- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 6, 2005

Emily Durso has returned as president of the Hotel Association of Washington, D.C., after spending the last four years spurring housing and business developments in the city.

Ms. Durso, 54, already has 10 years of experience as the association’s president. She headed the nonprofit trade association, which represents 93 member hotels in the District on governmental and public affairs issues, from 1990 to 2000.

Ms. Durso said she will use the expertise she gained working in city government and in her various real estate ventures to advance the city’s hotel industry.

“You need to know how the city operates and who operates different aspects of the city to help your members,” she said. “This city is all about relationships.”

Her duties as president include representing the group’s members on issues including public safety, industry regulation and taxation, and overseeing progress of the Marriott Public Charter High School, which she worked on opening for five years when she first was president. The association is working on a project to get a computer in each student’s home, she said.

She said she also will work closely with the Washington Convention Center and Washington, DC Convention and Tourism Corp.

Ms. Durso said she is returning to the association because she enjoys the teamwork the position entails.

“I just realized I’m not someone who enjoys working alone,” she said. “I like to be a part of a team.”

During her four years away from the association, Ms. Durso was president of two small-scale property development companies. E.V. Housing Inc., a not-for-profit venture, developed affordable housing units for low-income residents in the District and Virginia, and Home Rule Development Corp., a for-profit company, developed community-based mixed-use projects.

Ms. Durso’s responsibilities with both companies included identifying potential project sites and creating proposals.

Dealing with rising property values and locating property owners were challenges she faced at both companies.

“Land prices are just so astronomically high and rising every month,” she said.

Ms. Durso said she gained patience and a deeper understanding of how the real estate market functions from her experience with both companies.

Skip Hartman, former president of the association and current member of the group’s board of directors, described Ms. Durso as an “unbelievable person” and said her perseverance was responsible for making the Washington Convention Center a reality.

“What we have now is because of her hard work,” said Mr. Hartman, regional vice president and manager of Loews L’Enfant Plaza Hotel.

Ms. Durso also has worked in city government. She worked as a legislative assistant to a D.C. Council member and worked in the city’s Office of Economic Development. The experiences will be useful as she takes over the association once again, she said.

Ms. Durso lives in the District’s American University Park neighborhood.

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