Lancellotti named new CEO of N.J. Restaurant & Hospitality Association

Dana Lancellotti, the current director of business development and tourism in Ocean County, has been named the new CEO and president of the New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association.

Lancellotti, who will assume the role March 29, replaces Marilou Halvorsen, who is leaving to join the American Hotel & Lodging Association as vice president of state relations and government affairs.

Lancellotti paid tribute to Halvorsen.

“Marilou has been a tremendous leader and a tireless force for the industry from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to the most challenging year for our industry,” she said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to work for the NJRHA members and continue her mission.

“Restaurants, hotels and tourism are vital to the New Jersey economy. The NJRHA is poised to lead the industry forward towards a successful recovery.”

The NJRHA is the state’s leading hospitality industry, representing over 25,000 restaurants, 1,500 hotels as well as numerous bowling alleys, amusement parks and more. The industry is the state’s largest private-sector employer, employing over 500,000 people.

Marilou Halvorsen. (File photo)

The search for a replacement took approximately a month. Halvorsen said she was glad the group landed on Lancellotti.

“I’ve known Dana for over 20 years and am so pleased to see her take the reins,” she said. “She will do a tremendous job for the association and its members.”

Halvorsen said it is a key time for the organization.

“The restaurant industry has been devastated by the pandemic, with over 37% of restaurants either permanently or temporarily shuttered,” she said. “Strong leadership is critical at this time.”

NJRHA Chairman Bhavesh Patel praised Halvorsen while welcoming Lancellotti.

“On behalf of myself and the NJRHA board, we thank Marilou for the 8½ years she served as president and CEO of the NJRHA,” he said. “She has been our leading voice for the hospitality industry, especially this last year. She is a true champion for the industry and will greatly be missed.

“We welcome Dana to the NJRHA. Her vast background in tourism, hospitality and marketing will help the association move forward in such a crucial time.”