Dr. Hermen Aaby

Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Aaby managed government affairs and charitable giving programs at U.S. Cellular and district and state level advocacy initiatives at Illinois Network of Charter Schools. Dr. Aaby is an alum of Loyola University Chicago and earned his Ed.D in Learning Theory and MBA at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Dr. Aaby is a proud member of Education Leaders of Color. He and his wife, Sandra, are excited to explore the vast DFW community as recent transplants.

Stephanie Williams

Chief Financial Officer

Stephanie earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin and a BSc in International Finance from the University of Florida. She also completed the Harvard Business School Executive Education program. Stephanie serves as an Advisory Board Member of the Retail Finance Leaders Roundtable, the Business Analytics MA Program at Cal Polytechnic University, and the Center for Coaching and Leadership at Babson College.

Jessica Thompson

Consultant – Culinary

Chef Jessica is adept in many facets of the culinary industry ranging from seafood preparation, smoked meats, handmade pasta and creative menu concepts. Her culinary stylings are framed by the eclectic Columbia food scene along with the Southwestern flair of her heritage. Most recently Chef has been contracted by the Fork in the Road catering company to create artisan pop-up dinners throughout Orange County and Los Angeles. Jessica brings a positive attitude and mindful patience to kitchen development, knowing that every great restaurant deserves a little faith and plenty of unconditional love.

Nikkado Jordan

Consultant – Food and Beverage

Nikkado has studied at the University of Exeter, London South Bank University, and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. When not taking care of his four children, Richard enjoys a wide variety of sports.  He is also a musician with a passion for the piano and guitar, and from time to time can be heard playing in a band on keyboard and vocals.

Dr. Susan Ding

Consultant – Biological Chemistry

Dr. Ding earned a degree in chemistry from Michigan State University, a Ph.D in biophysical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.A. in clinical psychology from The Fielding Graduate Institute. Born in Okinawa, Japan, she currently resides in Pennsylvania. An accomplished violinist, Dr. Ding is passionate about music, and sits on the board of the Bennington Chamber Music Conference.

Dr. Martin Cooper

Consultant – Food Safety

Dr. Cooper has earned a Ph.D. in Food Science and Nutrition at Michigan State University. With over 20 years of food industry experience, Dr. Cooper has led teams in product, process, new technology development, and food safety programs at Columbus Foods, Praxair, Inc., Griffith Foods, Tyson Foods, and PepsiCo.

Tanya Baker

Consultant – Culinary

Since graduating from the CIA (class of 2000), she has worked at several highly prestigious establishments, including The Maidstone Club in East Hampton, The Garden City Hotel in Garden City New York, Rockville Links Country Club in Rockville Centre New York, BoBo’s Café on Theatre Row in Manhattan and Marriott Management Services. She was a member of SUNY-Nassau Community College’s adjunct faculty, serving as Chef Instructor in the Hotel Restaurant Department.

Zack Simmons

Consultant – Finance & Budget

Zack attained his Masters Degree in ‘International Hospitality Design and Management Consultancy’ from Clemson University. Alongside his degree, he holds The Prince 2 Project Management qualification, City and Guilds 706/1 & 2 and the Advanced Food Hygiene qualification. He is also a registered trainer for the CIEH.

Dr. Herman Crawford

Consultant – Learning & Development; Audits

Dr. Crawford earned a Ed.D in Leadership and Management with a focus on adult learning. Dr. Crawford has 20 years of experience in food service operations and training. Dr. Crawford has an opportunity to speak on these subjects on many occasions. He has spoken to groups nationally and internationally such as Longhorn Steakhouse, Burger King, Darden Restaurants, Aruba Tourism Authority, Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association, SSP International, and Disney. Dr. Crawford has previously worked in higher education, contract services, and healthcare in the development of restaurant leaders and managers.

Dr. Lisa Stewart

Consultant – Learning & Development

Dr. Stewart headed the performance management team, responsible for creating tools and supporting all teacher and principal evaluations, which were based equally on observation and measurable student outcomes. Dr. Lisa Stewart started teaching as a Teach For America corps member in the New York and became a principal at Noble Street Charter School in Chicago through the New Leaders program. Dr. Stewart earned her BS in Journalism from the University of Colorado, as well as a Masters in Curriculum & Instruction and a Ph.D. in School Leadership, both from the University of Mississippi.