Hotelier with Heart

Kendra Plummer, STH ’13, set out to run her own bed and breakfast. Instead, in 2019 she founded Elise Capital, a hotel-focused private real estate advisory and investment firm.

Kendra Plummer smiling while facing the camera
Photo credit: Leah Overstreet

How it started

Growing up, Plummer would take trips from Belmont, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, to the Caribbean with her family who hailed from Barbados and Jamaica. They’d split their time between staying with extended family and enjoying one of the islands’ many hotels and resorts.

“Ever since then, I always wanted to own a bed and breakfast on one of those islands,” said Plummer. 

Beyond the classroom

Plummer knew exactly what industry she wanted to work in. She landed at Temple’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management, where Jeffrey Montague, then STH’s assistant dean, and Adjunct Professor Greg DeShields served as her mentors. Because Plummer’s classes didn’t focus primarily on pathways to hotel ownership, Montague and DeShields found ways to supplement the curriculum by connecting her to other opportunities, such as the conference for the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers.

“Professors like that who support their students’ dreams—even if it isn’t part of the typical curriculum or what the typical student is doing—was the most important part for me getting to where I am today,” said Plummer.

Studying in Philadelphia allowed Plummer “to do more than study within the campus borders.” In addition to working with local high school students through the National Society for Minorities in Hospitality, Plummer found jobs in the hotel industry while completing internships at the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Rittenhouse Hotel. Her senior year internship took her to Miami, where she participated in a training program at the Kimpton EPIC Hotel. 

Kendra at a Glance

Long-term impact

While earning her undergraduate degree, Plummer developed another professional goal: diversifying hotel ownership.

“I realized that the hotel owners typically weren’t people who looked like me,” Plummer said. “They’re usually not women. If they are people of color, they usually aren’t black people. They’re usually not young.”

Plummer intends to “educate and empower more women and minorities to reach levels of hotel ownership.” She hopes that Elise Capital will help close the wealth gap in the U.S.

Plummer wants aspiring industry leaders to know that they don’t have to fit into a “specific box,” something she learned at Temple.

“I didn’t know coming into Temple that I would be a business owner,” she said. “I thought that maybe at best, I would own my little bed and breakfast on an island. But the university really showed me how to dream bigger … and not to take no for an answer.”

—By Ashley Nguyen, KLN ’12, and Lauri Kochis