The women and men listed here represent some of the key players in the hospitality sector, which we’ve broadly defined to cover arts, entertainment, food service, lodging, recreation and tourism. The names come from our own news staff, peer recommendations and public nominations—a long list, which was peer reviewed and culled to create the list that follows. For a variety of reasons, three individuals who made the final list are not depicted here; they are: Chris Ratay, director of marketing at the Omni-Severin Hotel; Stephanie Schulz, director of conventions and meetings at the NCAA; and Bruce White, president and CEO of White Lodging.
John A. Herbst, 58
President and CEO
Indiana Historical Society
Appointed to lead the Indiana Historical Society in 2006, John Herbst came to the position with more than three decades of experience as an educator, curator and exhibit specialist. Since taking the helm, he has led an ambitious campaign to raise funds to make the history center a more interactive, experiential destination. Under Herbst’s vision and direction, the IHS designed and opened the award-winning Indiana Experience in 2010. The interactive Indiana Experience exhibits use innovative technology to bring two-dimensional photographs to life and have enlivened the IHS.
Herbst began his career as a high school teacher in Paterson, N.J. He jumped from teaching to being curator of the Paterson Museum, serving as education director at the New Jersey Historical Society, and leading the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. He moved to Indiana to become president of Conner Prairie, where he implemented major changes and led the museum’s separation from Earlham College during his five-year stint. After leaving Conner Prairie and before his move to the IHS, Herbst was president and CEO of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites.
Currently, Herbst serves on the boards of Crown Hill Cemetery Foundation, the Rivers Institute of Hanover College and the Association of Midwest Museums. He has also served on the boards of the American Association for State and Local History, the Indiana Tourism Council, the Mid-Atlantic Museum Association, among many other organizations.
Herbst’s avocation is gardening and he tends an award-winning garden surrounding his 1890 home in downtown Indianapolis. The garden has been featured in several publications, including Better Homes and Gardens: Garden Design and Outdoor Living. He has one son.
Cynthia Hoye, 53
Indiana State Fair Commission
In her position, Cynthia Hoye overseesoperations of year-round activities at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Under Hoye’s leadership, operations have been streamlined; visitor and employee safety has been improved; the facilities have been upgraded; and year-round educational opportunities have been created. Hoye oversaw the 150th anniversary of the state fair and created the featured commodity concept, in which each year celebrates an aspect of Indiana agriculture—2010 was the year of pigs and 2011 is the year of soybeans. The fairgrounds are open every day of the year, hosting a variety of events and exhibitions, attended by more than 2.1 million visitors.
Hoye has become a national leader in the fair industry and recently chaired the board of the International Association of Fairs and Expositions. Hoye speaks to fair organizations across the country about their responsibility to educate consumers from “farm gate to dinner plate.” She is recipient of the Certified Fair Executive Award.
In her youth, Hoye spent many summers participating at the Indiana State Fair as a 4-H member and became hooked on the fair business while working as an intern for the Texas State Fair and a county fair in Wisconsin. Before accepting a position as marketing director of the Indiana State Fair in 1988, Hoye was special events director for the Wisconsin State Fair.
Lyle Gene Huddleson II, 50
Detail + Design
Gene Huddleson has been in the event-planning industry more than 20 years, beginning his career in Los Angeles, where he spent a decade in special events. He has also worked in New York and Europe, absorbing many styles and techniques along the way. He founded his Indianapolis company in 1997 as a floral and design company, and in 2003, he expanded it to become a full-service event, wedding coordination, floral and décor company. In 2004, he added residential interior and exterior décor to his repertoire. His work has added flair to many high-profile events, including the February grand opening of the JW Marriott.
For the 1995-1996 holiday season, Huddleson was chosen to be a holiday designer for the vice president’s residence in Washington, D.C., which he considers a highlight of his career. He regularly speaks on events and event planning throughout the community, including regular appearances on the WXIN-TV Channel 59 morning show. His work has garnered national and local awards for events such as the Emmis Grand Opening, the Dale Chihuly exhibit opening at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and Rolls Royce corporate events. He is past president of the Indiana chapter of the International Special Events Society. Through his company, Huddleson donates $16,000 to $20,000 annually in time and floral design to a variety of charities, including most recently the Pink Tie Ball for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Craig S. Huse, 40
St. Elmo Steak House and Harry & Izzy’s Restaurant
Craig Huse partnered with his father, Steve Huse, in 1997, in running St. Elmo Steak House, founded in 1902, and Huse today oversees that restaurant and the company’s other restaurants. Harry & Izzy’s, named after earlier owners of St. Elmo’s, opened in 2007, and an airport location opened in 2009; the company plans to open a third location on Indianapolis’ north side in November 2011.
In addition to running St. Elmo’s and Harry & Izzy’s, Huse is partner in 26 Arby’s Restaurant franchises operating in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Iowa and a partner in Heartland Investment, a real-estate investment company.
Huse is actively involved in the community, serving on the boards of the Indiana Restaurant Association and the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association. He is on the development board of Riley Hospital for Children and is a member of the executive committee of Young Presidents Organization, Indiana Chapter. His past board memberships include the Capital Improvement Board, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, IUPUI Tourism Conventions and Management education program and the Downtown Indianapolis Chapter of the Indiana Restaurant Association, where he also served as president. He served as co-chairman for the inaugural U.S. Grand Prix Formula One race in 2000.
Huse launched into the restaurant business at age 14, as a dishwasher at Poor Richard’s Restaurant in Bloomington. He has also worked at Houston’s Restaurant in Washington, D.C., and Checkers in Indiana. Huse and his wife, Jill, have two children. Among other interests he pursues, Huse is a private pilot.
Ann Lathrop, 42
Crowe Horwath LLP
Although Ann Lathrop’s resume chronicles more than 20 years of experience in both the private and public sectors, she managed to maintain a fairly low profile until she became president of the Marion County Capital Improvement Board in January 2010, after two years as the board’s treasurer. Lathrop took the helm as the organization was on center stage for its deficit crisis. Working with the city and CIB’s various stakeholders, Lathrop and the board have found a path to firmer financial standing and, at the end of 2010, CIB was in much better shape than had been projected. Lathrop is the first woman to become board president of CIB, which operates the Indiana Convention Center, Lucas Oil Stadium, Conseco Fieldhouse, Victory Field, Virginia Avenue Parking Garage and Capitol Commons.
Lathrop, a certified public accountant, leads the market development and sales group for Crowe, which is responsible for marketing strategy, advertising, branding, Web development, social media strategies, publishing, marketing execution, lead generation, inside sales, proposal development and field sales compensation management. Lathrop is also an executive member of Crowe Relationship Management.
Lathrop has been active in the public sector since 1991. Beyond her current position with the Capital Improvement Board, she is president of the Fort Harrison Reuse Authority and is a member of the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association board.
Lathrop was also the first woman named controller for the city of Indianapolis, an appointment made in 1997; she had served as deputy controller before that. Lathrop was part of Mayor Greg Ballard’s transition team and led a fiscal review for the city after Ballard’s election in 2007. She has also served as the chief financial officer for the Department of Metropolitan Development.