Teens graduate from new Hilton Leadership Program

Rockwall Boys & Girls Club teens earn the finer points of hospitality 


Top row, from left: Jordan Paul, Caroline Willson, Morgan Chance, Michael Duarte, Eric Phillips, Preston Norman, Justin Pierson, William Reis; Front row, from left: Misti Potter, Director of Boys and Girls Club; Karen Coughlin, Hotel Manager; Rockwall Mayor David Sweet; Sara Whittle; Stephan Straughan, Chairman of Boys and Girls Club; Stephan Larson, Programs Manager of Boys and Girls Club.

(Rockwall) August 13, 2012 – Twenty-five  teenagers from the Boys & Girls Club of Rockwall graduated from hospitality programs this summer, Sara Whittle, Owner, Hilton Bella Harbor Dallas/Rockwall Lakefront recently announced.

Rockwall Mayor David Sweet presented a proclamation declaring August 7 “Hilton Leadership Day.”

The newly formed Hilton Leadership Program will further the reach and scope of the Boys & Girls Club in Rockwall and is designed to promote interest and experience in hospitality to the youth of Rockwall.

The 10-week course began in June and included instruction in all areas of hotel management. The lessons were presented in a classroom setting at the Boys & Girls Club facility by the management team. Students were given a mid-term hands-on experience with a field trip to the hotel and each student received a star-studded ride by limo to the celebration compliments of Alfonso Ramirez and Victor Ventura With Concord Limousines.

“Through hands-on training and hotel staff integration, the teens of Rockwall learned the finer points of hospitality. We also introduced a point system within the program that will allow high point ranking students the opportunity to intern at our hotel the summer between their junior and senior years,” said Karen Coughlin, Hotel Manager of Hilton Bella Harbor and HLP hotel contact. “We are honored to work with the Boys & Girls Club and look forward to a long-standing relationship.”

She added that the hotel has made student interns a part of daily operations since opening as a goal at Hilton Dallas/Rockwall Lakefront and has always had a strong commitment to the youth of Rockwall.

Misti Potter, Chief Professional Officer of the Boys & Girls Club, congratulated the first class and complimented Hilton Bella Harbors management team for being the first to bring this new summer program to the club. It has created an interest by other companies to step up and support the efforts of the Rockwall B&G Club to expand the program for the older youth of the community.

“This program is an integral piece to establishing teen programs and benefits that will entice Rockwall County high school students to attend the Club and take part in other activities such as the Keystone Leadership program, ClubService, which helps youth earn college scholarship money and more. We are ecstatic to have this opportunity and to be able to offer the Hilton Leadership Program to our teens. Karen Coughlin and Sarah Whittle are wonderful women who reached out to the Club with this incredible idea and it has such potential that we hope this model is scalable and that other Rockwall companies will consider sharing their professional expertise with our members in the future as well,” said Potter.

“This has been a dream of Sara Whittle’s for quite some time. She is extremely proud that she is able to use her hotel as a prototype for something that can make a positive influence on these children,” said Coughlin added.

Story and photo submitted by Karyn Kreps-Frisina, Gateway Hospitality Group. To submit your news and events, email .

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