Boston University School of Hospitality Administration Bestows Annual Icon Award to the Founders of Airbnb: Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk, and Joe Gebbia At School’s 2022 Hospitality Leadership Summit

2022 Summit Icon Award Winners Airbnb Founders

(March 16, 2022) Boston, MA – Boston University School of Hospitality Administration (BU SHA) is proud to announce that the third annual ICON award will be presented to Airbnb co-founders: Brian Chesky, CEO, Nathan Blecharczyk, Chief Strategy Officer, and Joe Gebbia, Chairman of The ICON award recognizes innovators who create new and transformative paradigms in hospitality. Blecharczyk will accept the award on behalf of Airbnb virtually to conclude the school’s 2022 Hospitality Leadership Summit.

The ICON award ceremony and reception will conclude the School’s Hospitality Leadership Summit, Friday, April 1, 2022 at Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square, Boston. The Summit features inspirational leaders delivering motivational Talks and sharing their vision for the future of the business. Speakers include executives of WeWork, Toast, Selina, REEF, Google Travel, The Culinary Edge, and more.

“We are proud to recognize Airbnb’s founders with our most prestigious ICON Award,” states Arun Upneja, Ph.D., Dean of Boston University School of Hospitality Administration. “Their notable impact distinguishes them as visionaries who have innovated the business as they pursue the purpose of creating connection and belonging.”

Among other accomplishments, Airbnb most recently announced with – an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating temporary stays for people in moments of crisis – a commitment to offer free, short-term housing to up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine. Airbnb and have also worked to provide housing to 21,300 Afghan refugees, and have set a new goal of supporting another 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan, Africa, the Middle East, Central and South America, and other regions, in addition to ongoing efforts in Ukraine.

“Thank you, Boston University. We are honored to be recognized by the School of Hospitality Administration with the ICON Award,” said Nathan Blecharczyk, a native of Boston. “Airbnb was founded for guests to experience the world in a more authentic, connected way. Similarly, BU SHA is expanding the world of hospitality by focusing on the creation of memorable experiences. We are incredibly appreciative for the opportunity to connect with future leaders, who are so passionate about the industry.”

Airbnb was born in 2007 when two Hosts welcomed three guests to their San Francisco home and has since grown to over 4 million Hosts who have welcomed more than 1 billion guest arrivals in almost every country across the globe. Every day, Hosts offer unique stays and one-of-a-kind activities that make it possible for guests to experience the world in a more authentic, connected way.

Brian Chesky, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, sets the vision and strategy for the company. A graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design, Brian has embedded his creative roots in Airbnb’s culture, product, and community. This design-driven approach has enabled a system of trust that allows strangers to live together and created a unique business model that facilitates connection and belonging.

Nathan Blecharczyk, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, plays a leading role in driving key strategic initiatives across the global business, particularly those which require a combined understanding of the business, product, and data. Recently he oversaw the creation of the Airbnb City Portal, an industry-first software solution that addresses the needs of cities relating to short-term rentals. Previously Nate oversaw the creation of Airbnb’s engineering, data science, payments, and performance marketing teams. Nate holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Harvard University.

Joe Gebbia, Co-Founder and Chairman of, a new, independently operated 501(c)3. As a community-powered non-profit, helps to connect those in crisis with places for them to stay as part of our emergency response efforts related to natural disasters, and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic. Joe began his life as an artist and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) where he earned dual degrees in Graphic Design and Industrial Design, and currently serves on the RISD Board of Trustees.

All three founders are signatories to the Giving Pledge, a promise by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to charitable causes.

The BU SHA ICON award is presented to a pioneering leader whose accomplishments have paved the way for enduring, transformative contributions of deep value in the world of hospitality and in our society as a whole. Past ICON awardees include in 2021, restaurant pioneer Danny Meyer, Founder and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group and Shake Shack; and in 2020, Richard L. Friedman, President and CEO of Carpenter & Company Inc., credited, among a long list of accolades, for reshaping the Boston skyline with several of the city’s premier hotels including the Four Seasons One Dalton tower.

BU SHA is grateful for the generous support from our Hospitality Leadership Summit sponsors: Hotel Commonwealth, Access Point Financial, Aramark, Hilton Hotels, Pinnacle Advisory Group, Boston Park Plaza, The Newbury Boston, HHM, HMSHost, Longwood Venues and Destinations, Seaport Hotel, Spot On Ventures, and Sid Wainer & Son.


About Boston University School of Hospitality Administration: Established in 1981 and now celebrating 40 years of Innovating the Business of Hospitality, Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration (SHA) offers students a combination of rigorous academics, business and liberal arts curriculum, and international experiences. SHA’s reputable Master of Management in Hospitality program offers timely and provocative coursework guiding graduate students to shape the landscape of the business for the future. SHA has a unique relationship with the city of Boston, where the area’s hotels, restaurants, senior living, and related businesses provide students with experience and opportunities.