Dawn Aubrey - Associate Director of Housing for Dining, University of Illinois

Tagged in Foodservice Operators Leadership

Dawn manages more than $52 million in foodservice operations at the University of Illinois, including residential dining, retail, full-service catering and Good2Go food truck and online services. She advises those new to the industry to understand it is more than a job, it is a calling that has a significant impact on others. Get to know her.

What do your customers appreciate most about your company?

Personalized service and excellent food made with ethically sourced and sustainably made ingredients.

Share a story about your first job in foodservice.

I was sent to the French Embassy to assist during the new wine celebration. Le nouveau est arrivé! In honor of Beaujolais nouveau Day which falls on the third Thursday of November, I assist with preparing the event which involved piping salmon mousse on 4,000 cucumber rounds in a cold room and sugaring 2,000 violets for the pastry chef. French was spoken in the kitchen, I was able to put my three (3) years of college French to good use!

In 2020, what do you think the foodservice industry will be like?

Customization to the type of ingredients to be included in your dish according to location and sustainable characteristics.

How do you keep up with industry news and events?

Periodicals, websites, social media, news, newsletters and professional organizations. NACUFS & IFMA.

If you had to describe IFMA in just three words, what would they be?

Intelligent, Innovative, Imaginative

Please list the IFMA committees or other programs/activities you have participated in and provide a brief explanation of your role.

I have the honor and pleasure to attend Presidents Conference as an Operator. I have served as a panelist for the C&U Operator Roundtable.

If you could have dinner with three people (dead or alive), who would they be and why?

Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Ronald Reagan. We would have marvelous conversation about the birth of our country and how it has changed. They would be brilliant and delightful.


IFMA featured members are selected based on their accomplishments in the food industry. Recognized as leaders, they are the people moving the industry forward with big ideas and even bigger goals. Know someone who fits the bill?  Tell us.

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Mar 05

Chain Operators EXchange (COEX)

The IFMA Chain Operators EXchange (COEX) enables chain operators to take advantage of business building insights and create personal connections with leading manufacturers. With dozens of high-profile operators on the planning committee, the program truly is created "by operators, for operators."

Making Sense Out of the Complexities of Foodservice

Doug Brooks, former CEO of Brinker (Chili's and Maggiano's), described several key foodservice industry trends and discussed how operators can respond to these trends at Chain Operators Exchange, COEX. In this environment of marketplace mayhem, the challenge for restaurants is to adapt and improve without losing sight of their brand's core values.


Steve Hammel, Dining Services Program Manager, U.S. Navy Regional Southwest

Steve Hammel directs U.S. Navy operations of 40 retail foodservice facilities serving 30,000 meals daily with annual sales of $45 million. More than 900,000 meals are served to active duty military in 11 Navy Five Star galley operations—five having been awarded the Ney Memorial Award for foodservice excellence. Get to know him. Get to know him. 

Terri Moreman, Associate Director, Food & Nutrition Services, U.S. Olympic Committee

Terri’s job is to facilitate dining operations of the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center while supporting other training centers and venues around the country. Her motto is “there are no forbidden foods; it’s only a matter of planning for them.” Get to know her.

Foodservice Spending Is Up but Visits Are Flat As Consumers Continue To Eat More Meals At Home

Foodservice spending, which was up 3 percent in the year ending April 2015, did not equate to foodservice visits, which were flat in the period, according to The NPD Group, a leading global information company. The foodservice industry remains challenged to get people out of their homes to eat versus eating in home.  Four out of five meals are prepared and consumed at home and in home meals have been on the rise for several years, reports NPD’s ongoing food consumption market research.

John Koncki from CKE Restaurants Gets May's SMB Call Fired Up

Every month, IFMA's Small & Midsized Business (SMB) community hosts a discussion with industry experts, trading partners or operator customers. In May, John Koncki, Director of R&D at CKE Restaurants, joined the SMB community call, discussing how small and midsized businesses can work with the restaurant chain.

John Koncki from CKE Restaurants to Join May's SMB Call

Every month, IFMA's Small & Midsized Business (SMB) community hosts a discussion with industry experts, trading partners or operator customers. John Koncki, Director of R&D at CKE Restaurants, will be joining the SMB community call and discussing how small and midsized businesses can work with the restaurant chain.

Driving Consumer Demand

The $683 billion restaurant industry is mature; however, there is unprecedented opportunity for innovation.

At COEX 2014, panelists from four fast-expanding chains illustrated,  there is tremendous potential for and reward from innovation.  All four entrepreneurs have tapped niches of consumer  demand to build distinctive, well-loved brands that  attract a loyal customer following. And all have prioritized  people, fostering enduring connections in unique ways.

Collaboration Techniques for Menu Changes, Product Improvements and Reacting to Today’s Demanding Guests

No activity is more mission critical for restaurant operators than menu development. Poor attempts at menu development won't always mean the demise of a concept, and successful menus won't ensure business success, but the quality of menu development definitely affects a restaurant's success. 

Wally Doolin to Moderate Panel at Presidents Conference, Top Operators to Offer Reactions to Conference Insights

Occasions that drive consumer choice, retaining quality employees and capital investment are areas of focus to the benefit of the foodservice industry. These insights, and others, are the subject of a recent article penned by TDn2K Chairman and Founder Wally Doolin. He will be addressing similar issues as moderator of the Closing Keynote Panel at Presidents Conference, which features executives from top operator brands and their reactions to insights conveyed during the conference. 

FOCUS Brands CEO Drives Success through Consumer Experiences Aligned with Operator Brands

One of the foodservice industry's most dynamic executive leaders today is Steve DeSutter, who joined FOCUS Brands, Inc. as their president and CEO in March. Mr. DeSutter will be delivering the opening keynote address at Presidents Conference this November, which is the place where foodservice leaders come to address critical issues affecting our industry. His presentation will address how consumer experiences with operator brands are a key area of focus that leads to success.