The Academy for Hospitality Arts is seated in the belief that exceptional service starts with intentional planning. With 130 years of combined experience across an array of settings– including hotels, restaurants, county clubs, fine dining, and entertainment complexes–we are the heartbeat of hospitality. Our mission is to educate, enrich and inspire hospitality professionals leveraging our collective knowledge managing more than 10,000 events across the globe.
AHA President and Founder Michael J. DiPeri continuously leverages his 38+ years of experience to educate, enrich, and inspire hospitality professionals. Following a series of sales and service roles, Michael created an event resource company in 1997, Yipeee, Inc. Establishing his own business enabled him to pour his experience into consulting, staffing, and event management services for industry leaders and celebrity chefs. Since then, he has successfully launched an enterprise event software and premier event staffing company.
From developing groundbreaking training programs to leading multi-day trainings for 1000+ students, Michael is dedicated to helping those around him exceed expectations. He is a graduate of Farmingdale State College SUNY in Long Island.
Richard Hawk's 30+ year career is seated in safety and service excellence. A graduate of the University of Iowa, his portfolio includes more than 4,000 events and roles such as event captain, event planner, and director of service. Noteworthy professional experiences include serving dignitaries such as President Clinton, President Obama and Mikhail Gorbachev.
As Corporate Captain at AHA, Richard continuously invests in learning opportunities to elevate course content and training concepts for students. He recently completed more than a dozen certifications, including COVID-19 food handling, hospitality leadership, DE&I communications, COVID-19 safety, and contact tracing and dining precautions.
Stephen Ruggieri is an accomplished event manager and training leader with 25 years of career experience. Focused on business and development, Stephen has pursued various roles to nurture his passion, including positions in event planning and production, training and development, and serving as head of hospitality for Bloomberg L.P. He is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island.
Stephen's career highlights include serving the Dali Lama, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Donna Karen, Dianna Ross, Dolce & Gabbana, Diane von Fürstenberg, Giorgio Armani, and working on the grand opening of Atlantis in Dubai. He currently serves as Director of Training and Development for AHA, where he leverages his background to create accessible learning frameworks that instill compassion and confidence in hospitality professionals.