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Epicurean Charitable Foundation - Las Vegas

Dear Friends, Supporters and Students,

On behalf of the ECF Executive Committee, we wish you a wonderful holiday season! As we prepare to ring in the new year we would like to take this opportunity to officially introduce our new chairman of the board, Michael Kennedy, and president, Sean DiCicco, who will begin their two-year term on Jan. 1, 2015. Michael and Sean will select a new executive committee upon taking office.

Sean has been on the executive committee the last two years as vice president and currently serves as vice president of food and beverage at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, where he oversees all food and beverage operations on site.

Michael was elected into his new position after serving as ECF’s secretary during the past term. He is the director of food operations at South Point Hotel Casino & Spa where he works to implement strategic plans, guest relations, process improvement and creates food and beverage promotions for the property.

Along with celebrating Michael and Sean, we wish to recognize the service, dedication and proven success of Jason Shkorupa and Kelley Jones, who will be stepping down as president and chairman, respectively, at the end of the year. In these last two years they have truly taken ECF to new heights and continue to exemplify the exceptional standards set as not only some of our city’s leading executives, but as philanthropic leaders passionate about our foundation’s mission.

On Tuesday, Jan. 27, we will host Mentorship Matters, an exclusive VIP appreciation dinner, at Crossroads Restaurant at House of Blues Las Vegas, to show gratitude to our premier M.E.N.U.S. 2014 sponsors and donors. We look forward to sharing the evening with our new executive committee, board of directors and members, students and guests. ECF will also honor David Hoenemeyer, a founding member of ECF and regional president of Caesars Entertainment: Bally's Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, Paris Hotel & Casino and Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino, for his impact on the Las Vegas hospitality industry and our surrounding community.

Jason, Kelley, Michael and Sean have taken the time to share their thoughts, ambitions and reflections with you below. Once again, we wish you all a safe and happy holiday season.


Melissa Arias
Executive Director of Epicurean Charitable Foundation

Melissa Arias  
Michael Kennedy  

Michael Kennedy

ECF Chairman of the Board 2015-16
Director of Food Operations at South Point Hotel Casino &Spa


What does it mean to you to become the next Chairman of the Board of ECF?
“I had admired this foundation from a distance as I was coming up in the business, and just being on the board and working with some of the most talented hospitality professionals in Las Vegas has been a humbling experience. Every individual on our board runs an organization at some level, and to think that they have the faith in me to become the chairman of ECF is an absolute honor and privilege. Earning this spot is a lesson for our ECF students that as long as you put in the time and effort and do so with the best of intentions, you can make it in this business. I started out working on a food truck when I was 13 years old in Queens, New York, and I now chair what I, and others, consider to be one of the best and most impactful non-profits in Las Vegas.”

What are your goals in the new role?
“First and foremost, Sean and I look to continue the great work of our outgoing president Jason Shkorupa and chairman Kelley Jones. We are committed to continuing to build upon the excellent network of our partners in the community and fostering new relationships as well. Based on our students’ interests, we wish to expand to other areas of hospitality beyond just food and beverage, and follow the lead of Ana Maria Mormando (vice president of hotel operations at Bellagio) to embrace the hospitality community as a whole. Also, we have a lot of work cut out for us in order to make M.E.N.U.S. 2015 just as good, if not better, than 2014, which means fundraising as much as possible. The more funds we raise, the more lives we positively affect - which is the overriding mission of ECF.”


Sean DiCicco

ECF President 2015-16
Vice President of Food and Beverage at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino


What does it mean to you to become the next President of ECF?
“I am grateful to be able to continue to give back to the industry that has been so good to me. Since joining ECF I have seen firsthand the impact it can have on the lives of our local young students, and I’m excited to expand my role in the foundation even further. I understand how competitive and challenging this industry can be and believe that ECF provides an invaluable edge for deserving students to pursue their dreams.”

What are your goals in the new role?
“My goals for ECF include expanding the board to incorporate professionals from outside the food and beverage industry, which I hope will greaten our reach and provide new avenues for donations and unique mentorship opportunities for students. I intend to continue growing our sub-committees by relying on the strengths of each valued member of the board. I also believe that organizing smaller events throughout the year, in addition to M.E.N.U.S., will boost scholarship donations and enhance our visibility in the community.”

Kelley Jones  

Kelley Jones

ECF Chairman of the Board 2013-14
Founding Partner at Trust3 Hospitality and Kelley Jones Hospitality


Describe what the last two years has meant to you as Chairman of the Board of ECF:
“As a charter member since ECF was founded in 2001, I have watched our foundation grow and evolve from the ground up. I am so blessed to have been a part of changing our students’ lives and providing opportunities that they may not have had without ECF. As chairman, it has been an honor to serve the entire board of directors and I look forward to sharing in the rewarding success of ECF in the future.”

What are you most proud of during your tenure?
“I am thankful to the entire board for their service and dedication during the last two years. I am proud of all that we’ve been able to accomplish, particularly in re-energizing the sub-committees to give every member the opportunity to contribute to our mission. Overall, I am most proud of the fact that we provided the ability for eight incredible students to attend UNLV and matched each with dedicated mentors to help guide them through college and beyond.”

Jason Shkorupa  

Jason Shkorupa

ECF President 2013-14
Vice President of Food &Beverage at MGM Grand


Describe what the last two years has meant to you as President of ECF:
“ECF has grown substantially as a foundation during the last few years and we’ve used that momentum to reach new heights. We have dedicated ourselves to not only maintaining our relationships with long-standing donors, but to fostering them into stronger partnerships as well as continuing to cultivate new community outreach. These gracious donors and affiliates are the ones who ultimately help this foundation achieve so much. I believe that this committee’s hard work and dedication to the foundation was exemplified in this year’s M.E.N.U.S. event, which was a huge success and beyond anything ECF has organized before.”

What are you most proud of during your tenure?
“I am most proud of the ECF graduates who are finding success in their fields of study right here in Las Vegas. It is important for ECF to not only select the very best students to receive scholarships, but to also provide them with an opportunity to thrive after graduation in the city we call home. This success is evident from the numerous students who receive management positions after graduation.”


Getting to know …

Kim Zhou  

Kim Zhou

High School: Durango High School
College: UNLV –Class of 2017
Major: Hospitality Management
Mentor: Lloyd Wentzell


What does ECF mean to you?
“ECF is an organization that has changed my life. It gave me the opportunity to pursue my passion in college and continues to provide the support I need along the way.”

Describe the relationship with your mentor:
“My mentor guides me in the right direction and provides me opportunities to establish industry connections. Whenever I need help, he is always there.”

If you could eat dinner with three people from the past or present, who would you chose and why?
“If I could eat dinner with three people, I would choose my mother, my father and my mentor, Lloyd Wentzell. I choose my parents because family is the most important thing to me in the world. I choose my mentor because I know he will be the person who will guide me to be successful and am truly thankful to learn from him.”

Karen Nava  

Karen Nava

High School: Valley High School
College: UNLV - Class of 2016
Major/Minor: Hotel Administration
Mentor: Sean Ritchie


What does ECF mean to you?
“ECF is not only another family to me but it is also one of my greatest accomplishments. Thanks to ECF I have had so many wonderful opportunities to meet new people in the industry. The foundation changes the lives of many students and I am so grateful to be among them.”

What academically or professionally-based activities, clubs, affiliations, organizations are you involved in?
“Since the start of my college life I became involved with a professional organization in the Hotel College named National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH). During my freshman year of college, I began by serving as two executive positions for the UNLV chapter of NSMH, which were historian and secretary. Thanks to this experience I was prepared to take on the executive position of vice president as a sophomore.”

Where do you see yourself in five years?
“In the upcoming five years I see myself as a UNLV graduate, being able to have my family back in the U.S., working a full-time job, have traveled to France and Italy, and continuing to give back to the community and ECF. I would love to pay it forward by becoming a mentor for a future ECF scholarship recipient.”


Our students and board members recently took time to volunteer with Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada in serving meals to those in need. We believe in ‘paying it forward’ and giving back to the community that continues to support our foundation.

Jordan Moore   Claudia Soler

Congratulations to Jordan Moore and Claudia Soler, who both graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, this month.

Christopher Alfieri  

Please join us in welcoming our new operations manager, Christopher Alfieri, to the ECF family!

Upcoming ECF Events  We hope you'll join us at MENUS on Friday, Sept. 30 at M Resort.  The evening will culminate in a private concert by Lifehouse.  For sponsorship and event information please contact Elizabeth Muto at 702.932.5098 or via email at
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