In 2006, he hiked the Ankascocha Trail into Machu Picchu. In 2007, he climbed and summited Mt. Kilimanjaro. Soon after graduating from the University of Central Florida he took up endurance sport.
In 2018, Kyle was a member of the first team with all blind or visually impaired stokers (person on the back of a tandem bike) to complete Race Across America. Later that year Kyle became the first totally blind athlete to complete an Ironman branded triathlon in under 11 hours at Ironman Arizona.
Dr. Z. Benek Altayli, Executive Director of Wellness Center, University of Colorado Colorado Springs
Dr. Z. Benek Altayli came to the United States from Turkey in 2001 for her graduate studies in clinical psychology. When she completed her internship year in 2005, she was hired in a training psychology clinic in University of Colorado Colorado Springs, as the interim Director of the clinic’s flagship program, and was offered a job as an instructor at the Psychology Department. In 2008 she became the Director of Mental Health Services in University of Colorado Colorado Springs. As a psychologist, she has a special interest in assessment and treatment of psychological trauma, behavioral emergencies, and health psychology. In 2016 she was one of the founding partners of the Wellness Center as an integrated care clinic. She served in the Emergency Operations Team during the COVID-19 global pandemic on campus, assisting in the steering of the campus response to behavioral emergencies of the entire campus community. In 2022 she became the Executive Director of the Wellness Center. In addition to her role at the Wellness Center, Dr. Altayli currently serves at the Board of Directors od Pikes Peak Suicide Prevention Partnership, as a member of El Paso Country Suicide Prevention Collaborative, at the Colorado State Suicide Prevention Commission as a Higher Education Commissioner, and the Colorado National Collaborative’s Assessment Taskforce tied to the Office of Suicide Prevention of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
Alan Andersen, Executive Director for Dining Services, Utah State University
Alan J. Andersen currently serves Utah State University as Executive Director for Dining Services. In this role, he supervises a team of over 400 employees – over 90% of them part-time students - serving approximately 8,000 meals per day. The operations under his department include 13 retail operations, 2 large Dining Halls, a full-service Catering Team, as well as Concessions for all sports on campus. “Creating an Excellent College Experience”, the stated mission of Dining Services brings a new perspective to employees who would normally consider themselves burger flippers, cashiers and dishwashers. Utilizing this mission and motivating employees thru the Dining Services’ PREDICT program has been his passion since its development over 10 years ago. Alan recently retired after 30 year as a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserve, having served 3 combat tours in Iraq over the years. This along with over 30 years working with students at U.S.U. has given him a unique perspective on life and how to “enjoy the ride”.
Joel Adour, Foodservice Sales Executive, Branding Iron Holdings, Inc.
Joel is responsible for the growth of the organization and creating new organic revenue streams. Joel is incredibly passionate about the employee experience and has established teams that are motivated, high-performing, and able to change to adapting customer expectations!
Michael Craig, Co-Founder and Chief Evangelism Officer, Nutrislice
Nutrislice is an Inc 500 SaaS company located in Denver, CO. Michael helps shape the company’s strategy, sales, and marketing functions and now focuses his efforts on evangelizing the importance of providing both exceptional customer and operator experiences that will drive successful food operations!
John Diaz, Vice President, Point-of-Sale Solutions, Transact Campus Inc.
As the Vice President of Point-of-Sale Solutions at Transact, John serves as the sales leader for POS and Self-Service solutions. Prior to joining Transact, he served as COO and Vice President of Business Development of Sequoia Retail Systems, Inc. where he was responsible for company operations as well as product strategy and market development. Before joining Sequoia, John served as a director in the Auxiliary Services division of Duke University and was responsible for the University’s enterprise-wide campus card program. John has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Clemson University and a Master of Business Administration Degree from Duke University.
Darrin Dickerson, Director of Culinary Development, CSM Cost Solutions
Darrin Dickerson contributes over 30 years in the food service industry including management experience in corporate, restaurant and educational facilities.
He started as many have in a restaurant dish room, graduated from culinary school at Mitchell Technical Institute and continued to receive a Bachelors in Hospitality Management and Business Administration from Graceland University. Darrin climbed the ranks in Higher Education Contract Management Including the Director position at several Universities and multiple District and Regional roles.
Darrin has extensive knowledge in contract management, business development, procedural training and years of hands-on kitchen experience.
Kaitlin Kartchner, Campus Dietician, Brigham Young University
Kaitlin Kartchner is a registered dietitian nutritionist working with Brigham Young University Dining Services in Provo, Utah. In her role as campus dietitian, she works with chefs to accommodate food allergies and develop menus. She strives to create inclusive dining experiences and innovative strategies that work for foodservice systems. She also provides individual counseling for students and develops wellness programs. Kaitlin is passionate about helping students fuel themselves and enjoy eating food. Kaitlin holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nutritional science and dietetics from Brigham Young University, where she also completed her dietetic internship.
Polly Knutson, Assistant Director, Dining and Hospitality Services, University of Colorado Colorado Springs
For over 15 years, Polly Knutson, MBA has been a noteworthy leader in the restaurant and hospitality field; with 5 of years working as a contract services company and 7 years in the university dining sector. She currently works as the Assistant Director of Dining and Hospitality Services at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, and Polly has been featured in Foodservice Director publications and the National and Local American Culinary Federation Publications as an expert in her field.
Allison LaRock, MS, RDN, LN, Registered Dietician, Montana State University
Allison LaRock is a registered dietitian nutritionist working with culinary services at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. In her role as campus dietitian, she works with chefs, managers, and students to accommodate food allergies and special dietary needs. With a holistic approach, she aims to encourage all individuals to enjoy food in a way that fosters connection, community, and fulfillment. If asked what her favorite food is, she would say without a doubt, quesadillas.
Larry Lee, M.Ed., CASP - Executive Director of Auxiliary Services – University of Colorado Colorado Springs
Larry Lee is a career hospitality professional who grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; started in private clubs evolving to resort development and management, before becoming a university administrator and then development officer. He joins UCCS from Aramark Higher Education where he served as Vice President of Strategic Partnerships. Before Aramark, Larry served as Vice President of Operations for Chartwells Higher Ed and Senior Director of Development for Guckenheimer.
Prior to his positions in contracted hospitality services, he was the Chief Sustainability Officer and Director of Auxiliaries & Contractual Services at the University of Southern Mississippi. While at Southern Miss he led an instrumental team that oversaw comprehensive dining services, bookstore, photo services, post office, and copy services. He also developed and implemented the first institutional sustainability initiative in the state of Mississippi earning recognition from the Princeton Review as one of the most environmentally responsible institutions in the nation.
Larry holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing from Mississippi State University, a Master of Education degree in Higher Education Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi, and is a certified auxiliary services professional (CASP).
Victoria Liu, Founder and CEO - BYPPO
Victoria Liu is the Founder and CEO of BYPPO, a food ordering app aiming to redefine how people discover and procure food.
Born in Miami, Victoria moved to Gainesville, FL, in 2014. She earned a Bachelor's Degree at the Fisher School of Accounting and a Master's Degree from the Univesity of Florida - Warrington College of Business. While earning her Master's Degree, she worked for Cherry Bekaert LLP as an Audit Intern.
Victoria was a Board Representative and Scholar for the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). As an active advocate for young entrepreneurs, she is frequently a guest speaker at the University of Florida, where she speaks with aspiring student entrepreneurs about starting their businesses.
In just three years, she has launched the BYPPOLocal and BYPPOCampus program - two very different programs that bridge the community with local restaurants and campus dining. BYPPOLocal focuses on bridging local restaurants with the local foodie community. BYPPOCampus is a peer-to-peer eco-friendly delivery program for higher education, focusing on student safety and experiential learning. It focuses on building a network of campus-affiliated delivery runners, primarily students, that deliver only to other campus-affiliated personnel, allowing them to interact with others and develop their professional and social contacts.
Victoria is also a major food influencer, managing multiple food blog pages with over 60,000 combined followers. She studied food and culture at the Florence University of the Arts (Florence, Italy) in 2015 and continuously travels the world to broaden her food palette.
Matt Obergfell, Business Development Manager – Non Commercial Northeast, Hormel Foods Corporation
Matt is the Non-Commercial Northeast Business Development manager for Hormel Foods. Matt has been working with the College and University Segment for 8 years and his current role for the past 4. He is a graduate of Illinois State University. Matt is a lover of pizza and has had the opportunity to sample and work with pizzerias from all over the country.
Denise Payton, Assistant Director Dining Services, Central Washington University
Denise Payton delivers high-energy presentations that engage and interact with the audience. She has a proven track record of successful leadership development programs at two West coast universities.
With 30 years of leadership experience in corporate, government, and higher education, Denise knows how to connect with her learners and provide tools and training so industry leaders can effectively do the same.
Denise received her master’s degree in Adult Education and Training, Human Resources, Organizational Leadership, in 2015, from Oregon State University. She is certified as a DDI Recruiter, Strength Quest Facilitator, Serve Safe Instructor, Safety in Motion Trainer, and Manage First Instructor.
Amy Rasmussen, Associate Director of Catering and Event Services, Utah State University
An 18-year veteran in catering, event planning, and event execution, and serving in that role at the university for the past 13 years, Amy has established a culture of excellence in university catering and VIP protocols as well as presidential, advancement, alumni, athletic, and student events. Amy is no stranger to excellence in the academic setting—learning the value of discovery from her degree in Physics, she found her passion in the food and event industry and loves the challenge of satisfying demanding collegiate standards.