Zoe Olson is the Executive Director of the Nebraska Restaurant Association (NeRA) and its educational arm, the Hospitality Educational Foundation (HEF). A UNL graduate with a degree in journalism and a focus in advertising, Zoe has more than 30 years of organizational management, marketing, and public relations experience. She has initiated new ventures throughout her career, from successful fundraising events to programs designed to engage clients and increase membership. Prior to coming to the NeRA, Zoe served as the Executive Director of Blue Rivers Area on Aging, Director of Public Relations and Marketing for Aging Partners and Executive Director of the Nebraska Wheat Growers Association.
Zoe lives in Lincoln with her husband, Jim. The couple has four adult children and two adorable granddaughters.
Wade Griffith is the Outreach Director for the Nebraska Restaurant Association (NeRA) and its educational arm the Hospitality Educational Foundation (HEF). He has 35+ years of experience in food service and his experience includes large scale institutional food service, large volume restaurant management, catering , event planning and execution Wade has served as an Executive Staff Chef, Catering Chef, Executive Chef, and Personal Chef. He has also served as an educator and proctor teaching food sanitation and ServSafe sanitation programs. Wade has trained and taught many aspiring culinarians while fostering his own love of the food service industry.
Wade lives in Lincoln with his wife, Sharman. The couple has two adult children and one granddaughter.
Government Affairs Representative
Jim Otto is the “go to” person for issues that have – or could have – an impact on the operations of the members of the Nebraska Restaurant Association. Jim started his career as Coordinator of Economic Development for the City of Lincoln and then served as Nebraska State Director at the USDA Rural Development before becoming the hospitality industry representative in the legislature. Well-known and respected at the Nebraska Unicameral, he also serves as President of the Nebraska Retail Federation.
Fayrene Hamouz has been the Hospitality Education Foundation’s ProStart coordinator since she retired as Associate Dean of UNL’s College of Education and Human Sciences in 2016. A graduate of UNL with a degree in Dietetics, she completed a dietetic internship at the University of Washington and then was employed in food service at the University of Iowa and UNL. While working, she completed additional degrees in Food Service Management and Meat Science. In 1990, she accepted a faculty position at UNL in Restaurant Management. During her tenure, and with a commitment to professionalism and the future of the hospitality industry, she developed bachelor’s degree programs in Hospitality, Restaurant and Tourism Management and Culinology.
Fayrene says that if ProStart had been available in the sixties, she would have been a chef.