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MDC Launches Hospitality Institute Offering Customer Service Training and Job Opportunities to Inner City Residents

Hospitality Institute.

MDC's new Hospitality Insitute at the Greater Bethel A.M.E. church provides training and job opportunities to inner city residents.

Miami, February 16, 2009 - Last fall, Miami Dade College’s (MDC) School of Business launched its new Center for Service Excellence (CSE) at the annual meeting of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau aimed at providing customer service training to the region’s businesses and business organizations. Now, MDC has launched the Hospitality Institute within the CSE to specifically connect job opportunities in the local hospitality industry with Miami’s inner city residents through customer service and job readiness training.

The Hospitality Institute is housed at the Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church in the historic Overtown neighborhood of Miami. It was first established in January 2008 and became part of MDC last fall. Trainers from Miami Dade College, together with hospitality employers, the Greater Miami Visitors and Convention Bureau, and motivational speakers, provide instruction regarding customer service, successfully completing job applications and interviews, tips on appearance, keys to successful employment, how to access further education and other important subjects. Former graduates who are success stories also return to speak to new students. The trailblazing initiative is truly unique because it offers a full spectrum of services to the students that make them job ready including the aforementioned training, a certificate of completion, gift certificates for professional attire from an area thrift store and job placement services. Most of the students are formerly homeless or have had brushes with the law, but are committed to reentering the workforce and contributing to the community.

Through the Institute, many of the region’s top tourism and hospitality employers are providing job opportunities to the program’s students including the Doubletree Grand Hotel, Doubletree Coconut Grove, Doubletree Surfcomber, Hilton Airport, Conrad Hilton, Hilton Bentley, Hyatt Miami, Embassy Suites Miami Airport, Loews Hotel Miami Beach, Marriott Biscayne Bay, The Continental Group, Jungle Island, Tecton Hospitality, Holiday Inn, Miami to Go, Goldman Properties, the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, and the Miami Heat.

Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, along with her colleagues on the City Commission, have been strong supporters of the Institute.

The next training session is scheduled for Feb. 23 and 24 at the Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church. A graduation ceremony and job fair will take place Feb. 26. The media is encouraged to attend these sessions. Some of the discussions in the training sessions include Creating a Professional Image, Professional Interview Training, Delivering Quality Guest Services, Basic Computer Training, Applying for Jobs Online and many other helpful workshops aimed at helping students gain quality employment.

The Institute’s director is Jeanne Westphal who brings four decades of experience to the program. The dynamic tourism, hospitality and public relations professional has worked for major chambers of commerce, tourism bureaus, and for the Carter Administration where she served as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Travel and Tourism. She is a graduate of New York School of Interior Design.

For more information regarding the Hospitality Institute and to attend (as a member of the media) an upcoming training session, please contact Jeanne Westphal at 305-329-2845 or at

For more information regarding MDC’s School of Business, please contact Ivan Figueroa, chair of the School of Business – Kendall Campus, at 305-237-0684 or

Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director
Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, media specialist
Tarnell Carroll, 305-237-3359,, media specialist
Alejandro Rios, 305-237-7482,

Miami Dade College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.
Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Miami Dade College.
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Contact the Office of Director, Equal Opportunity Programs, ADA and Title IX Coordinator, at 305.237.2577 for assistance.