Featured Sessions

General Sessions

Thursday, July 12

Off-Centered Leadership • SAM CALAGIONE

Sponsored by BusBros_Feb2010.JPG


Off-Centered Leadership considers an innovative approach to business by exploring what happens when we stop competing and start collaborating — both externally in the “marketplace” and internally in building a culture of communication, trust and alignment. Brimming with lessons on entrepreneurship and culture from the founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, one of the fastest growing independent breweries in the country, this talk highlights how we can support our institutions, departments, and employees in working together—and with other local businesses or schools—to reach a common goal. Sam shares how Dogfish Head has developed a company culture and a revolutionary business model that keeps product development fresh and creates engaging customer experiences, and how those lessons can apply to our relationships and organizations. Participants will enjoy Calagione’s casual storytelling which belies the incredible cult of followers and enormous business growth Dogfish has enjoyed since its founding 20 years ago. 

Sam Calagione has been focused on brewing beers with culinary ingredients outside the Reinheitsgebot since 1995 when he first opened Dogfish Head as the smallest American craft brewery. Today, Dogfish has grown into a 300+ person company and is one of the most recognized breweries in the country. 

Dogfish Head is based in Delaware with Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, an off-centered brewpub and distillery, Chesapeake & Maine, a geographically enamored seafood restaurant, Dogfish Inn, a harbor-front beer-themed motel and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, a production brewery and distillery featuring a tasting room and food truck.  Dogfish currently sells beer in 37 states and Washington D.C. and spirits in the mid-Atlantic region.

Sam’s innovative style and collaborative spirit has earned him a reputation as one of the industry’s most adventurous entrepreneurs and brewers. Sam has authored four books and was named the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional in 2017.  Sam, his wife Mariah (Dogfish VP) and their family reside in coastal Delaware.   

Friday, July 13

Creating a Customer Service Revolution • JOHN DIJULIUS

Sponsored by cropped-Hoshizaki-Indo-Logo-copy.png


Be the brand people cannot live without. Learn how numerous companies have made customer service their biggest competitive advantage, are dominating their industries, and are making price irrelevant!

At this presentation you’ll discover how:

International consultant and best-selling author of three Customer service books, his latest book, The Customer Service Revolution (Greenleaf Books 2015), instantly hit #1 on Amazon. John works with world class companies like The Ritz-Carlton, Lexus, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Nestlé, Marriott Hotels, PwC, Cheesecake Factory, Progressive Insurance, Harley Davidson, Chick-fil-A, and many more.

John isn’t just talking about it, he lives it, as a very successful entrepreneur of two businesses. John Robert’s Spa, a chain of upscale Cleveland locations, has been repeatedly named one of the top 20 salons in America; and The DiJulius Group, a consulting firm focused on changing the world by creating a Customer service revolution. John will demonstrate how we can make our Customer service our single biggest competitive advantage and make price irrelevant!

Saturday, July 14

Connecting Through Comedy • MELISSA BOWLER


Melissa Bowler is a dynamic presenter who has a consulting practice that is based on the power of improv comedy to aid professionals in becoming stronger communicators and managers. She is the co-creator and Executive Director of the Providence Improv Guild and has presented around the United States in hospitals, schools, corporations and within the College & University sector at RISD, Tufts, Baylor and Bryn Mawr to name a few. Connecting Through Comedy is an interactive program she has developed which uses improv comedy techniques to engage and explore how we can better communicate and connect with others. Melissa’s unique presentation style brings to light the important role that empathy, as well as self-awareness, play in being a successful hospitality professional. This program will delve into aspects of teamwork, empathy, unconscious biases, and adaptability. Be prepared to access your creative side, laugh, reflect and learn.

Super Sessions

Thursday, July 12

Building a Culture of Accountability to Achieve Results • Ron Paul, Partners in Leadership 


In a competitive environment, no organization’s survival is guaranteed.  Today, the pace of change is accelerating, technological advances are multiplying, funds are tightening, competition is growing and funding and staff resources are constrained.   As a result, more is demanded of all of each of us on our campuses and in our dining programs.  Attend this session to learn how to build a culture of accountability to remain competitive and achieve results.  Learn how to align and focus your team on key results.   Learn how to apply these principles to your dining program as well as contribute to the larger conversations on campus.  Learn what you can do personally, to lead toward greater results, remain positive and overcome obstacles.

Ron has extensive experience in many industries, spanning energy, banking, telecommunications, healthcare, food services, manufacturing, and nonprofit organizations. 

In addition to his business expertise, Ron is a sought-after keynote speaker and facilitator. Known for his captivating and interactive presentation skills, Ron connects with audience members in a lasting and meaningful manner.

Ron holds an MBA from Cal U and a Ph.D. in business administration (management) from Northcentral University. He speaks Spanish and Italian.

NACUFS and Its Visionary Enablers • Moderated by Rafi Taherian


Moderated by Rafi Taherian, associate vice president for Yale Hospitality, the panel shown will reflect on the evolution of collegiate dining. 

NACUFS' 60-year anniversary provides a reflective opportunity to take a deeper dive into its rapid and amazing evolution of collegiate dining. The transformation of campus dining was enabled by visionary leaders that took risks and moved forward the change that we are all proud of. NACUFS was at the center and forward moving of the most innovative best practices where ideas were shared, relationships were forged and networking platform continued to expand. The cross-section and history of these changes were memorialized by the industry and professional magazines. Today’s campus dining is by far the most exciting and innovative space in food service.  The intellectual curiosity of students is nurtured by the experiences they have in dining rooms, where issues in the food system are challenged at every meal.

Food that is prepared in a culturally authentic way enticing texture, flavor, aroma, and taste has become a platform for incubating ideas, trends, and experimentation not only in campus dining but for the industry at large.

Our panelists will share with you the transformational moments in NACUFS history by recognizing some of our leaders and their contribution to College and University Foodservice.

According to panelist, John Lawn; “You can’t look ahead very far without at least first looking over your shoulder.” The strengths that got collegiate dining and NACUFS this far are the same strengths it will need in the future, but the tactics and strategies will likely have to be more sophisticated and different. 

Honoring the past, Empowering the Future will become the key deliverable through this project. This session will take us on a lovely journey of our past.

Industry Leaders Share Product Development, Market Research and International Trends • Moderated by Gerald White

Sponsored by ECOLAB, Inc.  


Food trends and tastes are shifting as quickly as people and cultures are able to travel around the globe. In this session, Gerald White, Plate Magazine will facilitate a discussion with industry representatives to share their approaches to product development and innovation and how they utilize national, international and generational consumer market research to develop new products. 

Participants will learn how industry research drives and influences trends in the food industry and discover new concepts and trend information from different food segments that may apply on campus.  Attendees will also be able to describe product development approaches, the role data plays in product development and menu adoption cycles, and name three food trends applicable on campus.

Friday, July 13

Leveraging the Power of Strengths Psychology • Mike Ritz & Kevin Cooper, Leadership Rhode Island

Sponsored by Ventura Foods LLC


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Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day? Do others around you, in your personal life and in your companies, have the opportunity to do what they do best every day? Based on Gallup research, most people do not. The traditional paradigm has been to focus on those things people are not good at and to make them better. However, when individuals identify their talents and develop them into strengths, they are happier and more engaged. 

In this workshop, through reflective activities, interactive discussions and sharing of best practices, attendees’ will learn how to discover, understand and maximize a strengths-based philosophy for use in their personal and professional lives. Attendees will also leave with takeaways for how they can continue to leverage a strengths-based approach once the conference is over.

For the past four years, Leadership Rhode Island has spearheaded a cross-sector movement to spread the strengths-based philosophy throughout Rhode Island. They have witnessed the transformative power of adopting a strengths-based approach at individual, team, and organizational levels.

The Rhode Island School of Design Auxiliary Services implemented strengths within their program in 2016-2017. We use them as a case study highlighting the power of adopting a strengths-based approach within a team to implement the program, generate employee pride and improve multi-directional communication.

Intuitive Innovation: An Introduction to Design Thinking • David Schonthal, IDEO

Sponsored by Perdue 


Design is not just a verb – it is a way of thinking. In this interactive session, Kellogg School of Management Professor and IDEO Business Designer David Schonthal will highlight some of the fundamentals of Design Thinking and discuss how they can be applied to everything from products and services to business models. We’ll explore how we can apply these principles across a variety of industries, in small companies and large enterprises alike. You don’t need a background in design or engineering to benefit from this session – you just need a bit of curiosity and a desire to view the world through a more human-centered lens.

David Schonthal is a Professor of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management where he teaches courses in new venture creation, design thinking and creativity. He also serves as the Executive Director of Kellogg's Zell Fellows program -- a selective venture accelerator program designed to help student-entrepreneurs successfully launch new businesses.

David is also a Portfolio Director and Business Designer at IDEO, an award-winning innovation consultancy, where he helps companies design new business models and creative paths for products and services to get to market.  David has also developed initiatives such as the IDEOs Startup-in-Residence program as well as other offers and approaches around venture design and corporate entrepreneurship.

David earned his MBA from The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and his B.A. in International Relations from Boston University.

If all else fails, Davids Plan B is to use his booming baritone to break into the lucrative voiceover world.

Add your favorite speakers to your schedule on the NACUFS App!