Conversations That Matter

Conversations That Matter: Allyship in Action

Join us for a panel discussion with industry veterans and leaders on unlocking Allyship. The panelists will discuss what being an Ally is, what the small steps we can take are and how to practice culture appreciation and not appropriation. Allyship in Action unpacks the vulnerable, sensitive questions that arise in today’s workforce as we tackle it together, in the joint effort of creating a safer space, industry wide.

The Conversations That Matter series is designed to provide critical context on timely issues including diversity and inclusion topics to encourage frank, solution-focused dialogue. Don’t miss this important conversation!

Virtual Event
Thursday, September 22 |  2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. ET


Kaya Gross (Moderator)
Executive Director of Sales, VerTerra Dinnerware

Kaya Gross is an Executive Level Sales Leader & Strategist with over 15 years in the foodservice industry. Her experience includes generating multi-million dollar sales revenue, onboarding large key accounts, new product development and introducing a positive work-life balance and supportive culture for employees. Kaya is an expert in the cultivation and maintenance of key relationships and employee satisfaction. In 2020, she founded The Velvet Hammer, a group focused on mentoring people in business, from coaching to training. Passionate, tenacious and a strong belief that breaking barriers are possible for all, Kaya has teamed up with people from all lines in the foodservice industry to help and encourage them that if they want it, anything is possible. 
Chef Dayanny De La Cruz
Executive Chef, Centerplate
Executive Chef Dayanny De La Cruz has traveled all across the world to spearhead massive culinary events in hundreds of kitchens, but credits it all to the loving memories of her childhood in her hometown of Nagua, Dominican Republic. In 2020 the spotlight of the USA was turned on the Hard Rock Stadium, in Miami FL for SuperBowl LIV, where she was responsible for the menus of 167 in-stadium suites, 25 concession stands and seven all-inclusive restaurants and clubs. Chef Dayanny was the first female head chef to lead the culinary program at the NFL’s biggest game as the league celebrated its 100th season.
Her working philosophy guided her to make a career change in 2003 from Hospitality Management and Tourism to Culinary. She attended Culinary School in Grand Rapids, MI. Chef Dayanny gained recognition as an Executive Chef in Chicago and Minnesota focusing on the NHL Minnesota Wild and Harley Davidson Museum. By 2011, she was hired by Levy Restaurant’s at TD Ameritrade Park. Over those years, Chef Dayanny honed in on her talents and continued to broaden her work experience. Freelance chef and consultant, corporate executive chef, food and beverage consultant, food stylist, recipe consultant for Kroger Latino & being an outstanding member of the American Culinary Federation brought her to her current position at the Hard Rock Stadium, in Miami FL. 
Laura Lozano
Sr. Associate, Project Manager, Innovative Hospitality Solutions, INC.

Laura Lozano developed a passion for food and the science behind food while in undergrad at Texas A&M. Her onsite foodservice journey began soon after at Motorola Food Works in Austin and throughout Texas.  After Food Works was acquired by Compass Group North America, she was a regional director of operations for Compass Group and left to become the global client liaison for Dell Inc. She was later recruited by Nike to become the Director of Integrated Workplace Services for Nike.

Laura maintains and nurtures close ties to wonderful industry through the Society for Food Service & Hospitality Management (SHFM) where she has been a board member and maintains ongoing membership and mentorships with young professionals in the industry. She has a master’s degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport and an undergraduate degree in Food Science and Nutrition from Texas A&M University. Laura volunteers her time for the Texas A&M Former Students Hispanic Network advocating for first generation students and to increase diversity within the student body, faculty and staff.
Natily Santos 
VP Responsible Sourcing, Aramark
Natily Santos is a management leader with over 15 years of experience and a proven record of creating value in sales, operations, and supply chain functions. As the Vice President of Responsible Sourcing for Aramark; she oversees local procurement, supplier diversity and sustainable sourcing initiatives. She leads teams and procurement programs that connect clients, consumers and communities to strategies that drive business growth and local economic impact. Natily has also been recognized by numerous organizations for her motivation to pay it forward and make a positive impact as a mentor and scholarship fundraiser.
Natily graduated from Temple University Fox School of Business where she received a Master’s in Business Administration. She also earned a Bachelor of Science with Honors in International Business with a focus on Hotel &Tourism Management from Johnson & Wales University. 
Maureen Tarantello
Managing Director, WTW
Maureen Tarantello leads key client relationships and collaborates with colleagues to deliver integrated solutions and services across health, wealth, career, risk and broking. She serves as the North America Growth Coach to be a strategic advisor, executive coach, sponsor and mentor for women’s development, under-represented talent and high potential programs.
Before joining WTW, she held a client service position in the hospitality industry. Maureen received a master’s degree from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.