Miami Beach Trailblazer Jeanne Westphal Passes

Jeanne Westphal was a strong leader and trailblazer who was well known and respected throughout the tourism and hospitality industry. Her positive impact on the lives of thousands of people during her 85 years of life is testament to her passion and determination. She had a long career in providing administrative, marketing and organizational expertise to federal, county and state agencies and private sector companies throughout Florida, New York and Arizona, as well as international and non-profit organizations in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Washington, D.C.

Since 1966, Jeanne was a founding member of the Society of American Travel Writers, the premier organization of travel communicators including media relations professionals. She served the Society and its members in numerous capacities and was honored with its Marco Polo Award for extraordinary service.

From 1977-80 she was a member of the Carter Administration serving as the first woman Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Tourism directing the marketing efforts of the US Travel and Tourism Administration to promote tourism to the US from offices in Europe, Latin America, Mexico, Canada and Japan.

She served as Director of Tourism for Miami- Dade County from 1983-86 and helped establish the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. She organized the first international cultural tourism conference to highlight the cultural attractions of Miami-Dade County. Today Miami is one of the top destinations in the world, and Jeanne was an important part of that.

In 1987, she created a partnership between Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the American Express Philanthropic Foundation to establish the Academy of Hospitality & Tourism in Miami Springs Senior High School as a pilot program to help inner city students consider the tourism industry as a career path. The program is now in over 100 high schools throughout the U.S. and 14 high schools throughout Miami-Dade County. Jeanne continued to serve as a very active Advisory Board member until her passing.

She was the Director of The Hospitality Institute, a program of the Miami-Dade College International Hospitality Center from Jan 2008 – Dec 2010; a job training program, located in Overtown, to assist residents of this underserved area of Miami to obtain jobs in the hospitality and tourism industry. That program continues to flourish giving hope and opportunity to its graduates.

In 2011, she served as a consultant to Miami- Dade County Public Schools as the summer internship coordinator for the four themed National Academy Foundation programs – Finance, Hospitality & Tourism, Information Technology and Engineering. She placed over 300 high school students with employers throughout the business community.

In 2012, she served as a consultant to the Learning Skills for Life Job Training Program of Florida International University to place graduates in jobs in the hospitality industry in Miami Dade and Broward Counties. Again giving job opportunities to an underserved community.

In 2013, she joined the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind & Visually Impaired as the Job Developer to place the graduates of the MLB Job Readiness Training Program in position with various employers throughout Miami.

Often as the first woman, Jeanne held management positions in a number of US and internationally based public and private sector organizations including the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, D.C.; the US Travel Service of the US Department of Commerce in Bogotá, Colombia; the Eastern Caribbean Tourism Association (6 Caribbean Islands); VARIG – Brazilian Airlines in New York City and Lima, Peru; The National Academy Foundation, New York City; and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. She also provided consulting services to the World Bank, the World Tourism Organization, the Arizona Office of Tourism, the Arizona Humanities Council, the Arizona Tourism Alliance, the Western States Tourism Policy Council, the Miami-Dade Schools of Choice, The National Career Academy Coalition, the Miami Beach Chamber, the City of Hollywood, Florida, the Seminole Tribe of Florida and a number of private sector tourism industry clients worldwide.

Jeanne received numerous awards for her achievements in the promotion of tourism to and from the US worldwide. She was a member of many industry and community organizations including serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the Fort Apache Heritage Foundation on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona; Florida Schools of Choice; the WLRN Community Advisory Board; the Miami Woman’s Club; South x Southeast, Miami Council for International Visitors and was a life member of the Society of American Travel Writers.

Just a month before her passing, Jeanne worked with the Florida Veterans Foundation to organize a 3 day event for homeless veterans to assist with job training and placement. Being in her 80’s didn’t slow her down one bit! She was tireless in her determination to give job opportunities to the “least of these”. She didn’t wear her faith on her sleeve, but she definitely lived the words of her faith!

Before she passed, she knew the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Assoc of Miami Dade County had established the Jeanne Westphal Memorial Scholarship Fund in her honor, which made her very happy! It will be used to award scholarships to Miami high school students in the Academy of Hospitality & Tourism programs.

Rest in Peace dear Jeanne! Your extraordinary life will never be forgotten by the thousands you touched, and your legacy will live on!

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