Gerry Fernandez is the founder and president of the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance (MFHA), a non-profit organization promoting the economic benefits of diversity and inclusion in the restaurant, foodservice and lodging industries.  Gerry founded MFHA while employed as a National Account Manager, Foodservice Sales with General Mills, Inc. in Minneapolis in 1996.

Gerry began his career with General Mills in 1992 in research and development. Prior to joining General Mills, Gerry spent more than 10 years as a senior manager opening and operating fine dining restaurants including The Capital Grille, Hemenway’s Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar and The Old Grist Mill Tavern for RARE Hospitality, Inc., now owned by Darden Restaurants.

Gerry is currently a trustee of Johnson & Wales University, a member of the board of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and an industry representative for the National Restaurant Association. Gerry conducts lectures and workshops for some of America’s most powerful companies, organizations and brands.

He is an active member of the Women’s Foodservice Forum, the American Culinary Federation, Meeting Professionals International, The American Society of Association Executives, and is a founding member of the Research Chefs Association.  Gerry is a Life Member of the NAACP, a member of The Women Chefs & Restaurateurs Association, the National Council of La Raza, and the National Association of Black Meeting Planners.

Some of Gerry’s awards include the National Center for Fathers, Fathering Hall of Fame in 1996, and the 1997 General Mills “Champion’s Award.”  He was the recipient of the first MFHA Ernest Henry Royal “Pioneer Award” and was also named a “Rising Star” by Restaurant Hospitality Magazine in 1998.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Foodservice Management from Johnson & Wales University where he also earned a Culinary Arts degree in 1976. He received an honorary doctorate in Business Administration from Johnson & Wales University in 1999. Gerry is married, has two sons, six grandchildren and lives with his wife, Debra (Jackson) in Warwick, Rhode Island.

Awards & Recognition

  • Sullivan College’s National Center for Culinary Arts, Advisory Board, 1995 – Present
  • Urban Ventures Leadership Foundation, Minneapolis, MN, Board Member, 1996 – 2000
  • National Job Corps Association’s “Alpha Award,” 1999
  • Hermann G. Rusch Humanitarian Award from the American Culinary Federation, 1999
  • One of  Nation’s Restaurant News “50 Power Players,” January 2000
  • Recognized by Lodging Magazine as one of the 75 Profiles in Leadership, August 2001
  • The Black Culinary Alliance Heritage Award, 2002
  • Rhode Island Hospitality & Tourism Association Chairman’s Award, 2003
  • Rainbow/P.U.S.H. Coalition’s Reginald Lewis Trailblazer Award, 2004
  • Cracker Barrel Old Country Store’s Inaugural “Pleasing People Award,” 2004
  • Nation’s Restaurant News Innovator Award for founding MFHA, 2007
  • APEX Award for Distinguished Service by Black Meetings & Tourism Magazine, 2008
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