Sojo’s background spans over 15 years in the higher education hospitality industry. She is highly experienced in master planning, dining assessments, facility planning, marketing and strategic planning for complex foodservice programs. Sojo has worked on nearly every type of project from market research activities, meal plan assessment, student union programming to providing comprehensive support for the firm’s strategic planning work.
Sojo is a people person and exceptionally perceptive in identifying customer needs and delivering solutions that exceed expectations. She makes colleagues laugh, keeps them young, and has an amazing ability to make friends wherever she goes. However, she loses all these qualities when playing a mean, competitive game of table tennis.
Kate Allen, PE, MBA
Kate’s 25 years of experience in the Architecture and Engineering industry on both the design and the business sides. Working collaboratively with firms to anticipate and prepare for their future, Kate draws from her unique educational background as well as her experiences as an engineer, educator, entrepreneur, industry consultant, and business leader.
Kate’s areas of specialization include transition strategies and business improvement initiatives.
James Camacho, FCSI, CSI
April Fool’s day 1979, the day James Camacho, FCSI, started working full time at Joseph Camacho Associates, the Food Service Consulting firm founded by his father in 1962.
Joe Carbonara is editorial director for Foodservice Equipment & Supplies and restaurant development + design magazines. Prior to becoming Editor in Chief for FE&S in 2004, Joe was a marketing manager for SmithBucklin Corp., where he spent six years working with the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers. A diehard Cubs fan, Joe is also a fan of the finer things in life such as an ice cold can of Pabst Blue Ribbon. You can follow Joe on Twitter @FES_Editor.
Rob Connelly joined Henny Penny Corporation in 2005 as vice president of marketing, a role he served two years in before becoming president in 2007. Prior to Henny Penny, his 25+ years of experience included positions in the financial services industry. He is currently NAFEM immediate past president.
Richard Eisenbarth, FCSI
Initially joining Cini-Little International, Inc., in 1977, Dick Eisenbarth, FCSI, has enjoyed a successful career with the firm, holding a wide range of senior positions throughout his tenure. While retired from day-to-day leadership at Cini-Little, Dick continues to mentor staff members and the foodservice industry through a variety of programs. Dick is a client-focused, results-oriented leader with a proven track record of managing teams of professionals on complex foodservice planning and design efforts. He has earned a reputation as a leader in the design of dynamic, resourceful and efficient food and beverage facilities for the world’s leading hotels and resorts, contemporary higher education campuses, major stadiums, arenas and convention centers, and corporations.
Dick’s passion for the industry is evident in his service to various industry and educational advisory boards. He is a Professional Member of Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI), and past Trustee for The Americas Division. Dick embraces the importance of FCSI’s mission in the foodservice industry and the symbiotic relationship each member brings to the association. He enjoys sharing his industry knowledge with colleagues and, in the spirit of collaboration, serves as a speaker at many academic and industry conferences. He has served as part of the Academic Team teaching the “Foodservice Design Boot Camp,” and continues to serve as a Judge to the National Restaurant Association’s Kitchen Innovations Awards Program.
Dick believes in “giving back” and as such, is heavily involved with his alma mater, Purdue University, and the Hospitality and Tourism Management Department in the capacity of President’s Council Member and Strategic Alliance Committee Member. Dick is a Lifetime Member of Purdue University’s Alumni Association. Honors and distinctions include Life Fellow of Foodservice Research from the Foodservice Innovation Network, and Distinguished Alumnus Award from Purdue University’s Hospitality and Tourism Management Department. Just recently, Dick was the recipient of Foodservice Equipment & Supplies’ distinguished 2021 Hall of Fame Award. He also received the 2020 Foodservice Equipment Report’s Industry Service Award.
Dick resides in Jacksonville, Florida, with his wife, Polly (also a HTM grad). They have 2 adult children and 1 adorable granddaughter.
Joe Ferri Jr. is a leading industry expert in ventless cooking solutions and technology. Since beginning his foodservice career in operations as a classically trained chef (graduating from Johnson & Wales) he has worked on and off the line, and knows his way around a kitchen. Joe is also a skilled draftsman & CAD operator, working for major dealerships and consultants designing high-profile kitchens and foodservice operations. Now a partner at one of the largest rep firms in NYC - Pecinka Ferri - Joe represents some of the premier manufacturers of ventless cooking equipment. As the Directory of Project Sales he works closely with consultants and designers both in his market, and from around the country, sharing his knowledge and expertise. Joe currently resides in New Jersey with his wife. He enjoys snowboarding, camping, and live music. He is an avid hiker and kayaker.
Erik Haviland has been in the advertising and marketing world for the past 27 years. He founded theFUZE in 2003 with a focus on serving clients in the manufacturing and CPG space. From 2014 to 2018, theFUZE was integrated with Charlotte-based foodservice design firm Foodesign Associates, which served as an accelerator into foodservice and F&B industry verticals. Erik has both held and led every role across the creative agency gamut, and now spends most of his time vision-casting marketing and brand strategies, producing video, and serving as mentor to his team and clients.
Kathleen Held, CPSM
Kathleen Held is the Chief Executive Officer at Cini•Little International, Inc., a multidisciplinary consulting firm offering foodservice, laundry and solid waste consulting services to the A/E/C industry. With more than 20 years of experience in the industry, Kathleen oversees the business development and marketing for the firm’s worldwide offices. She develops strategic marketing programs, strengthening Cini-Little’s position in the global marketplace. Kathleen directs a team of marketing coordinators to manage the firm’s global brand and develop targeted proposals and presentation materials.
Kathleen is a Certified Professional Services Marketer. She is an Associate Member of Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI). She is a respected member of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, having held varied positions at the national, regional and local level. Kathleen is also a member of the Society of College and University Planning (SCUP), Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), and International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA). She is a frequent presenter at various A/E/C industry-related conferences.
Kathleen received a B.A. in Fine Arts from Frostburg State University.
Holmes has opened for comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Leslie Nielsen, and Ellen DeGeneres, as well as hosted events for such visionaries as Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, and Oprah Winfrey! Although a comedian at heart, having performed with the Second City and Just for Laughs, Holmes has recently delved into writing: penning the book I Love Your Laugh: Finding the Light in My Screwball Life. Born and raised in Ottawa en Anglais et Francais, Holmes sat back and enjoyed the hilarity that was her family: a handful of older brothers, a Mormon father and a feminist mother. Not a sitcom, just her family.
The Second City, Just for Laughs, and TV shows like Little Big Kid and The Itch got her noticed as a funny, quirky presence in the comedy community. After her comedy special Holmes Alone taped, she was offered her own sketch series: The Holmes Show. A Carol Burnett style series with lots of characters & impressions, Holmes became known for her oddball personifications of Celine Dion, Liza Minelli and Geri Halliwell. Holmes was delighted to join the cast of Royal Canadian Air Farce. There she played politicians and celebrities; including Michael Jackson and Jessica Simpson.
Jessica has two children, Alexa and Jordan, with her actor husband Scott. Having fallen in love with public speaking, Holmes decided to deepen the scope of her material by becoming a Life & Career Coach through San Diego’s Life Purpose Institute. She now enjoys a mix of comedy & motivational speaking.
Patti Klos is the Director of Dining and Business Services at Tufts University, a nationally ranked, student-centered research university with a global perspective. A born leader, Patti transforms organizations by actively engaging the team in meaningful, effective ways.
With more than 30 years’ experience in higher education dining, Patti combines her passion for program re-invention and facilities renovation with the development and training of the next generation of leaders. Her current focus is the creation of a 10-year strategic vision for Tufts Dining including investing $20m in the current facilities, and planning for new services to meet students changing lifestyles and preferences.
Patti is an active member of NACUFS, focusing on education at regional and national conferences, and is a past president. An outdoor enthusiast, Patti loves daily walks, hiking and biking as well as fiber arts and has been a quilt maker for over 40 years.
Mike Lee is the co-founder and co-CEO of Alpha Food Labs, a food innovation company that helps companies create innovation strategies and new products that are better for people, planet, and palate. Mike is also the founder of The Future Market, a futurist food lab that explores what our food system could look like in the next 5-25 years. Through Alpha Food Labs and the Future Market, Mike and his team have worked on various innovation strategy and product development projects with companies that include Campbell’s, Danone, Barilla, Google, Applegate, and more.
Mike’s experience in food design & innovation has covered a wide range over the past 14 years. Prior to Alpha Food Labs & The Future Market, Mike led product development initiatives on the Innovation & New Ventures team at Chobani. Mike focused on building out their savory platform and drove food design from consumer insights, to ideation, to food and brand development, to business planning and production.
Mike is a frequent speaker on food innovation and has been featured in many conferences and publications such as CNBC, Bloomberg, Fast Company, The New York Times, Money, Natural Products Expo West & East, The Culinary Institute of America, The National Restaurant Association, and many more. He also serves on the Board of Advisors for the Partnership for a Healthier America.
Laura Lentz, FCSI
Laura graduated from Cornell University with a BS Degree from the School of Hotel Administration and embarked on a career that started in foodservice and hospitality management. The daughter of Architects, Laura soon found her own interest in design. Her knowledge of culinary operations combined with her innate sense of design made her ‘a natural.’ Today, Laura has significant breadth and depth of experience, is an active professional member of FCSI (Foodservice Consultants Society International) and has completed more than 100 projects as lead designer. Her project typology ranges from hospitality to education, healthcare, and workplace dining. As a Design Principal and Owner at Culinary Advisors, she has managed her design studio, mentored upcoming colleagues, and brought in new clients. Laura is now central to Culinary Advisors’ strategic management as well as its public profile.
Kirby Mallon is the owner and president of Elmer Schultz Services, a third-generation family-owned business that provides service, parts, and installation for commercial cooking and refrigeration equipment. The company is a leading Authorized Service Agency in the Philadelphia region with offices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.
Having held virtually every position within Elmer Schultz, Mallon brings a unique perspective to the company’s daily operations. A solutions-minded small business owner, he is in the trenches every day with his management team and employees.
As owner and president, Mallon is laser-focused on the company’s long-term vision for growth. Under his direction, the company has an engaged culture in which employees are considered fellow collaborators. Mallon encourages transparency, with everyone working together toward common goals. Elmer Schultz employs new technologies within the industry and provides ongoing, best-in-class training. Mallon runs the company alongside his wife Amber, who acts as head of operations.
With over 30 years of broad industry exposure under his belt, Mallon has continued to give back to various organizations. As a member of Vistage Worldwide, Inc., he participated in peer-to-peer executive coaching for CEOs and business owners. He has also served as a member of the National Service Cooperative and is a proud member of the Commercial Food Equipment Service Association (CFESA).
Mallon was recently elected to be president of CFESA. Prior to this, his eight-year tenure on the board included serving as a vice president for two terms, acting as co-chair of the membership services committee, acting as head of the task force to raise funds to build CFESA’s World Headquarters and Global Training Facility, and serving on a number of panels representing CFESA, such as the HX Hotel Experience trade show in New York City. He also represented CFESA at two recent Meetings of the Five Families, an industry think tank between CFESA, Foodservice Consultants Society International, the Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association, the Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry, and the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers.
In addition to attending a trade school, Mallon obtained his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Merrimack College in New England. He and his wife currently live in Philadelphia’s Art Museum Area.
Karen Malody, FCSI
Karen Malody, FCSI, has owned her own foodservice consultancy for 23 years. Prior to establishing Culinary Options, she held leadership management positions with several restaurant and high-end supermarket groups. She is a trends analyst and concept strategist focusing on branded concept development, product and menu evaluation, menu diagnostics and assessment and menu concept and equipment integration. As well as her years working with restaurants, Karen has created innovative concepts for several large Corporate Dining operations designed to increase employee participation. She was also the original F&B Director for Starbucks where she developed the Gold Standard for food and beverage that allowed Starbucks to expand outside the Northwest. Karen was part of the three-member team that developed Frappuccino™. While Vice-president of Food Service & Product Development for Larry’s Markets, a high-end, trend-setting supermarket, she oversaw seven in-store operations while also creating all recipes for production in the commissary. Karen has received numerous industry awards throughout the years, to include Top Achiever Consultant of the Year from FE&S and the Industry Service Award from FER.
Matt Martinez is the marketing specialist with theFUZE. He works with clients to identify which marketing strategies work best to achieve their specific business goals. Matt is also reponsible for copywriting and scriptwriting for projects that include words.
Danielle Mason is the Director of Foodservice Consulting & Design Services for Vivreau Advanced Water Systems, a manufacturer of premium filtered hydration solutions. Danielle proudly represents Vivreau with all trade associations and consultants in the areas of foodservice, hospitality, healthcare, government, and education.
A strong believer in education, Danielle works to increase awareness of the managed foodservice & hospitality industry by establishing SHFM Foundation student chapters on collegiate campuses. Her passion for operational excellence and connecting people drives her to serve as ACFSA Board Member, Partner Representative - Equipment & Supplies, AHF Industry Advisory Board Member, FCSI Southeastern Education Chapter Leader and as a SHFM Foundation Board Member. She participates on several committees including ACFSA Equipment Specifications Correctional Package Committee, AHF 2022 Conference Planning Committee Co-Chair, FCSI 2022 Conference Planning Committee, Senior Dining Association Industry Partner Action Committee, and SHFM Foundation Fundraising Committee.
Tom Mitchell CFE, President of MAFSI and President of TLC Marketing Inc in Calgary Canada. He has been in the foodservice industry for forty-seven years -- ten in the restaurant industry and thirty-seven as a manufacturers rep. He believes that knowledge is the best tool you can have in our industry.
Colin has worked in the food service industry for almost 30 years starting in the UK and Ireland before arriving in Canada and is currently the Executive Director for Food and Beverage Services at the University of Toronto.
In his current role he is tasked with overseeing the day to day foodservice operations of residence dining, retail, catering and conferencing services at Canada’s largest University whilst also being responsible for the development of the strategic plan that realizes growth in the overall program.
He has broad experience within the industry across multiple sectors; hotels and resorts to corporate dining to traditional retail and QSR to healthcare and higher education.
Colin enjoys the challenge of the industry none more so than transitioning away from the pandemic and preparing for a brighter future that requires bold decision making from industry leaders.
Tarah Schroeder, FCSI, LEED AP
Tarah brings over fifteen years of experience in foodservice management, facility design, and project supervision. She started her foodservice journey at Whole Foods Market, helping to develop their Rocky Mountain presence and Green Mission program. Now with Ricca for ten years, Tarah has risen to an Executive Principal level where she manages multiple internal projects and initiatives that drive the company vision and strategy. She still plays an active role in designing projects and working with Ricca’s seven various studios. Adding to her experience, Tarah is a sought-after expert and Director of Sustainability at Ricca. She is one of the primary authors of the National Association of College and Universities Food Services (NACUFS) Sustainability Guide and has presented numerous speeches on sustainable foodservice design to engineers, architects, and others within the foodservice industry.
Joe Schumaker, FCSI
After graduating with honors from the California Culinary Academy, San Francisco, Joe co-founded Cosmopolitan Catering in Sunnyvale, CA. Joe left Cosmo in 2015 and started FoodSpace where he and his team consult as experts in kitchen design, foodservice management, food business growth strategy, innovative food technologies and mentorship.
Ken Schwartz, FCSI
Ken Schwartz is the President of Tampa-based, SSA. Ken, along with the SSA team, has built an organization which inspires and empowers. Their belief is that great ideas evolve. To support that philosophy, they have created an environment which supports individual thought and collaborative ideas resulting in the design of exceptional experience. Ken has been a long time member of FCSI and has previously served on the Board of Trustees. He is an avid cyclist, triathlete, certified cave diver, and shōrin-ryū karate 2nd dan.
Nicolas completed his college education in France before earning a BSc. Honours in Agri-Food Industries in England and a Master’s degree in Management of Food Businesses in Paris.
He worked for 18 years in international development with the French food group Fleury Michon, a European leader in deli and fresh cooked foods. In this position, he executed various general management mandates in several countries, including Poland, Italy and Spain before taking the international business strategy and growth leadership role. The company’s expansion to North America and a new business acquisition in Montreal took him to Canada in 2008.
Nicolas joined Aramark in 2012 with the initial mandate to restructure and grow its Québec division. In 2016, his responsibilities were expanded to the overall Eastern region, covering 6 provinces, overseeing all operations, and continuing the company’s growth in its key sectors: mainly higher education, business & industry, healthcare, senior living and remote workplaces.
Being in the customer service business, Nicolas’ main objectives are to develop a strong, professional, and engaged team that has a passion for hospitality and to constantly adapt Aramark’s services to new consumption trends in a rapidly changing competitive context.
Kip, located in Atlanta, is a proven leader in foodservice concept development and facility design. He offers his operational and strategic management background, combined with his design savvy and understanding of customer experience, to create effective and efficient design solutions. Accredited professionally in both LEED and WELL building standards, Kip is an expert in integrating sustainable elements into high performing building and human element designs. As Director of Design for our East Coast design studios, he encourages designers to make sustainability and wellness a top priority in all facets of the foodservice operations. Kip’s attention to detail and focus on quality and industry standards continually allow him to deliver a successful project to clients.
Kip rejoins Cini•Little after a 16-year hiatus whereupon he provided foodservice design with another consulting firm. Kip has held management and leadership roles with top hospitality companies and award-winning independent restaurant concept developments. He is a Professional Member of Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI) and is the Chair of the Association’s Council on Professional Standards, The Americas. Kip holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science Degrees from Purdue University’s School of Restaurant, Hotel and Institutional Management.
The New York Times has called Peter Shankman "a rockstar who knows everything about social media and then some." He is a 5x best selling author, entrepreneur and corporate keynote speaker, focusing on customer service and the new and emerging customer and neurotatypical economy. With three startup launches and exits under his belt, Peter is recognized worldwide for radically new ways of thinking about the customer experience, social media, PR, marketing, advertising, and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and the new Neurodiverse Economy).
April Simpkins, SHRM-CP, PHR
April is a dually certified HR Professional with 30 years of executive-level Human Resources experience. April is an HR Consultant and the Chief Human Resources Officer for Totalhr, a human resources services firm focused on supporting the HR needs of small- to mid-sized businesses. She has helped more than 1000 business owners shape and develop their human capital.
April’s experience and expertise, coupled with her continued study of Human Resources trends, has made her a trusted advisor for many in the business community. It also led to an invitation to The Business Journal Leadership Trust, which allows April to share her expertise with leaders nationwide. She has been a requested presenter and guest speaker for organizations that include Harvard University Extension School, Winthrop University, The Citadel, EEOC, and The City of Charleston, to name a few. She is also a member of the SHRM Speakers Bureau.
April is a board member of both the York County Regional Chamber and the SC Small Business Development Centers (SBDC). She is the Chapter Chair for the Charlotte affiliate of the Women Presidents Organization (WPO), a non-profit membership organization for women presidents, CEOs, and managing directors of privately held, multimillion-dollar companies. In 2016 WPO honored April with the Woman of Color Award for her business achievements.
April is the Chair of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee for Greenville SHRM. In 2020 April received the Unsung Hero Award from Greenville SHRM for her exemplary leadership in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. She was the Diversity Director for the South Carolina Society for Human Resources Management from 2018 – 2020. Her service and commitment to the HR community and the profession’s advancement led to her selection as a member of the HR Advisory Board for Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. She works with a team of HR thought leaders who have been charged with designing the human resources undergraduate and postgraduate degree curriculum and programs.
April has received many awards and honors for her business acumen. Her awards include: the 2020 Women In Business Achievement Award from the Charlotte Business Journal, the 2018 Fort Mill/ Tega Cay Business Person of The Year Award from the York County Regional Chamber, the Movers & Shaker Award given by Business Leader Magazine and, in 2016, April was named one of Charlotte’s 50 Most Influential Women by Mecklenburg Times.
April is a classically trained pianist, an avid runner, athlete, mother, wife, and entrepreneur.
William Taunton, FCSI
William P. Taunton, FCSI lives Santiago, Chile. He and his wife, Alejandro, have been married for 20 years and have five children.
Bill has been in the foodservice industry for over 28 years, first starting as an equipment distributor. He changed directions in 1998 when he founded GASTROTEC S.A., a foodservice consultancy firm. The following year he became an Associate Member of FCSI. Bill’s area of expertise is in kitchen design and foodservice equipment. His projects have included food production facilities, healthcare facilities, hotels and institutional foodservice areas.
Bill studied Electro Mechanical Engineering at the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Mexico City, Mexico. In his free time, Bill enjoys cooking, scuba diving and flying kites.
Carlos holds a B.A. in Industrial Design from Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and a B.Architecture from Florida Atlantic University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He also earned a MSc. in Building Physics and Sustainability from the Technical University of Munich in Germany.
He began his career working for leading foodservice consulting firms in the United States. At Cini-Little International (Fort Lauderdale Office) he developed projects in the hotel, health care and sports arena segments. He also worked with Strategic Restaurant Engineering (Miami Office) doing space planning, workstation design and prototype testing of retail and foodservice facilities with the application of industrial engineering techniques to develop strategic space planning and labour efficient facilities.
In 2010 he founded “arquitectura+culinaria”, a consulting firm based in Mexico City. The firm specializes in the planning and engineering of Foodservice and Back of House facilities, emphasizing the optimal use of energy in the building and integration of international design standards into local projects.
Currently he is working on several projects for hotel complexes in Mexico and Belize tourist destinations. He also has developed other projects in the corporate dining and restaurant segments in Mexico, the United States, Denmark and Spain.
Eric Von Kaenel
Eric H. Von Kaenel recently retired after over 48 years in the industry, beginning his career with Unified Brands’ Avtec brand in 1974. He has held various positions to include Engineering Manager, Regional Sales Manager, National Conveyor Product Manager, and Design Consultant Sales Manager and National Sales manager. Eric retired as National Sales Manager of Kitchen Energy Solutions, the provider of ECOAZUR, a demand control kitchen ventilation energy saving control system.
Eric has been actively involved in project design as well as product development and marketing, industry panels, and forums throughout his career. He has presented at numerous industry seminars and has published articles in industry publications. He has been a member of various industry associations including NACUFS, FCSI, NAFEM, SHFM and ACFSA, and served 4 years on the Board of Trustees for both FCSI-Worldwide and The Americas. He also served on the Allied Boards for FCSI and SHFM, as well as the Liaison Board for NAFEM/FCSI. Eric conducted training seminars on Ventilation, Utility Distribution, and Conveyor systems, and worked with commercial kitchen designers to design ventilation systems for various types of commercial food service facilities.
Eric lives in Downers Grove, Illinois with his wife, Linda. He has two sons and three grandchildren.
Richard is the Director of Outreach at the Frontier Energy Food Service Technology Center (FSTC), an unbiased, commercial foodservice, research-and-training facility known to most industry insiders as “fishnick”.
Trained as an electrical engineer, Richard started his career in alternative energy, changing from energy-generation to energy-efficiency when he joined the FSTC research team over thirty years ago. He is a contributor to the USGBC's LEED rating system and the EPA’s Energy Star program. Richard has lectured at UC Berkeley and UC Davis and taught a food service sustainability class at Diablo Valley College. Richard is a former member of the NRA's Conserve Advisory Council and is a past Fellow of the Hobart Center for Foodservice Sustainability.
Richard focuses his efforts on translating Frontier Energy’s 35 years of food service research into practical information. He has created and delivered over 1000 presentations and classes during the last 30 years and authored numerous research reports and articles in magazines, newsletters, and on the web. He is also the creator and author of the online Foodservice Energy Efficiency Expert (Fe3) training and certification program (www.fethree.com).