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  • Writer's pictureRaquel Weiss Fusco

Bee Who You Want to Bee: Recapping the SHFM W.I.S.E. Experience

Updated: Mar 22

I had the opportunity to kick-off Women’s History Month in the most un-bee-lievable way … with more than 115 professional women in the foodservice and hospitality industries.


In September 2023, when I became the Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management President, I announced my vision to create the W.IS.E. (Women, Inspiration, Support & Excellence) Experience. This event was created to give women in our industry and within the SHFM organization an opportunity to get real, raw, authentic, challenge, empower, question and reflect on their lives today, yesterday and tomorrow. It provided a safe space for us to pivot through our own life’s journey; learn and embrace where we came from; and truthfully see how we have been navigating the “rollercoaster” of life both personally and professionally.


Personally, I’m at a loss for words to have seen this vision come to life and, even more so, to describe it to you. So, I’m handing the blog over for today to Stephanie Gilbert, Jeanine Cosgrove-Albert, and Bobbi Capps, co-chairs of the inaugural W.I.S.E. Experience. These dedicated women can share a few thoughts on the event and its outcomes for women in foodservice and hospitality.



Stephanie Gilbert, Event Chair

Stephanie Gilbert Executive Vice President of Corporate Growth Strategy Food Service Holdings


“Being entrusted by Raquel and SHFM to serve in the curation of SHFM’s inaugural W.I.S.E. Experience as one of four co-founders of this spectacular event was an experience I will forever treasure. The conversations, insights and moments shared were incredibly special and unequivocally, have impacted how each and every attendee will continue to navigate through the world, both personally and professionally. This was not just another ‘conference.’ Rather, it provided a transformational platform to exchange ideas and tools, as well as grow and support emerging and fellow executive leaders as we face the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead of us all, together.”   


Jeanine Cosgrove-Albert, Event chair

Jeanine Cosgrove-Albert

Vice President At Your Service Staffing

“I could not have been more honored to assist in organizing and growing this event with women who represent different facets of our hospitality and food service industry. We each brought a different perspective, but the commonality was to create a comfortable, educational and inclusive conference for women to enjoy, bond and learn from. The four of us from day one understood the assignment and mission, we worked together and supported each other to create an important and successful conference. 


From planning other SHFM events like Critical Issues and National Conference, I can share that this event planning experience was different. Being the first of its kind and more intimate, I was not only super dedicated to our mission, but I was truly able to learn from all the content that was presented and apply it to my professional day to day. Lastly what also filled my cup was that I was genuinely able to connect with our female leaders of SHFM as well as our associations future female leaders.”  

Bobbi Capps

Regional Vice President

Aramark Workplace Hospitality

"I was honored to work with my amazing Co-Founders of W.I.S.E. We really came together to collaboratively create the space for women that we all wanted to see in our industry. Throughout the experience I was able to connect with so many women on a different level than ever before. Exploring our lives and careers through the lenses of past, present, and future we were able to learn and grow together while connecting to support ongoing change in ourselves, and in our industry. I left feeling more grounded, and more uplifted, by our shared experiences and more committed than ever before about what we can create together for next year’s conference, and beyond!"


The event chairs took so much time out of their professional and personal schedules to plan the W.I.S.E. Experience. And, it’s because of this dedication that so many women joined us for the event in California. In addition, I’d be remiss if I didn’t extend my deepest gratitude to the many individuals who started this from scratch, pulled it together in a very short period of time and created something truly monumental. Something that will be happening again next year, and hopefully every year thereafter.

WISE Experience Committee

Lauren Beckwith

Valerie Vander Berg

Jenna Calhoun

Maria Cleaveland

Sumi P. DeBenedittis

Sharon Eliatamby

Lauren Hassinger

Helene Kennan, Advisor & Mentor Amy Lewis

Danielle Mason

Casey McGinnis

Sally Saltzbart Minier, Past SHFM President

Nicole Schweizer

Brittany Thomas

Mboone Umbima

Victoria Vega, Past SHFM President

Bernadette L Ventura, Past SHFM President

Cynthia Woods

Heather Guay Yoo

Gina Zimmer

Our Hosts at Mattell HQ

Belinda Oakley


Cathy Larsen

Belinda Oakley Maureen Slocum 


Raquel Weiss Fusco, SHFM President and VP of Operations and Client Relations for elite|studio e, spearheaded the SHFM W.I.S.E.Experience

In addition, it is so incredibly important for us to thank the managers, directors, supervisors and companies who supported and, in some cases, sponsored our attendees. We hope all those present have gone back feeling a bit more confident, focused and ready to be your best authentic incredible self. And, lastly, thank you to all of our event sponsors, including my own company, elite|studio e, for supporting this new, exciting initiative.


Until our next W.I.S.E. Experience … or our next SHFM event, which is right around the corner … Bee well. 😊 


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