Leslie Hale is set to become the new president and CEO of RLJ Lodging Trust. She will become the first African American female CEO of a REIT.
Hale will take over after the current president and CEO, Ross Bierkan, retires from the company, effective at the end of the term of his existing employment agreement on Aug. 22, 2018.
Hale currently serves as the REIT’s executive vice president, CIO and CFO. RLJ is working with an executive search firm and will make announcements with respect to the roles of CIO and CFO in the near future.
“We have an active and engaged board, and part of our ongoing responsibility is thoughtful succession planning. Through this process, the board determined that Leslie is singularly positioned and is the right person to take RLJ to the next stage. Leslie has done an incredible job as both COO and CFO. She knows our strategy well, and with her deep involvement in both the operational and financial sides of the business, she is uniquely prepared to succeed Ross and lead the company forward. We are confident this leadership succession will be seamless and that Leslie will drive the company’s continued success with an intense focus on maximizing value for our shareholders,” said Robert Johnson, founder and chairman of RLJ Lodging Trust. “Ross has been a key member of the management team at RLJ Lodging Trust and its predecessor company for almost 20 years,” Johnson continued.
Hale joined RLJ Development, the firm’s predecessor, in 2005 as its director of real estate and finance, and was promoted to vice president in 2006. In 2007, she was promoted to CFO and senior vice president and, in 2013, she was promoted to executive vice president. In 2016, she also took on the role of COO, with the added responsibility for management of the company’s operating platform, in addition to overseeing all financial matters.
Prior to Hale’s tenure at RLJ, she held several positions of increasing responsibility within General Electric Capital Corp., including vice president in the mergers and acquisitions group of GE Commercial Finance, and associate director in the strategic capital group of GE Real Estate. Before GE, Hale was an investment banker at Goldman, Sachs & Co.