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Gerry Live!

As President and Founder, Gerald “Gerry” A. Fernandez is the “voice” of MFHA. A man of vision, dedication and passion, Gerry is an engaging and energetic speaker who practices “straight talk” about cultural fluency and provides business-building insights.


Book Gerry 

Who is Gerry?

Bring Gerry’s passion for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to your conferences and meetings.

A sought after DEI expert and motivational speaker, Gerry can speak on a range of topics, including the latest industry trends on DEI and the “Business Case for Cultural Intelligence.”

MFHA History

With more than 35 years in the industry, Gerry has held leadership positions with several well-known brands including The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Hemenway’s Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar, The Capital Grille and General Mills.

Gerry’s career-altering moment happened while still employed as a National Account Manager for General Mills. While at the Women’s Foodservice Forum in 1995, he had the idea for MFHA. “I thought, if there is a need for a group to promote opportunities for women, then there ought to be a group to promote opportunities for minorities.” 

Just a year later, MFHA became the first organization to bring about a national discussion on diversity leadership in the foodservice and hospitality industry.

Awards & Recognitions

  • Nation’s Restaurant News “The Power List: 50 Power Players Top Catalysts” 
  • American Culinary Federation: Hermann G. Rusch Humanitarian Award
  • Nation’s Restaurant News “50 Power Players”
  • Lodging Magazine “75 Profiles in Leadership”
  • The Black Culinary Alliance: Heritage Award
  • Rainbow/P.U.S.H. Coalition: Reginald Lewis Trailblazer Award
  • Nation’s Restaurant News Innovator Award
  • Black Meetings & Tourism: APEX Award for Distinguished Service



A former Trustee of Johnson & Wales University, Gerry holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Foodservice Management from the same school, where he also earned a Culinary Arts degree in 1976, and received an honorary doctorate in Business Administration in 1999. He remains actively involved in allied organizations: as an honorary Board Member of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, Life Member of the NAACP and The Women’s Foodservice Forum.


Gerry has three sons, six grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter. He lives with his wife of 42 years, Debra (Jackson) in Warwick, Rhode Island.  “I am committed to passing on my knowledge to my children, grandchildren and extended family and believe in spending time as if it’s my last day on this earth.”

His personal mission statement reflects a life lived accordingly: “As a man of action, to serve others by applying the gifts of leadership, passion, and creative energy given by God.”