Women In Hospitality


Alex Guarnaschelli

Keynote Presenter

Few American chefs, much less female chefs, can boast leading Michelin-starred restaurants abroad. Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli can make such a boast, having embarked on a culinary journey in France that saw her working in some of that country’s top restaurants, including esteemed chef Guy Savoy’s eponymous three-star kitchen. In 2003, Guarnaschelli became the executive chef at Butter Restaurant in New York City, which provided the opportunity for her to develop a menu based on her own choices and point of view. Guarnaschelli created an American menu spotlighting local ingredients in dishes that allowed their flavors to shine.

Today Guarnaschelli is recognized as one of America’s most accomplished top chefs, acclaimed for her work in the kitchen, as an author, and as a popular television personality.

In addition to being an Iron Chef, Guarnaschelli hosts her own primetime series Supermarket Stakeout on Food Network. She is also a regular co host on The Kitchen and a recurring judge on Chopped. In 2018, Food Network launched Alex Guarnaschelli’s digital series Fix Me a Plate, in which the New York native takes audiences on an insider’s tour of the city’s best no-frills food spots.

Alex released her first cookbook, “Old-School Comfort Food: The Way I Learned to Cook”, in spring 2013, which became a New York Times bestseller. In fall 2017, Alex’s second cookbook, “The Home Cook: Recipes to Know by Heart”, is still in print won praise from outlets such as Publisher’s Weekly which noted that “…Guarnaschelli nicely chronicles the changes in a shifting culinary landscape.” Alex released her third cookbook, “Cook With Me: 150 Recipes For The Home Cook,” on October 17th, 2020.


Elizabeth Age

Elizabeth leads the Global Account Management team at Square, a business technology platform that serves over 4 Million business owners, including hundreds of thousands of restaurants. Elizabeth has extensive experience leading different go to market functions across the tech and non profit space and has spent the last 9 years at Square building and scaling customer facing teams within the areas of Customer Success, Global Expansion, and Account Management. About 50% of her team supports Food and Bev business owners in the SMB and MM segments, a strategic industry focus for Square. Elizabeth is also the child of food entrepreneurs, and spent many of her young years in her parent’s health food store and bakery in upstate New York.


Kathy Cacciola

As Global Sustainability Lead for Google’s Food Program, Kathy leads strategy and key initiatives across a portfolio of food venues in partnership with a large network of food vendor partners. Kathy is responsible for driving scalable change across the industry and food systems to drive economic value, support social initiatives and contribute positive environmental impact. Previously, Kathy served as Vice President of Enterprise Sustainability at Aramark, responsible for developing and leading the company’s 2025 global sustainability / environmental, social, governance (ESG) strategy.

Kathy’s commitment to sustainability has been a theme throughout her career through roles at the University of Virginia’s Office of the Architect, National Wildlife Federation, American Rivers, Greenpeace, and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. During her tenure at Aramark, Kathy served on the Culinary Institute of America Menus of Change Business Leadership Council, National Restaurant Association’s Sustainability Executives Steering Committee, Humane Society of the US Corporate Roundtable, and Seafood Watch Foodservice Roundtable.

Kathy holds a Master’s degree in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture and a Bachelor’s in Environmental Policy and International Development from American University, where she studied abroad in Denmark and Kenya.


Oneika Mays, LMT

Oneika Mays, LMT, is a multi-hyphenate facilitator who leads with joy, passion, and wisdom. She is a grounded leader with lived experience that centers on mindfulness and transformation. As a Black, queer feminist she brings a poignant lens to building a world that is more compassionate and understanding. With deep roots and knowledge in Buddhist and yogic teachings, Oneika delivers practical application and authentic connection through her facilitation skills.

Oneika has been practicing yoga for more than 20 years, and guiding yoga and meditation for more than a decade. Since then, she has used her knowledge to support social justice nonprofits and historically excluded communities. She served as the Mindfulness Coach at Rikers Island Correctional Facility for 4 years and is currently a teacher for Yoga International, an inclusive and accessible online studio with classes designed for every level of practice.

Oneika’s ability to take big ideas and distill them down into understandable and relatable learnings allows her to show up as a conduit for transformation. She is your teacher, your auntie, your friend, and an intuitive soul here for the work of personal and collective liberation. From mindfulness and movement classes to keynote addresses and board meetings, Oneika consistently delivers a practical application of transformative practices at the intersection of joy and disruption. Join her movement to tap into joy and change the world by connecting with her on Instagram at @OneikaMays.


Megan Miller

Megan Miller is a TEDx & Global Speaker, Founder: Intentional Living Method, Best Selling Author & host of Apple’s Top-Rated Podcast, Attention to Intention. Megan is on a mission to deliver the words that she needed for so long in her own journey. Exhaustion is not a status symbol & striving does not need to come from a place of validation. Through the Intentional Living Method built on connection, community and real-life conversations, mask down & human first, Megan shares science backed microsteps to guide audiences on how to reconnect to the person that can get lost in the busyness of life: you.


Julie Morgenstern

Julie Morgenstern is an organizing & productivity consultant, New York Times best-selling author, and speaker. For over 30 years, Julie has been teaching people all around the world and at all stages of life how to overcome disorganization to achieve their goals. Her mission is to free each individual to make their unique contribution to the world—by helping them design their own systems for managing time and space that feel natural and are easy to maintain. This Inside Out approach to organizing everything gives readers, listeners, and clients the energy and knowledge they need to get (and stay) organized.


Wendy Powell

Wendy Powell has held leadership positions in operations, business development and strategic implementation for many of North America’s largest commercial food service providers such as Delaware North, Compass Group and ISS/Guckenheimer.

As President of Savory Hospitality, Wendy has led a complete transformation of the company; from a startup food-tech company, into an established and dynamic, commissary-based business dining leader in NYC. 

A true entrepreneur with a deep passion for the culinary arts and a strong focus on quality and strategic alignment, Wendy has a proven track record in providing forward thinking solutions and hospitality innovations for premier organizations.


Jen Staples

Dr. Staples (she/her) is a Clinical Psychologist, Adjunct Professor and the Founder of Work Wiser, a company that provides preventative mental health training for the Food and Beverage Industry. She is passionate about combating mental health stigma and increasing access to evidence-based mental health skills and strategies. She comes from a long line of family in hospitality and worked as a server for over 13 years with a personal investment in impacting hospitality mental health culture. Dr. Staples has over 10 years of experience providing mental health and diversity training, and 5 years of graduate-level teaching experience during which she won a teaching award. She regularly utilizes the skills and strategies taught in Work Wiser trainings in her own personal and professional life and is dedicated to empowering others by providing tools to support mental wellness and success.



Courtney Willis

Courtney Willis is a seasoned leader in hospitality with over 20 years of experience in progressive leadership. She holds a BA from Clark Atlanta University and a Master’s degree from Cornell University’s Hotel School. Transitioning from a Risk Management Broker, she found her passion in food over 15 years ago at Restaurant Associates (R/A), Compass Group USA. During her tenure at R/A, Courtney has held various roles across multiple lines of business including cultural centers, corporate dining and restaurant services. For over 2 years, she held a duel role as a Regional Director of Operations and led R/A’s Diversity & Inclusion initiatives as Co-Chair. Courtney spearheaded the creation of R/A’s first employee resource group, Black Voices, and transitioned her passion project into a newly created role as the first Vice President of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging & Culture.  Courtney is dedicated to creating value by supporting and empowering people to be their authentic, best selves so they can thrive, grow, and feel like they belong.  Outside work, Courtney serves on the Board of Hot Bread Kitchen, which is a nonprofit organization that supports women, gender-expansive people, immigrants, and people of color to gain culinary skills and access great jobs in the food industry in NYC.


Amy Zhou

Amy Zhou is the Executive Director of Operations for COTE Korean Steakhouse. She grew up in Shanghai, China where she began her hospitality career working in restaurants in high school. Bit by the wine bug, she devoured wine books after school until she earned her first position as a sommelier at 20 years old, later becoming a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Masters. Amy moved to New York City in 2011 to pursue a B.S. in Hospitality Management with New York University, and upon graduation was hired to B.R. Guest. She eventually became the youngest GM in the group, before joining COTE where she met Victoria James and Cynthia Cheng. Alongside these two women, Amy is a co-founder of Wine Empowered, a 501c3 non-profit that diversifies the hospitality industry by offering tuition-free wine classes to women and BIPOC in hospitality. Amyhas been honored as part of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list.

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