Asked to name her greatest achievement, Nona Golledge singles out guiding Kansas University Dining through a university-mandated merger of the residential dining and retail-catering departments. It was no easy feat. In just two months, Golledge—who was FoodService Director magazine’s 2010 FSD of the Year—was able to successfully boost employee morale, address challenges and ultimately grow department sales. After the merger completed in 2005, retail sales at KU Dining increased by 36 percent and catering sales rose 31 percent.
Despite being a self-described worrier (as she once admitted in a FSD magazine interview), Golledge finds an opportunity in every challenge. Throughout her career, which spans 34 years in the foodservice business—most of it in the college and university segment, including nine years as director of KU Dining—she has delivered on a vision that prioritizes sustainability, wellness and the mentorship of rising foodservice professionals.
1. Sustainability at the center
During her tenure at KU Dining, Golledge has launched multiple sustainability initiatives, including eliminating trays in the dining halls, making the switch to biodegradable disposables and planting a rooftop herb garden. Dining services also partnered with a composting facility that picks up the university’s food waste. Each year, the campus diverts 1,000 pounds of waste from landfills with its sustainability practices. In 2008, the department received the Campus Leader Award from the university’s Center for Sustainability.
2. Rapid renovations
Since leading her department through the merger a decade ago, Golledge has overseen numerous renovations as part of the school’s 10-year strategic plan. In that time, KU Dining has expanded from 10 locations to 22. One of the most notable projects was a 2013 renovation of the residential dining commons that was completed in a mere 78 days.
3. Health away from home
Helping students to make smart choices is a top priority. Under Golledge’s direction, KU Dining adopted a new mission, branding itself in the eyes of students as “Your Campus Kitchen Table,” a tagline it touts on its social media channels. And each summer, her department hosts two NACUFS interns. “My advice to new foodservice professionals is to learn as much about the industry as possible, stay abreast of trends and lead from the heart,” Golledge told the International Foodservice Managers Association.