Emily Williams Knight was named president of Kendall College by the board of directors in January 2012. Prior to that, Ms. Knight had served as a vice president at Laureate Education, Inc., where she was responsible for globally expanding access to the company’s hospitality management, culinary arts, and art and design programs. Prior to joining Laureate she was CEO of New England University LLC, where she was responsible for expanding marketing and strategic initiatives as well as growth into Latin America for the New England College of Business and Finance.
Ms. Knight worked previously with Pearson Education for ten years. She began her work with Pearson as a sales representative, moved into various management positions, and ultimately served as vice president of marketing and sales strategies for Pearson Teacher Education and Development. As Vice President of Sales and Marketing she led strategic market planning and analysis for a two hundred million dollar business, and was responsible for the creation of marketing and sales strategies in a new combined division that encompassed higher education and K12 teacher professional development.
Ms. Knight began teaching management and business courses at Montgomery Community College in Pennsylvania in 1998. She continued in her role as an adjunct instructor at the college for the first three years she worked with Pearson. Earlier, while working toward her master’s degree, Ms. Knight also worked as an executive meeting manager with Marriott Four Star Resort Hotels in Key West, Florida.
Dr. Gwen Hillesheim
Gwen Hillesheim, Ed.D., became provost at Kendall College in September 2011. With 30 plus years experience as an academic administrator, she has acquired extensive expertise in policy development and implementation, student services, academic oversight, assessment, faculty management, curriculum review and accreditation processes.
She has managed programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels in public, private and land grant institutions. She has also taught at the high school and college levels, including teaching research courses at the doctoral level.
Dr. Hillesheim is a skilled communicator who believes in team empowerment, modeling leadership, and exhibiting a high level of integrity, while serving the mission of Kendall College.
She completed a B.S. in Open Studies and an M.S. in Education and Counseling from Minnesota State University, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of St. Thomas. Dr. Hillesheim has published articles on assessment from a practical perspective and has presented on topics including faculty quality, assessment and retention.
Director of Finance and Operations
Scott Lesht joined Kendall College in January, 2013, as the Director of Finance and Operations. In addition to leading Kendall's financial, information technology, procurement and facilities operations, Scott also manages student services departments, including academic advising, financial aid and bursar.
Previously, Scott served as campus president at Sanford-Brown College. Scott led the launch of this new college, and during his tenure received accreditation for the school's programs. From 2007 to 2009, Scott was Director of Business Development at Career Education Corporation, where he was responsible for identifying educational acquisition targets and strategic partnerships in Europe, Asia and the United States.
Scott is a member of the Board of Directors for the Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health and a member of the Chicago Ronald McDonald House Charities Education Scholarship Committee. He is also a youth basketball coach.
Scott earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business with High Distinction and Honors from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University - Bloomington, and his Master of Business Administration degree from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Vice President, School of Culinary Arts
Christopher Koetke was named vice president of the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts in 2012. He joined the School of Culinary Arts in 1998, serving first as a culinary instructor and later as associate dean, dean and executive director. Under his leadership, the School of Culinary Arts was awarded the Academy of the Culinary Arts Cordon d’ Or – Gold Ribbon Cooking School of the Year Culinary Academy Award for 2008. Also that year, the culinary arts program was named “exemplary culinary program” by the American Culinary Federation. In 2009, the school was named the official educational partner of the National Restaurant Association Conserve Environmental Initiative. Kendall was the first culinary school in the U.S. to receive Certified Green Restaurant status from the Green Restaurant Association for both the Dining Room and Cafeteria.
Koetke began cooking professionally in 1982, and has worked in some of the world’s finest kitchens, including French restaurants Pavilion Elysees, Pierre Gagnaire, Taillevent, and Pierre Orsi. He is a certified executive chef and certified culinary educator by the American Culinary Federation. In 2009, he was named the Cooking Teacher of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. He was the host of the Emmy-nominated cooking show “Let’s Dish” on the Live Well HD network and co-author of the award-winning The Culinary Professional (Goodheart-Willcox Publishers, 2010), a comprehensive introductory high-school culinary arts textbook. In 2010, the Foodservice Educators Network International (FENI) honored him with its inaugural Award for Excellence in Culinary Education and he received the Pathfinder Award from Chefs Collaborative for his work in sustainability.
Koetke earned a B.A. from Valparaiso University and an M.B.A. from Dominican University. He is a member of the board of the American Culinary Federation Foundation Accrediting Commission, the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, the International Food Editorial Council, and the National Restaurant Association. He is also a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, National Restaurant Association, International Food Editorial Council, and Chaine des Rotisseurs.
Dean, School of Culinary Arts
Renee Zonka has been dean of the School of Culinary Arts since 2011. She joined the program in 2007 as associate dean and was also named managing director in 2010. She was responsible for launching a nutrition concentration in the School of Culinary Arts’ bachelor’s program in 2009. Prior to joining Kendall College, Renee was a lecturing instructor at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and a chef instructor at the Illinois Institute of Art—Chicago.
Renee began her career practicing clinical dietetics at Christ Hospital and Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., where she also hosted cooking classes for patients and their families. Zonka made a career leap to executive chef of the hospital, and then opened a 90-seat public restaurant in the hospital’s lobby.
To gain experience in restaurant operations, Zonka joined Marriott Management Services, where she ran multiple foodservice operations for 11 years. While there, she provided classes on sanitation, nutrition and basic culinary skills to Marriott employees.
Zonka was named Registered Young Dietitian of the Year by the American Dietetic Association and Educator of the Year by the ACF Windy City Professional Culinarians. She is a Certified Hospitality Educator through the American Hotel & Lodging Association and a Certified Executive Chef through the American Culinary Federation.
An acknowledged authority on nutrition issues, particularly childhood obesity and special diets, she is a regular consultant and speaker and in demand as an author on topics that promote the critical relationship between culinary and nutrition.
Dr. Susan Tinnish
Dean, School of Hospitality Management
Dr. Tinnish is a highly regarded thought leader in the hospitality industry. She is a frequent speaker at industry conferences including ITME’s Motivation Show, Meeting Professionals International conferences, Professional Convention Management Association national conferences and Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International’s MEET and Affordable Meetings. A member of the Kendall College School of Hospitality Management faculty since 2008, Dr. Tinnish has taught courses on leadership, organizational behavior, sustainability and meeting management. She also played a key role in launching Kendall’s new concentration in Sustainable Management in Hospitality and Tourism.
Dr. Tinnish is an expert on sustainable practices for business meetings and trade shows. She chairs the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) committee that established the APEX/ASTM International Standards for environmentally sustainable meetings and events and served as the U.S. Chair for the International Standards Organization (ISO) effort to develop a worldwide sustainable events management system.
Director, International School of Business
Aurora Reinke first joined Kendall in March of 2009 as an adjunct professor and made the transition to full-time faculty effective January 2010. In April of 2013, she was promoted to Director of the International School of Business. Her passion is to teach students how to enter the business world and manage each strategic area critical to success, whether in their own or someone else’s enterprise. In addition to her extensive teaching experience, Reinke also brings 15 years of marketing experience within the technology industry.
Reinke's background in marketing within technology startups includes extensive experience designing and delivering software applications in the retail and financial services industries. In 2008, Reinke taught small business management to immigrants in the U.S. and strategic management to business owners in Ukraine.
At Kendall, she taught the Business Case Development course, where she instituted living case studies to enhance student learning. Reinke received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Computer Information Systems from Georgia State University. She earned a Master in International Business degree from the University of South Carolina, with a focus on Latin American studies. Reinke is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Business Administration from Walden University.
Dr. Paul Busceni
Dean, School of Education
Dr. Paul T. Busceni joined Kendall College as dean of the School of Education in 2007. As both teacher and administrator of K-12 throughout his 16-year career, one of his continued goals has been to inspire teachers and engage learners.
Throughout his tenure, Dr. Busceni has been a consistent leader in mobilizing communities in collaborative education improvement initiatives. He has overseen building-based morale initiatives, professional development workshops on teaching pedagogy, educational leadership and curriculum improvement. As a school administrator (K-12) in northern Lake County, he established a new chapter of the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) and implemented Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies (PBIS) at the middle school level.
Dr. Busceni is a prominent speaker and has presented on a range of topics at conferences across the state, including the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Professional Development Convention, the Opening Minds Conference, the Illinois Institute of Art Professional Development Workshop Series and the Illinois Computing Education Annual Conference.
He is a member of Kappa Delta Pi (International Honor Society in Education), Association for the Supervision of Curriculum Development (ASCD), National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
Dr. Busceni graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1991 with a B.S. in Economics. He attended Roosevelt University for graduate school and received an M.A. in 1996 and a doctorate in 2000 in Educational Leadership and Organizational Change.
Dean, General Education
Ryan has a diverse background and a passion for teaching. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies, with an emphasis on Film Studies, from the University of Iowa and a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing from Columbia University. His short films have premiered at film festivals around the United States, and he has published fiction in various literary journals. His story, “All This Flatness” won the Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers hosted by Boulevard, and “What Happens If You Can’t Reach It” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Ryan has also made a living as a freelance writer, penning film and book reviews, celebrity interviews, and articles for trade business publications. He has taught at Columbia University, St. Augustine College, and Gotham Writers’ Workshops. He co-developed the curriculum for Gotham Writers’ Workshop’s Creative Writing 101 course, and while at Columbia, he co-founded CA/T (Columbia Artists and Teachers), an organization that trains and helps MFA students gain teaching experience. At Kendall, he teaches English composition courses as well as oversees the general education program and its faculty. His debut novel, “Onward Toward What We’re Going Toward,” was published by Ig Publishing in August 2013.
Board of Directors
Lee McGee, Chairman
CFO/Treasurer - Restructure Holdings, Inc. (A Sterling Capital Portfolio Co.)
Beverly Bryant, Ed.D.
Director and Professor of Hospitality & Tourism Administration
North Carolina Central University
President - Italian Village Restaurants
Laureate Global Products and Services
CEO, Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts Vertical, Laureate Global Products and Services
President and CEO - Construction Methods, Inc.
Carol L. Kizer, CCE, RD, FMP and HAAC
Hospitality Management Chair Emeritus
Columbus State Community College
Robert R. Roehrich, Ph.D.
Founder and President - Roehrich and Associates LLC
Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Laureate Global Products and Services
Kendall College 900 N. North Branch Street Chicago, IL 60642 (map)