Conference Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Dale Henry, Your Best Unlimited

Dr. Dale Henry grew up in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, an area that is bountiful in two things—hospitality and story-telling.  Dr. Dale has been a teacher, principal, Dean of the oldest college in Tennessee, a businessman, author, a speaker and trainer.  Dale has been in customer service over half his life.  His story-telling ability propelled him as a teacher.  This, combined with his customer service and unique ability to captivate audiences, has sky-rocketed Dale in his speaking career. 

Seminar leader, author, educator, and business man.  Today’s speaker comes with a variety of experiences.  He has presented over 1000 programs to America’s top professional and educational organizations.  The Fortune Fifty as well as government agencies call on him regularly for programs that entertain and educate their top performers and producers.  

Jen Slaw, Building an Effective Team: Juggling the Possibilities Together

Amaze, engage & inspire your team with an interactive experience that equips them with creative & collaborative skills to adapt, be nimble, innovate & grow in the face of change.

Jen Slaw has shared her mix of juggling and inspiration on ABC News, Fox, Huffington Post Live, Good Day Sacramento, Good Day Philadelphia, the Late Show with David Letterman, the Food Network, the Today Show, Off-Broadway and TEDx stages & more. Her audiences engage and learn to be more balanced, productive, creative problem solvers, effective collaborators, and agents of positive change.

A former structural engineer and world-record holding "expert juggler" (New York Times), Jen demonstrates how to balance responsibilities, engage a team, and lead through purpose, process, and practice. Her interactive keynotes and training sessions teach strategies and tools for team building, growth & change management, creative problem solving & innovation, and work-life integration. Participants have fun physically experiencing the process of working together to learn something new, cementing concepts that will be remembered long past the conference closing session.

Years as a professional performer give Jen a unique, dynamic and engaging edge on stage. She models how leaders must navigate the delicate balance of engagement and execution. Past clients range from corporations like American Express, Amsurg, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Investors Bank, Skanska USA, and Starwood Hotels to non-profit organizations like Entrepreneurs' Organization and Exponent Philanthropy. She's emceed fundraiser and awards galas for numerous non-profits.

ERIC ROWLES, President & CEO, Leading to Change

GENERATIONAL CROSSROADS:  When X, Y, & Boomers Collide!

What happens when the diverse values, work ethic, and life priorities of multiple generations come to a crossroads? Welcome to 2019, an unprecedented era in our field where 3-4 generations find themselves working side by side. As the Baby Boomers look to retirement in record numbers, we must be ready for a completely different viewpoint on work-life balance, management styles, and the complex relationships between Gen X and the Millennials. 

Eric Rowles is a nationally recognized trainer, speaker, and consultant whom has worked with over 150,000 youth, adults, administrators, professionals, and policy makers within the past 15 years. 

Eric through his double bachelors and Master of Science degrees in Ethnic Studies and Educational Leadership, he has served as a faculty member at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte as well as Rutgers University (NJ) and has over a decade of innovative and cutting edge classroom instruction and facilitation experience. Eric has also been a volunteer trainer and partner for a wide range of social change agencies and organizations including the National Conference on Community and Justice, College Leadership Diversity Conference, and Teaching Tolerance Curriculum Instruction.

In addition to his training experience, Eric has also been a professional DJ and worked with artists throughout the entertainment industry, including Gwen Stefani, Billy Joel, Notorious B.I.G., Cypress Hill, Tribe Called Quest, The Fugees, Boyz II Men, Third Eye Blind, The Roots, George Clinton & Parliament, Henry Rollins, Radiohead, Smashmouth, Weezer, Edward James Olmos, Sinbad, George Lopez, Margaret Cho, and Maya Angelou.

Katie Davis, MHA C-Suite Strategist, Investor, Entrepreneur 

Katie Davis, founder and CEO of Brink Brands, fueled her executive career on one simple idea—work is a force for good. By putting people before policy, challenging the status quo, and blazing boldly ahead with radically transparent operational strategies, she’s proven time and again that purpose-driven leadership drives record-breaking financial results while wielding the power to transform the lives of caregivers and residents alike.

Katie offers her expertise at Brink Brands, a boutique management consultancy, investment holding company, and incubator supporting the senior housing and aging services industries. Her goal is to build a legacy of leadership through consulting partnerships, strategic investment, and the creation of disruptive companies that will impact the industry by empowering people to build execution-focused cultures, promote humanity in operations, and deliver aggressive, market-leading performance.

Session & Panel Speakers

Njathi Kabui, Chef, Author, Urban Farmer, Consultant & Food Activist 

Njathi Kabui born in Kenya at a small village at the slopes of Mount Kenya. He spent his first ten years assisting his mother at the family farm while also attending the local village school. He later moved to the city where his father owned and operated a restaurant in the capital Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Kabui moved to the U.S to attend college on a scholarship at Lemoyne Owens College where he majored in Political Science and Philosophy. 

His work is greatly inspired by his experience in life in the village and his parents, who were both deeply involved in the struggle for Civil Rights movement in Kenya against British colonialism. His father spent six years in the detention for his activities.

He now works as an indigenous chef, author, urban farmer, food consultant and food activist. He is also a speaker and social commentator of various media platforms from public radio, podcasts and even magazines. He has worked with major universities both as a speaker and a consultant including Duke University, University of Michigan, Kalamazoo, and Rutgers University. He has also given keynotes address at various conferences and universities at across the U.S and abroad. His area of interest is diversity in menu options, especially in African-inspired recipes. 

Njathi is a graduate from the University of Memphis with a dual masters in medical & urban anthropology.

Margaret Roche, Roche, Dietitians

Maggie and her team at Roche Dietitians develop and implement nutrition and dining programs that help senior living communities distinguish themselves through their dining services.  With an understanding of the vital role that meals play in the quality of life, health and well-being of senior living residents, Roche Dietitians also develops cost effective, healthy menus and therapeutic diets that hit high marks in resident and family satisfaction. 

Maggie is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in clinical nutrition.  She has advanced credentials as a certified diabetes educator, is board certified as a specialist in gerontological nutrition and is distinguished as a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 

Bob Raymond, Vice President Procurement & Dining Services, Commonwealth Senior Living

Bob Raymond is an innovative, customer-focused Leader who builds high performance cross-functional teams and drives improvement in process consistency and product quality across organizations. Bob is currently the Vice President of Procurement and Dining Services at Commonwealth Senior Living based in Charlottesville, Virginia. As an advocate for continuous improvement combined with strong business acumen leading national organizations with Horizon Bay Senior Living, Senior Lifestyles and AVI Foodsystems. Adept in implementing best practices and driving change within operations, quality, supply chain management, and data analysis. Bob currently resides in rural Virginia in the middle of a pine forest where disconnecting is easy to do!

Aaron Fish, Vice President of Food & Beverage, Civitas Senior Living

In a career that has crossed over 3 decades, Aaron has spent his time in the industry with a singular focus on the customer experience. Having gained experience in some of the top hospitality organizations in the country, he has brought a keen attention to building customer-focused operations to the senior living industry. Currently Aaron is the Vice President of Food & Beverage for Civitas Senior Living based in Ft. Worth, TX, where he has spent his time working with the team to build a best-in-class dining experience for his residents. He does this with a combination of implementing best practices, system development, and quality training for all levels throughout the organization.

Aaron holds a B.S. in hospitality management from Kansas State University as well as a MBA in Marketing from Baker University.

RonnDa J. Peters, Vice President, Marketing & SalesStrategic Dining Services

RonnDa has over 20 years of sales and marketing management experience in the hospitality and senior living industries.  Her experience in the hospitality industry is a sound foundation for sales and marketing strategies and management in senior living.  With her extensive background in senior marketing and hospitality she brings valued experience in strategic planning, client development as well as client training and support.   She is passionate about developing a synergy among senior community leadership team to maximize ROI and cost effective management strategies.

RonnDa holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in hotel and restaurant management from the University of Wisconsin at Stout.

Matt Schuler, Director of Culinary Development, Scopos Hospitality Group

Chef Schuler graduated from Johnson and Wales University 00’ (Charleston, SC) and continued as a teaching assistant and culinary demonstrator. He furthered his instructional skills as a full-time faculty member for The Pennsylvania School of Culinary Arts.

His experience also includes positions as private chef, catering chef and banquet chef for several upscale restaurants in central Pennsylvania as well as the Executive Chef/Designer for Ella’s American Bistro in Wayne, PA. Matt spent 4 years with Clark Associates & The as the Corporate Executive Chef/Product Expert with a focus on training of equipment and small wares from various manufacturers. Matt has been the Director of Culinary Development for SCOPOS Hospitality Group for the past 3 years and has helped to complete over 150 designs across the country in the Senior Living/Healthcare Food Service sector. 

Sanjeev Shetty, Head of Innovation, The Asbury Group

Sanjeev Shetty, of The Asbury Group has more than 20 years of experience in Information technology, Process Operations and Innovation within Fortune 500 companies. Sanjeev has a proven history of driving efficiency, customer satisfaction and innovation in various verticals including Telecom, Healthcare and Senior Living. He is currently responsible for evaluating and implementing technologies to better help residents age and live independently while providing higher levels of engagement within and outside of their communities.

Sanjeev is an experienced innovator within Healthcare and Telecom, and has served in senior management roles rolling out new products and services. Sanjeev's prior work experience includes serving as Senior Director of Strategic Projects & Revenue Assurance at Charter Communications, a Senior Director with AOL Time Warner, and most recently consulting in the Artificial Intelligence space within the Healthcare vertical.

Sanjeev received his bachelor's degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from Wisconsin's Lawrence University and an MBA from the University of Rochester's Simon school of Business.

Stephen Eggles, Vice President, Nutrition & Wellness Services, Acts Retirement-Life Communities

Stephen V. Eggles serves as Vice President, Nutrition & Wellness Services for Acts Retirement-Life Communities. He has been with the company since 1989, previously serving as Vice President, Operations – Mid-South Region and as an Executive Director of Brittany Pointe Estates (PA), Normandy Farms Estates (PA) and Tryon Estates (NC). Mr. Eggles is a member of the International Council for Active Aging. He holds a Bachelor's Degree from The Pennsylvania State University and a Master’s Degree from Eastern University  Mr. Eggles is also a licensed Nursing Home Administrator.

Harris Ader, Founder & CEO, Senior Dining Association

Harris Ader has more than 20 years of operational experience in the senior dining industry. His extensive background also includes experience in contract foodservice management, the national school lunch program, hotels and restaurants. Prior to founding Senior Dining Association, Harris was the Vice President of Dining Service at Senior Living Communities, based in Charlotte, NC. Harris’ areas of expertise include conceptual development, financial and business acumen, organizational effectiveness, project management, talent development and strategic vision & planning. Harris graduated from Johnson & Wales University.

Jonathan Pinsker, Regional Director of Culinary and Nutritional Services, Acts Retirement-Life Communities

Jonathan attended Johnson and Wales University in Providence Rhode Island where he obtained his Associates in Culinary Arts and his bachelor’s in food and Beverage Management. During his thirty-year career he worked for some of the largest food service companies which includes Compass Group, Aramark and Carnival Cruise Lines.

Jonathan is currently the regional director of culinary and nutritional services with Acts Retirement-Life Communities in Florida and Alabama.

Jonathan has recently graduated from Lynn University with an MBA in Hospitality Management.

Schelley Hollyday, Principal, The Hollyday Group

With over 25 years of experience in the Senior Living industry with a focus on hospitality, Schelley has held senior leadership positions with two national senior services management companies.

As a graduate of the Hotel School at Cornell University, Schelley has taken her passion for customer service and hospitality to the Senior Living Industry.

During her career, Schelley has worked with over 300 Senior Living communities. She is a recognized speaker, including LeadingAge and university lectures and continues to conduct extensive research identifying best practices and hospitality trends.

Neil Sullivan, COO, Connected Living, Inc.

Neil Sullivan has over 25 years of public relations, marketing, leadership and operations experience and is passionate about focusing his energies on causes and companies that make a social impact.

Neil joined Connected Living in February 2008 and played an intricate role as VP of Operations as he created and launched, scalable / repeatable operational and support processes that helped the senior living industry and their consumers operate and experience technology solutions. In this space, the operational and support components are just as valuable as the products themselves.

Today, as Chief Operating Officer, Neil oversees the national operations and business development team. He is responsible for the oversight of internal operations that include the Connected Living Center, Operations Consultants, and Certified Ambassadors. In addition, Neil ensures that Connected Living’s clients and partners have a positive experience that exceeds their expectations. Neil is also orchestrating Marketing and PR strategies to support the launch of new cutting-edge mobile technologies to connect the generations.

Neil holds a BA with Honors from Salem State College.

Christopher White, Regional Director of Dining Services, 5 Star Senior Living

Chef White’s collection of gold, silver, and bronze medals from American Culinary Federation competitions are just a few of the many accolades earned in his two decades as a professional chef. He began his career working in private clubs, has studied under Master Chefs, and loves being creative in the kitchen. At The Palms, Chef White has launched several new dining programs, including his signature 5-course wine dinners, food demonstrations, and Healthy Line adventures welcoming residents to tour local farms and grow their own herbs.

Gary McBlain, National Director of Culinary, Amica Senior Lifestyles

Red Seal Chef Gary McBlain trained at Niagara College’s Culinary Institute and apprenticed at restaurants in the Niagara region which focused on fresh local cuisine.

Gary’s passion for cooking began in his early teens, when he started cooking dinner for his family. After several years in the restaurant industry, he made the transition to retirement living. Over the past 15 years, he has worked with more than 150 retirement communities with the simple goal of providing wonderful food and great service.

Gary joined Amica Senior Lifestyles in 2013. His favourite dishes are rack of lamb and fresh homemade doughnuts.

Katherine Thomas, R.D., L.D.N, Vice President of Dining and Culinary Services, Country Meadows Retirement Communities

As Vice President of Dining and Culinary Services, she leads efforts to enhance the dining experience at Country Meadows Retirement Communities and its non-profit sister, Ecumenical Retirement Community. 

During her career, Thomas successfully oversaw nutrition and dining program for more than 30 senior living communities and was instrumental in bringing Food and Nutrition Departments back in-house from contracted operations. 

Thomas holds a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition from Mansfield University in Pennsylvania and is a registered, licensed Dietician. She recently attended Harrisburg Community College where she obtained certification in Viticulture and Enology and conducts wine tasting sessions for community groups.

Guy Hemond, Vice President of Culinary & Dining Experience, Benchmark Senior Living

Joined Benchmark in June 2007

Corporate Director of Food & Beverage, Omni Hotels Irving, TX.

International Culinary Olympics, Berlin Germany – member American Natural Foods Team- awarded Gold and Bronze medals

Argentum – Best of the Best award 2009 winner- Sensory Dining Program

Chairman of the Board- Argentum Dining Services Executive Roundtable 2010-2013

Phillip Dopson, VP Design and Retail, Morrison Community Living

Phillip Dopson is Vice President of Design & Retail for Morrison Community Living with a demonstrated passion for hospitality and a history of working in the food & beverages industry. Phillip began his career with Compass Group as a Director of Operations at University Place Conference Center & Hotel. He then joined Morrison Community Living as Regional Director of Operations with Morrison Community Living in the Midwest before transitioning to his current role, overseeing retail and design and The Hub - Morrison Community Living's Specialized Services.

Gary McMullen, Founder & President, CARDWATCH

Gary is a veteran of the Point Of Sale Industry, beginning his career in 1981 with Data Terminal Systems, (The first programmable “Cash Register”) and in 1983 starting his own company.

For the past 20 years, Gary has been addressed the needs of senior living dining and other revenue/service centers within each community.