Native of Montclair, New Jersey, Smith-Howard attended the University of Miami taking pre-med classes after high school. Realizing pre-med wasn’t her passion, she transferred to Bloomfield College and majored in both, Business Finance and Marketing, and after graduation discovered the hospitality business and loved it.
Smith-Howard has successfully guided and led many teams along her 38 year career with Hyatt, including 26 years in a general manager role. Gail’s hotel portfolio includes Grand Hyatt New York, Hyatt Regency Kansas City, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Hyatt Regency Cambridge, Hyatt Regency Baltimore, Grand Hyatt Washington, and Hyatt Regency Fair Lakes.
Gail joined Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill in 2014. Under her leadership, this prominent hotel in the heart of America’s capital city, has not only achieved great business and customer satisfaction results, but also received many accolades, including The Washington Post Top Workplaces in 2018, 2017 and 2016, 2017 and 2016 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, and 2016 CVENT Top Meeting Hotels in the U.S.
Gail’s passion for hospitality industry goes beyond hotel’s walls: she is as committed to making a difference in the community. Smith-Howard is a board member of the Hotel Association of Washington, D.C., Destination DC, DowntownDC Business Improvement District, and the Ryan Kerrigan’s Blitz for the Better Foundation. Gail is also very active within Hyatt, participating in the formation of future leaders though her work with the B.L.A.C.K. Diversity Business Resource Group. Furthermore, Gail is a founding member of Women@Hyatt Chapter, company’s business resource group connecting colleagues to create initiatives and events that focus on enhancing the workplace in ways that position Hyatt to be the preferred brand for women. In her free time she mentors youth, works with Make a Wish Foundation, and the Howard County Public Schools. Her enthusiasm for helping others and giving back is contagious.
Smith-Howard is the recipient of many awards, including 2018 WIL Connect Leader of the Year by Hotel Association of Washington, D.C., 2017 Skip Hartman General Manager of the Year by Hotel Association of Washington, D.C., 2014 Top 100 Women by Maryland Daily Record, 2013 National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners Award, 2012 Trumpet Award, and 2012 Hotelier of the Year by Maryland Hotel and Lodging Association. Moreover, Gail has been nominated for Hyatt Corporation's Manager of the Year Award four times and received it in 2004.
Gail has one son, Daniyyel and twin nieces, Ella and Elise, whom she is very close with. Her family helps her maintain a healthy work-life balance by providing a strong support system in both her professional and personal life. Gail finds that being “family & faith grounded” has helped her keep sight of her personal mission statement. Smith-Howard loves the people, the family-ness of hotel industry, and the opportunity to learn about different culture. Gail thrives from the challenge of being a part of team that strives to grow a successful business.