Keynote Speaker Sessions 

Discover the Untapped Value of Human Connection
Rob Lawless

In this captivating keynote, Rob Lawless shares his extraordinary journey of spending one hour, one-on-one, with 10,000 diverse individuals. Through Rob's gripping anecdotes, you'll discover the remarkable connections he's forged with newfound friends in far-flung corners of the world, illustrating the unexpected ways in which human relationships can transcend boundaries.


Food Insecurity as an Environmental Justice Issue and How We Can Help
Wanjiku "Wawa" Gatheru

While many interpret food insecurity and environmental justice as different issues, for Wanjiku "Wawa" Gatheru, these problems are one and the same. Wawa recognizes food as an environmental resource intertwined with our health, practices, and cultures. Our interactions with the environment directly impact the quality and accessibility of culturally rich and nutritious foods, which leaves the most vulnerable populations disproportionally burdened by the consequences.

Learning Sessions

Celebrating Your Diverse Community Deliciously
Crista Martin, director for strategic initiatives & communications, Harvard University

As Harvard University Dining Services worked to better celebrate our global and diverse student community with new food events and experiences, community engagement and participation was key. Learn how the dining program engaged students, staff and campus partners with a calendar of events tied to broader University heritage month celebrations, extended staff trainings, menu input opportunities and hosted events for a more inclusive and welcome program.


Comprehensive Onboarding and Training
Brandon Fortenberry, senior manager of training and development, Cornell University

We've explored the philosophy of training and development, and everyone knows how crucial it is to the development and retention of your teams. The next step, where many get stuck, is putting your plan into action. Brandon will discuss concrete strategies and steps to take in order to operationalize your vision.


Dining Innovation in Building Student Leadership: Cultivating Community and Sense of Belonging in the Workplace
Sam Stephens, graduate teaching assistant and dining services student employment specialist, The Ohio State University
Co-Presenter: Connor Vezina, graduate teaching assistant and student employment specialist dining services, The Ohio State University

Do you struggle with high turnover and retention of great talent? Learn how to navigate these challenges through building student leaders. Ohio State University’s Dining Services has spearheaded a solution to combat student turnover while curating future leaders, a position aptly titled Student Community Leader. These student leaders are tasked with creating welcoming work environments through passive and active programs, one-on-one conversations, and peer mentorship. They gain experience in program development, budget management, and how to foster inclusive workplaces. This interactive presentation will review how OSU Dining’s innovative program creates leaders through nontraditional, experiential learning, while cultivating inclusive workplace environments.


Longevity on Your Plate: A Nutrition Roadmap for a Healthier Future
Heather Carrera, DCN, MS, CNS, CDN, nutrition and wellness manager, Campus Auxiliary Services

"Longevity on Your Plate: A Nutrition Roadmap for a Healthier Future" explores the profound impact of dietary choices on human lifespan and well-being. This presentation delves into the latest scientific research to unravel the intricate relationship between nutrition and longevity. From the anti-aging properties of specific nutrients to the role of dietary patterns in preventing chronic diseases, the roadmap navigates participants through evidence-based strategies for optimizing healthspan. From plant-based lifestyles to mindful consumption of antioxidants, the roadmap empowers individuals in their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's and beyond to make informed dietary decisions that transcend mere sustenance.


Look What You Made Me Do
Raymond Kohl, director of marketing and communications, University at Buffalo Faculty Student Association

Do you feel like Everything Has Changed when it comes to connecting/engaging with students, or even employees? Is your special events calendar a Blank Space or just in need of a refresh? Well then let's talk and get those Would've, Could've, Should'ves into events and pieces of your dining program that will have your guests giving you a standing "O".


Managing in a Union Environment
Dustin Freeley, assistant director for residential dining and catering, Cornell University

Presenting techniques and lessons learned from the unique challenges of managing a predominantly unionized workforce


Optimizing Student Dining Experience: The Marketing Impact of Feedback Programs
Jennifer Wood, Touchwork
Co-Presenter: Crista Martin, director for strategic initiatives & communication, Harvard University

In the highly personal and personalized landscape of dining, responsive feedback programs are paramount. Harvard University uses multiple layers of feedback to address issues and actively engage with their student community. By allowing students to voice their opinions, and see changes as a result, Harvard University creates greater value for its students. This feedback-driven approach has also revitalized marketing efforts, helping to identify and fill gaps in student understanding of the menus and programs. Feedback loops have led to improvements in menu items, training, morale, and staff-student relationships.


Purpose-Driven Partnerships: A Live Case Study on How the University at Buffalo & CET Collaborated on Shared Wasted Food Solution Goals
Lisa Pellegrino, client services strategist, CET - Center for EcoTechnology
Co-Presenters: John Bottoroff, assistant director of campus dining & shops, University at Buffalo
Erin Moscati, zero waste manager, University of Buffalo

This presentation will highlight insights from the University at Buffalo’s Campus Dining & Shops Team and how they’ve collaborated with UB’s Sustainability Team to implement multiple solutions to make the highest, best use of uneaten food on campus. We’ll share how CET’s Rethink Food Waste NY program supported and strengthened UB’s existing food donation program, which makes a significant difference in the community by directing its surplus food to those in need. We’ll also cover how UB started with a food scrap recycling program and built upon previous success to keep momentum going for practical solutions based on the EPA Wasted Food Scale.


SOCIAL ARCHITECTURE™️: The Missing Ingredient
David Porter, CEO and president, Porter Khouw Consulting, Inc.
Co-Presnter: Lucy Burke, director of procurement and administrative services, Hamilton College

Loneliness has been declared an epidemic by the U.S. Surgeon General, with over 60% of surveyed students reporting intense feelings of isolation. But what's the link to campus dining services? In this enlightening session, a panel of seasoned campus administrators will unveil their strategic implementation of SOCIAL ARCHITECTURE™. They'll reveal the remarkable positive outcomes it yielded, including a notable surge in meal plan participation, heightened customer satisfaction, and a richer student life experience. By intentionally fostering social connections through innovative design and data-driven solutions, campuses have not only addressed the loneliness crisis but also unlocked a more vibrant, connected campus community.


Train to Retain: A 21st Century Approach
Joshua Miller, CP-FS, founder & principal, Remarkable Academic Foods
Co-Presenter: Greg Gorgone, co-founder, Pineapple Academy

Get ready to unlock the full potential of your workforce and improve your training practices! Join us for an exciting presentation unleashing the power of efficient learning methods and technology. From fostering retention to preparing for Generation Z, we'll dive into the secrets of success. Through live polling, you'll gain valuable insights from your peers and explore new ways to bridge skill gaps and build empowered team pride. Reduce limitations in dynamic training content creation with DIY methods that are budget-friendly. Together, let's shape the future of foodservice operations with technology-driven training!


Unlock the Potential of Mexican Cuisine on Campus
Dan Burrows, corporate chef, MegaMex Foods

As HigherEd students continue to request and crave spicy-international flavors, Mexican cuisine remains a major focal point for their appetites. This session will provide data-driven learning about Mexican flavors, product recognition, generational insights on innovative tastes, recipe assistance, and menu ideations to support every campus.  

What is the FUTURE For C&U and Special Dietary Needs
Lisa Eberhart RD, LDN. director of nutrition, Menu Analytics
Co-Presenter: Sabrina Hafner MS, RD, LDN, associate director of nutrition, UMass Amherst

Food isn't just fuel; it's a wonderful pathway for connection and understanding. Transparency and variety in the food options offered ensures everyone feels seen and accommodated. Dietary preferences, restrictions, or cultural consideration are just an opportunity to have dining services create an environment where everyone can comfortably engage in the communal experience of a great meal. What about the “free from” line at a college or university, does that solve your problem? We will dive into the exciting future of college dining and look at the world after the “free from” line, a future where inclusive meals are the norm.


Learning Session Domains

The Learning Sessions for the NACUFS 2024 Spring Conference Series will focus on delivering content in the domains aligned with the NACUFS Collegiate Dining Body of Knowledge™ 

Business Administration Domain

Sessions in this domain focus on planning, systems, and business functions required to operate, enhance, and fund a campus-valued dining program

Talent Management Domain

Sessions in this domain focus on recruitment and selection, development, and engagement of personnel (including student employees) in order to operate a successful collegiate dining operation.

Guest Experience Domain

Sessions in this domain focus on providing an exceptional collegiate dining guest experience.

Campus & Community Engagement Domain

Sessions in this domain focus on collaborative alignment with campus culture, mission, and strategies (including student engagement) as well as developing successful brand recognition through effective marketing.

Professional Intelligence Domain

Sessions in this domain focus on driving an ethical, organized environment that promotes high standards of integrity and inclusivity, effectively modeling responsible stewardship of campus resources, and leading and promoting organization initiatives and change.