SCHOOL DISTRICT REGISTRATION EXHIBITOR REGISTRATION SESSIONS ANNUAL CONFERENCE HOME
Colleen Burns serves as the State Engagement and Innovation Lead for the Greater Chicago Food Depository where she advances administrative policy solutions related to hunger, poverty, nutrition, and public benefits. She also staffs the Illinois Commission to End Hunger, a public-private partnership of statewide leaders dedicated to the belief that no one in Illinois should go hungry. She has a long career in public service, including helping to create the Governor’s Office of Health Innovation and Transformation under the Quinn administration where she served as Policy Director supporting the development and implementation of the state’s health policy agenda. She also served as the Special Counsel for Health Policy to the Illinois Department of Insurance where she was responsible for the state’s efforts to implement the Affordable Care Act including establishing a Health Insurance Marketplace.
Michele Clark is a registered dietitian nutritionist and an Account Manager at National Food Group with eight years of experience in the school nutrition industry. Her passion is school nutrition and has a goal to reshape the idea of school lunch. Michele understands many sides of the industry as she has worked as a foodservice director in the St Louis Area as well as her current role in the manufacturer realm. Currently Michele is a member of the ILSNA industry board and has been involved since 2018.
Howard Cohen has been blessed to have in the foodservice equipment industry his entire career. He has worked in the restaurant business as a distributer salesman, an equipment and supply specialist and has served the last 25 years as a manufacturers’ representative.
Sarah Elliott is a USDA FNS Regional Farm to School Lead for the Midwest Regional Office. Her focus is on supporting Farm to School across the Midwest, including local food in schools initiatives and the Farm to School Grant program. Drawing on her experiences with small farms, food banking, and other FNS programs, Sarah brings a unique perspective to her work.
Leah Erke, from Quincy, Illinois, is an educator with the ABCs of School Nutrition program. Her role is to provide professional development training for school nutrition staff in K-12 schools. Leah holds a bachelor’s degree in Restaurant Management from University of Illinois, and an associate’s degree in Dietetics from St. Louis Community College. She joined Illinois Extension in 2016, after serving nine years at John Wood Community College as the Department Chair and Instructor of the Restaurant and Hospitality Management Program. She taught courses on professional cooking, food safety, financial management, and menu planning in addition to overseeing the college’s cafeteria (staffed by her students). Prior to her position at John Wood Leah was the food service director at Hannibal Regional Hospital in Hannibal, Missouri. There she managed 42 employees and was responsible for all meals served to patients, employees, and visitors.
Michelle Fombelle is an Extension Educator with the University of Illinois Extension’s Illinois Nutrition Education Program. Michelle’s past work experiences within community health education includes academia, healthcare, and community outreach within low-income populations. She has a passion for community nutrition in rural audiences, working in a variety of settings focused on preventative care and optimizing nutrition among all audiences of varying needs and economic levels.
Leia Flure is a registered dietitian with nearly 15 years of experience in nutrition education. As part of the ABCs of School Nutrition team, she develops training materials for school nutrition staff, handles marketing and communications, and documents success stories from Illinois school nutrition programs.
Scot Gregory is the District Manager of Aramark K-12, serving the K-12 school districts in Central Illinois. In his 40 years of experience in the K-12 foodservice arena, he has managed school districts ranging from 400 student rural districts to 9,000 student urban districts. He has extensive knowledge in implementing all types of alternative feeding programs, including breakfast, lunch, COVID curbside, COVID home delivery and has collaborated with an array of parties to obtain best outcomes for their foodservice programs.
Kevin has spent more than 30 years in the School Nutrition profession working in both managed companies and self-operations. Kevin is hoping to finish his Doctoral studies at Northern Illinois University soon after a short hiatus due to the pandemic.
Michele Hepner is currently Food Service Director at Geneseo School District 228, which includes grades K-12 and has approximately 2,600 students. With five serving sites and approximately 40 food service staff, the district averages 500 daily breakfasts and 1550 daily lunches. In addition to serving meals to the Geneseo students, the district also has meal contracts with two local small school districts. Michele received her Bachelor’s Degree from Illinois State University in Home Economics/Food & Nutrition and is a 19-year member of the School Nutrition Association (SNA) and the Illinois School Nutrition Association (ILSNA), where she currently holds the position of President-Elect.
Debbie Kains has been working with School Nutrition Programs at ISBE for over 15 years. Her areas of concentration are menu planning, training on program regulations and she is the lead staff for the Seamless Summer Option.
Dr. Sean McCaffrey is a physician, speaker, teacher, author, mentor, and radio host. He is the Founder of McCaffrey Health Center and McCaffrey Laboratory. Known as The Robinhood of Healthcare, Dr. Sean has created his own healthcare system, this holistic approach to long-term, restorative health care comes as a result of having studied the best modern modalities, as well as seeking out the most highly-guarded treatment secrets learned from old masters and perfected over the centuries. The McCaffrey Method is a complete healthcare model that blends various natural healthcare systems to effectively combat chronic and degenerative diseases.
Kari Perkins has worked in School Nutrition for 18 years. Her first 15 years were spent as a Food Service Director servicing many school districts in Illinois, California, and Nevada. For the past 3 years, Kari has served as a field monitor with the Illinois State Board of Education. Her food service director experience helps her succeed in her current role, particularly when training is needed. Kari received her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Eastern Illinois University, both in Business Management.
In addition to serving as a nutrition and wellness educator, Diane works with the ABCs of School Nutrition program. Her role is to provide professional development training for school nutrition professionals for the USDA School Meal program. Before joining Extension, Diane worked in a variety of roles within the foodservice industry, serving as a dietary aid in healthcare and at a camp for children with diabetes just to name a few. She is a registered clinical dietitian who previously specialized in medical nutrition therapy for the geriatric and critical care populations. Diane is passionate about empowering others to incorporate healthy lifestyle choices through diet, stress management, and physical activity. Her areas of interest include food safety, food preservation, chronic disease prevention and management, and healthy lifestyles. Diane received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from North Dakota State University. She then received a Master of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, and a Master of Public Health, from Saint Louis University.
Bri has been with the Illinois State Board of Education since August of 2021. She previously worked as a Registered Dietitian in a hospital setting, and as a Wellness Specialist at an Early Head Start program. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition at Southeast Missouri State University, completing her Dietetic Internship and Registered Dietitian exam in 2017. Bri currently coordinates the administration of the Child and Adult Care Food Program for the State of IL and is the primary contact person for all Nutrition related inquires.
Jill is currently a SNA Director and a Past President of the Indiana School Nutrition Association. Jill has been the Director of Food Service for Penn Harris Madison Schools in Mishawaka Indiana for 22 years. Her mid-size district encompasses farmland, subdivisions and city for a unique combination of students.Before joining school foodservice, she worked in all aspects of university food service at Notre Dame University. She also held the position of Department Head for Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism at Davenport University. Jill’s passion is training and learning. She believes that the strength in school food service lies in the people we attract and train to carry out the mission of providing quality food. She also loves to work with students on nutrition choices and cooking whole foods.Jill has three children who she visits frequently in Ohio and Michigan. In her free time, she loves to travel, hike and bake gluten free breads and pastries. She also collects cookbooks and enjoys trying new international recipes.
Jane Rose is currently the director, nutrition monitor, and training coordinator of a Child and Adult Care Food Program covering eighteen counties in West Virginia. Jane is also an independent trainer and consultant. She has been active in the field of training and education for fifteen years as a certified early childhood trainer in the state of West Virginia. She holds a Master of Education degree with dual focus in Leadership Studies and Community Education. She has over twenty-five years of experience working with children and families in many capacities. Her areas of expertise include child nutrition programs, professionalism, leadership, child development, behavior management and social/emotional foundations.
Shaista began her career with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Nutrition Division in 2018. Prior to joining ISBE, Shaista worked at Health Care and Family services as a Provider Enrollment Business Analyst. She received her Bachelor of Administration and Master of Business Administration in Human Resources from the University of Illinois. Shaista currently coordinates the administration of the Child and Adult Care Food Program for the State of Illinois and serves as the primary contact for program related questions from USDA, program participants and program advocates.
Beth is a Registered Dietitian who began her career with the Illinois State Board of Education’s Nutrition Department in 2018. She currently works with the USDA’s School Nutrition Programs. Beth received her Bachelor of Science from Illinois State University in 2014, followed by a Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Eastern Illinois University with an emphasis on nutrition education.
Tina Woods has a bachelor’s degree in food nutrition and dietetics from Illinois State University. She is currently the Assistant Director of School Nutrition Services for Community Consolidated School District 15 in Palatine Illinois.
Wendy Sellers (She/Her) is known as “The HR Lady ®”. She is Consultant, Advisor, Educator, Author, and Disruptor with over 25 years’ experience in HR operations. Wendy is authentic and transparent - above all, she keeps it real - and there is never any sugar coating or a hidden agenda. The HR Lady® is Realistic, Honest, and Reliable, and is your HR helpline. The needs of business today have changed. Negative or simply careless HR/ management practices foster fear and encourage a reputation that the company doesn't care about people. Even if the main priority is the bottom line (and let's face it, it is), leadership needs to understand that environments and relationships where people feel respected, valued, and trusted is what actually drives the bottom line (into the red or green). Company culture refers to the attitudes and behaviors of a company and its employees. These attitudes and behaviors should be consistently full of "respect, value, and trust".