2024 NC Logo_full color CMYK Transparent

General Sessions


Bryan Alexander, Ph.D.

The Future of Higher Education


How might colleges and universities change? In this presentation we examine the powerful forces reshaping higher education. We begin with macro trends outside of campuses, including demographics, macroeconomics, and geopolitics. Next we examine forces within academia, from enrollment to finance. We move on to explore technologies and their impact, including virtual reality and artificial intelligence, before discussing the many ways the climate crisis can influence our sector. This session conclude by connecting these trends to glimpse emerging factors that will impact colleges and universities for the next generation.


About Bryan: Award-winning futurist Bryan Alexander is an acclaimed author, speaker, and consultant in the U.S. and abroad, Alexander is a senior research scholar at Georgetown University and teaches graduate seminars in Learning, Design, and Technology. Alexander has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Pew Research Center, among other publications. He has published four books, including Academia Next: The Futures of Higher Education, which won an Association of Professional Futurists award.



Gregory Offner

The Tip Jar Culture™️: Creating an Engaging Workplace


In our constantly evolving and often challenging professional landscape, finding joy in our work can seem like a tall order. With global job satisfaction and engagement metrics at historic lows, identifying the ingredients that draw out the morsels of joy in every job is a competitive advantage. In this deliciously captivating session, dueling pianist (and former university food service worker) Gregory Offner shares his recipe for employee engagement, and reveals the three ingredients you can use to flavor your workplace experience and rediscover joy in your work. You’ll hear stories that inspire you, and leave with actionable steps you can take to create a community that is engaged, purpose-driven, and finding joy in everyday opportunities. Don’t forget to leave room for a healthy dose of the piano bar magic (yes, he’ll be bringing a piano with him) as Gregory won’t just talk about these three ingredients, he’ll perform them for us right before our eyes!


About Greg: Gregory Offner is an author, workforce strategist, and award-winning keynote speaker. He is the founding partner of the Global Performance Institute, a boutique consulting firm supporting organizations and executives seeking to get the most out of their workforce. Gregory previously held leadership roles in the outsourced services and risk management industries, developing future leaders and advising some of the most recognizable names in business.


Super Session Speakers


Imran Ahmed, Ph.D.


Imran Ahmad, is a Research Assistant Professor at the Food & Agriculture Biotechnology Innovation Lab., at Florida International University (Miami, FL). He earned his doctorate in Management Technology from SIIT (Thailand). He researches in the area of Food Science, Technology, and Engineering. Before joining FIU, Dr. Ahmad served as an affiliated faculty member at the Biosystems Engineering Program Asian Institute of Technology (Thailand), where he lectured and developed new food, agriculture, and bio-system engineering courses. He has a keen interest in applying modeling and simulation techniques to biological systems. He has authored a number of papers on the application of the evolutionary algorithm in quality prediction and simulation of fresh produce quality. He is a professional member of the Research Chef Association (RCA) and the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).






Lisa Cain, Ph.D.


Lisa Cain, is an Associate Professor in the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Florida International University. Dr. Cain currently serves as the Immediate Past-President for the SECSA-ICHRIE and serves as an Associate Editor for both the International Journal of Consumer Studies and International Hospitality Review. Her research interests fall within the broad topics of organizational behavior and marketing, with an emphasis on understanding internal and external customer experiences. She was recently awarded a $300,000 grant on Hospitality and the IoT and a $265,000 grant on Foodservice 2030 and beyond. She has published in the areas of work-life balance, substance abuse among hospitality workers, gender issues, technology, and loyalty in the hospitality industry, and continues to develop research in these topics.






Chef Edward Lee


Edward Lee is the Chef/Owner of 610 Magnolia and Nami in Louisville, KY. He is the Culinary Director for Succotash Prime in Washington DC and Succotash in National Harbor, MD. He is also the Co-Founder of The LEE Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to diversity and equality in the restaurant industry. Chef Lee was the recipient of the 2019 James Beard Foundation Award for his book, Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting Pot Cuisine. His first book, Smoke & Pickles (Artisan Books, May 2013) was a national bestseller. Lee has been a six-time finalist for the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southeast. In 2018, Food & Wine Magazine named 610 Magnolia one of the country’s most important restaurants of the past 40 years. The Michelin Guide DC awarded Succotash a Bib Gourmand in 2019. Nami was recently named one of the country’s Top Restaurants in 2023 by USA Today. Chef Lee appears frequently in print and television and his writing has been featured in The New York Times, Esquire, Food & Wine and many other national publications. He was nominated for a daytime Emmy for his role as host of the Emmy-winning series, Mind of Chef on PBS. He has hosted and written a feature documentary called Fermented.




Andrew Moreo, Ph.D.


Andrew Moreo, is an Associate Professor and Director of Research for Florida International University’s (FIU) Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management (CSHTM), where they have been a member of the faculty since August 2016. During their tenure at FIU, Dr. Moreo has taught undergraduate courses face to face, hybrid, and online. These courses include: Senior Seminar in Hospitality Management, Restaurant Management, and graduate level Strategic Management, Restaurant Development, and Internship. Dr. Moreo’s primary research area involves employee and consumer behavior in the food and beverage segment of the hospitality industry. Specifically, the impacts of emotional labor on customer perception of delivered service, as well as the impacts of individual employee characteristics and organizational culture on employee behavior. Their efforts seek to understand and provide practical suggestions to help food and beverage organizations make their culture more positive to improve the employee experience. Such solutions serve to benefit both the employees and patrons of the hospitality industry, as well as society as a whole.





Taji Torrilhon


Taji Marie Torrilhon is a writer, speaker, educator & the founder of Resilient Storytelling. Taji holds a BA in Journalism, is a certified Mindset Coach, and two-time Moth Story winner. Her goal is to help people unravel their personal narratives and create stories that shine a light on their resilience and shared humanity. As a trauma-informed Mindset Coach and Story Guide, she holds workshops and events that bring together the science of mindset and proven storytelling techniques to help people show up as their whole selves in their life and business.







Learning Session Speakers


Amanda Armstrong, vice president of marketing, northeast, Chartwells Higher Education


Amanda Armstrong is the Vice President of Marketing for the Northeast Division at Chartwells Higher Education, a division of Compass Group. Amanda graduated from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell in 2009 and, most recently, graduated from Baylor University with her Executive MBA. She has been with Chartwells since 2014 and began her journey as the campus Marketing Director at the University of Miami. Amanda has since been promoted to various marketing roles throughout the country. In her current role, she oversees the marketing initiatives, including innovations that boost guest engagement and satisfaction for 65 accounts in the Northeast division, and leads a dynamic team of marketing professionals. Amanda is at the forefront of the division's national voluntary meal plan strategy. She provides various meal plan solutions for campus partners based on industry insights and trends to assist in making more informed decisions.






Dawn Aubrey, PhD, vice president of operations, Miami University - Chartwells


Dawn is an executive leader possessing more than 35 years of experience in directly overseeing all aspects of multi-million-dollar higher education programs and departments that positively impact student success. Dawn creates and implements improvements and strategies, which drive value, stewardship of resources and effectiveness of campus dining and auxiliary services. Dawn is a Vice President of Operations for the Chartwells Division of Compass Group at Miami University working with campus to be Best-In-Class with national and regional recognition. Dawn’s leadership transitioned University of Minnesota Twin Cities & Rochester campuses to Chartwells; as well as created the award-winning University Dining at University of Illinois, nationally recognized for sustainability and wellness as well as receiving the State of Illinois Governor’s award for sustainability. Creating a culture of innovation in University Dining, Dawn works with campus academic partners to incorporate the dining experience into the academic experience. Dawn is recognized as a Woman of Distinction in Business, Ocean Hero, Community Service Leader for Literacy and Food Insecurity, Local Food Champion, Food Recovery Advocate, and National Association of College & University Food Service (NACUFS) Past President.




Jason Beaudreau, founder and managing partner, All Star Strategy


Jason is a technical futurist, strategist, and architect with extensive experience in digital transformation. He is the founder and managing partner for All Star Strategy. He has had the opportunity to consult with many of the top companies in the world to help them achieve high value outcomes by streamlining their internal systems and processes. Jason sits on a board and is a frequent guest lecturer for SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering as well as for Lockheed Martin’s MS of Engineering Program.








Grayson Crabtree, program director, Duke Dining


Grayson Crabtree has accumulated over six years of experience with Duke Dining, progressing from a role in training and customer service to her current leadership position as Program Director. Grayson oversees menus, and systems and processes with a focus on advancing Duke Dining’s broader vision of excellence and innovation within the program. A standout accomplishment in Grayson's career is the establishment of the ASK ME® food allergy program, a notable food allergy awareness initiative that has attained trademark status and is currently undergoing the patenting process. This program has enriched the student experience by cultivating a supportive and inclusive environment for the Duke community and has gained national, award-winning recognition.








Mark Duesler, consulting chef/senior program advisor, Frontier Energy


Chef Mark Duesler oversees the FSTC's "Try Before You Buy" program, serves as a Program Manager, and offers an operator's perspective on energy and water efficiency in commercial food service. After over 27 years in foodservice and over 20 years in the kitchen, Chef Mark is eager to share his knowledge and expertise with the industry. He has worked in various full-service restaurants, including small family-owned operations, multi-course fine-dining, and chef-driven farm-to-table concepts. Mark draws on this experience to identify each dining concept's unique equipment needs. Additionally, Chef Mark works with the FSTC's engineering team. He participates in ASTM subcommittees related to commercial foodservice appliance testing to better understand how equipment performance evaluations translate to real-world applications. Sharing this knowledge allows operators and designers to make more informed decisions on equipment selection and process improvement in their establishments.






Sommer Dunlevy, assistant director, university housing and culinary services, Kent State University


Sommer Dunlevy, originally from Pennsylvania, received her Bachelor of Science degree from Clarion University with a tri concentration in Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations as well as a minor in Graphic Design. Right out of college Sommer moved to Ohio and worked as a Graphic Designer for Record Publishing Company for almost three years. Wanting to expand her knowledge, she took a job as a Public Information Specialist at the Ohio Department of Transportation for a little over three years. Reaching new areas of interest, she and her husband moved to Salisbury Maryland where she became a Recreation Program Manager (6+ years) where she oversaw marketing programs, design publications, displays and ran programming. Staying in the Maryland area, Sommer then moved into higher education and began a job as a Marketing Specialist at Salisbury University under Auxiliary Services. During her 8+ years with SU, she expanded her marketing skills not only as the graphic designer and event planner on staff, but she also earned a Management Master’s Degree with Marketing Specialization in 2020 from the University of Maryland Global Campus. In July 2021 Sommer moved back to the mid-west and joined the Kent State team as the Assistant Director of Marketing, University Housing and Culinary Services. In this role she has spoken at numerous events, won awards, and continues to grow the UHCS Marketing area.




Lisa Eberhart, director of nutrition & co-founder, MenuAnalytics


Lisa Eberhart is the Director of Nutrition and co-founder of Menu Analytics. She has 20+ years of C&U foodservice experience, including as Director of Nutritional Wellness at North Carolina State. She works to empower foodservice operators to provide inclusive and transparent menus to every guest.









Amanda Ewing, director of diversity & inclusion, University of Michigan Dining


Amanda Ewing (she/her/hers) is a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion educator and facilitator. She has a range of experience in DE&I programming and specializes in creating and delivering a curriculum that uses storytelling and creative skills for engaging in memorable learning experiences. In her role as Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Michigan Dining, Amanda’s work falls into three major categories: education, consultation, and coaching. Amanda provides professional development opportunities to staff and leadership, advises on DE&I incidents and strategy, and provides individual guidance to leadership and management.







Malorie Garbe, housing sustainability coordinator, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Malorie received her MS in Environmental Conservation from UW-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and has worked in the field of higher education sustainability and campus farms for 10 years. She currently serves as the Sustainability Coordinator for University Housing where she works to lead operational and educational sustainability initiatives in the campus residence halls and dining facilities, including surplus donation and recycling efforts, an electric food truck, the Dining & Culinary Services Campus Farm, and resident sustainability outreach programs.







Jon Garrett, director of business development, Leanpath


Jon brings over 24 years of foodservice experience to his role at Leanpath. Jon and his team engage with customers to build successful food waste prevention programs in multiple foodservice settings. His previous experience includes a variety of positions in sales, sales management and operations in foodservice distribution and group purchasing. Jon has been involved and engaged with NACUFS for over 15 years and is a past recipient of the Daryl Van Hook Industry Award for his commitment to the association.







Steve Giardini, senior director of Michigan Dining, University of Michigan


Steve has a 20+ year career in foodservice including private restaurants, hotels, and over 15 years in contract foodservice. During his time in contract foodservice, Steve worked in Corporate Dining, Higher Education, and Leisure as well as headquarters based roles leading and supporting field operations. In his current role with Michigan Dining, Steve and his team oversee a dining program consisting of 9 dining halls, more than 20 retail locations, 4 catering kitchens and the campus Bakeshop. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel, Restaurant Management as well as his MBA from the University of Delaware.







Bouakhanh Greene, CEC, executive chef, University of Michigan Dining


Chef Bouakhanh Greene C.E.C.or AKA Chef Bou has loved cooking since her mom put a chefs knife in her hand at the age 5. (she has the picture to prove it) She has always been surrounded by chefs growing up and naturally that lead her career path to want to become one. Her parents opened the first S.E. Asian grocery store in Traverse City and that helped her better hone her skills in S.E. Asian cuisine. Making connections to locals, local restaurants, and an instructor at NWMC (S.E. Asian recipes)that were in need of knowledge to specific cuisine. Chef Bou decided to move down to Detroit area and enrolled in Schoolcraft College Culinary school. Learning from 3 CMC's at the time also helped her hone in on learning culinary techniques and the foundations of cooking. Chef Bou has been with University of Michigan for 6 years and has loved every single minute of it. It has taught her how to grow and pivot with the challenges of dining and the food service industries constant changes. She loves seeing the new trends of food and the evolution of food. Her biggest take away from the industry is never stop learning, always be kind, and meet new chefs, and help others in the process.




Jaime Herrera, executive chef, Oregon State University


Chef Jaime Herrera currently serves as the Assistant Director of Culinary – Executive Chef at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. Developing his love for cooking at his aunt’s restaurant in West Seattle while working the family business. He earned his culinary degree from South Seattle Community College. He spent 17 years in the Pacific Northwest focused on fine dining and global cuisine working in several small bistros, catering companies, and restaurants. Chef Jaime discovered his passion for catering through the constant change in menus, variety of food, and rigors of event planning. The experience served him when, in 2005, he transitioned to a university dining setting, enticed by the challenge of changing the dining program at Washington State University. Chef Jaime brought a focus on restaurant quality food and making as much food from scratch wherever possible. In 2009, he moved to University of California Santa Barbara and became their first Executive Chef. There, he placed an even greater emphasis on purchasing local, organic, sustainably and seasonally for a large university. Through his dedication, positive influence, and passion for good food, he helped change the culture and quality of dining services at UCSB. In his current position at OSU, Chef Jaime is working to support dining’s mission of becoming one of the top progressive dining programs, promoting nutrition, public health and sustainability and doing so while delivering an affordable and exceptional culinary experience for customers. Chef Jaime values the importance of a strong culinary culture to coach and challenge in a positive environment to achieve these goals.



Abby Hertzfeld, interim senior director, The Ohio State University


Abby is an Associate Director of Operations for Dining Services at The Ohio State University. She guides people development from recruitment to training to evaluation and labor relations. She serves as a liaison with the Department of Education and Human Ecology’s Hospitality Management program and oversees approximately 18 locations on campus including Retail, All You Care to Eat Dining, and Convenience stores. Abby also takes the lead on all reusable sustainability programs within dining services. Abby received her B.S and M.S degrees in Hospitality Management at Ohio State and has been applying her passion of the business in dining services since 1997.







Julia Keahey, video & digital marketing coordinator, university housing & culinary services, Kent State University


Julia Keahey is an award-winning digital content creator. Within University Housing and Culinary Services at Kent State University, she spearheads the curation and development of innovative digital content, implementing community-focused digital strategies. Her passion for emerging media and technology influences much of her work. Prior to that, Julia developed and produced Walk on the Mountain, a short documentary centering on an anti-coal activist in the heart of coal country. The success of that film led it to compete internationally on the professional film festival circuit against major studios like Netflix, HBO, and the BBC, and received numerous awards and accolades. While traveling the country, Julia also developed a passion for social media marketing for fellow artists, which lead her to creating her own boutique social media agency for creatives and nonprofits. Julia Keahey is an alumna of Ithaca College, and hails from Metro-Detroit.






Christy Lee, business manager III, Georgia State University


Christy Lee joined the PantherDining team in the summer of 2021. Born and raised a Georgia peach, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in science from Georgia State University in 2003. Christy has 28 years of food service experience and is passionate about providing outstanding dining experiences, as well as the training and development of the people who make it happen. Family is Christy’s most treasured gift. She enjoys live music, hiking with her Aussie pup and spending time with her two boys.







Ambarish Lulay, executive chef, Cornell University


Chef Ambarish Lulay, a Culinary Olympic Silver Medalist, embarked on his culinary journey in India before honing his skills in classical French cuisine with Mediterranean influences. Working at esteemed establishments like Leela Beach and Taj Mahal Hotel, Chef Lulay's expertise expanded further during his tenure at Auberge du Moulin de Lisogne in Belgium and the renowned American Club in Wisconsin. At Kendall College, he spearheaded culinary education initiatives and excelled as a Chef Instructor. Under mentorship, he showcased his talents at Yosemite National Park's Ahwahnee Hotel, winning a silver medal at the 2008 Culinary Olympics. Transitioning to California, he championed California cuisine at Asilomar Conference Grounds and later led culinary operations at Petco Park in San Diego. His journey continued at Purdue University, where he oversaw hospitality operations and fostered sustainable initiatives. Joining Cornell University in 2021, Chef Lulay now heads culinary operations, wellness, and innovation, residing in Ithaca with his family. He is grateful for the opportunity to cook in various segments of the industry such as academia, hotels and resorts, conference centers, restaurant groups, sportservice, and colleges and universities.




Debbie Lyons-Blythe, chair, U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, Blythe Angus


Debbie Lyons-Blythe is a cattle rancher in the Flint Hills of Kansas. She and her husband Duane Blythe, along with their three sons, run a registered Angus cowherd, as well as a crossbred herd. In addition, they raise 275 heifers that they sell as bred heifers across the nation. Blythe Family Farms is a founding member of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, and Debbie serves as the Co- Chairman for the Outreach Working Group and is the chairman-elect for the group.








Joe Mehring, unit manager: Rheta's Market, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Joe Mehring is the Unit Manager of Rheta’s Market at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has worked with University Housing Dining & Culinary Services for over 20 years, spending about 15 years overseeing the Catering Operation and the last 5 as a unit manager. Rheta’s is named after one of Housing’s most influential Food Service Directors and has served as a test operation many times over the years. It was University Housing’s first Market concept dining hall, and Joe oversaw the transition to it being the first All You Care To Eat dining hall in the fall of 2019.   







Sid Mehta, senior director – ancillary services, Simon Fraser University


As the Senior Director of Ancillary Services at Simon Fraser University, Sid is currently responsible for enriching the SFU community of 43,000 by overseeing business and support services like Food, Retail, Bookstore, Printing, Mobility, & Events, with over $75 million in annual managed services. Renowned for his expertise in sustainable food systems, Sid has actively engaged in food and retail-related discussions at multiple United Nations organizations, aiding clients in delivering effective strategies and tactical solutions for transitioning to sustainable food systems. Sid’s expertise in sustainable food systems and his experience in developing and executing complex business strategies have also given him unique insight into the policy framework, infrastructure, and operational processes required to enable the transition to electric mobility. He understands that the success of this transition depends on a range of factors, including access to charging infrastructure, government policies that support the adoption of electric vehicles, operational strategies and effective public engagement. With an ambitious goal to meet SFU’s scope three transportation emission targets by 2025, Sid has been instrumental in driving the institution’s transition to electric mobility.





Bill Meierling, senior vice president of external affairs, National Automatic Merchandising Association


Bill Meierling is a creative and innovative strategist entrusted by high profile leaders and organizations to direct advocacy campaigns, lead message development and build brands while driving transformational change and delivering global business results. He has led public affairs, political and marketing campaigns at every level—U.S. local, state and federal, and internationally on four continents. At NAMA, Bill leads federal and state government affairs, communications and marketing to grow the U.S. convenience services industry and help nearly 160,000 vending, micro market, office coffee and pantry professionals bring convenience to life.







Traci Melton, general manager, Oregon State University

Traci has over 30 years’ experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry including fine dining, catering, dining centers and retail.  In her 25 years at Oregon State University, she is currently the General Manager of Retail for University Housing and Dining.  She oversees one grocery store, 2 convenience stores and 3 coffee shops.  Traci also started “Hugs from Home”- a care package program that offers family and friends the opportunity to send packages to their students. In her time at Oregon State, Traci has been able to completed all of the NACUFs Institutes.


Ryan Moore, executive director of hospitality, Harvest Table Culinary Group


In 25+ years in campus dining, Ryan has been an “operator’s operator". Before serving as the Director of Hospitality at Elon University, Ryan supported all of Harvest Table in the critical role of Transition Manager, providing essential opening leadership and supporting operations across the Country. Prior to joining the Harvest Table team, he served as Resident District Manager at East Carolina University. Under his oversight, East Carolina University was recognized as the “Best Dining Hall” in the nation by USA Today for the largest operation within direct oversight. Previous roles included Regional Operations Excellence Manager and Director of Operations at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ryan earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina.







Eric Mittenthal, chief strategy officer, Meat Institute


As the Meat Institute’s Chief Strategy Officer Eric leads the Protein PACT initiative and the Meat Institute’s framework for continuous improvement to transparently verify progress toward global goals, in alignment with consumers’ values and expectations. Prior to joining the Meat Institute, Eric led the International Food Information Council’s (IFIC) communication and media initiatives. He started his career as a broadcast reporter and producer in major media markets, including Atlanta. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cornell University and a master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from Eastern Virginia Medical School.







Erica Nehrling, director of client relations, MenuTrinfo


Erica Nehrling hails from University of Georgia and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) for her B.S. in Dietetics and M.S. in Nutritional Sciences, respectively. She has experience as an administrative dietitian at UIUC Dining Services and ran the food allergy program there. She also helped develop and implement the food allergy mobile ordering app, OrderIT, at many universities in her previous position as Sales Director at Touchwork. She is passionate about advocating for students with disabilities, especially food allergies, and her personal workplace mission is to help others tap into their self-belief and self-efficacy. In her spare time, Erica enjoys horror movies, puzzles, hiking, anything in the great outdoors, and spending time with her family and her Dad’s dog, Buddy.







Dee Nguyen, unit manager, Texas Tech University Hospitality Services


Dee Nguyen is the Unit Manager of Recruitment with Texas Tech University Hospitality Services. Starting as a student, she has been with the department for 13 years. She oversees student hiring, retention, and presents about campus dining. After attending the Customer Service Institute in 2019, Dee has expanded her involvement with NACUFS on the Learning Committee, writing an article for Campus Dining Today, and 2022 Mobile Regional Conference Planning Committee as a MC and case study presenter. She enjoys her free time golfing and spending time with her wife and two-year-old daughter.







Stefanie Oller, senior vice president of sales, Five Star Breaktime Solutions

Stefanie Oller is senior vice president of sales for Five Star Breaktime Solutions. Oller has earned her position navigating the convenience food industry over the last 15 years. She started in the industry as a sales manager in 2009 with a Canteen franchise that was purchased by Five Star Breaktime Solutions in late 2020. She is a graduate of Western Kentucky University. Oller has an infectious personality and a fiery passion for the industry like very few others. She leverages her passion and expertise to get the most out of her sales directors, driving record sales numbers for the company in recent years. Oller carries strong convictions of high-quality service and a never-say-die attitude to work daily. This has been proven successful for her in building business and strategic supplier relationships over the years. She pushes the boundaries on what’s possible, driving her team and the rest of the company to innovate and improve.


Lexie Raczka, sustainability director, Boston University Dining Services, Aramark


Lexie Raczka is the Sustainability Director for Boston University Dining Services. She manages BU Dining’s sustainability initiatives including local and sustainable sourcing, waste reduction and diversion, low impact menu programming, a campus farmers’ market, and more. Lexie designed BU’s Choose to Reuse program, which won the Gold Award for Sustainability – Waste Management from NACUFS last year. She is involved in the development and adherence of Boston University’s Zero Waste Plan. Lexie has an M.A. in Agriculture, Food, and Environment and an M.S. in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, both from Tufts University.







Kirsten Richards, director of communications, Duke Dining


Kirsten Richards has over 18 years of experience in communications for the higher education industry and currently serves as the director of communications for Duke Dining, an award-winning program at Duke University. Kirsten has been instrumental in facilitating the program’s national recognition through her leadership in content creation, editorial and multimedia projects, brand management, and digital communications. She develops innovative campaigns that resonate with the student community, leveraging her extensive experience, dedication, and passion for hospitality in higher education. Kirsten’s ability to connect and engage with students is essential in shaping the communication strategies for Duke Dining, ensuring the program’s continued success and acclaim. 







Brandon Rudisill, director of culinary, Elon Dining, Harvest Table Culinary Group


Brandon hails from a small town just outside Charlotte, North Carolina. He worked during high school at the local BBQ restaurant where he developed a passion around the culinary arts. He furthered his hands-on training in Texas, Arizona and Utah honing skills around Latin flavors and Southwestern cuisine, slowly making his way back east. At Elon, Brandon is our top culinary ambassador. He collaborates with groups across campus, as well as students and academic departments, bringing to life our “everyone does guest engagement” approach. You’ll find him at pop-ups, teaching kitchens and local farms and businesses as he lives our responsible sourcing commitments. Brandon is particularly proud of our farm table dinners, which provide a unique opportunity to engage with students and introduce them to new and exciting foods. Brandon holds his Pro Chef 1 Certification. He encourages all members of his culinary brigade to hone their craft. In his downtime, he enjoys spending time cooking with his wife and daughters along with outside activities accompanied by his rambunctious German Shepherd.






Caroline Ryan, assistant vice president for auxiliary services, Elon University


Carrie has provided over 20 years of service to the Elon community with roles in Finance & Administration and Student Life. Carrie is currently serving as the Assistant Vice President for Auxiliary Services. Her responsibilities include providing innovative, strategic leadership and financial oversight for a diverse group of auxiliary services, including Barnes & Noble at Elon University, Elon Dining (Harvest Table Culinary Group), The Inn at Elon, Laundry Services, Mail Services, Print Services, Vending and Licensing/Trademarks. She has a successful record of achieving goals through leadership, attention to detail and the development of long-term partnerships with key stakeholders on and off campus







Aimee Sales, unit manager, Texas Tech University Hospitality Services


As a Marketing & Merchandising unit manager for Hospitality Services at Texas Tech, Aimee is responsible for producing and maintaining all menu content, department info and advertising space on 105 digital TVs in 12 different buildings including the Student Union Building. She works closely with managers and supervisors at 20+ locations to coordinate all digital and printed signage. She is a graduate of Texas Tech with a degree in Advertising and a minor in Marketing. Aimee has worked in Hospitality Services for 12 years. She is married with two sons and two cats.







Tarah Schroeder, vice president, Ricca Design Studios


As a foodservice designer and consultant, Tarah is heavily involved in planning, concept and schematic design, and oversees the design process thru documentation and construction administration. Her designs fit within the vision and financial goals of the team, with a focus on sustainable approaches to operations. Tarah started her career at Whole Foods Market developing their Rocky Mountain presence and Green Mission program. Now at Ricca Design Studios for almost 15 years, she has deep project experience in public assembly, hotels, resorts, colleges, universities, healthcare, B&I, and restaurants. She is a sought after expert of sustainability in the foodservice industry and has presented at numerous conferences. She has a BA in Business and Environmental Science from the University of Southern California and a MBA from University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business.






Dianne Sutherland, director of nutrition, University of Massachusetts - Amherst


Dianne Sutherland, RD, LDN is the Director of Nutrition at UMass Dining. She has been working at the University of Massachusetts Dining Services for 37 years. Under her direction, UMass has become a leader nationwide for Food Allergy Prevention. UMass Dining partnered with MenuTrinfo/AllerTrain in 2018 and conducts allergy training for foodservice staff and management. In her spare time, Dianne loves to spend time with her family, crochet, gardens, reads and cooking and baking.








Emily Svennevik, registered dietitian, Vanderbilt University


Emily Svennevik, MPH, RD, LDN is the Registered Dietitian for Campus Dining at Vanderbilt University. She has her master’s degree in Public Health Nutrition, with a background in both kinesiology and nutrition. Prior to her current role at Vanderbilt, she worked as the Registered Dietitian at the athletic training table at Vanderbilt in 2021, and also within Michigan Dining during her graduate program. Emily assists students with allergens or other dietary restrictions navigate dining halls, helps to provide nutritional guidance to students and cooks, and facilitates presentations and cooking classes across campus.







Peter Testory, director of dining & culinary services, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Peter Testory is the Director of Dining and Culinary Services-Housing Division at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Testory has been in this role for 6 years, and has been in the foodservice industry for the past 30 years with 20 of those years in College/University Foodservice. Dining and Culinary Services has within its portfolio 6 AYCTE dining locations, 1 self branded full service coffee shop, 1 self branded smoothie concept, 1 full service Starbucks franchise, 1 franchise Shake Smart location, 3 convenient stores, autonomous vehicle delivery program, cook/chill and central bakery.







Logan Thompson, assistant professor of animal science, Kansas State University


Logan grew up on a registered horned hereford ranch in central Texas which instilled a passion to improve the sustainability of beef production by developing practical solutions for producers. Through his teaching appointment, he aims to give students the tools necessary to speak and understand the evolving space of sustainability and to be successful as the next generation of farmers and ranchers who will serve as stewards of the Great Plains. Logan started his bachelor's degree at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX prior to completing his degree at Texas Tech University in 2015. Following this he earned a Masters in beef sustainability at Oklahoma State University in 2017 and a PhD in ruminant nutrition at Michigan State University in 2021. Prior to joining Kansas State University in August of 2022, he served as a post-doctoral fellow at Colorado State University.







Allison Trinkle, VP of culinary development & supplier diversity, Chartwells Higher Ed


Allison is a classically trained chef with over 25 years of experience, spanning fine-dining restaurants, luxury hotels and contract food service. She HAS been part of the Chartwells Higher Education team for 14 years and currently is the Vice President of Culinary Development and Supplier Diversity on the Retail, Growth and Retention team. In this role Allison ensures Chartwells is seeking out local partnerships for new and existing business for retail, product or farmer opportunities. Additionally, she ensures an increase in the number of diverse suppliers that celebrate women and minority owned businesses. Allison is the Chartwells liaison for Compass Women in Culinary and hosts bi-monthly calls to empower, engage and celebrate the women chefs of Chartwells.







Kate Williams, director of guest experience, Harvest Table Culinary Group


Kate draws on more than 18 years of professional expertise in higher education guest engagement, hospitality, marketing and sales. Her personal philosophy is that we are all “mission extenders”. Kate helped to create the role of Guest Experience Manager (GEM). She leads a team of onsite GEMs and Digital Specialists in the development, implementation and measurement of guest engagement strategies aligned to each campus, while supporting brand development and revenue growth. Kate is Harvest Table’s resident generational expert. She provides insight on current and future higher education students to understand their expectations for their collegiate experience and translates that into services and engagement strategies to meet students where they as they evolve along their student journey. Kate holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and a Master of Business Administration from Elon University.







Evan Wilson, unit manager, Texas Tech University Hospitality Services


As the Content Manager for Hospitality Services at Texas Tech, Evan is responsible for photographing, filming, and coordinating all content creation for the department. These duties include providing content for print, web, digital menus, TV advertisements, training collateral and managing social media platforms. Outside of Texas Tech Evan runs a production company and enjoys time with his wife and animals.








Kelli Wood, east regional registered dietitian, Aramark


Kelli Wood is the East Regional Registered Dietitian for Aramark, supporting Washington DC, Virginia, and North Carolina universities. Kelli began her career as the on-site dietitian for UNC-Chapel Hill’s dining services. Now supporting from a regional level, she ensures that all campuses- large and small- provide adequate food allergen solutions for their students. Kelli is a major contributor to the development of several food allergy-related standards and policies that are widely used by the entire line of business for Collegiate Hospitality. With a passion for identifying and executing training needs, continual advancement of food allergy programs, and developing inclusive menus, she is an advocate for students looking for safe and tasty meals on campus.