Yodher joined Columbia Dining in early 2017 as Assistant Manager of JJ's, responsible for the evening shift. He comes with several years of hospitality experience including management of casual and fine dining restaurants in NYC. He also holds a Bachelor's Degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, located in his current home state of New Jersey. Originally from Peru, Yodher enjoys South American cuisine and hopes to bring some of these new flavors to the JJ's menu. Beyond campus life, he dabbles in interior design and loves to travel. Yodher also loves interacting with people so stop by and say hola!
Vicki joined Columbia University in 2007. Under her leadership, Columbia Dining has built a solid reputation as a high-quality, customer-oriented department. Vicki’s focus for Dining is providing total customer satisfaction and meeting the needs of the diverse Columbia population. Prior to joining Columbia, Vicki was the Senior Director of Marketing for Sodexo Campus Services. Vicki holds an Associate Degree in Operational Sciences from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. In her free time, Vicki enjoys baking (brownies are her specialty), reading, and caring for her dogs.
Rosie has worked in customer service for Dining since 1998. Known for her positive energy, smile and charisma, her responsibilities include reassuring parents that their children will have healthy and hearty meals while away from home. Most importantly, Rosie works to resolve questions or issues students may have concerning their dining accounts. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family and preparing healthy and hearty meals.
Chef Mike is responsible for the overall operations and culinary experience at Columbia University. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Staten Island, he grew up in a home where good food was integral to daily life. He started cooking himself at an early age and later pursued his professional culinary degree at Johnson and Wales University for Culinary Arts in Providence, RI. His experience includes the Intercontinental Hotel in New York City, where he also traveled the hotel’s Asia network; Corporate Foods providing service to clients like Citibank, US Today, and Entertainment Weekly; and Fordham University where he served as the Dining Services Executive Chef for 18 years.
Matthew joined the Dining team as Chef Manager at Ferris Booth Commons in spring of 2019. His past work experience includes 7 years as Kitchen Manager for Panera Bread in addition to 7 years at OTG Management at John F. Kennedy International Airport. With a degree in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of America and an early start as a restaurant bus boy, his passion for food runs deep. Originally from Taiwan, Matthew's specialty is Taiwanese cuisine and street food, which he hopes to introduce more of at Ferris Booth. After immigrating to the U.S. in 1998, Matthew settled in a diverse neighborhood in Queens and spends much of his free time fishing and volunteering with the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, an international humanitarian organization.
LeShawn joined Columbia Dining in November 2019 as Assistant Manager, responsible for providing his students and customers with healthy options and great customer service. He comes with several years of industry experience including previously working as a Production Sous Chef and then promoted to Chef Manager at NYU. He graduated from The Arts Institute of New York, where he studied The Culinary Arts. A born and raised New Yorker (from Brooklyn), he now resides in Middletown, NY. Beyond campus life, he loves to spend quality time with his family.
Kareem, also known as Ras, began his career at Columbia University in 2010 as a Second Cook and was soon promoted to First Cook. In 2016, he took on a leadership role as Chef Manager in John Jay. In 2018, he was then promoted to Campus Dining. Prior to joining the Columbia Dining team, Ras spent several years in corporate dining as a Restaurant Associate. His most recent position was at AllianceBernstein, an investment management and research firm. It’s no surprise that Ras loves to cook, Asian cuisine is his favorite to experiment with. He grew up in the Bronx and still calls it home. When he’s not whipping up new recipes, you can find him on the soccer pitch playing midfield.
Jasmine joined the Dining team in 2014 as Assistant Manager at Ferris Booth. In this role she is focused on food quality, service and sanitation and is responsible for opening. Jasmine has a passion for good food and is enthusiastic about working at Columbia. Her previous professional experience includes a management role at Chipotle in Florida, work at a local NYC seminary, a line cook position and a temporary assignment as manager at John Jay. Jasmine holds a degree in Hospitality and Hotel Management from Monroe College and attributes her interest in hospitality to her mother, who also worked in the business. A native of the Bronx, she enjoys entertaining friends and family when she is not at Columbia and loves experimenting with food.
Jafor has been thrilled to bring his corporate food service and hospitality experience to higher education, where he enjoys working with the diverse student body. Prior to Columbia, he spent 22 years with Sodexo at the Merrill Lynch World Financial Center location, where he worked as a waiter and cashier, then gained financial and technical support experience. Jafor has a diploma in Civil Engineering from his native country, Bangladesh, where he moved from over 25 years ago. He lives in the Bronx with his wife, 3 children and extended family.
Hazel joined Columbia University in November 1984 as kitchen staff. After a few computer courses, Hazel became an accounts receivable administrator in John Jay, enabling her to draw from her prior accounting experience in Panama City. Later, she was promoted to manager, where she led the JJ’s Place opening team. Following her success, she was appointed to open Ferris Booth Commons, an experience she believes was her biggest opportunity at Columbia. She then went on to manage Blue Java Mudd, Lenfest Cafe, and Uris Deli. Hazel is the recipient of the Robert Leer Service Award, an honor given each year to a member of the faculty, administration, or staff who clearly demonstrates commitment to working with students. Hazel was born in the Republic of Panama, where she graduated from Gaston Faraudo, an accounting school in Panama City.
Donika Gjonbalaj joined Columbia Dining on January 21, 2020 as General Manager of John Jay Dining Hall. In this role, she is responsible for ensuring great food quality, great service and happy customers.
Donika possesses a breadth of experience in the culinary and food service industries having previously been General Manager at The Dinex Group, and before that managing several dining units for Compass Group at the United Nations. She has also held positions in catering/events, food marketing and product development, adding breadth and depth to her experience and provided a well-rounded perspective on how to lead a successful kitchen and team. She even interned for The Good Housekeeping Institute (Hearst Publications) testing kitchen appliances.
Donika grew up in Brooklyn with her parents, 4 siblings and her grandparents. As a result, she took part in the daily ritual of creating a big family meal from a young age. Cooking every day for her family helped Donika learn how to effectively plan, produce and deliver homemade and tasty meals for large groups—key skills that have benefited her throughout her education and career.
The ritual of family meals turned into a love and passion for cooking and led Donika to attend classes at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY following high school, where she obtained an associates degree in culinary arts, From there she went on to complete a Bachelors of Science degree in Foods Science and Nutrition at New York University.
In her free time, Donika enjoys spending time with her family and hosting dinner parties and game nights at her home in New Jersey. She also loves to travel, read, go for hikes, and take road trips.
Donald joined Columbia University in 2009 and is Chef Manager for Uris Deli, Blue Java Mudd, Blue Java Uris, and Lenfest Cafe. He is a well-seasoned chef who truly enjoys the art of cooking. Donald began his career on the culinary team at the Park Ridge Marriott. Later, he served as Executive Chef for an Assisted Living Facility in Emerson NJ, until he became the Director of Dining for the Johnson Wood Company. An entrepreneur, Donald also opened a pizza café; he was a preferred off-premise caterer for television and movie sets; he developed a line of baked gourmet brownies for large supermarket chains; he launched a gift basket Internet business; and he packaged handmade fresh mozzarella for supermarkets and catering halls in the tri-state area. Donald earned his degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales University for Culinary Arts in Providence, RI.
Daphne joined the Columbia Dining team as Assistant Manager of JJ's Place in fall 2018. She brings with her 6 years of industry experience from University of Michigan where she began working as a first-year student and climbed the ranks to Assistant Manager, after earning her degree in Anthropology. Daphne comes from a food loving family and spent much of her formative years working in several of her father's restaurants in NJ, where she was born and raised. She also credits her visits to Mexico for helping ignite her passion for the culinary arts. Beyond the campus gates, Daphne enjoys downtime with her two adopted cats, loves exploring NYC, and reading the classics. As a vegetarian, she is very interested in doing more for the vegetarian and vegan community at Columbia.
Christina joined the JJ's Place team in 2014. She is originally from Rochester, NY where she got her first taste of the food and beverage industry working the counter at a local burger joint, and has been hooked ever since. After moving to New York City to pursue her Bachelor’s degree at NYU, Christina worked as a floor supervisor at Georgetown Cupcake and later as an assistant restaurant manager at the Omni Berkshire Place. Christina’s top priority is to make sure every guest leaves happy, and she takes student feedback very seriously. She ensures the dining hall is clean, organized, offers variety, and above all, that all customers are satisfied. Christina is also excited to introduce new special events to the space. Outside of work, she enjoys trying new foods, making her own juices and thrift shopping.
Chris joined the Ferris Booth team in 2015 as Manager. He brings with him several years of corporate catering experience from Merck Pharmaceuticals to American Express. His interest in the food industry was sparked at the early age of 16 when he earned his keep as a bus boy at a local diner. While Chris was born and raised in Brooklyn, he spent many years working in the San Diego restaurant scene. It is here that he grew to love southwestern cuisine, which he hopes to bring more of to the menu at Ferris Booth. Off campus, Chris is an avid sports fan, supporting both the Yankees and Jets, and loves spending as much time with his daughter as he can. He's thrilled to be a part of the Columbia Dining team and looks forward to continuing our tradition of creating the best possible Dining experience for our students.
Alexa recently joined Columbia Dining as our registered dietitian. She helps ensure that everyone can find healthy options at all Columbia Dining locations, and is available to consult with students one-on-one regarding healthier eating habits, navigating the dining halls if you have a food allergy, and any other nutritional concerns.
Adebayo joined the Columbia University team in August 2010. He spent 14 years with NYU Dining, where he most recently served as the Food Service Director. During his tenure at NYU, he spearheaded the Annual Grad Alley event with over 20,000 attendees. Adebayo attended New York City Technical College where he studied Hotel and Hospitality Management. He’s a proud father of four children—two are in high school, and the elder two are in college.