Chairman of the Board
Director of Food Operations at South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa
In 2012, Mr. Kennedy joined Epicurean Charitable Foundation to support and mentor the next generation of hospitality professionals. After serving as Executive Committee Secretary for 2013-14, he now holds the title of Chairman of the Board for 2015-16. As chairman of the board, he is responsible for working closely with the ECF executive committee and board of directors to enhance member recruitment and oversee all community-based fundraising and grant efforts.
Mr. Kennedy is the Director of Food Operations at South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa. In his role as Director, he oversees South Point’s Food and Beverage Department as he works to implement strategic plans, guest relations, process improvement and create food and beverage promotions for the property. Mr. Kennedy oversees the hotel’s 13 venues including dining, fast-casual, concessions and the hotel’s wine program. With more than 24 years of experience, he continues to expand his expertise in analyzing, developing and implementing policies to drive his department toward higher achievement.
Mr. Kennedy enjoys quality time with his wife and children and participates in the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity committed to funding research to find cures for childhood cancers.
Senior Vice President of Food and Beverage at Caesars Entertainment
In 2011, Mr. DiCicco joined Epicurean Charitable Foundation to positively affect deserving students’ lives in Las Vegas. After serving as Vice President of ECF for 2013 and 2014, he now takes over as President for 2015-16. Mr. DiCicco’s goal for ECF is to mentor the young minds of future food and beverage leaders and give back to an industry that has been so good to him. As ECF president, Mr. DiCicco will be responsible for overseeing all day-to-day operations for the organization with a focus on fundraising, building community relationships and student development.
Mr. DiCicco graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, with dean’s list honors. In addition to serving as Vice President of ECF, Mr. DiCicco is an Advisory Board Member for Le Cordon Bleu and served on the Board of Directors for Cheflive Las Vegas.
Managing Partner of Drive This! Entertainment
Craig Gilbert was a charter member of Epicurean Charitable Foundation when he joined in 2001. Mr. Gilbert has made it his goal to mentor students by passing along the knowledge and expertise he has gained from more than two decades in the hospitality industry.
As a Managing Partner of Drive This! Entertainment, Mr. Gilbert oversees operations of hot spots including RHUMBAR, Casa Fuente Cigars, American Burger Works and Tacos & Tequila in Las Vegas and Natural 9 Noodle Company and Tacos & Tequila in Cabazon, Calif. His previous experience includes serving as the Vice President of Food and Beverage at the Rio All-Suite Las Vegas Hotel and Casino and Vice President of Food, Beverage and Entertainment at Pala Casino Resort and Spa in San Diego.
Mr. Gilbert attended the University of California, Los Angeles, and has been an active member of various industry organizations including the James Beard Association, American Academy of Hospitality Sciences and the American Culinary Federation.
General Manager of MGM Grand Hotel and Casino
Travis Lunn joined Epicurean Charitable Foundation for the opportunity to “pay it forward” by passing his vast knowledge of the industry along to its future leaders.
Mr. Lunn has 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry and began his career at The Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. While there, Mr. Lunn served in Hotel Management and Sales positions as well as the General Manager of Hotel Operations. After 10 years with The Venetian, he became Vice President of Operations at The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Mr. Lunn currently serves as the Vice President of Hotel Operations at MGM Grand, where he oversees all operations of the front desk, VIP services, Skylofts, transportation, housekeeping, valet, bell desk, pool operations, group reservations and customer relations.
Mr. Lunn is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he received a degree in Hotel Administration. He enjoys spending time with his family and exploring his passion for music by both playing and attending concerts.
Vice President of Food & Beverage at Bally’s, Paris and Planet Hollywood
Tim Bowen joined Epicurean Charitable Foundation in April 2015 to make a difference in a student’s life and to pave opportunities for the next group of leaders in the hospitality industry.
He brings over 40 years of food & beverage experience to the Epicurean Charitable Foundation board. He is currently Vice President of Food & Beverage at Bally’s, Paris and Planet Hollywood.
Mr. Bowen is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and did his externship training under Master Chef Milos Chileka at Golden Mushroom, Southfield, Michigan. Mr. Bowen is married to his wife Rhea and has two children, Erin, a junior at Savannah College of Art & Design and Megan, a freshman at Pacific Lutheran University.
Corporate Vice President of Purchasing and Strategic Sourcing for Golden Entertainment, Inc
Kevin Ball joined Epicurean Charitable Foundation in February 2016 to help Clark County’s young people realize their educational dreams, which not may come true without the help of ECF. Mr. Ball is inspired to be a mentor by the fresh perspective and excitement that the new generation of hospitality leaders bring to the industry.
Mr. Ball has over thirty years’ experience in the procurement/supply chain field. From 1997 he has held senior level positions with American Casino & Entertainment Properties LLC, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, and Public Service Enterprise Group. In July of 2008, he joined American Casino & Entertainment Properties as the Corporate Vice President of Purchasing/Strategic Sourcing where he oversees and directs the development of the company’s procurement strategy, practices and procedures to form a strong management focus on improving the cost and quality of delivered material and services.
Mr. Ball is the co-founder and chair of the Las Vegas Purchasing Leadership Council. In 2013 he was published in “Inside Supply Management” magazine where he describes navigating the recent recession and how the purchasing department played a strategic role during that time.
In addition to serving as a member of ECF, Mr. Ball enjoys spending time with his two wonderful children: his daughter Cheyenne and son Austin When he is not traveling, he enjoy golfing, fishing and scuba diving.
Melissa Arias joined Epicurean Charitable Foundation in September of 2013 as the new Executive Director. She is passionate about providing a platform for deserving young students to achieve their dreams through hard work and determination.
In her role, Mrs. Arias oversees all fundraising, scholarship activities and day-to-day operations for the organization while working collaboratively with the executive committee, board of directors and the students.
Mrs. Arias joined ECF after seven years with the American Cancer Society, most recently serving as the Director of Development and Distinguished Events. During her tenure, she was responsible for developing a scholarship program for students with childhood cancer, leading the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk and managing and executing the Coaches vs. Cancer Golf Tournament and Gala.
A graduate of Towson University in Towson, Md., she was the founder of Young Professionals Against Cancer, received a Certificate of Commendation from US Senator Harry Reid and was inducted into the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Nevada’s Hall of Fame in 2008. Ms. Arias was the recognized as Vegas Inc.’s esteemed Women to Watch 2016.
Mrs. Arias, her husband John, and daughters Savannah and Kinsley, recently welcomed their third child Sebastian to the family. She spends most of her spare time with her daughters, running 5ks, and participating in charity events.