Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Harris Rosen receives inaugural Lifetime Achievement Honor from Orlando Business Journal's Diversity in Business awards

Harris Rosen, the veteran hotelier whose visionary philanthropic efforts have transformed the lives of countless Central Florida residents for decades, recently was honored for Lifetime Achievement in the Orlando Business Journal's inaugural Diversity in Business Awards.

During an Oct. 26 event at the Hilton Orlando, the prestigious business publication saluted Rosen as the first recipient of an award for individuals "who have devoted a major portion of their professional lives to enhancing the practice of equality and diversity, making significant, innovative and cumulatively outstanding contributions to the cause."

In a career spanning more than half a century, Rosen has made it his mission to enhance the quality of life of his neighbors, his city and the hospitality industry. For decades, his namesake foundation has contributed millions of dollars to create and support educational and youth-benefiting programs and scholarships in underserved Orlando communities.

"Harris Rosen has been a philanthropy powerhouse in Central Florida for decades now, giving back to the community in which he built his own business success," said Orlando Business Journal Editor Cindy Barth. "The difference he has made in the lives of children in the Tangelo Park and Parramore communities is a direct result of the educational opportunities they now have thanks to Mr. Rosen's efforts. His willingness to help these neighborhood areas will have long-lasting results for the Central Florida region for many years to come."

Rosen currently serves as president and chief operating officer of Rosen Hotels & Resorts, the largest privately owned hotel company in Florida. A native of Manhattan's Lower East Side, Rosen launched the Orlando firm in 1974 with the purchase of his first hotel on International Drive and has managed its growth into a portfolio of nine world-class properties encompassing more than 6,694 guestrooms.

He established The Harris Rosen Foundation to identify, develop and manage numerous wide-ranging philanthropic initiatives under his direction. In 1993, the organization embarked on its first project, a bold effort to improve educational opportunities for children in Orlando's Tangelo Park neighborhood, a program that has received national acclaim and one that continues today.

The ambitious initiative offers free preschool for all 2-, 3- and 4-year old children and an all-expenses-paid education (including tuition, books, room and board) to every Tangelo Park high school graduate accepted to a trade school, community college or four-year public college in Florida. Its success later guided the creation of a similar, five times larger program that launched in 2016 in Orlando's Parramore neighborhood, promising the same all-expenses-paid education for resident youth who graduate high school. The Parramore program also includes the Rosen Preschool at the OCPS Academic Center for Excellence, where Rosen pays the annual salaries for the school's 48 teachers, teachers' aides and directors.

"I am very humbled by this honor," Rosen said in acknowledging the publication's award. "It reflects the ongoing work of not just myself but of the many men and women who have accompanied me on the journey to offer hope to some of our underserved communities. Thank you to the Orlando Business Journal for celebrating these efforts."


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