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Women in hospitality empowered at conference celebrating Maryland Travel and Tourism Week

Women of hospitality gather for Maryland Travel and Tourism Week conference
Women of hospitality gather for Maryland Travel and Tourism Week conference 02:22

BALTIMORE -- A big part of what makes Maryland's tourism enterprise successful is the hospitality industry and the people behind it. 

Women in hospitality met Tuesday at the American Visionary Art Museum to share why they are the heartbeat that drives. 

The first Women of Hospitality Conference, a day of discussion, growth and empowerment, took place during Maryland Travel and Tourism Week.

"To be here ready to talk and engage and make connections and build this community for us to thrive in is empowering," said Cori Grafer, event manager with the Maryland Restaurant Association.

Hospitality is a male-dominated industry but those women are working to change that. 

The conference highlighted the importance of femininity in the workplace, how to become your own boss, the ins-and-outs of social media and the importance of diversity. 

"When I first started in the industry, I was pretty much alone there were not a lot of women that looked like me who were willing to help, who were willing to give advice," said Amanda Mack, CEO of Crust by Mack. "I had to learn through systems and now I can reach back out and be of support." 

Mack celebrated 10 years in the industry before recently opening downtown Baltimore's first Black woman-owned bakery, Crust by Mack.

"I know it sounds cliché, if you can dream it, you can do it, and it's true," Mack said. "Take it from me, someone who is grandma taught not culinary taught." 

Mack is now using her experience to uplift others.  

"Get a mentor, start practicing, work on your recipes, look in the areas that you want to have your business and start a vision board," Mack said. 

Maryland attracted 43.5 million visitors in 2022, who in turn, funneled $19.4 billion into the local economy," according to Tourism Economic. 

Participants say that events like these, it ignites the possibilities and make dreams a reality. 

"Besides being in the background, I have also been able to sit and take in a lot of information and network with a lot of women," participant Rhuby Toussaint said. "It's been very beneficial for me." 

"We're all women in the restaurant industry," participant Nancy Poznak said, "I'm here to make connections just as much as I am to learn and listen." 

The hope for the women is to strengthen existing businesses and inspire new ones.  

"The need for new restaurants in Baltimore is huge," Grafer said. "There's tons of opportunity. It's a really great place for growth. There's a lot of cool things coming into Baltimore right now." 

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