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

2019 Rocky Mountain Food Safety Conference Speakers

Mario Seminara, Jr.FDA
Mario Seminara, R.S., is a FDA Retail Food Specialist since 2002, stationed at the FDA District Office, Denver, CO. He is the FDA’s primary contact for Technical Assistance and Consultation to regulatory retail food protection programs in AZ, CO and WY. He has served as a cadre member on FDA retail food safety courses and as a Strike Team Leader during FDA’s National Special Security Events. He has held positions as Manager, Environmental and Consumer Health Unit for City/County program and as an Assistant Director for State Retail Food Protection Program. He also had industry management positions prior to his regulatory experience. Mario is a graduate of Texas A&M University. He enjoys time spent in family activities with his wife and two young adult children.
Dr. Anne StrailyCenters for Disease Control and Prevention
Anne Straily, DVM, MPH, DACVPM is a veterinary medical officer with CDC’s Center for Global Health, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Parasitic Diseases Branch. In her current position, she is the lead epidemiologist for foodborne parasitic diseases, including cyclosporiasis and toxoplasmosis. Her work at CDC also focuses on the epidemiology, control, and prevention of non-foodborne parasitic diseases like Chagas and schistosomiasis, among others. Anne first came to CDC as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer assigned to the Rickettsial Zoonosis Branch. Prior to joining CDC, she was an infectious diseases epidemiologist at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and a public health officer in the US Air Force (Reserves). Anne completed her undergraduate degree and veterinary training at Kansas State University, and her graduate degree in public health at the University of Kansas. She is board certified in veterinary preventive medicine and public health.
Marta LemaKing County, Washington
Marta Lema, MS, RS, is a Seattle native and currently works as a Health & Environmental Investigator for Public Health – Seattle & King County. In her role, she conducts field inspections for various types of food establishments and water recreation facilities. Marta graduated with a B.S. in Public Health from the University of Washington, and obtained an M.S. in Health Systems Administration from Georgetown University. She is passionate about engaging with community in meaningful ways to create positive and long lasting changes. Further, to better serve others, Marta avidly believes in the importance of growing her awareness around trauma and the way it shapes peoples’ lives.
Dr. Don SchaffnerRutgers University
Dr. Donald W. Schaffner is Extension Specialist in Food Science and Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University. His research interests include hand washing, cross-contamination and quantitative microbial risk assessment. He has authored more than 170 peer-reviewed publications and educated thousands of food industry professionals around the world. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists, the American Academy of Microbiology and International Association for Food Protection (IAFP). He has served as an Editor for Applied and Environmental Microbiology since 2005. Dr. Schaffner was the president of IAFP in 2013-2014. In his spare time, he co-hosts the Food Safety Talk podcast.
Sheila HamlettKLN Family Brands
After getting my Bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Minnesota, Morris I started my career as a zookeeper working with all kinds of exotic animals. In 1999, I enlisted in the Army as an Animal Care Specialist and later trained as a Food Inspection Specialist (Veterinary Services covers animal health and food safety). After four years of active duty I went back to the world of exotic animals, this time managing the Animal Food Commissary for the Indianapolis Zoo. I continued to serve in the Army Reserves with multiple deployments around the world, including Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Viet Nam, Indonesia and Nicaragua. I even spent 5 months with the Navy on the hospital ship USS Mercy. My duties included providing veterinary care for the military working dogs, conducting receipt inspections of food coming onto military bases, assisting the Veterinary Corp Officers and Warrant Officers in conducting supplier audits for companies on the Department of Defense Approved Supplier List and participating in international humanitarian missions. I went back to school and received a Master’s degree in Food Science from Kansas State and transitioned from the zoo field to human food safety, first as a Food Safety Specialist in a confectionery in Indiana and then moving back to my home state of Minnesota to work for KLN Family Brands as the Food Safety Specialist in their snack food facility. After 4 years I was promoted to the corporate Food Safety Director position and have been in that role since 2015. When not working, I enjoy reading, gardening, and volunteering with Patriot Assistance Dogs, an organization that trains unwanted dogs to be service dogs for veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries and provides them at no charge. I live in Ottertail, Minnesota with my husband of nearly 20 years. We have 2 cats and 12 snakes.
Dr. Elizabeth RyanColorado State University
Dr. Ryan is an Associate Professor in the Toxicology section of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences. Her research explores the complex interactions of food components with gut microbiota and the immune system. Her interests span both enteric disease and cancer control and prevention, with collaborators and translational application to the broader fields of microbiology, immunology, oncology, pediatrics and nutrition. Dr. Ryan’s global health research program also includes developing innovative solutions to food systems that will enhance food security. The multi-platform research strategy for the research group covers molecular biology, laboratory animal models, companion animals, and human trials. She also holds joint appointments with the department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, the Colorado School of Public Health, and the University of Colorado Cancer Center.
Linda StrattonWyoming Department of Agriculture
Linda Stratton is a Wyoming native and has worked for the Wyoming Department of Agriculture for 39 years. She was a field inspector and is now the Manager of Consumer Health Services. Over the years with the department she has inspected all types of food facilities such as food processors, dairy farms and plants, retail stores, restaurants, and meat plants. She is currently on the Wyoming Farmers Marketing Association Board of Directors, Wyoming Food Safety Coalition Board and Wyoming Governor’s Food Safety Council. Past President of the Wyoming Environmental Health Association.
Dr. Marisa Bunning
Dr. Marisa BunningColorado State University
As a faculty member in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, I teach undergraduate and graduate food safety courses and collaborate with students and colleagues on a wide range of food related projects. My efforts are focused on produce safety and public health outreach, with an emphasis on a farm to table approach. As a CSU Extension specialist, I assist in the development of educational programming and food safety resources for Colorado residents.
Dr. Donna BeegleCommunication Across Barriers, Inc.
Donna Beegle grew up in generational migrant-labor poverty and left school at 15 to get married and start a family. At 25, she found herself with two children, no husband, little education, and few marketable job skills. Within 10 short years, she got her GED and advanced through to a doctoral degree in educational leadership. All these experiences provide Dr. Beegle with an authentic voice with which to speak, write, and train across the nation to break the iron cage of poverty. Dr. Beegle’s 2004 Communication Study is standard reading in many states as an intro to risk-based inspections. Helping inspectors and managers to better understand how communications with staff and keys to that messaging is a great step to achieving long term compliance with food safety risk factors.
Chris LegerskiOlive Garden
Chris has been with Olive Garden for 14 years. He is currently the General Manager at the Greeley Olive Garden and has also worked in restaurants across the state. Chris is pursuing a degree in Biological Sciences and has discovered a passion for food safety. He aspires to develop and implement sustainable food safety practices in the restaurant industry.
Joseph O'KeefeDepartment of Homeland Security
Joe O’Keefe serves as the Protective Security Advisor (PSA) for the Colorado District. He supports homeland security efforts, providing an advising and reach-back capacity directly to the Director, Colorado Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management. Joe contributes to the development of the national risk picture by assisting with the identification, assessment, monitoring, and minimizing of risk to critical assets at the local level. As a PSA, he facilitates vulnerability assessments, performs security surveys for local critical infrastructure, enables information sharing, and acts as a physical and cyber security advisor to Federal, State, local, tribal, and private sector entities. Prior to joining DHS, Joe retired from the U.S. Air Force where he served as a Combat Controller in the joint special operations community. As part of the U.S. Special Operations Command’s Integrated Survey Program, he specialized in full spectrum security assessments at high-risk diplomatic facilities overseas. His notable decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with valor device and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. Joe received a BS in Organizational Management with a Project Management emphasis from Colorado Christian University and an MS in Organizational Leadership with a specialization in Organizational Training & Instructional Design from Colorado State University. Joe is a Senior Executive Fellow with the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government.