Yazoo native Shelley Cresswell Walker named Delta Lodging Group CEO

By THE YAZOO HERALD,

A Yazoo County native has been named CEO of Mississippi hotelier Suresh Chawla’s new hotel management company, Delta Lodging Group, LLC.

In starting this new company, Chawla has named Shelley Cresswell Walker as his chief executive officer (CEO), effective Oct. 1, 2019. Shelley is a Yazoo County native from Satartia.

"Shelley has a brilliant business mindset and has a knack for organizational structure that is second to none," Delta Lodging Group President Suresh Chawla said in making the announcement. "Her background is perfect for our company. She comes with experience in manufacturing, service, workforce education and tourism. She will really elevate our new company to be the premier hotel management company in the state of Mississippi."

Walker has worked with Chawla for the past four years in a variety of areas, including serving as director of operations, director of emerging brands and innovation, and vice president. The roles have consisted of developing and renovating hotel properties, implementing innovative initiatives to improve operations efficiency and developing strategies to enhance the guest experience. Walker is an advocate for creating and maintaining a team-oriented work culture and fostering an environment that provides quality training programs for employees.

"When I moved back to the Mississippi Delta five years ago, I was on a very purpose driven mission to make a difference in the region that has made me who I am today as a person and professional,” Walker said. “Over the years, I have been fortunate to have been trained and mentored by some of the most amazing leaders who saw leadership potential in me. I now strive to do that daily with those that I work with from front line team members to management. I am so thankful to be able to be a leader for a company that provides employment opportunities across the Delta and contributes to economic development and tourism."

Before joining Chawla, Walker worked and held roles in management and executive positions at Mississippi State University, Georgia-Pacific, East Central Community College, Milwaukee Tool and the Greenwood Tourism Commission. She comes from a diverse background of business development, marketing and sales, operations management, economic development projects and workforce education.

Walker has assembled a team of three directors of operation to help oversee 12 current operations owned by Chawla.

Sarah Ozbun will serve as director of operations for the Greenville Hampton Inn, Greenville Holiday Inn Express, Greenville EconoLodge and the new Tru by Hilton Greenville, which opened Sept. 26. Ozbun also oversees the Hampton Inn of Indianola.

Walker is being assisted in another Delta market by Director of Operations Emily Thornton, who will oversee the operations of the Hampton Inn of Greenwood, Holiday Inn Express of Greenwood, Holiday Inn Express of Grenada and Hampton Inn of Yazoo City.

Finally, Walker will be assisted by veteran hotelier Marcus McTeer, who will serve as director of operations and oversee the operations of the Hampton Inn of Clarksdale, Comfort Inn of Clarksdale and the Rodeway Inn of Clarksdale.

"I am looking forward to my continued business partnership with Suresh Chawla,” Walker said. “We will be working together along with our team to take the hospitality and hotel industry to the next level in our region and state through Delta Lodging Group, LLC."

Walker is married to John Paul Walker, who works as assistant vice president and branch sales leader for CB&S Bank in Greenwood. They have two children, Kaitlyn (14) and Fin (10). They are active members of Westminster Presbyterian Church and serve in various volunteer roles, committees and boards throughout the region and state.