ENTREPRENEUR & EXECUTIVE
Howard Wright is an executive, entrepreneur and aviator with deep business experience in the hospitality, transportation and tourism industries. He is widely recognized for his commitment to community and ability to bring together groups on all sides of an issue.
Mr. Wright is Chairman of Seattle Hospitality Group (SHG), which he founded in 2002. SHG is a holding company with interests in best-in-class event management, hospitality, tourism and transportation companies in Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii. SHG, ranked in the top 40 of private companies in Washington state, oversees 400 employees with revenues in excess of $100 million.
He is the managing partner of the Sheraton Seattle, a 1,236-room convention-category hotel ranked #2 in North America in Starwood’s Sheraton brand. Mr. Wright also serves on the boards of several closely held restaurant and hotel ownership groups. Among the Seattle-area properties in these portfolios are Cascina Spinnasse, recognized as one of the top five Italian restaurants in North America, and Cedarbrook Lodge, a TripAdvisor Hotel of the Year.
Early in his career, Mr. Wright owned Renton Aviation, the leading global volume retailer of Cessna aircraft, and was a co-owner of Mutual Travel LLC, a business travel management advisory service with $300 million in annual gross revenue.
Mr. Wright’s career trajectory was set by his background and passions. His family has long been involved in the tourism and hospitality industries with interests in several hotels and ownership of one of Seattle’s signature attractions, the Space Needle.
Mr. Wright became a commercial airline pilot following his graduation from Washington State University. He flew for 20 years, capping his tenure piloting Boeing 767s on international routes. Mr. Wright’s career gave him tremendous customer-level insight into the travel business and invaluable perspective on labor relations. He is a rare CEO who has worked the line as a union member.
Howard Wright is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management Program.
Mr. Wright’s extensive community involvement has centered on two other passions — his hometown of Seattle and Latin America. He is deeply involved in Seattle’s business, arts and education issues. As a board member of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce of Seattle, he represented employers by co-chairing the City of Seattle's Income Inequality Advisory Committee, which crafted the city’s phased-in $15-per-hour minimum wage law in 2013. In that position, Mr. Wright successfully educated other stakeholders on the importance of balancing wage growth with the need to keep all businesses viable and maintain Seattle’s image as a pro-business city.
He was also a member of the Washington State University Board of Governors, where he helped to lead the University’s first $1 billion capital campaign. Mr. Wright also sits on campaigns for PATH and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. He previously served on the boards of the Amigos de las Américas Foundation, the Seattle Symphony Foundation, Intiman Theatre, the U.S. Foundation for Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, Vermont Academy, the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington, and The Children’s Discovery Foundation, which operates The Funhouse Commons on Orcas Island.
His interest in Latin America dates to his time as a high school exchange student in the region. Mr. Wright went on to major in Latin American Studies at Washington State and has worked and traveled extensively in the region for the past 40 years.
Howard Wright lives in Seattle with his wife and son. In his leisure time, he continues to pursue his passion for flight, piloting vintage airplanes to fly-ins up and down the West Coast.