Keynote Speakers

Andrew Tarvin

Marilyn Sherman

Marilyn Sherman



The Secret to Being More Productive, Less Stressed, and Happier

Andrew Tarvin is the world's first Humor Engineer teaching people how to get better results while having more fun.  Andrew has helped more 25,000 people at 250+ organizations--including P&G, GE, ESPN, Microsoft, the U.S. Navy and PepsiCo--learn to be more productive, less stressed, and happier.  

Marilyn Sherman

Marilyn Sherman

Marilyn Sherman


 Why Settle for the Balcony..

For the last 22 years, Marilyn has motivated audiences all over the country, and internationally with topics about hope, inspiration, and practical tools to implement immediately. With clients in government, corporations, and hospitality, Marilyn is known for giving people success strategies to overcome obstacles, have a more positive mindset, and reduce conflict in the workplace.



The Power of Branding – Tools to Enhance Your Dining Program

 A brand is a feeling or perception evoked by an experience provided. Learn about the concept of branding and specifically, how it relates to a culinary & dining services program in senior living.  We will discuss exactly what a culinary & dining services brand is and how it can be used to bring tremendous value to a community, its residents and its team.  Participants will learn about a variety of branding elements and how they can use these to build their own powerful and unique culinary & dining services brand.

Best Practices for POS Install

 As the world of senior dining evolves, use of technology – specifically with effective point of sale systems - blazes a path toward operational efficiencies. Discuss the best practices for implementing a new or transitioning POS system that will minimize communication barriers while enabling resident-centered choices, maximize accuracy, streamline kitchen operations, help with menu planning & forecasting, and simplify complex billing requirements..

Leveraging Technology to Enhance Senior Dining

Most senior dining professionals aren’t aware of the trail-blazing technology options that enhance their operations. Use of tech can maximize efficiencies, improve training, mitigate costs, and improve the resident experience. Find out about the latest trends in senior dining technology that will benefit your community’s operations and protect your bottom line through this chat session..

Meal Plan Makeovers

Mealtime is one of the most important times of the day for residents, so transitioning your meal plan can cause frustration among residents - and be a daunting task for administration. However, to stay current, suit the changing needs of residents, and offer flexibility, it’s often necessary to do a meal plan makeover. Pick up tips, best practices (and not-so-best practices), and strategies for transitioning your meal plan through this enlightening chat session. 

Opening New Communities – from Construction to Move-In

From planning and construction to move-in, this high-level VP discussion track will enlighten participants on steps needed for opening retirement communities that serve seniors well.

Learn Added Value Solutions from Industry Partners

Find out about added value our industry partners bring beyond their standard services - such as food, technology and distribution. Come away more informed about programs, services and/or products often overlooked or less utilized at this education session. Each industry partner presenting will have 8 minutes and 8 slides to share the added value services their company offers beyond its standard service or product.

Food Trucks in Senior Dining Communities

 One of the biggest trends to grip the senior dining world has been the steady rise of food trucks – or mobile kitchens -- that can provide convenient and diverse food selections and a sense of community for residents. Gary McBlain, National Director of Culinary Services with AMICA Senior Lifestyles, attended SDA’s 2019 Annual Conference, where he found out about mobile food kitchens used in senior communities. Inspired by the ideas, benefits, and content he learned, Gary headed up the effort to purchase a 44’ food truck for his organization 6 months after the conference! He will have his community’s new mobile kitchen (fully wrapped and branded) at our 2020 conference and share insights about how their new food truck has benefited residents of AMICA Senior Lifestyles.

Don’t Quit Before the Finish Line (Project Management)

With a major project comes many moving parts and too often the final key details slip through the cracks and can result in failure to launch. Take a deep dive into how to appropriately plan for and include Smallwares (how to budget for implementing the vision), POS (start early with point of sale hardware and software to best support your operation), and Branding (how it brings value, motivates buyers, and builds loyalty, credibility).  Map out your plans so you cross the finish line on projects!

Dining Events for Every Budget

Have big ideas for an event, but with a little budget? Or have an unlimited budget, but need inspiration? Pick up tips and viewpoints on executing a successful event within your budget at this round table discussion. The moderator will share insights on her successful (and unsuccessful) events in her community. Pick up ideas to foster bonding between residents and staff through food and fun. No matter if your budget is shoestring or unlimited, participants will come away inspired to start planning their next event.

Reducing Employee Turnover

Short staffed again? If this is a part of your business that keeps you up at night, you won’t want to miss this content-packed session with ideas for building employee retention. Learn a formula that can build or strengthen the foundation of your organization – your people. Attendees will learn why words like Values, Purpose, Mantra, Standards of Excellence, Infrastructure, and Empowerment are more than just the latest buzzwords today. They are critical to the retention of your people .

Recipe for Being a Better Chef and Transformational Leader

The word “leadership” has many meanings, but there's only one that will motivate and retain staff members in today's critical labor market. Come and find out a new definition of leadership and how you can embody these timeless attributes to become a leader that others want to follow and make your department a crucible for greatness.

Using Data Dashboards to Measure & Communicate Operations

As senior living communities seek to optimize dining from a cost perspective, clearly communicating metrics through data dashboards is key. Learn how to use dashboards that track turnover, food costs, and bottom line operations – so expenses are tracked and clearly communicated to peers, supervisors, administrators, and C-level executives.


Generating Revenue in Senior Dining Operations

Dining operations offer many income opportunities beyond resident meal plans. Your residents, their families, and others inside the community all have needs that you can readily turn into a regular income stream. In addition, there are revenue opportunities from outside the community. Learn to understand the myriad of ways a senior community’s dining operation can enhance its bottom line .

Training for Success

Join in discussing your communities’ approach to training - including how much time goes into training and how much is budgeted - at this chat session. Learn best practices for making training a priority and a long-term effort to enhance employee performance and satisfaction, minimizing turnover and the time-soaking challenges of recruitment. Participants will learn helpful tips for training employees, which ultimately makes the dining experience smoother.

New Directors of Dining

Are you a new director on the job? Maybe you have finished orientation at your first job as a dining director and feeling “dear in headlights” heat! Pick up on ways to control costs, develop fresh ideas for menus, improve consistency, develop better systems, effectively manage staff, and minimize turnover at this info session specifically targeted to new directors of dining communities. We’ll talk leadership solutions to get you and your dining staff set up for success! 

Chef Roundtable Chat

 Talk with your peers about the common challenges faced by chefs in the senior dining industry. Pick up on best practices for controlling food costs, creating structure and accountability, improving consistency, developing menus for best practices in menu engineering and increasing choice without increasing cost, and other leadership skills specifically needed for chefs.

Use of Robotics in Senior Dining

 Be “wow’d” by the latest technology trends in robotics programmed to enhance senior dining operations and experiences. Discover how the use of robots -- as bussers -- can serve and meet demands of the labor market.

Implementing a Tipping Program in Senior Living

Join in this session where you will learn about the first tipping program in senior living. We’ll take a deep dive into the implementation process, revisions, and results of this program designed to increase employee retention and create a succession career path for staff within the senior dining program.


Join the conversation on where folks are on IDDSI implementation.  Catch up on what SDA has been doing this year including hands on workgroups and learn what the consensus is on preparation techniques, testing methods, products available and more! Bring your questions, share your best practices.   Beginners welcome.

The Chef/Dietitian Power Team

Let’s continue our conversation on the trials and successes of Chef, RD collaborations.  Share your experiences, bring your challenges and learn from others.  Gain insight on the special power that comes from combining the unique skill sets of chefs and dietitians.

Controlling food costs

How do you get high-quality food while minimizing cost and wastage? Learn best practices for one of your biggest expenses.  

More to come...