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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Meet Leslie Hale -- The First Black Woman CEO to Ever Run a $1.2 Billion Real Estate Investment Trust

Leslie Hale, CEO of RLJ Lodging Trust Fund
Leslie Hale will soon be the next CEO of RLJ Lodging Trust, becoming the first African-American woman to lead a real estate investment trust. With an impressive work background in other prestigious companies and RLJ itself, there is no other better choice than Leslie to lead the $1.2 billion company.
Since 2013, Hale has been taking on dual roles of the CFO and COO as a part of RLJ, one of the largest publicly-traded lodging Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) in the United States. The company, which made $1.2 billion profit last year, was included in the Fortune 1000 companies.

Hale is expected to replace current CEO Ross Bierkan after his retirement and expiration of his employment agreement on August 22. Hale will continue what Bierkan started -- integration with its most recent acquisition, FelCor Lodging Trust that the company acquired in September in an all-stock deal worth $1.02 billion.

In a statement, Bierkan mentioned some of the company's proud moments during his tenure. "We are well on our way to achieving our key objectives this year, and with this backdrop, now is the right time for me to retire and celebrate the next generation of leadership at RLJ Lodging Trust," he said.

"The Company could not ask for a better choice than Leslie, who has an intimate knowledge of both our Company and the industry, and has demonstrated remarkable leadership qualities in her roles as COO and CFO. I look forward to supporting Leslie and the entire team to ensure a smooth transition," Bierkan continued.

In 2005, Hale joined RLJ Development LLC as the director of Real Estate and Finance. Almost every year, she gets promoted -- from vice president to chief financial officer and senior vice president until she became executive vice president in 2013. In 2016, she was also given the responsibility as the COO to manage the company's operating platform aside from overseeing its financial matters.

Hale graduated summa cum laude with her finance degree from Howard University in 1994 and earned her business masters from Harvard Business School in 2001. Before RLJ, Hale has worked with other prestigious companies such as General Electric Capital Corp., Goldman, Sachs & Co., and Macy's Inc.

Robert L. Johnson, founder and chairman of RLJ Lodging Trust, puts all his trust to Hale's capabilities. He said in a statement, "We are confident this leadership succession will be seamless and that Leslie will drive the Company’s continued success with an intense focus on maximizing value for our shareholders."

For more details about RLJ Lodging Trust, visit

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