• Serving independent schools and colleges with since 1990
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Welcome

There are many dining contractors out there — some smaller and some much, much larger. We like to think we're the right size to offer the experience and efficiencies you need, as well as the personal attention and support you may not be accustomed to receiving.

When we come to your school and take stock of the situation in your dining hall — the challenges and the opportunities — we bring our best practices to bear to raise the bar for you. But that's only part of the equation.

We take the time to understand your school community, your tastes and preferences.

We work with you to develop a food program that meets your community's culinary, nutritional and social needs, and that does so within a reasonable budget.

How are we able to do this? It starts with hiring an incredibly talented and committed work force, individuals who are passionate about food and dedicated to pleasing the customer.

We maintain the highest standards of integrity throughout our company, from accounting to purchasing to marketing. And we never waver from our focus on serving great-tasting, wholesome food.

Financial Transparency

Trust is Essential

Our financial transparency is built into our business model. We work on a management fee basis, which means that SAGE earns a fixed amount of money per year for administering the food service agreement. This is our salary. The amount does not change, whether we're under- or over-budget.

We have amazing, transparent financial systems. Each week our managers update wages, purchases, inventory and receivables. Then they generate a statement and deliver it to our clients.

When everyone works from the same set of numbers, the results make total sense. If a question arises, you can rely on our managers, district manager and Accounting department to have the answer.

We share all of the financial information with you because this is a partnership.

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Our leaders are experts with years of hands-on and management experience in the food and dining industry

News Center


Spoonful of SAGE

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SAGE In the News

Paco Rodriguez

Paco Rodriguez is President and Co-Founder of SAGE Dining Services®.

As someone who rarely bought school lunches as a child, Paco never imagined he’d be doing what he does today.

Born in Brooklyn and raised in the Bronx, Paco learned the value of hard work at an early age. His mother was a teacher and his father, a Spanish immigrant, worked in restaurant and hotel kitchens — the food service industry has been a part of Paco’s life since childhood.

Paco’s own career in food service began after graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in political science. While studying in Harvard’s joint JD/MBA program, he managed the law school’s campus pub (and met Tina in a tax class).

After graduating from Harvard, Paco worked for a global management consulting firm in New York, and later became the chief operating officer for a regional ice cream chain. Ice cream paved the way for his position as a Vice President in the school and college division of a major food service company.

Paco and Tina founded SAGE Dining Services® in 1990. SAGE stands for “Setting A Good Example®,” which describes the corporate philosophy they wanted the new company to exhibit. Today, SAGE serves independent schools and small colleges in 37 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada.

A frequent speaker on management strategy, Paco enjoys presenting leadership lessons based on the Battle of Gettysburg. He’s also a wine collector and connoisseur, and regularly hosts wine tastings for SAGE Managers and clients.

In 2020, Paco and Tina were named two of The Daily Record’s Influential Marylanders. They were also awarded the 2021 Sarah Daignault Outstanding Support of Independent Schools Award by the National Business Officers Association.

Tina Rodriguez

Tina Rodriguez co-founded SAGE Dining Services® in 1990, blending her passion for culinary excellence and financial integrity with a lifelong commitment to education. She oversees SAGE’s human resources, finance, and legal operations and travels extensively to connect with clients and Team Members across North America.

Tina is sought after by the independent school community as a speaker and webinar host on the topics of dining service management, local food procurement, and nutrition. She has addressed NBOA’s Annual Meeting, the NAIS Annual Conference, TABS’ national conference, and regional associations such as GISA, TAIS, MISBO, and AISNE.

While growing SAGE, Tina served as an adjunct faculty member in the business program at Johns Hopkins University for over fifteen years, teaching various strategic planning and management courses to MBA candidates. She also taught at the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business and Notre Dame of Maryland University.

From 2010-2020, Tina served on the board of The Common Market Mid-Atlantic. In her seven years as board chair, she helped guide The Common Market’s expansion beyond the Mid-Atlantic market to Georgia, Texas, and neighboring territories. Tina also served on the evangelization committee and pastoral council at Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore. Currently, Tina spearheads SAGE’s collaboration with Innovation Works in Baltimore, a nonprofit that mentors budding city entrepreneurs.

In 2020, Tina was named one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women by The Daily Record, as well as one of The Daily Record’s Influential Marylanders. She and her husband Paco were awarded the 2021 Sarah Daignault Outstanding Support of Independent Schools Award by the National Business Officers Association.

Prior to her work at SAGE, Tina was a consultant at Bain & Company, an international strategy consulting firm. She graduated summa cum laude from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and cum laude from Harvard Law School.

Tina and Paco have four grown children and one adorable granddaughter. They live in Baltimore, Maryland. In her spare time, Tina enjoys running half-marathons, singing in the Cathedral Contemporary Group, and working in her organic garden.

Marcel Gallo

Marcel Gallo oversees all of our accounts in North America. Prior to becoming COO, Marcel served as SAGE’s Vice President for the Northeast.

As a young man, Marcel owned and operated a retail catering and imported foods business in Pawling, New York. He later sold the business and began a career in school food service as the sous chef at an independent school. Before he joined SAGE in 2005, Marcel held key management positions in the school food service industry, as food service director and district manager for a large contract food service company.

Marcel earned an associate degree from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and is ServSafe® certified. He also studied business and marketing at Iona College.

He is married with two children and lives in Orange County, New York. In his spare time, Marcel loves building things and being the “sports guy” for his kids and the Frisbee thrower for his dog.

Maurice Short

Maurice Short is Vice President and Director of Sales for SAGE. He was part of the original team that founded the company in 1990. A trained chef, he started as food service director at a small college. He joined the sales team in 1995, and 13 years later was asked to lead SAGE's sales effort.

Prior to joining SAGE, Maurice worked in food service management in several independent schools and colleges. As a district manager, he worked closely with the sales team on budgeting and dining concepts.

A marathon runner and culinary adventurer, Maurice has a lifelong interest in health and nutrition. He is married and lives in Parrish, Florida.

Lyle Kan

Lyle has more than 35 years of combined experience in food industry marketing and management consulting. He specializes in strategic planning, business development, and customer relationship management. Before joining SAGE, Lyle was the Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning and Business Development for a West Coast-based food service manufacturing supplier. Prior to that, he served as the Arizona and New Mexico Market Manager for a leading national pizza restaurant chain.

Lyle graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in biochemical sciences from Harvard College and received his Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School, earning multiple awards for academic excellence, leadership, and service along the way.

He has channeled his leadership skills into community involvement in the service of Team Red, White and Blue (a veterans service organization); the San Gabriel Valley Council of the Boy Scouts, the Los Angeles Children's Museum, the West Point Parents Club of Orange County, and the San Marino Schools Foundation. Lyle enjoys traveling, trying new foods, collecting art, and competing in marathons and triathlons.

Scott Mowery

Scott has over two decades' worth of experience in accounting, finance, and strategic development. Most recently, Scott served as Vice President of Finance at a nationwide landscaping company. Prior to that, he advanced within a major recruiting and contract staffing firm, eventually becoming Executive Director of Financial Operations.

Scott received his Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and Finance from Gettysburg College, and his MBA from Loyola University. He is a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Maryland.
Scott lives in Hunt Valley, MD, and has recently served as Vice Chairman for the Special Olympics of Maryland.

Todd Evans

Todd Evans is SAGE's Vice President of Procurement. He supervises all procurement functions, including product consolidation, vendor sourcing, contract negotiation, relationship management, compliance, and contract manufacture.

Evans has over 33 years of experience in materials management, purchasing, and procurement. He has spent most of his career at Hunt Valley-based McCormick & Company, Inc., moving up from Purchasing Agent to Procurement Director. He was responsible for leadership of North American and global strategies in the areas of Indirect Procurement and External Manufacturing, and he developed and deployed the global Procurement Center of Excellence (COE), an organization focused on procurement analytics. Evans received a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Towson University and a Master of Science in Business Management from Johns Hopkins University.

John Posenau

John Posenau joins SAGE from Red Lion Controls in York, PA, where he served as the Vice President for Global Shared Services. John started his career designing data acquisition and control systems for NASA’s Langely Research Center. He’s worked as a CIO or Technology Director for organizations including The Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Sungard Higher Education, the NAACP, York College of Pennsylvania, and Johns Hopkins University.

John has an M.S. in Computer Science from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. He’s married with two children and lives in York, PA. When he’s not working or serving as the President of the York Suburban School Board, John enjoys traveling with his wife.

Jon Hess

Jon Hess is Director of Training and Development. He maintains SAGE Standards for culinary operations, food safety and education, and customer service and satisfaction.

Jon began his career at SAGE in 1991 as an hourly chef at an independent boarding school. He advanced to the position of food service director in 1994 and district manager in 1998. Promoted to vice president in 2005, Jon combines a passion for food with a wealth of operational expertise.

He received an associate's degree and a food and sanitation certificate from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and is ServSafe® certified. A collector of local and regional cookbooks, Jon lives in suburban Atlanta with his two children.

Mark Benfield

Mark Benfield is SAGE’s Director of Retail Operations. Mark regularly visits retail client venues to ensure they meet SAGE Standards for culinary expertise, food safety and sanitation, nutritional education, and community satisfaction.

Mark joined SAGE in 2001 as a Special Projects Manager. He was promoted to District Manager shortly thereafter and attained his current position in 2005. Mark’s career in food service began in 1993, when he served as an executive chef, food service director, and ultimately, general manager, for private colleges with two different contract food management companies. Mark has extensive experience in high-end catering from the front and back of the house.

Mark pursued general management studies at West Chester University. He and his wife live year-round at the Jersey shore.

Jennifer Quick

Jennifer Quick is SAGE’s Vice President of Operations in the Western United States and has been instrumental in growing and opening venues from Texas to Washington. Throughout her tenure, Jennifer has overseen multiple venue openings, facility renovations, large event planning, and catering for high-volume events. She ensures that operations comply with SAGE Standards and that our services are consistently maintained at the highest levels.

Jennifer joined SAGE as a Food Service Director in 2003, was promoted to District Manager in 2005, and was appointed Regional Manager in 2016. She’s been instrumental in growing and opening venues in the West Region of the United States. Jennifer specializes in assisting her clients in conceptual design, construction, and food service recommendations aligned with their vision.

Jennifer’s food service career spans more than 20 years, beginning as a service manager while in college. Before coming to SAGE, Jennifer owned her own catering company and seafood restaurant on the Texas coast. She studied marketing at the University of North Texas.

In her spare time, Jennifer loves entertaining and interior design and is a connoisseur of Mexican food. She lives in San Antonio with her husband and two daughters.

Gary Fugman

Gary Fugman is a SAGE Vice President of Operations for the Northern and Midwest Regions of the United States.

Gary will continue to ensure we deliver high-level operations for your community. He's responsible for implementing SAGE programs and for training and developing management teams that continuously create the exceptional dining experiences you expect from us.

Gary began his career in food service in 1992, working in roles that ranged from executive chef to the owner/general manager of a 250-seat restaurant. Gary joined SAGE as a Catering Manager in 1999 and was promoted to Food Production Manager in 2000, Food Service Director in 2002, District Manager in 2005, and Regional Manager in 2018. Gary continues to foster the success of his venues through his communication, food, and catering expertise.

Gary currently lives in Niverville, NY.

Lesley Vogel

Lesley Vogel is SAGE’s Vice President of Food and Nutrition.

A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Lesley leads a team of Registered Dietitians whose expertise and continuous research ensure SAGE delivers the best, most current nutrition programs to our communities. They lead our allergen management training, The SAGE Spotlight Program®, and Performance Spotlight®. They review every ingredient and recipe, tag them for the top 12 food allergens, and ensure variety on every menu. Lesley's leadership has positioned SAGE to have one of the industry's strongest nutrition programs.

Lesley received her bachelor's degree in food and nutrition from Florida State University and completed her dietetic internship at Yale New Haven Hospital. Before joining SAGE in 2014, Lesley spent 20 years in clinical practice, first providing care at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and later educating corporate clients, families, and students through a community-based practice. As the parent of a child with a nut allergy, Lesley has firsthand experience managing the complexities of food allergies. She enjoys sharing this expertise and her passion for nutrition with our communities.

Lesley's hobbies include hiking, skiing, kayaking, and spending time with family and friends.

Tom Ankner

Tom Ankner is a SAGE Regional Manager in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

Tom came to SAGE in 2005 as a Culinary Support Team Member and later became the Food Service Director at Saint Andrew’s School in Boca Raton, Florida. In 2007, Tom continued this role at Columbia University Teachers’ College, and in 2008, he was promoted to District Manager. Tom continues to foster the success of his accounts through his communication, food, and catering expertise.

Tom earned his associate degree in Culinary Arts from The Culinary Institute of America. He went on to earn his bachelor's and master's degrees in hospitality management and food service management from Florida International University. Tom is ServSafe® certified and has accumulated certificates in a variety of food service topics.

Brandon Barnes

Brandon is responsible for venues in the Southeast. He has 22 years of experience in the food service industry, 17 of which have been in educational dining. Brandon joined SAGE in 2011 as Food Service Director at Fort Worth Country Day, where he managed a community-inclusive program serving lunch to more than 1,400 people, as well as a retail bar for breakfast and after-school snacks and a large catering calendar. He was promoted to District Manager in 2016 and Regional Manager in 2020.

Brandon earned an associate degree in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a Bachelor of Science in culinary management from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh. He’s ServSafe® and ServSafe Alcohol® certified, and he’s earned an American Culinary Federation Member Food Management Professional Credential. A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Brandon currently resides in Atlanta.

John Brite

John Brite is a SAGE Area Manager responsible for overseeing District Managers at SAGE venues in Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

John has over two decades of experience in the hospitality industry, including serving as an executive chef, managing catering and conference services at a premier private university, overseeing the food service operations for a prominent international insurance company, and directing the kosher culinary department of a senior living community. In January 2016, he joined the SAGE Dining Team as a District Manager. In June 2018, he was promoted to Area Manager.

John graduated as valedictorian from the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute. He holds a number of certifications, including Certified Executive Chef from the American Culinary Foundation and Certified Hospitality Supervisor from the National Hotel and Lodging Association.

Jesse Phillips

Jesse Phillips is a SAGE Area Manager responsible for overseeing District Managers at SAGE venues in D.C., Pennsylvania, and Maryland. He helps to ensure that all SAGE programs and processes are fresh and consistent with community expectations.

Jesse began his career in food service in 1997 as a conference dining chef at a major hotel in Virginia. He joined SAGE 10 years later as a Food Service Director, a role he held at three East Coast venues. He also spent two years traveling the nation as a member of our Culinary Support Team, opening venues in Tennessee, Georgia, and Maryland. He then served as District Manager and was promoted to Area Manager in 2020.

Jesse’s extensive experience with different venues, clients, and dining environments makes him a capable, versatile leader. He received a degree in culinary, restaurant, and hotel management from Northern Virginia Community College. He’s ServSafe® certified and well versed in risk management assessment, budgeting, allergy awareness, merchandising, harassment training, and menu design.

Steve Kittredge

Steve Kittredge is SAGE's Area Manager for Florida.

A native New Englander, Steve settled in South Florida in 1996. He joined SAGE in 1997 as a Food Service Director. He was promoted to District Manager in 2007 and served accounts in Florida, Arkansas, and Louisiana. In 2015, he was promoted to Area Manager.

Steve earned his associate’s degree in culinary arts and his bachelor’s degree in food service management from Johnson and Wales University. He is ServSafe® certified. Steve lives in Delray Beach, FL and loves fishing, music, sports, and the beach.

William Velez

William (Bill) Velez is SAGE’s sales account executive for the Mid-Atlantic region, responsible for the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Bill has been a food service professional for over 25 years. He had his first taste of the business at the age of eight when he joined his father’s bodega in Trenton, New Jersey. Following in his dad’s footsteps of food service and entrepreneurship, Bill began a career in food management, operating facilities in corporate, educational, and leisure dining.

Later, Bill founded a stay-at-home senior care business, but food service remained his passion. He sold his business and began a career on the sales side of the industry, where he has enjoyed continued success at several large contract food service companies.

Bill has an associate degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Mercer County Community College and attended the College of New Jersey (formerly Trenton State College).

Bill and his wife Kym have three boys, including two adopted sons from South Korea. Bill is a big sports fan, and particularly loves following international soccer. When not playing or watching ball himself, he keeps busy by coaching his son’s baseball, soccer, and basketball teams. He lives in Hopewell, New Jersey.

James Leachman

James Leachman joined SAGE in 2008 as the sales account executive for the Southeast. He is responsible for growth in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

He began his food service career in 1990 with an intensive, 18-week culinary training program. He spent nine years in various operational and sales positions with a large contract food service provider, working in the collegiate, corporate, and healthcare sectors. He also managed the company's largest vending operation in the Southeast and trained new operators.

Before joining SAGE, James was president and co-owner of a mobile home business for eight years.

A resident of Mobile, AL, James holds a B.S in business administration from Spring Hill College in Mobile. He is an avid gardener, golfer, and saltwater fisherman.

Carl Sharrio

Carl Sharrio is the Sales Account Executive for the Northeast, responsible for Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Carl has over 26 years of sales experience. After working for large dining service companies for 14 years, Carl spent a few years as a Business Development Manager for a Northeast-based dining services company, where he oversaw the sales process, including prospect identification, qualification, survey organization and execution, proposal development, sales presentation, and contract negotiation.

Carl graduated from Springfield College in MA with a B.S. in Exercise Physiology and a concentration in Business Administration. He resides in Andover, Massachusetts, where he’s a little league coach and high school hockey supporter.

Janelle Nakamoto

Janelle is the Sales Account Executive for the West. Janelle most recently served as the director of business development at a leading national campus foodservice dining operator, where she managed campus dining sales. Her experience also includes selling group tours and managing tour staff at the Rose Bowl Stadium and working for the Los Angeles Lakers as a client service specialist. She has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from California State University, Fullerton, and currently lives in Los Angeles, where she enjoys exploring the city's many restaurants; attending concerts; and doing outdoor activities with her Rottweiler, Mickey.

Marty Coker

Marty Coker is SAGE’s Sales Account Executive for the Midwest. She’s responsible for growth in Kentucky, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Marty has over 25 years of experience selling contract food service accounts as a business development executive. She’s worked nationally to launch new food service markets, create business plans, and develop winning client partnerships across multiple industry sectors. She most recently owned an executive coaching business that provided strategic coaching focused on achieving exceptional, sustained results.

Throughout her career, Marty has been the recipient of national and international awards because of her ability to build lasting relationships with her clients. She’s also a passionate advocate for education reform and has served as an elected representative and chairwoman of the Kentucky School-Based Decision Making Council. She and her family live in Louisville, Kentucky.

James Dawson

Jim is the Sales Account Executive responsible for SAGE’s growth in Ontario, Canada. He brings more than 25 years of sales management experience and business development in the hospitality food service industry to the position.

He began his first management position with a global hotel, restaurant, and resort chain and moved on to a food and beverage manager position with a large North American hotel chain. In 2006, Jim started his contract food service career as an operations manager for a large hospitality company and was eventually promoted to a district manager position. Most recently, Jim’s endeavors have been in sales, emphasizing targeting new clients, developing proposals, opening new accounts, and building lasting relationships.

Jim holds an associate degree in hotel and restaurant management from Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ontario; he also studied hotel and resort management at Sir Sandford Fleming College of Applied Arts. Jim resides in the suburbs of Toronto, where he enjoys spending time with his family at their cottage, boating, fishing, and cooking great meals.

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