Schwebel Lecture Series

The Schwebel Family Foundation of Youngstown, Ohio, is a major supporter of the Hospitality and Event Management program. 

More than 30 years ago, the Schwebel family established an endowment for the program, primarily to support an annual Schwebel Guest Lecture Series. In addition, the endowment has supported the development of the Catering and Research Kitchen and various levels of student support.  Lee Schwebel has served on the Hospitality and Events Management Advisory Board for over 20 years. 

2024 Schwebel Lecture Series Speaker

Jeremy Umansky

Jeremy Umansky | Owner, Chef and Operator of Larder

Jeremy Umansky is a chef, zymologist, mycologist, and owner of Larder Delicatessen & Bakery in Cleveland, Ohio. Both Larder and Umansky have been nominated for numerous James Beard Foundation awards including Best New Restaurant in America, Best Chef in the Greak Lakes, and Research and Scholarship in Media for his book Koji Academy. Food & Wine Magazine has named him “The Deli Prophet”. Works by him and about his gastronomy can be found across the food print landscape.

Join us on Tuesday, April 16, 2024
DI Hub, Lecture Hall 219
11 a.m. with reception to follow

Past Schwebel Guest Lecture Series Speakers

2023 - Panel of John Barker, Katie Coach, and Joe Savarise

John Barker is currently President & CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association, a business trade association with a mission focused on promoting and protecting the restaurant, foodservice, and hospitality industry, and is CEO of the ORA Education Foundation. He has 30+ years of business experience with consumer centric organizations including the restaurant industry, greeting cards/social expressions, non-profit entities and universities. He was also a journalist and an editor for several years. 

Katie Coach began her career at Oakwood Country Club as a teenager, eventually serving as the Director of Catering and Events at a prominent country club in Austin, Texas. She holds Bachelors' Degrees in Political Science, Women's Studies, and Spanish and a Master's of Science in Organizational Leadership and Ethics (MSOLE). She is currently the Director of Event Curation with Palmer Event Solutions, specializing in developing events for non-profit organizations. 

Joe Savarise joined the Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association as Executive Director in January 2015. He is currently a member of the Boards of Directors for the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority, Greater Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau, Greater Columbus Sports Commission and the Columbus StreetRailway Corporation. He serves on the Advisory Board of the American Hospitality Alliance. Prior to 2015, Joe was Senior Vice President with BIPAC the Business-Industry Political Action Committee, in Washington, DC. 

2022 - Joe Mineo

Joe Mineo is the Owner and Creative Director of Joe Mineo Creative. He is known for having a larger-than-life personality and an innate passion for design. His career began with flowers and his first business, Something New Florist, opened its doors in 1987.

It was Joe's floral design innovation powered by his driving ambition that transformed his business into what it is today, a national award-winning event design and production studio. Now known as Joe Mineo Creative, Joe's company strives for flawless execution of standout events representing an impressive roster of private and corporate clients such as The Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, JoAnn Fabrics, the San Francisco 49ers, Hines Ward, Carnegie Museum of Art, to name a select few.

Joe is an active member with the International Live Events Assocation and American Institute of Floral Designers. He is also founding board member for Dare2Care in Cleveland, Ohio. Along with his husband, Gary, Joe contributes annually to Stonewall National Museum and Archives.

2021 - Panel of Michael Gurriero, Nate Giesen, Donniella Winchell and Richard LaRocca
  • Michael Gurriero serves as the president of Digitell Inc., and has served in a variety of roles over his 30-year career in the meeting and events industry. Guerriero is active in the hospitality industry and is a member of PCMA, MPI and IAEE and serves on the Kent State University Hospitality and Event Management Advisory Board.
  • Nate Giesen helped open the Thistledown Racino as a VLT Manager, and later led the transition from Caesars to JACK Entertainment, leading initiatives on guest service and team member satisfaction, and taking on the VIP Marketing department.
  • Donniella Winchell has been the Executive Director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association for 30 years, and chair of their Vintage Ohio wine festival. Additionally, Donniella is an active member of Winegrape Growers of America, the Ohio Travel Association and serves on a number of other state and national committees. She has contributed to several national wine publications and writes weekly wine columns for a dozen Ohio print and online publications. She is an Adjunct Professor at Kent Ashtabula teaching wine related courses.
  • Richard LaRocca began his career as a General Manager at Allegheny Country Club (ACC), one of the oldest clubs in the United States. In December 2019, LaRocca returned to Northeast Ohio and accepted the General Manager/COO position at the Beechmont Country Club. He is a member of the Club Management Association of America (CMAA) and has served as the president of two local chapters (greater Cleveland and Pittsburgh), and he is currently a member of the Greater Cleveland Chapter.
2018 - Scott Ryan

In 2012, Ryan was voted American Culinary Foundation Chef of the Year. Currently, he is the Executive Chef at The Country Club in Pepper Pike. Ryan was chosen to speak at Kent State University because of his national and international successes in the field. In addition to his Chef of the Year award, he was also the first runner-up in Global Chefs Challenge held in Norway - the best an American chef has placed. Currently, he serves as the American Culinary Foundation Cleveland Chapter president. In 2018, he was inducted into Les Amis d Escoffier Society of Chicago, a fraternity dedicated to the propagation of the high standards and ethics of the culinary profession.

Watch video lecture (2018)

2017 - Karim Kalifa

As Senior Vice President of Marriott Global Design Strategies, Karim leads a dynamic, multidisciplinary team on a mission to shape more meaningful and relevant travel experiences for Marriott guests through design. In 2012, Karim’s goal was to understand and address the new millennial generation for the Marriott Hotels brand. This deep dive approach was a perfect match for launching Marriott’s innovation lab (The Underground), an underground collaborative design space where guest driven research comes to life — including the new award-winning design strategy for Marriott’s flagship Marriott Hotels brand. The same approach was leveraged to rapidly accelerate the launch of the new lifestyle budget brand Moxy for Europe, and now the US, as well as the import of the fashionable AC Hotel brand to the United States.

Watch video lecture (April 20, 2017)

2016 - Rick Doody

In 1992, Rick Doody, his brother Chris Doody and their executive chef Phil Yandolino opened their first restaurant – Bravo Cucina Italiana – in Columbus, Ohio. The BBRG has grown to include more than 115 Bravo and Brio Tuscan Grille restaurants throughout the United States, with over 11,000 employees and over 17 million guests per year. Doody is a member of the Young President’s Organization and the International Council of Shopping Center Owners and is a board member for the Cleveland Restaurant Association.

Watch video lecture (April 14, 2016)

2015 - Jacob Tomsky

Jacob Tomsky is a hotel industry expert who has been in the business for over a decade. Global Gurus noted him as one of the “World’s Top 30 Hospitality Professionals for 2014.” Tomsky’s vast experience in hotels has allowed him to work through all the ups and downs of the service industry. Pulling from his real-life experiences, Tomsky amuses readers with his tales of various positions from serving as front desk man, valet parker, sheet folder and more. Readers are presented to a full spectrum of hotel workings, from the inside and outside views.

2014 - Rocco Whalen

Former "Fat Chef" Rocco Whalen is the owner and operator of Fahrenheit-Cleveland and Fahrenheit-Charlotte. He has also been busy showing off his culinary skills with Rosie & Rocco's Italian Eateries inside the Horseshoe Casino and First Energy Stadium, and Rocco's at the Q inside Quicken Loans Arena.


Schwebel Lecture Series Presenters | 1993-2013

2013 - Janie Wiltshire
2011 - Tom Lutz & Ronald Kooser
2009 - Marcus Samuelsson
2008 - John Altomare, Adam Buehler and Allysun Doty
2006 - Debi Benedetti
2005 - Valerie Ferguson
2004 - Martin Yan
2002 - James Broadhurst
2001 - Loretta Paganini, Pameral Waterman and Suzanne Malone
2000 - Bob DiBiasio
1999 - Herman Cain
1998 - Denise Fugo
1997 - John B. Lawn, Michael DeLuca and Michael Buzalka
1996 - Linda Sampieri
1995 - Chris Sullivan
1993 - Henry Haller