by Terry Rogers
Each year, Delaware Business Times selects a group of the region’s best and brightest young professionals who are under the age of 40, recognizing them for their innovation, intelligence and commitment to the community. All of those selected are involved in their communities as they continue to grow and demonstrate their initiative. One of those named to the list for 2020 was Milford graduate, Morgan Whalen.
Whalen is the Area Director for the new Residence Inn Rehoboth and the Fairfield Rehoboth. After high school, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology from Frostburg State University. She moved to San Diego, working in a non-profit community center where I learned event planning and membership sales.
“When I moved back from San Diego, Bethany Blues in Lewes was about to open,” Whalen said. “I started working for Bethany Blues over 10 years ago and still pick up shifts there when needed. While working for Bethany Blues, I also worked for non-profits including Rehoboth Beach Main Street, Meals on Wheels and the Cancer Support Community. Five years ago, the owners of Bethany Blues asked me to merge my non-profit event planning skills and my restaurant background to work as their Catering Manager at 99 Sea Level in the Residence Inn Bethany Beach. The catering took off and eventually the hotel asked 99 Sea Level to make the catering position a hotel position.”
Not long after transitioning from the restaurant to the hotel position, Whalen was promoted to Sales Manager and eventually Director of Sales at the Fairfield Inn in Rehoboth before accepting her current position. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fairfield was open, giving Whalen insight into what front-line workers had to go through during the lockdowns. In 2019, Whalen and three other women created a fundraiser to help a woman who was going through treatment for triple negative breast cancer, raising more than $21,000 to help with medical bills.
When she is not working, Whalen volunteers in the community. She is the chairperson for the Rehoboth Walk to End Alzheimer’s as well as on the Leadership Team for the LLS Southern Delaware MWOY. Whalen serves on the Planning Committee for Tunnel 2 Towers Delmarva and on the leadership team for Polka Dot Powerhouse. She also volunteers at the Food Bank and lays wreaths for Wreaths Across America. She relaxes by reading psychological thrillers.
“I absolutely love working in hospitality,” Whalen said. “I am constantly meeting new people and hearing amazing stories about others lives. This year, my biggest challenge at work is making sure everyone follows the protocols and that they are following the regulations. It’s very surprising how often I have to remind guests that they need to wear their mask!”
For anyone who is considering the hospitality industry, Whalen recommends that they “go for it.” She explained that it is a tough business with lots of hours, but that it is very rewarding.
“Start with a restaurant and learn the ins and outs of that business,” Whalen said. “Bus tables, host, serve, etc. The restaurant business teaches you about problem solving, how to work hard, how to work with every type of personality, teamwork and so much more. To really thrive in hospitality, you’ll need all those skills.”
Whalen, the oldest of four children, says that her leadership skills began early and had some advice for those who may look at her as an inspiration.
“Never turn down an opportunity to learn, especially if it’s out of your comfort zone,” Whalen said. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”