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Rafi Taherian

Associate Vice President
Yale Hospitality

As Associate Vice President for Yale Hospitality, Rafi provides strategic vision and leadership for the hospitality and dining programs at Yale University in New Haven, CT. He ensures that its dining experiences, food, operations, standards and vision reflect the world-class reputation of one of the world’s most-renowned institutions of higher learning.

Yale Hospitality serves more than 15,000 meals per day with a staff of 840, including culinary, service, management and clerical personnel. Rafi’s organization is comprised of three operational divisions with shared business and administrative support and an annual budget of $54 million.

Since 2008, Rafi has guided the continued development of Yale Hospitality’s well-known sustainability, culinary and nutrition initiatives by merging principals of a healthy plant-based Mediterranean diet with an operational approach that promotes sustainability and regionally based food systems. He is a key member of industry councils and advisory boards and promotes collaboration among operators, manufactures, distributors and growers to address key strategic food system concerns and initiatives.

Rafi’s contributions were acknowledged by his foodservice industry peers in 2016 when he was awarded IFMA’s Silver and Gold Plate Awards. He has received numerous other awards for his vision and leadership in implementing innovative hospitality programs, including Yale University’s Seton Elm-Ivy Award in 2016, NACUFS Horton Awards in 2013, 2014 and 2016 for residential and catering events, FARE’s 2016 Excellence in Leadership, Food Service Director of the Year in 2013 and the Illuminating Excellence and Leadership recognition from Premier in 2014.

Timothy E. York

Markon Cooperative Inc.

Tim York started working in the produce industry more than 35 years ago at H. Hall & Company, a grower/shipper of strawberries and mixed vegetables. In addition to being a founding employee and the current President of Markon, Tim also has held numerous committee and task force positions, including Member, USDA Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Council; Chairman of the Produce Marketing Association (2002); Director of the PMA; Chairman of PMA’s Foodservice Division; Chairman, Center for Produce Safety Advisory Board; and is a founding member of the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops. Now that Tim and his wife have seen their youngest off to college, he is enjoying the extra time he has to spend with his new grandson.

Steve Church

Steve ChurchChief Executive, Church Brothers Farms

Steve Church was born and raised in the Salinas Valley, and has been a part of the produce industry for more than 50 years.  When Steve was 15 he worked in the lettuce fields where he learned his work ethic.  Steve graduated from Arizona State University in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural business.

Stefano Cordova

Stefano CordovaGlobal Food Innovation & OperationsStarbucks

Stefano Cordova is the Vice President of Global Food Innovation & Operations for Starbucks. He began his education in the basement of his family’s bakery and uncle’s pastry shop, then was formalized at the Culinary Institute of Rome.

Richard Dachman

richard_dachmanVice President of ProduceSysco

Richard Dachman is a native of Denver and attended Colorado State University. He began his produce career at his family-owned business in Denver.

Following the sale of the family business he and his father opened a new foodservice operation in Denver for Kraft Foods, Inc. before joining Kraft’s corporate office in Chicago as national director of Produce in 1987.

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