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FS/TEC 'advisors' help conference maintain operator focus


Even as the final plans are being made for the 12th Annual International Foodservice Technology Exposition, or FS/TEC, organizers are turning to the conference's volunteer advisory board for the feedback needed to shape the show's operator-oriented presentations.

Nation's Restaurant News manages and produces FS/TEC with Robert Grimes, president and chief executive of Potomac, Md.-based Accuvia. FS/TEC 2007 will be held Oct. 10-13 at Atlanta's Georgia World Congress Center. The event is co-located with the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers The NAFEM Show.

"We strive to make FS/TEC programming highly relevant to our core operator audience, and in keeping with that goal we regularly turn to our advisory board for input," said NRN publisher Alan Gould. "We greatly appreciate the contributions to the conference by current members, as well those of past representatives who helped shape the show."

Among the operators in the latter group, Gould said, is Darden Restaurants Inc. controller Valerie K. Collins, who left the board in 2007 after multiple years of service. Collins, who late last year was promoted out of her chief information officer, or CIO, role, was succeeded on the FS/TEC advisory board by Patti Reilly White, Orlando-based Darden's senior vice president of information technology, or IT.

Also new on the 22-member board this year is Mary Hamill, vice president of human resources and IT for the Max & Erma's Restaurants Inc. casual-dining chain of Columbus, Ohio. She was joined as a newcomer by Cihan Cobanoglu, an associate professor at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del., who has shared research and made other presentations at FS/TEC in past years.

Returning members of the FS/TEC advisory board, in alphabetical order, are: Steve Barrow, vice president of IT, Luby's Inc., Houston; Larry Beckwith, senior vice president of administration and information services, Bob Evans Farms Inc., Columbus, Ohio; Delaney Bellinger, CIO, Yum! Brands Inc., Louisville, Ky.; Jeff Chasney, executive vice president of strategic planning and CIO, CKE Restaurants Inc., Carpinteria, Calif.; Ron DiNella, senior vice president and chief financial officer, Morton's Restaurant Group Inc., Chicago,; Louis S. Grande Jr., vice president of IT, Rare Hospitality International Inc., Atlanta; and Martyn Holland, senior vice president of systems and CIO, HMSHost Corp., Bethesda, Md.

Also associated again with the advisory board in 2007 are Rob Jakoby, vice president of management information systems, or MIS, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc., Greenwood Village, Colo.; Michael Kasavana, NAMA professor, school of hospitality business, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich.; Elizabeth King, vice president of business systems, Starbucks Corp., Seattle; Alan Liddle, managing editor, Nation's Restaurant News, New York; Stuart H. Mann, dean of the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and Darla Morse, vice president of IT, Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Other FS/TEC advisory board members back for another year of participation are: Peter Nyheim, instructor of technology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa.; Mark Ozawa, managing director, Accuvia Consulting, Potomac, Md.; Mike Plunkett, senior vice president of purchasing and international operations, Dave & Busters Inc., Dallas; Rob Watkins, CIO, Compass Group, The Americas, Charlotte, N.C.; Robert Whittington, senior vice president and CIO, Wendy's International Inc., Dublin, Ohio; and David Weick, senior vice president and CIO, McDonald's Corp., Oak Brook, Ill.

FS/TEC co-founder Grimes, of Accuvia, indicated that the conference long has benefited from the perspective of advisory board members because those individuals have accomplished much in their careers and lives.

"Our advisory board has always been made up of people who are not only leaders within their own companies, but often within their segments of the industry, as well," noted Grimes.

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