2021 Annual Conference Schedule

View our annual conference schedule below or print a copy of the schedule above. Please note our agenda is subject to change without notice, so be sure to check back on the website for the latest offerings. 

Continuing Education Credits: AHF is pleased to offer attendees continuing education credits at each of our annual conferences. Each year AHF obtains certification approval from AND, ANFP, and ACF. Our 2021 conference has not yet been accredited, however, we are projected to offer 16+ credits for the full conference. 

Leadership Competencies: Business acumen, emotional maturity, executive management skills, employee retention and engagement, service orientation, team building, strategic innovation, strategic thought, vision setting, risk taking, decision making, communications and marketing, and more. 

Use the tabs below to see the agenda for each day of the conference.  

8:30 AM-7:00 PM Registration Open
9:00 AM-12:15 PM AREA ACTIVITY: BBQ Pit Master Tour (optional add-on)

Join Daniel Vaughn of TEXAS Monthly Magazine on a private tour of local BBQ pits! You’ll visit Slow Bone and Terry Black’s to not only try their famous food but also learn how it’s made. Buy a ticket for this once-in-a-lifetime behind-the-scenes pit master tour and bring your appetite! This activity includes roundtrip transportation from the Omni Dallas Hotel. Contact the AHF Customer Service Department at 800-899-1109 ext. 703 or email us at registration@healthcarefoodservice.org to register. 


9:00 AM-12:15 PM AREA ACTIVITY: AT&T Stadium Tour – Home of the Dallas Cowboys (optional add-on)

Were you ever curious what it’s like to stand on a professional NFL football field? Or have you ever wondered what the back of the house of a football stadium is like? This private tour is sure to pique your interest! You’ll see the Dallas Cowboys’ and cheerleaders’ locker rooms, the back of the house of the stadium, you’ll get to explore the field, and so much more! This activity includes roundtrip transportation from the Omni Dallas Hotel. Contact the AHF Customer Service Department at 800-899-1109 ext. 703 or email us at registration@healthcarefoodservice.org to register. 


2:00-4:30 PM PRE-CONFERENCE SESSION: AHF Benchmarking EXPRESS Program

Preconference sessions are a great way to take a deeper dive into a critical topic for self-operated foodservice professionals or to actively participate in a workshop. 


Planned CEUs: 2.5
2:00-4:30 PM PRE-CONFERENCE SESSION: Culinary Innovations

Learn from AHF Business Partners as they share the newest products to add to your healthcare and senior dining menus. This pre-conference session will be a creative and interactive session covering unique ways to elevate your menus and offerings.


Planned CEUs: 2.5
4:30-6:00 PM  Attendee Free Time 

AHF may place unique learning opportunities for specific groups here or preparations for items such as our Awards Ceremony or Culinary Competition, but for most this will be free time. 


6:00-7:00 PM PRE-RECEPTION: New Attendee Orientation

Join other first-time attendees, make new connections, and meet AHF’s leadership. AHF will provide light refreshments and following the hour, members will transition into our Opening Reception with the remainder of our attendees. New Attendees will have time to mingle while also learning more about AHF conferences, AHF, and anything else you want to learn more about. Then join us tomorrow for the New Attendee Reception. 


7:00-10:00 PM RECEPTION: Opening Reception

Sponsored by Hormel Foods Corporation and Grubhub Campus

Join us for the first reception of the week! This is your chance to reconnect with friends and colleagues after a long separation. Be sure to come ready to safely network, make new connections, and most of all have fun. 


7:00 AM-4:00 PM Registration Open
7:45-8:30 AM Breakfast

Come grab breakfast and get fueled up for the day!

8:30-9:45 AM KEYNOTE SESSION: Triumph Over Change, 2021 and Beyond!

Speaker: Christopher Ridenhour

Sponsored by US Foods

Few things encourage “shift” quite like a global pandemic, political pandemonium, civil unrest, and lest we forget, murder hornets. Despite the stress and exhaustion that always accompanies change, this is not the time to trade in your credentials for a one-way airline ticket and butterfly net! There’s not one chapter in the “leadership manual” that prepares us for enduring mayhem and change. Whether you thrive during chaos, or not, rest assured there is some other tribulation waiting to pounce and offer more…. uh, “growth”! Friends, hold tight, Triumph Over Change, 2021 and Beyond! is less keynote than it is a Revival! 


Planned CEUs: 1
9:45-10:00 AM BATHROOM BREAK  
10:00-11:00 AM CONCURRENT SESSION: Culinary Trends, A Bridge to an Innovative Menu, while being nimble to market

Speaker: Jim Doak

Sponsored by Tyson Foodservice

A walk through upcoming and current culinary trends and what to expect from changing consumer needs and trends. 


Planned CEUs: 1
10:00-11:00 AM CONCURRENT SESSION: Retention 911! Reviving, Inspiring, Engaging, Retaining!

Speaker: Christopher Ridenhour

Dive deeper with our Keynote speaker Christopher Ridenhour. Organizations that fail to fully appreciate, coach, and inspire team members, lose the battle to retain them. GREAT NEWS AHEAD! This session promises to transform burnout energy into strategies to create inclusive, positive, and cooperative work environments. Come prepared to receive countless ways to kick the workforce crisis in the tail! 


Planned CEUs: 1

Coffee, tea, and snack break.


11:30-12:30 PM MAINSTAGE SESSION: Stay Ahead of Contractor Tactics: A Peek Behind the Curtain

Speaker: Mark Toomey

Take a deep dive with Mark Toomey into the world of contractor takeovers and bids. Mark Toomey, a former Sodexo VP, gives us a peek behind the curtain to understand contractor tactics. Contract management firms are looking to the Healthcare and Senior Living industries to replace business lost during the pandemic. AHF expects their efforts to take over self-operated facilities to increase. Now is the time to get ahead and protect your facility with critical playbook tips on keeping the contractors out and remaining firmly self-operated. 


Planned CEUs: 1
12:30-4:00 PM AHF TRADESHOW: Tradeshow & Marketplace (Lunch in Hall by Sponsors)

Our Tradeshow is one of our most loved events of the conference. Browse new products, materials, and services from our amazing business partners. Our sponsors have spent all year building new innovations to help attendees battling an ever-shifting environment. Grab lunch from our sponsor booths as you browse and try out their latest product offerings. 


Planned CEUs: 3.5
4:15-5:15 PM  CONCURRENT SESSION: What Just Happened?! Navigating Conflict and Confusion in Communication in Healthcare and Business Worlds

Speakers: Mary Angela Miller MS RD LDN, Adjunct Professor, Ohio State University & Heather Dugan, Founder of Cabernet Coaches®

Moderator: Georgie Shockey, Principal, Ruck-Shockey Associates

We always talk about the importance of effective communication in leadership but rarely do we tell how to enhance this skill. In this session, attendees will be given practical insight on “the HOW.” The speakers will use real examples from real situations to discuss differentiating factors at play in healthcare hierarchies and business/client relationships.


Planned CEUs: 1
4:15-5:15 PM  CONCURRENT SESSION: Pandemic Proof Your Retail & Dining Operations

John Herzog, DM&A
Carri Sullens, Webb Foodservice Design
Gary Goettl, Kestgo
Steve Carlson, Rippe Associates (Moderator)

Sponsored by Gordon Food Service

A session lead by industry experts and AHF business partners on how to make sure that your retail and dining operators are working at top efficiency so that they can weather any storm to come whether it is a global pandemic, natural disaster, or a contractor threat. Attendees will walk away with tips and practical advice on how to enhance their retail and dining operations with fewer resources and ensure they can wow administrators. 


Planned CEUs: 1

Meet up with fellow new attendees and head over to the culinary competition and evening reception together. This is a great opportunity to continue conversations and meet new people.


6:00-8:00 PM RECEPTION: AHF Culinary Competition & Reception

Sponsored by US Foods

AHF’s Culinary Competition is BACK! Join us to watch 5 culinary teams from across the country battle it out for the title of 2021 Culinary Competition Champions. Teams of two will compete over the course of our 2-hour event. During the event, the audience both at home and live at the competition will follow along with our competition hosts, Chef Eric Eisenberg and Andy Bergman. While you cheer the competitors on, you’ll be enjoying ample food, networking, and drinks. You don’t want to miss this!


8:00-10:00 PM AFTER PARTY! AHF Culinary Competition Afterparty

Sponsored by Smuckers Away From Home

Now that the competitors have been crowned, it’s time to kick back and enjoy the after-party! The After Party will feature dueling pianos, deserts, and a night cap (or two) to close out the night. This is your chance to unwind and have some fun before tomorrow’s sessions all while you celebrate the culinary competitors!

7:00 AM -4:00 PM Registration Open


6:30 AM -7:30 AM EXERCISE ACTIVITY: Rise and Shine – Exercise Activity – PiYo

Start the morning with a 1-hour PiYo class, led by AHF member, Sarah Karnatz. PiYo is a type of exercise that blends the best of Pilates and Yoga. Designed to be a low-impact exercise that doesn’t involve jumping, but will elevate your heart rate through intense stretching. PiYo uses dynamic fast-paced cardiovascular moves and body weight strength training. Sign up during registration and meet us at the Outside Astro Turf area. Towels will be provided.


8:00-9:00 AM SPONSORS/EXHIBITORS: Business Partner De-Brief (Breakfast Provided)

Moderators: Barbara Kane (AHF IAB Chair), Ryan Conklin (AHF President), Stephanie Gilbert (AHF IAB Co-Chair), Leah Reily (AHF Executive Director)

Our Business Partner Debrief is an annual AHF tradition. Come ready to provide us with your feedback on what AHF did well and how we can add in new innovations next year. This is an open discussion with all sponsors, exhibitors, and business partners. This is your chance to provide us with honest feedback. AHF works to incorporate this feedback in future shows – so you’re opinion matters and is heard. 


8:00-9:00 AM Breakfast

Attendees can come grab breakfast and get fueled up for the day!


9:00-10:00 AM KEYNOTE SESSION: Cultivating a Culture of Hospitality

Speaker: Erin Moran

Drawing on her experiences as the first-ever Chief Culture Officer with Union Square Hospitality Group and Senior Vice-President with Great Place to Work, Erin shares her expertise in how to cultivate a company culture that delivers exceptional hospitality. In today’s landscape, employees expect more than a paycheck from their jobs: the best talent in any field is inspired by purpose-driven work. Erin discusses the steps any organization must make to articulate their mission and values, hire and retain the best talent and foster authentic engagement among their teams.


Planned CEUs: 1

Coffee, tea, and snack break


10:30-10:35 AM MAINSTAGE SESSION: AHF FISH Talks – “New Directions”

Moderator: Erin Moran

FISH Talks™ (Food, Innovation, Service, and Hospitality) are short 15-minute presentations on innovative and unique topics by subject matter experts. Each focuses on a different area of the industry leaving views with a series of inspiring ideas. This will be our third year presenting FISH Talks and so far our members tell us this is one of their favorite sessions! Watch each of our four FISH speakers as they take us through the “New Directions” we can expect in Food, Innovation, Service, and Hospitality. 


FISH Talk Total Planned CEUs: 1.5
10:35-10:50 AM MAINSTAGE SESSION: FISH Talk – Food

Speaker: Jeff Sinelli, Founder and Chief Vibe Officer, Which Wich 


10:50-11:05 AM MAINSTAGE SESSION: FISH Talk – Innovation

Speaker: Ken Toong, Executive Director, University of Massachusetts Amherst Auxiliary Enterprises


11:05-11:20 AM MAINSTAGE SESSION: FISH Talk – Service

Speaker: Dr. Sandra Sydnor, MBA PhD, Associate Professor, Purdue University 


11:20-11:35 AM  MAINSTAGE SESSION: FISH Talk – Hospitality

Speaker: Greg Gorgone, Pineapple Academy


11:35-12:00 PM MAINSTAGE SESSION: FISH Panel Discussion & Q&A

Moderator: Erin Moran

Our four FISH speakers come together on the main stage for a panel discussion moderated by Erin Moran on all things Food, Innovation, Service and Hospitality. Audience members will be able to ask questions of the panel. 



Take a break, grab and snack and a drink and mingle with members and sponsors before going back into sessions. 


12:45-2:15 PM MAINSTAGE SESSION: Celebrate Excellence Awards Luncheon

Join us as we announce, celebrate, and honor our 2021 Award Winners. This is a critical event where we highlight industry leaders who have gone above and beyond over the past year. During this ceremony you will learn more about each of our award winners, honor our 2020 Award Winners, and enjoy lunch provided by AHF and our sponsors. 


Planned CEUs: 1.5

Take a moment for a break and use the time to travel to the concurrent session of your choice. 


2:30-3:30 PM CONCURRENT SESSION: It’s Not the Players Your Given, It’s the Team You Build: Coaching Your GPO to MRU

Speakers: Maureen Leugers, MBA, RDN, Owner Maureen Leugers LLC & Sherry Fruge, Senior Director, Business Development, Health Resource Services LLC

Sponsored by Lavazza Professional

As a Foodservice Leader, you are paid to coach the players and create a winning department. But the ‘Owner” (CEO) determines the amount of the budget and the General Manager (i.e., CEO, CFO, Supply Chain, etc.) picks some of the key players (GPO, distributor, vendors). Whether they are super stars or underachievers, your role as coach is to create the game plan, tap into the talent, and combine the players into a winning team.
This session will focus on the coaching techniques needed to bring out the best in each player, form a team, and to Maximize, Rationalize, and Utilize them to create a winning department and Operational Optimization.


Planned CEUs: 1
2:30-3:30 PM CONCURRENT SESSION: Customer Experience Acute Care and Senior Living Panel Discussion 

ModeratorGerald White, VP/ Publisher of PLATE Magazine

Panelists: Simone Nicolas, MS, RDN, CDN, Corporate Director of Culinary Services, National Healthcare Associates & David Hendricks, Director of Nutrition, Palms of Pasadena Hospital

Sponsored by Sysco Corporation

A panel discussion from the acute care operator and senior living operator perspectives, moderated by Gerald White from Plate Magazine. During this panel discussion, Gerald and our operator’s panelists will discuss hospitality and how to improve patient satisfaction scores in both acute care and senior living. 


Planned CEUs: 1
2:30-3:30 PM CONCURRENT SESSION: Culinary Apprenticeship – Building a Strong Culinary Future

Speaker: Joseph Ninnemann, Regional Director, North and Central WI, System Food & Nutrition Services

Sponsored by Hormel Foods Corporation

Culinary talent has been an ongoing challenge for Aurora Health for several years. Joe and his team took the pandemic as an opportunity to leverage contacts internally, with the State of WI apprenticeship bureau, and a local technical school in order to explore a Certified Culinary Apprenticeship program that will combine on the job training with formal classroom education in an effort to build the foundational skill so internal candidates, or external new hires in order to further our strategic goals in increasing food quality across our entire footprint. Join Joe to learn how he built and implemented his apprentice program and how you can do the same at your facility. 


Planned CEUs: 1

Take a break, grab and snack and a drink and mingle with members and sponsors before going back into sessions.


4:00 -5:15 PM  KEYNOTE SESSION: Rubber Band Resilience: How to Stretch without Snapping

Speaker: Kathy Parry, Owner Corporate Energy

With quotes like, “transform or die” and “disruption is king” it is pertinent that changes, especially those from technology, regulations and staffing, be embraced by healthcare foodservice professionals. The ability to apply a disruption-friendly mindset to transitional shifts will be necessary to serve teams, retain personnel and meet budgets. Join Kathy as she leads us through her own journey to discovering the keys to thriving in the face of challenging circumstances. While sharing her 3-R method for resilient behaviors (React, Reframe, Re-energize), Kathy will inspire you to stretch, but not snap, when faced with disruption. 


Planned CEUs: 1
5:15-7:30 PM FREE TIME 
7:30-11:00 PM RECEPTION: Celebrate AHF!

Sponsored by PepsiCo

Our final reception of the conference! This is the BIG one filled with amazing entertainment, a sit-down formal dinner, award ceremony, and dancing. During the evening we will announce and recognize our two “secret” awards – our Lifetime Achievement Award Winner and our Making a Difference Award Winner. Don’t miss this chance to dress up, eat amazing food, and network with friends and colleagues before heading home tomorrow. 


All Day Travel Home

Grab your trip back home, or stay on for more time to relax and recharge before going back to work. Don’t forget AHF’s discounted hotel rate extends 3 days before and 3 days after the conference. Enjoy!