20 Most Influential: Shawn LaPean, University of California, Berkeley

Shawn LaPean has thrived by acting as a change agent for his department and his peers in foodservice.

Shawn LaPean
Director of Cal Dining,
University of California, Berkeley

Shawn LaPean lives to serve, and that doesn’t mean just his customers. LaPean is well aware that Berkeley customers are a very different clientele than the “normal” campus culture. LaPean has been able to thrive by acting as a change agent for his department and his peers in foodservice. He was recognized for his efforts with a Silver Plate in 2008.

“When we worked together [at Vanderbilt] I saw that he is really driven to take what exists and make it better,” says Frank Gladu, associate vice president for administration at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. “He’s not a status quo guy. I think people are just more creative with Shawn in the room.”

That creativity has led to accomplishments at Berkeley in areas such as sustainability, organics and local purchasing. Despite all his accomplishments it is LaPean’s willingness to share advice, ideas and experience—even with operators in different market segments—that truly makes him influential, says Dan Henroid, director of nutrition and foodservices at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center.

“When I first got here and said I’d love to come see your place it was an immediate yes,” Henroid says. “We’ve been great colleagues ever since. I end up sending members of our team out to his place about once a year. I think his willingness to take risks is key.” 

Foodservice Director has undertaken a bold initiative by identifying people who we believe are having the biggest impact on non-commercial foodservice. Our list may surprise you and should certainly intrigue you. Our honorees have backgrounds as varied as their personalities. They range from the father of the modern-day food truck to the wife of a sitting president. They include operators and suppliers, chefs and consultants, CEOs and civil servants. There are traditionalists and there are mavericks. Well-known names share space with hot newcomers. In all, 17 people, two groups of individuals and one institution compose the list. It’s time to meet FSD’s 20 Most Influential.

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