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College of Human Ecology honors six professionals for 'focusing first on people'

Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014



MANHATTAN — A western Kansas catering entrepreneur, a national leader in health care for the elderly, and a product development director for Under Armour are among the professionals to be honored Oct. 24 by the College of Human Ecology at Kansas State University.

The six honorees were selected for their outstanding contributions to their disciplines. They include:

• John Ross Harmon, owner of John Ross & Co. Signature Catering in Garden City, will receive the Entrepreneur Award in recognition of his entrepreneurial spirit and success in business. Harmon graduated from Kansas State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management. His company offers catering services throughout Kansas and the Midwest. He started his Garden City-based business in 2010 after working as a chef at John Elway Steakhouse and at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Denver. Harmon designed and built a 35-foot mobile kitchen that allows him to cater events within an 800-mile radius of southwest Kansas and feed groups ranging in size from 25 to 5,000. He specializes in weddings, rehearsal dinners and company meetings. He says his menu mixes down-home food that his mother taught him to cook with the five-star cuisine he learned at the Ritz-Carlton. He specializes in made-from-scratch food such as mini beef Wellingtons, Cajun gumbos, Italian dishes and barbeque.

• Jami Dunbar, senior director, product development and technical design, at Under Armour in Baltimore, Maryland, will receive the college's Partner Award. The 1996 Kansas State University graduate in apparel design is being honored for providing sustained partnership on the corporate level with the college to enhance student and faculty research, internships and other educational opportunities. Before joining Under Armour in 2012, she was vice president of technical design at Abercrombie & Fitch in New Albany, Ohio. She also has worked in technical design with Hollister Co. and with Nordstrom as well as holding positions in footwear product development. She serves on the College of Human Ecology's apparel and textiles advisory board, attending meetings and interacting with students on campus. She has participated in the annual Apparel, Textiles, and Interior Design Symposium as a panelist and a sponsor, and she helps students with internships and job opportunities at Under Armour.

• Kali Buchanan will receive the college's Rising Professional Award for significant contributions to the field of human ecology at the early stages of her career. Buchanan is 2008 bachelor's graduate in interior design. She is director of interior design with Hufft Projects in Kansas City, Missouri, where she is an advocate and partner to clients, creating environments that support and enhance their lives. Her projects include workplaces, retail, hospitality, education and worship facilities. She is a member of the National Council for Interior Design Qualification, International Interior Design Association and the College of Human Ecology's interior design advisory board. She also has earned LEED AP certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

• Mary Montgomery-Shatz, director of operations at LongHorn Steakhouse for Darden Concepts in Kansas City, Missouri, will receive the College of Human Ecology's Executive Leadership Award. Mongtomery-Shatz, originally from Sabetha, is being recognized for her business leadership and sustained interest in the college. A 1980 Kansas State University bachelor's graduate in restaurant management, Montgomery-Shatz was selected as an alumni fellow of the university and has been an adviser to the college's hospitality management program. During her career, which includes working at highly rated restaurants across the country, she has hired 13 Kansas State University graduates and says one of her greatest successes is mentoring. She has received the regional director award from Darden.

• Dennis Hulsing, president and CEO of Hulsing Enterprises LLC in Asheville, North Carolina, will receive the Friend of the College Award. Hulsing, a former Topeka resident who graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in business administration in 1985, built his company with hard work and a passion for business development. A group of Hulsing Hotels has expanded into 26 businesses: nine hotels and resorts, three durable medical equipment companies, a sleep lab, two golf and tennis clubs, a residential development company, three real estate investment companies, two grocery stores, a spa, a scuba center, zipline, mountain bike park and a treetop adventure center. Hulsing also was a senior vice president of Omni Hotels. He serves on the College of Human Ecology's hospitality management advisory board, established the Hulsing Hotels Scholarship at the college, and has developed an internship program to help develop the next generation of Kansas State University graduates.

• Shawn Bloom, president and chief executive officer of the National PACE Association, Alexandria, Virginia, will receive the Public Advocacy Award for making a significant impact on issues important to the field of human ecology. Bloom graduated from Kansas State University in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and gerontology. At PACE, which stands for Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, Bloom helps people meet their health care needs in the community instead of going to a nursing home or other care facility. With more than 25 years in the elder and health care industries, Bloom is a well-known expert and frequently testifies before state and federal policymakers on health care policy reform for the aging. He has served as a member of the gerontology program's long-term care alumni advisory committee, contributed to the Center on Aging's excellence fund at the college, and hired summer student interns from the university to work in the Alexandria office.


Debby Hiett


College of Human Ecology

News tip

Garden City, Sabetha and Topeka, Kansas; Baltimore, Maryland; Kansas City, Missouri; Asheville, North Carolina; and Alexandria, Virginia.

Written by

Jane Marshall

At a glance

The College of Human Ecology at Kansas State University is recognizing six individuals for their outstanding contributions to their professions.