Patricia A. Lee’s career as a top executive at Wyndham Worldwide — one of the largest hospitality companies around the globe — keeps her busy, but she still makes time to volunteer in leadership roles for causes that resonate with her.
“There has to be a personal connection in some shape or form,” said Lee, the newest member of the nine-member NewBridge board of trustees. “I feel strongly about education and advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves.”
The senior vice president and chief diversity officer at Wyndham Worldwide is discerning in choosing nonprofits. “I do my due diligence to make sure the organization is solid, demonstrating a firm history of success and a good view of what the future holds,” the Cranford native said.
Parsippany-based Wyndham Worldwide has long been a generous supporter of NewBridge, and when a seat on the trustee board became available, Lee prepared an email for senior staff to see who might be interested. Before sending it, “I clicked on the link (to the NewBridge website), and the more I read, the more I realized I have a connection,” she said.
In 2015, her 20-year-old nephew died of an overdose after years of struggling with addiction and depression. Only 40 days earlier, her father had died after a 15-year battle with cancer. Lee had turned to organizations like NewBridge in South Jersey that could assist her father.
It’s no surprise, then, that NewBridge’s addiction treatment program and NewBridge Senior Assistance for Independent Living (SAIL), which helps seniors remain in their homes, are near to Lee’s heart.
“So many people are impacted by these issues,” she said. “That’s what NewBridge is about: making people feel there’s hope out there.”
At Wyndham, Lee works “to create an environment and culture that attracts and retains the best talent,” she said. “We’re a people business, after all: we put people on vacation so we have to create a great atmosphere.” Wyndham Worldwide provides travelers with access to a collection of trusted hospitality brands in hotels, vacation ownership, and unique accommodations including vacation exchange, holiday parks, and managed home rentals.
Lee served on the board of directors of the Jersey Battered Women’s Service board of directors for more than a decade, and as a Morris County Chamber of Commerce director for nearly four years. She currently serves on the advisory board of Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations, where she earned her master’s degree in human resources and labor relations in 1995. Lee earned her bachelor’s degree in classical history at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Lee lives in West Caldwell with her wife, Marie DeSimone and their two rescue cats, Nikki and Drew.