 as the Director of Sales at the Clarion Suites Maingate at Walt Disney World in Kissimmee, Florida. Prior to CUSA, Kathy held Director of Sales positions within the hospitality industry including full service, limited service, branded and independent hotels as well as local winery.

Her extensive experience with previous roles as Executive Director of Sales and Marketing, Director of Catering and Senior Sales Manager, Sales & Catering Manager, Operations Manager in brands such as Choice Hotels (Clarion Suites, Comfort Suites and Suburban Extended Stay), Sheraton 5 Points, Best Western, Howard Johnsons, Travelodge, and Ramada equips her with valuable skills in all markets.

Kathy’s experience includes developing and executing marketing plans and leveraging brand tools to help analyze and improve optimal revenue growth to include driving revenue through a direct sales effort, tradeshows, maximizing rates and revenues and specifically development of International Markets.

Kathy has always had a passion for hospitality and community collaboration which has led her to a number of volunteer opportunities and to community leadership roles. Kathy works with Government Organizations, County Chambers of Commerce, Destination Management Companies, and Convention and Visitor Bureaus. Kathy volunteers for many nonprofit organizations giving back to the community.

Marsha R. Heard
Regional Director of sales

Marsha began working in hospitality in 1976.  I started my career at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Tallahassee, Florida.  My markets at that time were SMERF and Government.  Since the major industries there were FSU Sports and State Government, I learned a lot very quickly.  Within a few years I had progressed to become a Director of Sales.  A title I have held throughout my career at Hilton, IHG, Wyndham and Choice Hotels.

I have worked with CUSA since January 2015.  I started with the Comfort Suites at the Airport, and as smaller properties came available, I was able to fulfill the function of a Director of Sales in several hotels in the CUSA portfolio.  I currently have four hotels, My Place Hotel, Greenville, SC, Kennesaw Inn, Kennesaw, GA., Microtel Inn & Suites, Woodstock, GA., and Comfort Inn, Demopolis, AL.  These are diverse properties and markets so each one has its own set of challenges which really keep me on my toes.

I am a Georgia native, born in Forsyth, Georgia and raised in Bainbridge, Georgia.  I attended Huntingdon College and Georgia Southwestern as well as independent studies at Florida State University.  Mother of a son Russ, Army Veteran and father of 4 and a daughter Julia, brilliant child who is the mother of one.  I have 7 grandchildren (3 are steps) and 1 great grandson who just arrived late in May.

I love what I do, since no two days are alike and I get to work with great people at CUSA As well as getting to know quite a number of my better clients.

For fun I scuba dive, fly small aircraft and love to read, and spend time with my close friends!!  I live in Cobb County on the Chattahoochee River with my cat, Cece-Silly Cat.