Kris Ullmer, ALP Co-CEO
The Association of Lodging Professionals is the new organization formed by the merger on January 1, 2020 of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) and the Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals (AIHP). As the CEO of PAII since March 2015, she is delighted to now have the opportunity to choose the best of each association to build one awesome nation-wide organization! Previously, Kris spent 20 years as the Administrator of the Wisconsin Bed & Breakfast Association (WBBA), Just as innkeepers strive to exceed guest expectations, it’s been her priority to deliver outstanding service to the association and personal attention to the members.
ALP, with a membership of lodging professionals / innkeepers, future hospitality professionals, interim innkeepers, industry consultants and Allied (vendor) Partners, presents an annual Conference and MarketPlace, with the next event in Baltimore in 2021. Members look to ALP as the indispensable source of information year 'round on innkeeping/lodging trends, products, and services, which are conveniently delivered by e-publications and webinars.
Working independently or with members, volunteers, committees, and a Board of Directors are association management essentials that Kris brings to ALP. Her membership in ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) and the Wisconsin affiliate provided education on association management best practices. Kris’ record of developing and delivering opportunities and programs of value to association members is balanced with fiscal responsibility.
In 1987, Kris and Randy (spouse) opened the first B&B in Merrill (located in central Wisconsin) and they enjoyed innkeeping for 10 years. Upon immediately joining the new state B&B association, Kris volunteered to serve on the newly formed Standards Committee, charged with developing the inspection program. A few years later she became the Membership Coordinator and with the rapid growth of the membership, the association leaders identified the need for a director to manage the association; Kris was hired in 1995. Within 2 years she encountered a WI law that prohibited any additions to an historic B&B – her home - which required her to surrender her B&B license in order to construct an addition to house an office. And, eventually, that law was eliminated by her and the association’s legislative efforts.
When out of the office, Kris is an avid X-C skier, and is of the opinion that Wisconsin winters - with ski-able snow - are not long enough. Other seasons find her biking, shooting pistol and shotgun sports, and teaching / coaching Women & Youth shooting programs and most recently a beginner shooting class for the UW.
Rob Fulton, ALP Co-CEO
After 20 plus years working in the travel and tourism industry in Pennsylvania, Rob accepted the position as CEO of what was then the newly formed Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals (AIHP) in January of 2016.
In January of 2020, the two national associations merged to create one larger association called the Association of Lodging Professionals (ALP). ALP will provide our members and industry with a strong, unified voice, more capabilities to offer enhanced member benefits, and an advocacy voice that will elevate our industry’s impact on important legislative and regulatory issues. Rob is serving as Co-CEO along with Kris Ullmer. They will share strategic duties, lead operational responsibilities, and create the vision for the new association as the leadership team.
Rob is a native of Calgary, Alberta, Canada and has lived all over the US. Rob is a graduate of Penn State’s Pennsylvania Leadership Program. He currently resides in the Hershey, PA area with his wife Kelly and son Dean, and is a huge fan of the sitcom Seinfeld.
Debbie Anderson, Membership Coordinator
Debbie comes to the position of Membership Coordinator after a 33-year career at Purdue University—the last 15 years as the freshman and sophomore Biology (majors) lab coordinator. Ask her about her job description and it will sound remarkably like the job description of most innkeepers—she did whatever it took to keep the labs running smoothly each day. Some days, she’d likely tell you that she spent her days as a glorified maid, picking up after hundreds of teenagers each day. Some days herding cats for a living sounded like a great alternative career.
Most people that know Debbie well also know that she can rarely be found sitting around ‘doing nothing’. In 2003 she and her husband John founded Victorian House Scones, LLC—a small company which manufactures scone, biscuit, muffin, pancake, and shortbread cookie mixes. The company began with a few scone mixes—and over the years the other mix types have slowly been added to their product list. Debbie still does all the manufacturing, with the help of one part-time assistant, and John is her chief guinea pig and Sherpa.
So how did she come to be part of ALP? The first year they were in business, they tucked a few mixes into the back of the car and took off for a long weekend at a friend’s house on Lake Michigan. While there, Debbie called a local B&B and asked if she could stop by to talk—and offered the innkeeper a selection of her scone mixes. That innkeeper referred her to another Michigan inn which was on their route home. Those innkeepers became her first wholesale customers—and remained customers as long as they stayed in the innkeeping business.
How did I come to ALP?
We always believed our little scone business was a good fit with the B&B industry. As we began to acquire some customers within the industry and learn more about the B&B industry, we began to understand the hierarchy of the local, state and national organizations, and the importance of working with these organizations. It quickly became apparent that we couldn’t afford to join every state organization as a vendor member—so we made the decision early on to join the national organization, and thus became members of PAII (now ALP) in 2006.
When Kris became Executive Director, I told her that if she needed any help I’d be happy to do what I could. Generating a list grew into creating a spread sheet—which grew into developing a comprehensive list of all the B&B’s state by state—which then grew into making a few phone calls—which has since culminated in having my very own PAII (now ALP) email address and the title of Membership Coordinator
Patricia Bierma, Association Coordinator
Patty has been with AIHP (now ALP) since January 2016, starting as the association's part-time bookkeeper. As of January 2019, she accepted the Association Coordinator position. She has been in the finance field for over 24 years and worked with Rob at the Pennsylvania Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus for five years. It was at this point that she developed a passion for travel and tourism. Together with her husband, of over ten years, Jerry, they have four adult children and six wonderful grandchildren!
Currently, Patty lives in Pennsylvania and you can usually find her enjoying the outdoors. Whether it is around the fire pit with friends or just relaxing and taking in all the wildlife.
Heather Turner, Marketing Director
Heather Turner a.k.a. Forfeng is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has spent more than 20 years in the restaurant business. She trained under one of the PBS Series “Great Chefs of America,” Chef Yves Labbe at 4-Star acclaimed restaurant, Le Cheval D’or, and has been the Executive Chef at Bellini’s Restaurant, The Cliff House at Stowe Mt. Resort and Harvest Market in Northern Vermont and at The Olde Inn on Cape Cod. She has worked in marketing for the last 16 years working primarily with the innkeeping industry. She runs her own social media training business Forfeng Designs & Media that she started in 2003. She writes a hospitality blog at http://forfengdesigns.com/chef-forfengs-blog/ and is a member of Toastmasters International, as well as being a keynote and educational speaker at associations and conferences around the United States. She is also a certified SCORE small business counselor.
Erik Spence, Conference Planner and Trade Show Coordinator
Erik Spence, Erik is a native of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management from the Pennsylvania State University in 1992. Shortly after college, he entered his management career with Chi Chi’s Mexican Restaurant, earning promotions within two years to Executive Chef, and then promoted to Assistant General Manager.
With his skill and ability to work with others, Erik became part of the Corporate Training Team to open new restaurants in the Pittsburgh region for this established chain. Erik then expanded his hospitality experience by moving to central West Virginia, where he was hired as the Assistant General Manager at Garfield’s Restaurant and Pub to oversee staff training, advertising and marketing, instituting cost control measures, and improving guest experiences. Later, while still living in West Virginia, Erik was hired by Stonewall Resort and Conference Center, a Four Diamond AAA Award Winner. As the General Manager of Stillwater’s Restaurant and TJ Muskie’s Lounge, their premier food and beverage outlets, he oversaw restaurant and lounge operations and worked side by side with banquet and conference teams, and sales department personnel. Later, he assisted in the opening and management training for two more dining venues at the resort, one being the Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course’s Clubhouse Restaurant, and the second a dinner excursion yacht.
In late 2004, Erik moved to Northeast Missouri and was hired at the Garth Mansion Bed and Breakfast for their newest addition, The Woodside Restaurant. After just four months, he was promoted to Restaurant Manager and six months later became their Executive Chef, creating elegant six course daily features, preparing wine lists and training restaurant staff. Erik also served as the Wedding Planner and Events Coordinator at the Garth Mansion. In 2011, he was hired by the Historic Hannibal Marketing Council, a not for profit organization, as the Director of the Twain on Main Festival. Erik held this position for the past five years, and each year the springtime arts and crafts festival continued to grow and flourish, bringing ever increasing tourism to the city of Hannibal, Missouri.
His one-on-one personal approach, willingness to go the extra mile, and innovative approach to festival planning with interactive mapping and web page design, consistently brought a high vendor return rate. In 2012, Erik began specializing in business functions, weddings, festival planning, and event consultations, building a solid reputation with his clients through past experience, honesty, integrity and dedication as the benchmarks for his success.
Erik has been married for 23 years to his wife Sandra, who is also from Northeast Pennsylvania. Together, they have two daughters who are active in community events and school programs.