If someone had told me as an undergraduate that one day I’d lead Kendall College as its interim president, I wouldn’t immediately know how to respond. There is a very good reason for that: My career hasn’t taken a direct path. It’s my belief that no one’s truly does.
I’ve done a bit of everything in my career: I co-founded and served as president and executive chef of Bespoke Cuisine in Chicago, a full-service boutique catering and cooking party company. I’ve led a communications and marketing firm. I’ve served as a faculty member at Robert Morris University, where I wrote and taught culinary and hospitality courses, and I’ve directed the professional education programs at the National Association of Realtors. I’ve also served at Kendall as the director of professional education and community outreach. In short, I’ve crisscrossed our industry.
I couldn’t have been more proud when the Kendall College board of directors asked me to take on the role of interim president of Kendall College in January, because I believe this role stitches together all of the positions I’ve held. Being president will allow me to share my expertise as a chef and educator in new ways. Most of all, I’m excited to continue to serve our students.
As I embraced this role, I spoke with students, alumni, faculty, staff, neighbors, family and friends. In these early conversations, a couple of themes emerged: my background in education and my experience at Bespoke Cuisine, my plans for the future, and many well-received recommendations. Interestingly, there was one question that opened the door to all of these conversations: “Was this always part of my plan? Did I always intend to be the president of an institution? Or did it just happen?”
Like many things in life, there is no easy answer to this question. In part, the answer is yes. Throughout my career and a variety of positions, the connective tissue has always been education, business and mentoring. Because of these experiences and a fundamental belief in the value of a college education, I have always known that my place is in education, and I have continuously aspired to and embraced leadership roles. In this way, serving Kendall and its students as president lines up with my goals and my commitment to education.
However, in part, the answer is also no. When I joined the Kendall team in 2014 to develop and manage professional education and community outreach, I did so because I was excited about the opportunity and believed I had the ability and skills to make a difference in that role. My passion for Kendall and for achieving results naturally opened the possibility of this role.
How have you crafted your own career path? Has it been circuitous or direct? Please share your story in the comments!