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Twelve JWU Graduates who are Redefining Achievement






Senior Vice President of Communications DOUG WHITING

Director of Design & Editorial Services BRIAN MURPHY









his special edition of JWU Magazine is dedicated to you — the newest alumni of Johnson & Wales University. You reached a milestone in your life as you successfully completed your course of study. On behalf of the more than 103,000 JWU alumni and as a fellow alumnus, I welcome you to our powerful network that spans the globe. The entire JWU community offers congratulations on this major personal accomplishment. Your relationship with JWU continues long beyond your graduation; it is a lifelong bond. In this issue, you’ll meet some of your fellow alumni as we celebrate their success. We look forward to including your stories in the magazine and on our website in the future. Although you have earned your JWU degree, your work is not over. Armed with your education, you are now ambassadors of the university, and that role brings new responsibilities. Be involved. We recognize that alumni interests are varied and therefore offer many ways for you to connect, learn, inspire and give back. Be examples of the power of a JWU education: •  Attend local, regional and national alumni and campus events. •  Return to campus to lecture in our classrooms and reminisce with faculty and fellow alumni. •  Meet prospective students and families at Admissions Information Meetings and Open Houses held across the country. •  Participate in on-campus recruiting. •  Fund scholarships and student support. Together we can strengthen our university, make it an even more vibrant educational institution and maintain its position as a national leader of experiential education. Read JWU Magazine when it arrives in your mailbox. It will keep you up-to-date on the latest university developments, campus happenings and achievements of your fellow alumni. Pass it along to others to make them more aware of our university community. Regularly visit the website,, and make sure you provide our alumni office with your new contact information. Only you can carry the flag of JWU one street farther than it reaches today. We look forward to the next chapter of your relationship with JWU. Write to us at We’ll be waiting to hear from you.


JWU Magazine is published four times a year including a special supplement for recent graduates. Photos (black and white or color prints), high-resolution digital images and news can be sent to JWU Magazine, 8 Abbott Park Place, Providence, RI, 02903 or emailed to Selection and publication of entries are at the editor’s discretion. JWU Magazine is produced by University Communications in cooperation with Resource Development and Alumni Relations. Chancellor JOHN J. BOWEN ’77

Providence Campus President and Chief Operating Officer MIM L. RUNEY, LP.D.

Regional Campus Presidents LARRY RICE, ED.D., ’90, NORTH MIAMI

Chancellor John J. Bowen ’77


Spring 2016


SUMMER 2016 4

4 14


04 07 08 10 12

Providence Campus Graduate Studies North Miami Campus Denver Campus Charlotte Campus


PROFILES IN SUCCESS We profile 12 Johnson & Wales graduates from the four campuses who packed their degrees and settled around the world. From their roles with Martha Stewart Omnimedia to the Denver Broncos, our alumni have defined success on their own terms.


REUNIONS One of the best parts about postgraduation is looking forward to reunions. With dancing, tastings, walking tours, cruises, networking and more, the gatherings are not to be missed.


WELCOME NEW ALUMNI Kevin Wesley, JWU’s new director of alumni relations, introduces himself to the Class of 2016.




Spring 2016

Total Degrees Awarded

John Hazen White College of Arts & Sciences

School of Business

School of Hospitality

College of Culinary Arts

School of Engineering & Design

B.S. Degrees

A.S. Degrees









PROVIDENCE CAMPUS Undergraduate Commencement Dunkin’ Donuts Center Morning Ceremony: John Hazen White College of Arts & Sciences, School of Business, School of Engineering & Design School of Hospitality HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENTS Doctor of Business Administration Rajendra S. Sisodia, Ph.D. Co-founder and Co-chairman Conscious Capitalism Inc. F.W. Olin Distinguished Professor of Global Business and Whole Foods Market Research Scholar in Conscious Capitalism Babson College (Commencement Speaker) Doctor of Business Administration William J. Murphy, J.D. Partner, Murphy & Fay LLP Member, Johnson & Wales University Board of Trustees

L-R: Rajendra S. Sisodia ’16 Hon. William J. Murphy ’16 Hon.

Rajendra S. Sisodia ’16 Hon.

Be the Change You Wish to See in the World MORNING CEREMONY Quoting the words of Abraham Lincoln, Jasmine Turner ’16 professed, “Whatever you are, be a good one.” Those seven words served as the bookends of Turner’s speech to more than 1,000 of her graduating Johnson & Wales University classmates from the John Hazen White College of Arts & Sciences, School of Business, School of Engineering & Design and School of Hospitality. Her delivery was confident and smooth, and she seemed to make eye contact with almost everyone in the packed Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Turner, the chosen student speaker for the morning ceremony, reminded her fellow graduates that this was just the beginning. “We’re not done striving for greatness until we are, when the thirst for more skills, more creativity and more life doesn’t keep us awake at night; and right now none of our palates are quenched.” The atmosphere inside the arena was electric. The anticipation grew with each spoken word. Rajendra Sisodia, Ph.D., co-founder and co-chairman, Conscious Capitalism Inc., was the honorary degree recipient and keynote speaker. He suggested, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” He reminded them to lead consciously in business and in life. Sisodia, speaking from the heart, continued, “Leaders are entrusted with the precious lives they touch ... We have to decide at what level of consciousness we want to live.” As the time drew near for the presentation of diplomas, friends, families and loved ones looked on anxiously, trying to get even just a glimpse of their graduates before they made their way to the stage. Some of the graduation balloons that were once spread throughout the crowd had escaped their handlers and drifted high into the rafters. The audience was illuminated by a scattering of lit cellphone screens as attendees tried to capture the moment their graduate received their diploma. After moving their tassels from right to left, the newly honored alumni spilled out of the loading dock area in search of some familiar faces. As they marched side by side around the arena, it became clear just how conscious they were that this was not just the end; it was also a beginning. “This was some journey,” read one mortarboard. “Ready for my next adventure, thanks Mom and Dad,” read another. But one tongue-in-cheek message summed it up perfectly: “I did good.”  ~ Ryan Crowley

Jasmine Turner ’16

William J. Murphy ’16 Hon.


JWU PROVIDENCE PROVIDENCE CAMPUS Undergraduate Commencement Dunkin’ Donuts Center Afternoon Ceremony: College of Culinary Arts School of Hospitality — Food Service Management HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT Doctor of Culinary Arts Champe Carter Speidel ’00 Chef/Proprietor, Persimmon and Persimmon Provisions (Commencement Speaker)

Passion, a Partner and a Plan AFTERNOON CEREMONY Shortly before the start of the afternoon commencement ceremony, Alexandra Terra ’16 explained the symbolism of each cord draped around the shoulders of her commencement robe to Susan Marshall, Ed.D., associate dean of the College of Culinary Arts. There was one for honors, another for co-curricular activities. For the onlooker, it was hard to differentiate who was the proudest: Terra for earning them, or Marshall, with JWU since 1984, for seeing another student graduate? Terra, a culinary nutrition major, hoped to be chosen student speaker: “I’ve had jobs that required public speaking, so the idea of presenting didn’t scare me. I knew there would be a crowd and that I would be part of the crowd. I wanted to seize the moment and talk to the people in the crowd.” Unlike Terra, the path that led Chef Champe Carter Speidel ’00 to this day’s event was both a miss and a surprise. The surprise: JWU chose him for the honorary degree recipient and keynote speaker. And the miss? “I’ll be honest, I worked the night of my graduation and missed this ceremony from Johnson & Wales,” he recalled at the podium. “It seemed like the right thing to do at the time as the restaurant was very busy.” Terra predicted the future during her speech: “Johnson & Wales has filled our toolkits with so much knowledge, and friendship, and even family, that it will be hard for you not to succeed.” Speidel, who had just reopened Persimmon, his successful Bristol, Rhode Island, restaurant, at a new location in Providence, spoke from experience: “To really make it in this industry you have to have the three P’s: passion, a partner and a plan. I may have missed my commencement 16 years ago, but I am thrilled and honored to be part of yours. Thanks to the university there is a car and a driver outside to take me not to a celebratory dinner, but back to Persimmon. That is where I want to be because this is my craft. This is what I do and I look forward to getting back on that line. This is my passion, this was my plan, and my wife and partner Lisa will be right there with me.”

L-R: Champe Carter Speidel ’00, ’16 Hon. Chancellor John J. Bowen ’77

Champe Carter Speidel ’00,’16 Hon.

On this day, Terra is about to launch her career while Speidel is 20 years into his. But their paths will remain connected at JWU. ~ Miriam S. Weinstein ’08 MBA

Alexandra Terra ’16

Chancellor John J. Bowen ’77

GRAD STUDIES PROVIDENCE CAMPUS Graduate Commencement Providence Performing Arts Center College of Arts & Sciences College of Management

Total Degrees Awarded

Ed.D. in Educational Leadership Degrees

M.S. Degrees

M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies

M.A.T. Degree

MBA Degrees







The Colors by Degree

Center for Physician Assistant Studies

HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENTS Doctor of Humane Letters Terrie Fox Wetle, M.S., Ph.D. Dean of the School of Public Health Professor of Health Services, Policy & Practice Brown University (Commencement Speaker) Doctor of Business Administration in Management Anthony Maione President and CEO United Way of Rhode Island

GRADUATE CEREMONY Johnson & Wales University is known for its blue and gold, but it was the color green that made history on May 19. That is when the university’s first class of physician assistants, draped in academic regalia with green hoods, joined the 2016 Graduate Studies commencement procession at the Providence Performing Arts Center. “We are proud of the graduates of every one of our programs,” said Vice Chancellor and Provost Thomas L. Dwyer. “But today I want to take a moment to recognize a momentous occasion for Johnson & Wales University — conferring degrees upon individuals who represent the first graduates in the health sciences in the university’s history — the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program.” In 2014, JWU began offering Rhode Island’s first physician assistant (PA) program. Many people were instrumental in the establishment of the JWU Center for Physician Assistant Studies, including the dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University, Terrie Fox Wetle, M.S., Ph.D., who was presented with an honorary degree by Chancellor John J. Bowen ’77. “Along with the honor of being a graduate of this outstanding institution comes many obligations and, in my view, none is more important than our shared duty to improve population health, because the health of the population is everyone’s responsibility,” said Wetle. “I encourage you to see the connection between your new professional careers and the opportunity to contribute to population health.” President Mim L. Runey, LP.D., also challenged the graduates: “What will you do with all of the advantages you have gained through your Johnson & Wales education? I ask you to think about what you value, about what’s important to you, and how that will play out in your lives.” Student speaker Shane Carew ’16 MBA acknowledged the 18 doctoral candidates: “You have reached the pinnacle of higher education and put forth countless hours conducting original research that is now a tangible part of your individual legacies.” As their degree paths, dissertation titles and major advisors were announced, light blue doctoral hoods were placed over their heads by the director of the university’s doctoral program, Thomas DiPaola, Ph.D.

L-R: Terrie Fox Wetle ’16 Hon. Anthony Maione ’16 Hon.

Terrie Fox Wetle ’16 Hon.

The colors of their degree were proudly worn by the 261 graduates of the Class of 2016. ~ Lisa Pelosi

Mim L. Runey, LP.D., Providence Campus President and Chief Operating Officer

Shane Carew ’16 MBA




Spring 2016

Total Degrees Awarded

College of Arts & Sciences

College of Culinary Arts

School of Business

School of Hospitality

B.S. Degrees

A.S. Degrees








NORTH MIAMI CAMPUS Undergraduate Commencement Greater Fort Lauderdale/ Broward County Convention Center

Pride, Courage, Character and Community

HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT Doctor of Business Administration in Restaurant, Food & Beverage Management Paul Damico ’86 President, FOCUS Brands North America (Commencement Speaker)

We know it as the Wildcat Way, but it was also the underlying theme during this year’s North Miami commencement ceremony. Honorary degree recipient Paul Damico ’86, president of FOCUS Brands North America, shared stories of the pride and character it takes to overcome obstacles and seize new opportunities. “Today marks the beginning of your career,” Damico said. “Many of you are the first in your families to earn a degree, and to you I say, ‘Well done!’ As you leave here and start a job, my hope is that a job becomes a career you absolutely love; and then that career becomes a calling for you. Because that’s what happened to me.” Damico, who spent 13 years in various roles at Host Marriott Corporation, gained notoriety when he became president of Moe’s Southwest Grill in 2008. Under his leadership, Moe’s led the industry in comparable sales, franchise sales, new restaurant openings and culinary development. His success caught the eye of CBS television, which featured him on an episode of “Undercover Boss,” allowing him to positively impact the lives of four employees. “Going undercover and seeing today’s workforce in action really brought me back to when I first started out,” Damico said. “It made me appreciate what I had learned and what initially fueled my passion for what I do today.” Student speaker Jenna Boersma ’16 echoed his sentiment, advising her classmates to be fearless as they transition to the next phase. She recounted a time when she had to do just that: “Upon entering the University of Florida, I immediately realized that I had made a mistake. In those two years as a Gator, I encountered numerous disappointments and rejections. They came within my academic career and personal life. I lived with my choice for two years until I gained the courage to do something about it. I soon found out that rejection was the greatest teacher of all; it was a true blessing in disguise.”

L-R: Paul Damico ’86, ’16 Hon. Larry Rice, Ed.D., ’90, North Miami Campus President

These encouraging words were a precursor to the culminating moment when graduates were asked to move their tassels from right to left. As they began to depart and walk into the world, where they would be charged with making a difference in their community, Damico’s parting words of wisdom became clear: “Work hard, be humble, and one day, give back and pay it forward.” That’s the Wildcat Way. 

Paul Damico ’86, ’16 Hon.

Larry Rice, Ed.D., ’90, North Miami Campus President

~ Robyn Hankerson

Jenna Boersma ’16




Spring 2016

Total Degrees Awarded

College of Arts & Sciences

College of Culinary Arts

School of Business

School of Hospitality

B.S. Degrees

A.S. Degrees

MBA Degrees









DENVER CAMPUS Commencement Colorado Convention Center HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENTS Doctor of Business Administration in Marketing Steven J. McCarthy Chairman and CEO Além International Management Inc. (Commencement Speaker) Doctor of Culinary Arts William H. Yosses Founder Kitchen Garden Laboratory

Room for Growth, Space for Evolution The excitement was palpable as the Class of 2016, along with their families and alumni, gathered on the Coors Family Commons for the Robert E. Taylor Gate Ceremony. Led by a stately drum corps, soon-to-be graduates paraded east through the gate, coming full circle from their westbound passage as first-year students at JWU Denver. Alumni celebrated them with highfives as they were officially welcomed into the fold. Commencement exercises continued the following morning at the Colorado Convention Center, with waves of anticipatory cheers emanating from the Class of 2016 waiting backstage. A bagpiper marked the beginning of the procession, while the International Parade of Flags, representing students from Australia, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and Vietnam, signaled the end of the procession. Bradley Steckelberg ’16 MBA sang the national anthem in honor of his brother, who was killed in action in Iraq. Student speaker Zaira Acevedo Becerril ’16 regaled classmates with her JWU adventure, from the unique perspective of an international student from Mexico. “The campus — with its diversity, sense of community, comfort and support — helped me better understand American culture,” she explained. “The land of opportunity has proven that there is always room for growth; there is always space for evolution.” Two outstanding individuals also received honorary degrees. Steven J. McCarthy, chairman and chief executive officer of Além International Management and Olympic torch relay director, received a Doctor of Business Administration in Marketing degree. William H. Yosses, recent White House executive pastry chef and founder of Kitchen Garden Laboratory, received a Doctor of Culinary Arts degree. During his commencement speech, McCarthy described the Olympic Flame as an icon of peace: “Today is about our individual and collective duty and honor to promote our version of that flame around the world.” He also reminded graduates that they bring value with their degrees. “Now you can ask, ‘What if I was the best in the world at what I do … on my worst day?’ ”

Steven J. McCarthy ’16 Hon.

William H. Yosses ’16 Hon.

As students were called to receive their degrees and cross the stage, the hall exploded with shouts and applause from family and friends who have supported them in their journey. ~ Amy Vucci

Robin Krakowsky ’88, ’08 Ed.D. Denver Campus President

Zaira Acevedo Becerril ’16




Spring 2016

Total Degrees Awarded

College of Culinary Arts

School of Business

School of Hospitality

B.S. Degrees

A.A.S. Degrees







CHARLOTTE CAMPUS Undergraduate Commencement Time Warner Cable Arena HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT Doctor of Business Administration in Food & Beverage Entrepreneurship Joseph “Frank” Scibelli Founder and CEO FS Food Group (Commencement Speaker)

Crossing the Divide, with Honors He was once homeless and sold drugs to support himself. How far he has come since living on the streets of North Miami. Reginald “Reg” DesRavines proudly crossed the commencement stage — summa cum laude — with highest honor. DesRavines was one of nearly 600 graduates inside Time Warner Cable Arena on a beautiful, cool Carolina morning. One by one, they were viewed by family and friends on a 38-foot-high scoreboard, the largest in any indoor entertainment venue in the country. Many wore intricately decorated and colorful caps as they excitedly shook hands with President Robert Mock Jr., Ed.D., or Vice President Tarun Malik, Reginald DesRavines Ed.D. In his first commencement ceremony as president of the Charlotte Campus, Mock joked that he knew some of the graduates began their celebrations as soon as the last final exam was completed: “But now I ask you all to take this time to sit back, bask in the glory of your accomplishments and take pride in your university while we honor you.” Student speaker Kellyn Stamey laughed with her class when she guaranteed what would happen after the ceremony: “This is true for every student despite your major — whether you studied sports, fashion or marketing — at least one person is going to congratulate you on finally achieving your dreams of becoming a chef!” Joseph “Frank” Scibelli, founder and chief executive officer of FS Food Group and this year’s honorary degree recipient, reflected on what he would have wanted to hear as a graduate. “The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was what I talk about with my kids,” he said. “And we talk about this in my company: work ethic, standards and gratitude. What are you doing to get ahead of the competition? Be the person who impacts someone’s life in a positive way and be thankful for graduating from a great school. All you have to do now is get out there and do it.”

L-R: Joseph “Frank” Scibelli ’16 Hon. Robert C. Mock Jr., Ed.D. Charlotte Campus President

But many students, like DesRavines, plan to return to campus and earn a bachelor’s degree before diving into a new career. Once again, DesRavines will be seen larger than life on the scoreboard, and hopefully, once again, walking across the stage with honors. ~ Melinda Law Westmoreland

Joseph “Frank” Scibelli ’16 Hon.

Robert C. Mock Jr., Ed.D. Charlotte Campus President

Kellyn Stamey ’16




Contributers Denise Dowling Philip Eil Rachel Lacaille Mary Sward Photography Adi Adinayeve Mike Cohea Taylor Taz Johnson

Clark Barlowe ’09 Chef and Owner

DENVER Aniedra Nichols ’03 Chef and Partner Marisol Villagomez ’06 Sports Marketer

NEW YORK Leslie Ferrier ’90 Human Resources VP Thomas Joseph ’06 Food Developer Mark Ladner ’90 Executive Chef and Owner Carlos Moreno ’02 Educator

MIAMI Elyzabeth Estrada ’14 Emergency Manager Michele Olivier ’90, ’92 M.S. Hospitality VP Jose Resendez ’07 Account Executive



is one of those iconic graduation gifts. The whimsical yet sage advice in this Dr. Seuss classic has prodded countless young adults to mute the Greek Chorus as they face a horizon of possibility: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.”


The Johnson & Wales University graduates you’ll read about on the following pages have charted their destinies. They sailed away from the safe harbor, chasing careers that have landed them around the country — or on the other side of the world. When an idea flatlined, they tacked port or starboard. Most importantly, they haven’t let success swell their heads or failure darken their hearts. As Seuss cautions, one can’t happen without the other:

Robert Stiles ’80 Hotel Capital Advisor

“And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)”

SAN DIEGO Dan Zelikman ’06 Filmmaker and Marketer




s a child, watching the Colorado Rockies and Denver Broncos games together was a chance for Marisol Villagomez ’06 to bond with her father, who juggled multiple jobs to support his wife and their four daughters. Her job now, she says, is “to create positive memories for people.” She has her father to thank for her Johnson & Wales education. Villagomez initially planned to attend college out of state. The border crossing would prove that she could survive independent of their tightly woven traditional Mexican family. But her father disagreed: “A good Mexican girl does not leave the family until she’s married.” After a JWU campus visit, Villagomez had no doubts about attending. “When you have students from all parts of the world, there may be instances when others make you feel that you don’t fit in,” says Villagomez. “The staff supported me every step of the way. ‘Papa Heff’ (Marketing Associate Professor Kris Hefley) was like a dad to us all. “JWU’s emphasis on carrying yourself as a brand helped me analyze myself in a professional and personal level and aided my growth,” she adds. Within three months of her marketing and advertising agency internship, Villagomez was put in charge of the Illinois Bureau of Tourism account. Soon after graduation, she became the coordinator of multicultural marketing and advertising for the Colorado Rockies baseball team. Now manager of fan development for the Denver Broncos, one of Villagomez’s many programs is Crush, a fan club for women that hosts everything from fantasy football to a workout series focused on conditioning principles. And before Super Bowl 50, she helped give the Broncos a “home field advantage” by “turning San Francisco orange.” We all know how that mission ended — a definite success story.


Summer 2016

B.S. Marketing Manager of Fan Development, Denver Broncos Football Team Greater Denver Area, Colorado



B.S. Entrepreneurship, International Business Founder and Director, Moostache Films Greater San Diego Area

y belief is that people are kinda getting sick of being sold,” says Dan Zelikman ’06. “If people like what they hear, they’ll know what to do.” This would explain why, when Zelikman launched his own marketing company in 2014, the mission was simple: “Stop selling and tell your story.” And that’s just what he’s done, producing everything from Kickstarter films about handmade skateboards to a documentary on a technology-free summer camp in Pennsylvania. Zelikman’s love of moving images goes back to when he was a teenager who recorded movies onto VHS tapes so he could watch them over and over to figure out what made them work. You might see his current career as a combination of that passion and the experiences that followed. While studying abroad in Sweden and Australia during his time at JWU, he got hands-on marketing training with Volvo engineers and the team at [yellow tail] wines, respectively. After school, he jumped from a Wall Street media-planning gig, to a marketing job in Hawaii where he worked with megaclients like Sprint and Microsoft, to co-founding a San Diego-based firm called Mentalpez that earned him a spot on a 2012 Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list for marketing and advertising. “If money was not something I had to worry about, I would produce feature narrative films and documentaries,” he says. “That’s where my heart is. I’m obsessed with storytelling; I’m always writing scripts.” But, right now, he seems pretty happy running his own company. Head to to see some of the mini-features he makes for fun, like “The Big Calzone” (about an out-of-shape dad who faces off against a seasoned mixed-martial-arts fighter) and “Side Swiped’’ (about a couple that tries their hand at modern dating apps).




t this point, Mark Ladner’s success isn’t really a matter of dispute. In 2010, a New York Times critic gave Del Posto a rare four-star review and described Ladner’s pastas as “insanely good.” That same year, Ladner ’90 co-wrote a cookbook with food-world megastar and Del Posto co-owner Mario Batali. A few years later, in 2015, the James Beard Foundation named Ladner the best chef in New York City. And, a few weeks later, at Johnson & Wales’ commencement in Providence, he was given an honorary Doctor of Culinary Arts degree. But this doesn’t mean the 46-year-old is resting on his achievements. In 2014, he hit the road with an ambitious mobile gluten-free pasta project called “Pasta Flyer,” which he launched with the help of a successful $85,000 Kickstarter campaign. (The truck was mobbed when it made a September 2014 stop at Johnson & Wales’ Providence Campus.) He’s scheduled to publish a second cookbook later in 2016. And, despite the constant pressure of being an acclaimed chef in one of the world’s culinary capitals, he remains intensely committed to “providing something that’s compelling to people. “I spend much of my time on trying to figure out how to stay relevant and creating an experience that people respond positively to.” He seems to be doing okay with the whole positiveresponse thing. During his tenure, Del Posto has received a Michelin star, a Grand Award from Wine Spectator and a Five Diamond Award from AAA.


Summer 2016

A.S. Culinary Arts Executive Chef, Del Posto; Founder, Pasta Flyer New York, New York



B.S. Hospitality Management Vice President of Human Resources, Momofuku Greater New York City Area

arlier in my career, I jumped between two people fighting with knives in a kitchen. I’ve broken up drug deals in walk-ins. I was here for September 11th, evacuating a building when we didn’t know what was going on … I dealt with an anthrax issue. I’ve dealt with suicides.” This is Leslie Ferrier ’90 describing more than 20 years in human resources. Or, at least, the more exciting days. Most of the time, HR is simply about making a company run smoothly. And she’s adamant that it’s as important as any executive-level function. “Every single challenge in an organization is a human challenge,” she says. “So, the impact that I can make by dealing with the stickiest, most challenging issues is profound.” Ferrier knows what she’s talking about. Over the span of her career, she’s worked at hotels, a carpet and home-furnishing store, a women’s footwear company, a tech start-up, and a multi-billion dollar marketing firm. Nowadays, she works at one of the hottest food companies in the world, which, among other acclaimed projects, recently opened a wildly popular restaurant in Washington, D.C., that needed to hire 175 employees. Ferrier helped make it happen. (“It’s pretty crazy,” she says. “We are on a growth trajectory.”) In addition to her experiences in the HR trenches, it was a JWU education that “profoundly affected my ability to grow and to take on challenges,” she says. At JWU, “You’re not just sitting in a classroom. You’re working. You’re learning. You’re hands-on.” She mentions a conversation with her husband many years ago where he said, “I graduated from school and I have the degree, but I don’t have the experience. You actually know how to do something.” Yes, she does. And as for those wild stories? “At the end of all this, I’m going to write a book.”




‌obert Stiles ’80 realized during his first 45 days at JWU that he didn’t want to be a chef. Like other starry-eyed freshmen, he wanted a relationship, but finishing work at 1 a.m. was more conducive to vampires. “Had I stumbled into some large liberal arts program, I’m not sure I would have focused on ‘What do I really want to do with my life?’ ” he says. “Other students motivated me because they were so careeroriented.” Although his high school GPA hovered slightly above the ocean floor, Stiles became on point. He graduated at the pinnacle of the program, then pursued his fascination with how hotels are built and capitalized by attending Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, finishing second in his class. Stiles then founded hotel and resort development and investment advisory platforms throughout Asia before returning to the States. In 2013, he and two partners founded RobertDouglas, which structures and arranges capital for investors as well as hotel or resort owners. Their Silicon-laced attitude was, ‘It’s better to have launched a startup and failed than never to have done one at all.’ “It’s a leap of faith for people to join a startup,” he says. “But employees are more invested financially and emotionally; they want to be part of the success story.” And they are: In three years, RobertDouglas has become a highly profitable, top-tier competitive option. “We look after our employees first, clients second and investors third. If you prioritize delivering profits to investors, you can alienate clients and employees who feel you don’t have their interests first.” Stiles, who might be finalizing a multimillion-dollar transaction with Chinese investors at midnight Pacific time, relishes his job: “You can be working on three to five divergent projects simultaneously in different parts of the world. It’s exhilarating!”


Summer 2016

A.S. Culinary Arts Managing Director & Principal, RobertDouglas Hotel Capital Advisors San Francisco Bay Area, California



B.S. Criminal Justice Support Specialist, Miami-Dade County Office of Emergency Management Miami, Florida

urricanes. Mass-shootings. Disease outbreaks. Nuclear power disasters. It’s the job of the Miami-Dade County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to prepare for these scenarios. Which means it’s the job of people like Elyzabeth Estrada ’14. Specifically, Estrada works on a program called the Emergency Evacuation Assistance Program, which ensures that local residents who need storm-time assistance — whether they’re blind, or bed-bound, or they rely on dialysis machines — can get to a safe and secure place before a storm hits. Estrada helps educate citizens about the program and works with the transportation providers who make it happen. When she first started at Johnson & Wales, she was interested in a career as an FBI agent. But then, during a class on cyber security and terrorism in her junior year, she learned about emergency-response work. Her interest in the field turned into an internship with the Miami-Dade OEM, which turned into a postcollege job she “completely loves.” By now, she’s fluent in emergency-ese and quick to ring off facts like the dates of South Florida’s hurricane season (June 1 to November 30). Someday, she says she’d love to move to another major city to work on snowstorm or earthquake preparedness/response, and after that, perhaps work as director of security for a major university. But, for now, she says, “Every day I get excited to come to work. I’m learning something new.” Among the lessons she’s learned? While people often associate disaster-response with national offices like Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in reality, she notes, “All emergencies happen on a local level first.”




believe I am in the most ambitious innovation business of all,” Carlos Moreno ’02 told the crowd at Business Innovation Factory’s Collaborative Innovation Summit last year. “I, and my colleagues at Big Picture Learning, innovate human beings.” For the next 18 minutes (which are viewable on YouTube), Moreno commanded the stage, discussing his upbringing in the Bronx — how he could see Fordham University from his bedroom window, how he was violently mugged one day while walking to school — and how, today, he works to provide students with resources he wishes he had. At one point in the talk, he explained that the “secret sauce” of Big Picture Learning — which operates 65 elementary to high schools in the U.S., and others around the world —  has four key ingredients. One: Pay attention to the whole student. Two: Start by working with a student’s strengths. Three: Provide a range of innovative assessment options. And, four: Allow students to learn via real-world experiences, like internships. According to Moreno, “Every student should have an opportunity to experience the world outside of his window.” For Moreno, Johnson & Wales was instrumental to his growth, from the camaraderie he enjoyed on one of the school’s first basketball teams, to the consensusbuilding skills he learned in the classroom. And he is quick to point out a link between his experiences and the ethos that drives him today. JWU was his first exposure to academic work he was passionate about and teachers who wholeheartedly supported him, he says. “So that kind of connection … that a lot of secondary school-level kids don’t have an opportunity for? I feel like I had that with my JWU corps of professors.”


Summer 2016

A.S. Business Administration, B.S. Marketing Executive Director, Big Picture Learning Greater New York City Area



B.S. Culinary Arts Executive Chef/Owner, Heirloom Restaurant Charlotte, North Carolina

fter his graduation, Clark Barlowe ’09 worked inside some of the world’s top restaurants, including Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry and the celebrated El Bulli in Barcelona. But when this seventh-generation North Carolinian decided to open his own restaurant, his roots pulled him home. At Barlowe’s farm-to-fork restaurant Heirloom in Charlotte, he sources all ingredients and products locally — even the liquor, wine, salt and the soap in the restroom. An experienced forager, he often uses wild ingredients in his menu: “It forces us to innovate because there’s really no research on it, and not a lot of recipes for foraged ingredients.” His menu is a far cry from the fried food or stews and braises that many associate with Southern food. “I describe the food as ‘locally sourced, globally inspired,’ ”  he says.  “We do very traditional Korean dishes, Middle Eastern dishes, African, German and South American dishes. The ingredients really dictate what we do. This was partly from my education at Johnson & Wales and partly from the experience I gained after graduation, when I traveled and worked at a lot of really great restaurants.” Since its opening, Heirloom has earned many regional and national accolades, appearing on several “best of” lists in Charlotte Magazine and in 2015, was named by as one of the 100 Best Restaurants for Foodies in America. Given his strong community ties, it’s no surprise that Barlowe includes the people he works with in his definition of success: “If the restaurant is sustainable, provides a good quality of life for the employees and myself, and we’re able to support all these great partners that we work with, from the winemakers to brewers to farmers, that’s the most important thing for me.”




n theory, Michele Olivier’s job is simple. “I’m trying to make people happy,” she says. “I’m trying to give them a great vacation.” The reality, though, is a bit more complicated. From her home office in Miami, Olivier ’90, ’92 M.S. works with team members based in New York, Chicago, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. She frequently travels to meet vacation wholesalers or to drop in on the resorts themselves. And, all the while, she’s monitoring customer feedback on sites like TripAdvisor. These days, she’s building on more than a decade and a half of experience in the business, ranging from work as a tour guide in Aruba to a stint as a VP of sales, marketing and revenue at a Hilton-owned resort in the Dominican Republic. And if you trace that training back a little further, you land at Johnson & Wales. The school “gave me a great outline of the industry that served me very well when I started my career,” she says. “I was in a chef’s coat one day and a business suit the next.” Olivier says she’s a “culture traveler” who loves to absorb the history and flavor of places like the Czech Republic or Morocco. And, when you hear her describe it, this is the kind of experience she sells, too. Caribbean islands “have wonderful beaches, wonderful sun, wonderful sand and surf, and they have amazing cultures that they actually want to share,” she says. “That’s why a place like Jamaica is such a big resort destination: The people are very proud of their heritage, and they want to share it. They want to invite people to enjoy what they have.”  


Summer 2016

B.S. Hospitality Management, M.S. Managerial Technology ’92 Regional Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Aimbridge Hospitality (Resort Division) Miami, Florida



A.S. Marketing Senior Account Executive and Publicist, FleishmanHillard Miami, Florida

ose Resendez’s LinkedIn page notes that he has “native or bilingual proficiency” in both Spanish and English. It also reports that Resendez ’07 has “full professional proficiency” in “#Hashtags.” It’s hard to find a better introduction for a guy who has more than 8,000 Instagram followers, a “Best Latino on Twitter” nod from Miami’s “Hispanicize 2015” convention, and a recent PR-industry “30 Under 30” spotlight from AdWeek, which noted his skills as a “Hispanic social media influencer.” Working for an international public relations and marketing firm sounds pretty exciting, and Resendez confirms: It is. Since joining FleishmanHillard, he has worked with globally recognized brands (CoverGirl, AT&T), collaborated with A-list celebrities and built a network of hundreds of bloggers. But he attributes one of his most important lessons to his time at Johnson & Wales. He was working on a case study that involved developing a marketing campaign for Toyota when he had a kind of “Aha!” moment. While listening to his group members’ various ideas, he realized not everyone sees a brand the same way you see it. To succeed in marketing, he realized, “You have to put yourself in other people’s shoes, to see different points of view and different angles.” The moment was emblematic of his overall Johnson & Wales experience. One of the things he loved about the school was that “the people sitting next to me were from Trinidad and Tobago, from the Virgin Islands, from South America, from Canada,” he says. “And so I was able to learn not only from the professors, but also my classmates.”




s there anything Thomas Joseph ’06 can’t cook? After watching a few of the “Kitchen Conundrums” videos he’s starred in, the answer appears to be “No.” There are more than 50 total on, ranging from “Tips & Tricks for Meatball Perfection” to “The Trick to Baking Perfect Meringues” to “How to Steam and Eat an Artichoke.” What’s more impressive is that the show, “Kitchen Conundrums,” is only a fraction of what Joseph does. “Every day is very different,” he says. “I could be shooting a video one day. I could be working on developing a baking mix the next day. I could be contributing to our magazine the next day and then working on a television show with Martha.” Joseph says his culinary curiosity was sparked as a kid in the kitchen with his father, who owned a catering company outside of Buffalo, New York. Years later, he got his entrée to the TV-food business via a Johnson & Wales internship at the Boston-based, Emmy®nominated PBS show “Simply Ming,” starring the chef Ming Tsai. Fast forward a few more years and he was doling out Thanksgiving cooking tips on-air on Martha Stewart’s satellite radio channel and helping the lifestyle guru open her first brick-and-mortar restaurant, the Martha Stewart Café, in the lobby of her Manhattan headquarters. All of this isn’t to say that Joseph has mastered everything at the intersection of food and media. He says that food styling for photo shoots (another one of Joseph’s passions) presents its own perennial challenges: “It’s always a bit of a tricky thing to photograph a soufflé as it’s deflating.”


Summer 2016

B.S. Culinary Nutrition Director of Food Development, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia New York, New York



A.S. Culinary Arts Chef/Partner, Fish N Beer Denver, Colorado

here are those of us who go our whole lives without realizing our passions. Aniedra Nichols ’03 is not one of those people. “I’ve always known I wanted to be a chef,” she says. Eschewing Saturday morning cartoons, Nichols favored cooking shows on PBS. But a cooking career seemed financially risky, and Nichols later found herself pursuing a physical therapy degree: “I really wasn’t into it, and I entered this sort of limbo.” Her mother was the deciding force. “She asked me, ‘If you could do anything, what would it be?’ And I immediately said, ‘Cook.’ ” And so it was decided. After graduating from JWU’s Denver Campus, Nichols cooked in various Denverarea eateries, eventually landing at Elway’s Cherry Creek. Over nine years, she worked her way up from line cook to executive chef. In 2015, her hard work was rewarded as her dish “Braised Beef Cheeks with Horseradish Gnocchi, Wilted Swiss Chard and Pomegranate Reduction” was chosen as one of the James Beard Editors’ Favorite Dishes. Nichols credits much of her success to her ability to learn from others — a skill she nurtured at JWU: “When newbies come into the kitchen, you need to sit back and learn from them instead of taking the reins immediately. They have as much to teach you as you have to teach them.” Her success continues as she is set to open a new venture as chef/partner: Fish N Beer, a value-driven concept in Denver’s trendy River North Art District (RiNo). “It’s a great opportunity,” she says. “I’m looking forward to seeing where it takes me.”



Friendships end after graduation.

Get connected now! Visit the all new


Oh, the places you’ll go when you graduate from Johnson & Wales! But it’s great to be back home — as you’ll see from the reunion gatherings on the following pages.




Summer 2016

THE PROVIDENCE CAMPUS  was lit up for its April All-Class Reunion. Alumni enjoyed a cooking demonstration, cake decorating 101, a delicious Taste of JWU with samples from graduate-owned businesses, plus a chocolate and beer tasting — followed by vigorous calorie-burning dancing. SAVE THE DATE! The next Providence All-Class Reunion will be April 28–30, 2017!

JANUARY’S NORTH MIAMI HOMECOMING  featured nonstop fun, with wine and food demonstrations, a tailgate party with students, varsity and alumni basketball games, plus some offcourt moves to music. SAVE THE DATE! The next North Miami Homecoming will be January 27–28, 2017!



A NEW JWU DENVER TRADITION was born last fall at their first Homecoming Weekend. Graduates reminisced during receptions and a chili cookoff, while outstanding graduates were honored during the Distinguished Alumni Awards. SAVE THE DATE! The next Denver Homecoming will be October 21–23, 2016!


Summer 2016

CHARLOTTE’S FIRST-EVER ALL-CLASS REUNION  was cause for celebration. With a wine tasting at the sensory beverage lab, family and faculty lunch plus a walking tour of uptown attractions, alumni look forward to the second gathering. SAVE THE DATE! The next Charlotte All-Class Reunion will be April 28–30, 2017!




Welcome Class of  2016


ohnson & Wales University is a place of joyful discovery. It’s where students discover new skills and talents to set them on a desired career path. It’s where faculty commit deeply to helping those young minds gain the knowledge needed for future success. It’s where experiences outside of the classroom are valued and encouraged. For me, the joyful discovery of Johnson & Wales is just beginning. As the new alumni director, I am delighted to be joining an institution with such a rich history and legacy. After working in several different states, I am thrilled to return to my native New England and cheer on the Red Sox (both Boston and Pawtucket). I am learning what makes each of our campuses, and its alumni, so unique and what binds us together, regardless of where we learned. In the coming months, I hope to meet with many of you to learn about your Johnson & Wales experience and how Alumni Relations can help you. In this issue, we also offer congratulations to JWU’s newest alumni. Congratulations to the Class of 2016! You join 103,000 graduates around the world working to transform their communities and professions in countless ways. Your connection to JWU is global and forever. Through the Alumni Relations Office, you can engage with fellow alumni, establish and grow your professional network, and stay connected to your alma mater. Through regional and online events, news, social media and campus experiences, we hope you will always stay connected with Johnson & Wales. We are proud of all that our alumni have accomplished and are here to serve as a resource for you. Each campus has Alumni Relations staff dedicated to helping alumni and celebrating their successes. Congratulations again!

Kevin Wesley Executive Director of Alumni Relations


Summer 2016

KEVIN WESLEY Executive Director 401-598-1634 ELIZABETH SCANLON ’97 M.S. Assistant Director 401-598-4983 LIZA GENTILE Manager of Alumni Relations, Providence 401-598-2465 LORI ZABATTA ’95 Manager of Alumni Relations, Northeast 401-598-4462

NORTH MIAMI CAMPUS ELIZABETH SCANLON ’97 M.S. Assistant Director, Alumni Relations 401-598-4983

DENVER CAMPUS ALEX BRADY Manager of Alumni Relations 303-256-9338

CHARLOTTE CAMPUS CHRISTOPHER PLANO ’93, ’95 M.S. Manager of Alumni Relations 980-598-1204


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JWU Magazine Summer 2016  
JWU Magazine Summer 2016  

Commencement 2016