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Leland Pillsbury ’82 MBA

Founder, Co-Chairman, and CEO, Thayer Lodging Group, Inc.

Leland C. “Lee” Pillsbury co-founded Thayer Lodging Group in 1991. Thayer’s 18-year track record places it in the top five percent of all institutional real estate fund sponsors. After liquidating 85% of its portfolio from 2005 to 2007, Thayer closed its largest investment fund in 2009, and executed a $200 million joint venture agreement with Jin Jiang Corporation of China. The company recently completed the acquisition of Interstate Hotels and Resorts, the largest independent hotel and resort operator in the world.

Prior to launching Thayer, Pillsbury spent 19 years at Marriott, where he became an executive vice president and corporate officer. While with Marriott, he revamped Marriott’s pricing strategies, created the industry’s first revenue and yield management and led the company’s entry into time sharing, Fairfield Inns and Residence Inns. Since leaving Marriott, he has played a major role in the launch of numerous new companies, including internet services provider TIG Global, Chinese central reservations system innovator HUBS1 Capton Beverage Management Systems and PURE Rooms Company, providing hypoallergenic guest rooms. He serves as senior advisor to Quest Hospitality Ventures, a hospitality industry focused private equity fund, and as a board member at several other startups.

Pillsbury is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, from which he received an MBA in 1982. Kellogg recognized him with the 2009 Schaffner Award, recognizing his professional achievements and contributions to the school.

Pillsbury is a member of the Cornell University board of trustees, vice chairman of the investment committee that oversees Cornell’s $5.2 billion endowment and a member of several other standing committees of the board. With his wife, he endowed the Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship at the Cornell Nolan School of Hotel Administration. Pillsbury has recently been named a Frank H.T. Rhodes Class of 1956 Visiting Scholar and lectures frequently at Cornell’s seven undergraduate schools and the Johnson Graduate School of Business.

He received the 2010 Pioneer Award from the International Society of Hospitality Consultants, recognizing his dynamic contributions in the hospitality industry.

Pillsbury is a member of the New York Yacht Club, the Ocean Reef Club, the National Business Aircraft Owners Association and numerous industry associations and organizations. He and his wife of 41 years, Mary Pillsbury, are both jet pilots and fly their own eight-seat business jet. They hold the record as the first husband and wife pilot team to fly a single engine airplane across the North Atlantic.
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