AHF Elections

2021 Elections

It is a privilege to present this year’s candidates. Please read their candidate statements prior to placing your vote. The elected candidates will serve beginning  January 1, 2022. The voting period is April 7 through April 21. Voting will end on April 21 at 5:00 PM EST.

Who is Eligible to Vote?
  • Institutional members – Primary contact only
  • Retired members
Business partner, educator, affiliate, and student members are not eligible to vote.

Open Positions:

Candidate Statements

5RhNzSRcQg61GJIxT2Y7_RD 200x200.jpgRobert J. Darrah, CDM, CFPP, CHC
Director of Dining Services
Legacy Retirement Communities
Lincoln, Nebraska

Background Statement: Robert has dedicated his career to improving self-operated healthcare foodservice. As an accomplished public speaker, he has served on several national boards and is currently serving his second term on the AHF National Board of Directors as Treasurer. Darrah has served on the AHF National Board of Directors for the past ten years in multiple roles on the board, delivering value to both operator and business members.  Robert is the Director of Dining Services for the Legacy Retirement Communities located in Lincoln, Nebraska. He oversees the operation of four communities, with an operating budget of 7+ million dollars serving over 50,000 meals per month with a culinary team consisting of 45 full-time & 224 part-time employees. Under his direction, he’s re-engineered the Legacy Dining Service program taking it from banquet style to full, five-star restaurant-style dining. Accomplishments: In March of 2008, Darrah received the National Good to Best Gold Medal for his efforts in reducing his operating costs by a remarkable $120,000 without cutting food quality or staff. In September of 2008, Food Service Director Magazine recognized him for his accomplishments as “Food Service Director of the Month”. In March of 2009, Don Miller & Associates awarded him the “Destination 10 Success Story of the Year” for his outstanding achievements & contributions to the food service industry. In 2010 the AHF presented him with the “Partnership in Leadership Award.” In 2019, the Senior Dining Association presented him their inaugural “Humanitarian Award” for his work and contributions to not only the industry but to his community as well. In February 2021 Darrah and his team were again recognized by Food Service Director Magazine as “Food Service Operation of the Month.”

Priority Statement:
My priorities as AHF President-Elect will be: 1. To strengthen the AHF operator member and business partner engagement. 2. Ensure self-operated foodservice is regarded as industry best practice. 3. Continue to offer high quality education & resources that make members indispensable to their organizations. 4. Executing and meeting the goals of the AHF three-year strategic plan.
LeisaBryant200x200.jpgLeisa Bryant, MBA, MA, RDN, LD
Director, Food & Nutrition Services
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas

Background Statement: I have over 20 years of healthcare experience in Food and Nutrition, and has long championed “finding the sweet spot” for good nutrition, patient and employee satisfaction and business operations. My professional growth is credited to the benefits and valuable resources and tools AHF offers such as mentoring, Benchmarking Express, educational conferences and webinars, networking and professional support. I was recognized in November 2017 as Director of the month by Foodservice Director Magazine and as one of 18 Future Foodservice Leaders of 2018 by Foodservice Equipment & Supplies Magazine. I currently serve on the AHF Board as Secretary and I am a member of the Board of the Common Market in Texas. I am excited to continue my service on the board in the capacity of Treasurer.
Priority Statement:
My membership and BOD experience have afforded me the unique opportunity to serve, support and amplify the AHF mission through;
  • Promoting the organization and expanding its membership through networking and championing the value of membership.
  • Expansion of the AHF resources and tools to ensure easy access and availability of evidence-based information to its members.
  • Advocating for self-operation among Healthcare Executives using data from Benchmarking Express
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ohrUiW0hQuOQDqa4UPNs_Thom 200x200.jpg Thom Pastor, MBA
Food & Event Services Manager
St. Charles Healthcare
Bend, Oregon

Background Statement:
Half of my 20-years in foodservice have been spent in hospitals. I’ve served as the Executive Chef, the Nutrition Services Manager for two critical access hospitals and currently the Food Service Manager for two acute care hospitals. Since joining healthcare and AHF I have earned multiple degrees, spoken at conferences in New York and Oregon, helped build a hospital, managed through multiple disasters (and now a pandemic), served as a culinary school advisor, served many charities including ChefsCycle for No Kid Hungry and World Central Kitchen. Support from AHF and its membership have been instrumental in all these accomplishments. I’m proud to continue my service. AHF Experience
  • Director-at-Large – two terms
  • Chapter Leadership Committee
  • E-Library Committee
  • Co-President – Oregon Chapter

Priority Statement: Over the past four years as a director-at-large, I’m proud to have been part of this organization and our work supporting self-operators. My priorities are:
  • Supporting the professional development of self-op food service leaders.
  • Providing resources to help operator members lead their teams to success.
  • Foster strong networks between operator members as well as between operator members and business partners.
  • Provide assistance to healthcare leaders looking to take their operations from contract management to self-op.
It will be my pleasure to continue this work supporting operators.
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2IP6uZM7Q7GQn9q598j1_Steve Cerullo 200x200.png
Steve Cerullo
Sr. Director of Foodservice
Geisinger Health System
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Background statement:
I have over 30 years of foodservice experience and 17 years health care specific foodservice.  I started at Geisinger in 2004 as a food production manager with responsibility for 11 employees on a single campus and currently I am responsible for over 400 employees spanning 10 different campuses.  I have been an active member of AHF since its creation in 2009 and was a member of HFM, 6 years prior to the creation of AHF.  I believe in leadership by being open, honest and transparent.

2020                Premier Light in the Storm Award
2017                Premier Illuminating Excellence Award top 10
2017                AHF Benchmarking Award of Excellence
2016                Food Management Innovator of the Year Award
2013                Foodservice Equipment Reports Young Lion Award
2009                Premier Illuminating Excellence Award
2009                Association for Healthcare Foodservice (AHF) Future Horizons Award
9-year Member of Premier Foodservice Committee
4-year Member Premier Chefs Advisory Committee

Priority statement:
I have a passion for AHF and all it does for its members. I have counted on AHF Benchmarking documents to ensure our foodservice departments remain self-op and used that data to convert sites that Geisinger acquired to become self-op.  I’ve utilized the AHF listserv and general network of AHF “friends” to navigate issues. I have whole heartedly enjoyed many of the National Conferences put on by AHF.  I feel that I can use my experiences to encourage folks who are not members to become members as well as encourage current members to take on bigger roles with AHF.

Joe_Ninnemann_200x200.pngJoe Ninnemann
Regional Director, North and Central WI, System Food and Nutrition Services
Advocate Aurora Health
Hartford, Wisconsin

Background Statement:
Investment into a professional organization, such as AHF, provide operators with boundless opportunities for growth through establishing lifelong connections.

Association positions currently held:
  • Member of 2021 AHF National Education Committee

  • Current President Elect of the Southern WI Chapter

Past offices held and/or contributions to professional organizations:
  • Director at Large, Southern WI Chapter, 2018-2020

  • Top Ten Award Winner of Premier, Inc. Culinary Creations Competition 2015

During my 10 years with Advocate Aurora Health, I’ve been honored to hold numerous roles that have helped further the strategic vision of our integrated Food and Nutrition Services team. Our organization has routinely been recognized nationally for our work on standardization and service level standards. AHF offers an extensive network of industry professionals, that are committed to driving excellence nationwide. The best practices and innovations learned through this collaboration are exceptional, and I would be honored to serve as Director at Large.

Priority Statement:
I believe that AHF is poised to continue its growth and expand it’s impact exponentially. As a Director at Large, I would bring my expertise working in a large integrated health system to our front line operators. This broadened view can provide a new lens for operators to look at how they meet the service needs of their communities. I will work meticulously with my fellow board members to exhaust all resources in an effort to achieve the overall mission and strategies of AHF. Through this commitment, AHF can innovate and evolve to continue to flourish in the future.

IGqrFW0CTrK90IEcoD1a_Julie Meddles 200x200.pngJulie Meddles, MS, RDN, LD
Director Nutrition Services and Gifts Shops
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
Columbus, Ohio
Background Statement:
Volunteer leadership, locally and nationally, with the Academy and it practice groups and especially with AHF have been some of the best opportunities to both contribute and grow in my career. After 7 years on AHF’s Benchmarking Committee, I now serve as our Chair. I’ve also served on our Education committee. I’m IFMA 1st Vice Chair of IFMA’s Healthcare Council and Vizient Food Council. I’ve received the Member Merit award for Ohio Dietitians and distinguished service award from AND’s Oncology Practice Group. During my 22 years at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, I’ve fulfilled many roles; as a dietitian, operations manager, and now Director of Nutrition Services. I recently added the profitable Gift Shops to my responsibilities. I’m a certified facilitator who enjoys working with staff to develop their leadership, communication and interpersonal skills. I embrace change leadership and enjoy being an advocate for staff and patients.

Priority Statement:
I have great pride in being part of AHF and regularly speak of the power of membership both inside and outside my organization. Its support and advocacy have enabled us to maintain and grow our Independent status as OSU expanded our hospital system. As a Board member, I would use my experience and skills to support others in doing the same. I would encourage members to be active in benchmarking and participate in AHF educational opportunities and demonstrate, from knowledge and experience, how successful application makes a difference in our operations.
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YQwfbjf9RlS8IW4x1UD0_Neal 200x200.pngNeal Lavender, MHS, PHR, CDM
Executive Director
JPS Health Network
Fort Worth, Texas

Background Statement:
For the last five years, I have been the Executive Director of Food and Nutrition Services at JPS Health Network in Fort Worth, Texas.  I have over twenty-six years of experience in the healthcare foodservice industry.
AHF Advocacy:
  • AHF Board Member – Director at Large (2020 – Present)

  • AHF North Central Texas Member (2016 – Present)

  • AHF Education Committee Chair (2020 – Present)

In 2020 I received the milestone achievement, the AHF Exemplary Leadership Award.  It celebrated my operational accomplishments but, more importantly my efforts to promote being self-operated.  This award acknowledges that I have the leadership skills and knowledge to be the very best on your behalf.

Priority Statement:

As one of the Director’s at Large on the AHF Board, it will allow me to advocate for enhanced education, tools, and resources for our members. I believe that our next generation of foodservice leaders requires this to be successful. We also need to continue to be subject matter experts to help problem solve for our members. I will also continue to foster relationships and enhance business connections. This will include promoting membership as well as business partner support. I will continue to work with our AHF leadership to ensure financial stability through these challenging times. We will need to seek innovative approaches to defining what our tomorrow look like for our organization.

Andrew_Bergman_200x200.jpgAndrew Bergman
Manager of Food and Nutrition
ProHealth Care
Waukesha, Wisconsin

Background Statement:
I have been an active member since I was introduced to the Association of Healthcare Foodservice back in 2017. I am currently the Director of Hospitality and Seminar for the Wisconsin AHF Chapter and I have the honor of serving on the Conference Planning Committee for this year’s National AHF Conference in Dallas.
Past Contributions include:
  •  2018 AHF Benchmarking Award of Excellence Recipient

  • 2019 AHF Future Horizon Award Recipient

  • 2019 Chapter of the Year Award for the Wisconsin AHF Chapter

  • 2020 Editorial Review Committee

Priority Statement:
It is an amazing time to be part of AHF as our collaborative efforts are needed now more than ever as we navigate our industry following a time of unprecedented change. We as a healthcare community will face numerous opportunities for update and reform and serving on the Board of Directors for AHF will allow me to continue to drive those changes while promoting the self-operated mission. Bolstering our membership base will also be essential as social distancing parameters and canceled events have increased attrition; this year will be crucial to further perpetuate the AHF Mission and therefore it is an extreme honor to be nominated for a position on the AHF Board of Directors.
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03aMG6GRTyqgt26VwrPt_Dave Edwards 200x200.pngDave Edwards
System Director of Food & Nutrition Services Edward-Elmhurst Health
Elmhurst, Illinois

Background Statement:

David Edwards is currently the System Director of Food & Nutrition Services at Edward-Elmhurst Health, in Chicago Illinois. In 2016, Dave was awarded the Spirit of Planetree Caregiver Award by Elmhurst Hospital and received the Future Horizon Award by the Association of Healthcare Foodservice. Currently, Dave oversees all foodservice operations within the EEH Health System, which includes Elmhurst Hospital, Edward Hospital and Linden Oaks Hospital. Dave is currently in the process of standardizing the food & nutrition programs between the three hospitals. Dave’s focus has been centered around creating a person-centered dining experience for patients, visitors and staff of EEH.
Dave has held management positions at other large hotels and restaurants throughout the Chicago land area. Dave has over 18 years of hospitality experience, with 10 of the 18 years being in healthcare.
As a member of the Leadership Development Committee, I will be determined to identify healthcare foodservice leaders that display best practices within our profession. Given this opportunity, as a committee, we will continue to find ways to promote our values as a self-operated organization. My ultimate goal will be to identify and develop new & existing leadership within our AHF community.

Veronica McLymont, PhD, RDN, CDN
Director Food and Nutrition Services
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New York, New York

Background Statement:
It would be an honor to serve on the AHF Leadership Development Committee, to which I will bring 35+ years of Food and Nutrition industry experience. I have developed and implemented innovative programs that have driven outstanding patient/customer satisfaction results. As an effective recruiter, I am optimistic and resourceful, and have built high performance teams in healthcare foodservice. These attributes will enable me to identify the best candidates for AHF’s offices, to engage and support AHF’s mission.
As a former AHF-NY Chapter President, and a recipient of AHF’s prestigious Exemplary Leadership award, I have extensive experience in promoting AHF, and will work to help grow AHF’s influence. As a successful foodservice operator, I have the platform and ability to effectively communicate with healthcare leadership, and advocate for sustaining self-operated foodservice establishments in their organizations.
Thanks to my alliances with industry businesses and organizations, I have access to an extensive network of outstanding professionals, many of whom have enhanced my personal and professional growth. I find that networks are essential these days, as our industry faces many challenges. Again, I would be honored to give back by serving on AHF’s Leadership Development Committee.
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