Speakers 2017-05-22T11:30:26+00:00

Each year the Rocky Mountain Food Safety Conference strives to provide a lineup of the most relevant speakers to bring you the most current information, constructive workshops and timely presentations regarding food safety in the Rocky Mountain Region

2017 Rocky Mountain Food Safety Conference Speakers 

Greg BiggersChef, Sofitel Chicago Water Tower
Executive Chef Greg Biggers joined Sofitel Chicago Water Tower in January of 2011 to oversee all aspects of the hotel’s dining operations, including its restaurant, Café des Architectes. Biggers’ early career successes led him to work in several 4-star restaurants, including Chicago’s 4-star restaurant, TRU. As part of his philosophy, Biggers strives to build relationships with true artisans of the craft from all over the world. He is also an expert in specialized processes, which require HACCP plans. Biggers is no stranger to the barriers, complications, and expense of having HACCP plans professionally written, which is what led him to gain the necessary training required to write and successfully manage a wide variety of HACCP plans. Based on these unique qualifications and expertise, Biggers is an obvious choice for the role of industry perspective. Chef Biggers is the recent recipient of a StarChefs.com 2015 Rising Star Award.
Dr. Ben ChapmanAssociate Professor, North Carolina State University
Dr. Ben Chapman is an associate professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman
Dr. David AchesonCEO, The Acheson Group (TAG)
Dr. David Acheson is the Founder and CEO of The Acheson Group (TAG) and brings more than 30 years of medical and food safety research and experience to the firm. David uses his regulatory insight, food safety knowledge, and expertise in crisis response to advise food industry clients around the globe on how to best manage risk in a global supply chain and evolving regulatory landscape.
He graduated from the University of London Medical School and practiced internal medicine and infectious diseases in the United Kingdom until 1987 when he moved to the New England Medical Center. From there he became an Associate Professor at Tufts University in Boston, studying the molecular pathogenesis of foodborne pathogens.
Prior to forming TAG, David served as the Chief Medical Officer at the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service and then joined the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as the Chief Medical Officer at the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) in 2002. After serving as the Director of CFSAN’s Office of Food Defense, Communication and Emergency Response, David was appointed as the Assistant and then Associate Commissioner for Foods which provided him an agency-wide leadership role for all food and feed issues and the responsibility for the development of the 2007 Food Protection Plan, which served as the basis for many of the authorities granted to FDA by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Allison WellmanU.S. Food and Drug Administration
Allison Wellman is an Epidemiologist at FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation Network (CORE). She joined FDA CORE in 2012, initially serving as part of a Response Team working to control and stop outbreaks, and now serves on the Signals and Surveillance Team focusing on outbreak detection. Allison has worked on issues related to enteric disease, food safety, and foodborne outbreaks for over 15 years. Prior to joining FDA, she served in public health roles for the state of Virginia, working on foodborne disease investigations at the Virginia Department of Health, and earlier as a microbiologist at the state laboratory. Her expertise includes traceback investigations and emergency response coordination. Allison holds a Master of Public Health from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from Auburn University.
Steven ChevalierTri-County Health Department
Steven Chevalier has worked at Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) for over 11 years and has served as an Environmental Health Manager for almost three years where he manages the tactics, operations, and personnel of the TCHD Aurora Field Office location. Beginning in 2015 with the development of the Intergovernmental Agreement between TCHD and the City of Aurora Marijuana Enforcement Division, Steven has helped to develop the Retail Marijuana Products Manufacturing Facilities inspection program for TCHD.
Keith WegnerColorado Department of Agriculture
Keith Wegner has served as the Laboratory Services Section Chief with the Colorado Department of Agriculture since 2007. In this capacity, Keith manages the Biochemistry Laboratory for the Inspection & Consumer Services Division. The Biochemistry Laboratory has been accredited to ISO 17025 since 2009 and includes both Chemical and Biological Scopes of Testing. The laboratory conducts regulatory testing of animal feeds, fertilizers and composts; microbiological testing of food commodities; pesticide residues in marijuana, groundwater, surface water, soil and vegetation; and THC content in industrial hemp. The laboratory also conducts homogeneity testing for Proficiency Samples in support of the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment’s Marijuana Laboratory Inspection Program. Keith holds an MS degree in Technical Communication from the University of Colorado and BA degrees in Chemistry and Philosophy from Wittenberg University. He is a Registered Environmental Manager, Certified Quality Auditor, and a Certified Quality Engineer. He is a senior member of the American Society for Quality, Vice-chair of the Magruder Proficiency Sample Testing Program, and serves on the Association of American Plant Food Control Officials and Feed Control Officials Laboratory Services committees. Prior to his work with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, he was a Quality Assurance Manager for URS Corporation and managed the quality assurance program for the Rocky Flats Plant demolition, decommissioning and environmental restoration program. Prior to his work at Rocky Flats, he was an environmental consultant and worked for several consulting firms serving federal facilities in the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and Department of Interior. He founded two different firms—QuantaLex Inc. in 1990 and Correlation Corp. in 1997. Correlation Corp. received the USDA FNS Small Business of the Year Award in 1999.
Chris BrooksFood and Drug Administration
Chris has worked with shellfish in the Pacific, Gulf and Atlantic. He ran the shellfish program in Florida, which is home to most of the harmful marine algae we’ll be discussing today. He now works for FDA, conducting evaluations of states and provinces, evaluating inland and coastal shellfish facility inspectors, program managers and marine patrol officers while providing technical assistance.
Mark RudolphDenver Fire Department
Mark Rudolph has been a Denver firefighter for 14 years and is currently assigned to the Marijuana Inspection Group for the Fire Prevention Division. The Marijuana Group consists of an officer, four inspectors and a Fire Protection Engineer. The group inspects over 600 facilities twice a year and conducts system acceptance tests for Co2 enrichment and butane extraction as well as other marijuana related referrals.
Kara LavauxDenver Environmental Health
Kara currently works at Denver Environmental Health as a Food Safety and Marijuana Program Supervisor. She has worked at Denver Environmental Health for three years and has specialized in cannabis regulation for the last two years. Kara oversees Denver’s inspection program for dispensaries and product manufacturers, and the investigations of pesticide-contaminated consumer products. Kara’s most recent project has been addressing approved source issues with hemp-derived products.

Kara has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Health from Colorado State University and has spent her career working in health departments. Kara started her career as an inspector at Tri-County Health Department, and then moved over to Colorado Dept of Public Health and Environment. After taking a few years off, Kara landed at her current job at Denver Environmental Health.

Derek BoerColorado Department of Public Health & Environment
Derek is a Pollution Prevention (P2) Specialist in the Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Derek provides P2 technical assistance to businesses, outreach and training to industry, and promotes P2 and sustainability through regional and statewide networks. Derek has a B.A. from the University of Colorado and a Master’s degree in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Denver.
Carol McDonaldDenver Public Health
Carol is a public health nurse manager at Denver Public Health and currently serves as the regional epidemiologist for Denver County. She has been employed in public health for over 28 years in a variety of positions and has received several awards for her work. She is also active in the Public Health Nurses Association of Colorado, the Colorado Public Health Association, and is currently the Association of Public Health Nurses’ Region 8 representative that covers Colorado, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming.
Patricia JacksonVICAM
Patricia is an Iowa native with over 20 years of experience in food and agricultural safety and quality testing – including near-infrared spectroscopy, supercritical fluid extraction and immunoassay product development, market development and customer relationship development. She enjoys traveling, writing and spending time with family.
James HenningCommander, Denver Police Department
James Henning is a 28 year veteran of the Denver Police Department with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Metropolitan State University in Denver. He attended Session 258 of the FBI National Academy in the Fall of 2014. James Henning was recently promoted to be the Commander of the DPD Investigative Support Division which includes the Vice/Drug Bureau and various narcotics task forces. From 2012 – 2015, he was the Lieutenant in charge of the Vice/Drug Bureau and assisted in addressing all the issues encountered in the legalization of recreational marijuana. He is a member of the Denver Marijuana Policy Team and regularly completes presentations to outside agencies (national and international), media, marijuana industry, and governmental leaders on the issues faced by the Denver Police Department and the City of Denver resulting from the legalization of marijuana.
Wendy Lu McGillRocky Mountain Micro Ranch
Wendy Lu McGill is the Founder/CEO of Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch, Colorado’s first and only edible insect farm. Raising crickets and two other species in a modified shipping container heated by solar power, Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch sells edible insects to food manufacturers, restaurants and anyone with the daring to chose a delicious, nutritious and sustainable food. Coming from nearly twelve years working with international aid agencies around the world, as well as a background in sociological research, Wendy Lu brings a global perspective and deep understanding of the why and how of enjoying insects as food.
JoAnn WinksCustoms and Border Protection
JoAnn Winks began her career with the United States Department of Agriculture in 2001 as an Agriculture Canine Officer in San Francisco. Ms. Winks was awarded the Regulatory Decision Making Achievement Award in recognition for achieving the highest score in Regulatory Decision Making in USDA New Officer Training.

Ms. Winks transferred to the Port of Denver, Colorado in the summer of 2006 to become the first Supervisor CBP Agriculture Specialist at the Port of Denver since the merger. In 2008, Ms. Winks earned the Director, Field Operations Quarterly Award for professionalism in the San Francisco/Portland Field Office.

In 2010, Ms. Winks was promoted to the position of Assistant Port Director of Trade Operations for the Area Port of Denver.

Ms. Winks holds a B.S. in Animal Science from the University of California, Davis.