Fostering Diversity in Hospitality: Meet the 2024 ICA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Scholarship Winners

April 9, 2024 

The hospitality industry inherently embodies diversity. Not only do we literally and figuratively cater to individuals from various backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, and demographic groups, but we also thrive on creating inclusive environments that welcome people from diverse walks of life. Additionally, our companies rely heavily on teamwork and collaboration, which naturally brings together individuals with unique perspectives and experiences, creating more inclusive environments where everyone feels safe, seen, heard, and valued for the role they play and who they are at their core.

For this reason and many more, the International Caterers Association has always promoted a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion where all are respected, accepted, and safe. One of the ways we do this is via our annual ICA Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship Program.

Today, we invite you to join us in celebrating our 2024 award recipients! 

About the ICA Diversity & Inclusion Scholarships 

The ICA Diversity & Inclusion Scholarships are available to catering companies that have been ICA members for at least a year and have at least 50% of their upper management composed of individuals from underrepresented groups in the catering industry. 

These groups include, but are not limited to:

  • African American
  • Asian/Pacific Islander 
  • American Indian
  • Latin(o/a)/Latinx
  • People with disabilities
  • Veterans
  • Woman-owned businesses

Each winning member company is awarded a complimentary pass to attend the Catersource + The Special Event conference for that calendar year, which is currently valued at up to $899. The company can then select the attendee from their organization.

Congratulations to our 2024 ICA Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship winners 

A hearty congratulations to all of this year’s award recipients who have worked tirelessly in their roles to make positive contributions to our industry. This recognition is very well deserved! 

Join the ICA today & celebrate diversity at Catersource + The Special Event in 2025

Our industry's success hinges on its ability to embrace and celebrate diversity and it’s our hope that by offering this scholarship and education programs related to DEI, we will cultivate an environment that is naturally diverse, equitable, and inclusive. We hope you’ll join us.

Each year, we are elated to hear about the significant experiences that each year's recipients derive from the conference, an opportunity they might not have accessed without these crucial scholarships.

What our 2024 recipients are saying… 

“The overall experience at Catersource + The Special Event was definitely life-altering. I am so appreciative and humbled for this. I am looking forward to attending many more. Hopefully, I will be able to build on more new relationships moving forward.” 

- Ogi W. Ras, Director of Operations, Thrive Catering 

“A heartfelt thank you for the incredible honor of representing Low Country Quisine Catering as a 2024 ICA DEI Scholarship recipient at Catersource + The Special Event 2024! This was my first year attending and it absolutely exceeded my expectations. As someone who predominately works remotely or behind a computer screen, Catersource + The Special Event provided the opportunity to step away from the digital realm and engage with some inspiring and amazing people! The camaraderie, shared wisdom, and the chance to learn and grow will undoubtedly play a part in my personal development and will play a big role in both my success and our business’s growth.” 

- Jenna Campbell-Rockett, Sales & Marketing Manager, Low Country Quisine 

“I extend my sincere appreciation to the ICA & DEI Committee for providing me with this unique opportunity. Being surrounded by fellow scholarship recipients who share a passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion was both inspiring and affirming. The sense of community fostered at Catersource + The Special Event 2024 is something I will carry with me throughout my career. The conference was a treasure trove of knowledge, and I made a conscious effort to immerse myself in sessions that aligned with my goals, particularly focusing on sales strategies, building a service-oriented culture, and operational management. I am eager to bring some of these innovative ideas to… Catering by Michaels.” 

- Jacob Hatfield, Director of Operations, Catering by Michaels 

“My sincerest thanks for the opportunity extended to Deborah Miller Catering as a recipient of the 2024 ICA Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Scholarship. As busy as we all are in our day-to-day, it is reinvigorating to attend a conference of industry peers and leaders to help us get out of our bubbles and see beyond the next deadline. The scholarship was a push for our organization, and I am so grateful I was able to attend! I have kept in touch with a number of people I met and presenters, including my ICA DEI mentor, Chris Villard, and other members of ICA and LCA. The discussions I had before, during, and after my attendance at Catersource + The Special Event have offered focus and clarity to the challenges and opportunities we face. Defining job roles and building our community culture by identifying relatable core values are the big two takeaways, and sharing my experiences garnered at Catersource + The Special Event has lit a fire in all of us. We are very happy to be members of the ICA, and I hope that the next time I attend Catersource + The Special Event, it will be with more of my team members to foster a shared experience, and I am excited for all future participants of the DEI scholarship program!” 

- Jonathan Roode, Director of Operations, Deborah Miller Catering & Events 

“Thank you so much for the opportunity to attend Catersource + The Special Event and represent Dish Food & Events as our ICA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Scholarship winner.  At the conference, I learned so many applicable takeaways to share with each person on my team. On the sales side, I learned some important principles I can apply to how we structure our business development team and I'm bringing back some helpful language for our sales team as they are navigating budget conversations with our clients. For culinary, I'm thrilled to design some new cart activations with our chef, inspired by what I saw in demonstrations and on the trade show floor. Operationally, I was able to connect with several new vendors that may be able to save us significantly on our recurring disposable product costs.  I left Catersource + The Special Event inspired.  Thank you for working to provide this experience for me and others.” 

- Betty Kalin, Vice President, Dish Food & Events 

"I was very excited to hear that I got awarded for the ICA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Scholarship. It was such a pleasure to attend Catersource + The Special Event and not only got to learn more about the industry but also getting to meet all these fantastic industry colleagues. All in all, it was a great experience and I am very grateful for being able to attend.” 

- Ivonne Lietz, Senior Event Lead, LUX Catering & Events 

“Catersource + The Special Event was a transformative experience that not only provided me with valuable knowledge and connections, but also reaffirmed my dedication to pursuing a successful career in the catering and events industry. I am grateful to have won the DEI Scholarship so I could attend. I am so grateful to have been a part of this enriching event and look forward to applying what I have learned to achieve my goals in the future.” 

- Samantha Cicala, Event Specialist, CBK Catering & Events 

“It was a pleasure to be in great company with other DEI and ICA Scholarship recipients!  A win from this year’s conference was my confidence in networking and interacting with strangers. I stepped outside my comfort zone by initiating conversations with speakers after their sessions to ask further questions or to let them know how much I enjoyed their presentations. Overall, the conference not only expanded my professional network but also boosted my confidence in engaging with new connections. Thank you again for providing me with such a valuable experience and I look forward to attending future Catersource + The Special Event conferences!” 

- Elizabeth Sopha, Catering Sales Planner, Marcia Selden Catering & Events 

Catersource + The Special Event 2025 will be taking over the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, FL from February 24-27, 2025. Join the ICA today to gain access to monthly education, networking, and updates on the 2025 ICA Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship application when it opens this fall! 


International Caterers Association

For motivated caterers, International Caterers Association is a resource that provides Education, encourages peer to peer Relationships and Inspires creativity while embracing all segments of the catering industry. For more information, visit