Russ Saunkeah
Executive Chef and Associate Director of Culinary Services

Saunkeah began his career at UCCS in 2001 when he was hired as catering director with Sodexo. Five years later he was chosen to fill the position of General Manager where he served until becoming the very first UCCS Dining Services employee in November 2013. Previously, he served as Chef de Cuisine for the Briarhurst Manor and in a variety of food service management positions, including executive chef, for resorts in the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, New Mexico and the Broadmoor Hotel. He attended the University of Oklahoma and completed courses with Sodexo and the University of Virgin Islands.

Photo of Mark HayesMark Hayes
Director of Food Services 

A 24-year veteran of the food service industry, Hayes serves as the first director of university-operated food services at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Hayes joins UCCS after serving as the Director of Dining and Summer Conferences at the University of Wisconsin (UW) - Stevens Point since 2009. Previously, he served as general manager with Harvard University Dining Services, Cambridge, Mass., and worked as a managing partner and general manager for privately owned restaurants in Pittsburgh, including Lidia's Pittsburgh, owned by James Beard award winning chef Lidia Bastianich. Hayes also opened restaurants in the Netherlands and Singapore.

Hayes earned a bachelor's degree from Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA., and a master's degree from Indiana University, Bloomington. He has completed coursework for a doctoral degree in higher education leadership from Edgewood College, Madison, Wisc., and earned certificates from Harvard University and the Federal Emergency Management Administration. He is a certified Foodservice Management Professional.

In 2013, Hayes led UW-Stevens Point to a National Association of College and University Food Services gold medal for residential dining, the first gold medal in the UW System. He developed a local foods and sustainability program that contributed to recognition on the Princeton Review's Green College Honor Roll and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Stars. He also led the food services department to superior scores on a national college food service benchmarking survey.

Photo of Mark HayesRebecca Bogardus
Residential Dining Manager

Rebecca came to UCCS Dining and Food Services from Illinois State University with 12 years of campus dining experience to manage residential dining.   She has been cooking since she could reach a stove and working with food for years.  Influenced by her degree in Sociology, her goal at UCCS is to help create a culture that encourages inclusion, learning, and fun.  She is looking forward to working with the growing student staff within Dining and Foodservices as this was her favorite part of her years in a campus owned food service. 

Rebecca believes what Julia said; that, "... Every woman should have a blowtorch." 

Rebecca can be reached at (719) 255-3966, stopping by the Lodge or via email at

Photo of Mark HayesTonne Passalacqua
Retail Dining Manager

Tonne grew up in a successful family restaurant business outside of Pittsburgh, PA which her grandfather began 75 years ago. She has more than 35 years of food service experience as an Executive Chef, private chef on a yacht, food service representative for a national broadline distributor, food broker, owner and operator of a personal chef business. Ms. Passalacqua received her Culinary Arts degree from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. She loves all foods Mediterranean, Pacific Rim and spicy!! Her favorite personal food quote is "Food is Love!" Please stop by Café 65 or Clyde's to say hello.

Photo of Mark Hayes Andrea Vanderwoude
Nutrition Graduate Assistant  

Andrea  is a Registered Dietitian from Idaho and a graduate student in the sport nutrition program here at UCCS. In addition to her passion for sports and performance, at the heart of the matter is good food; therefore, she seeks to empower people, particularly students, to eat healthy through the food itself and inspire a love for cooking.

Photo of Mark Hayes James Cowdery
Executive Sous Chef/Catering Chef

James graduated from Joliet Junior College in May of 2007.  After graduating he started his career in higher education food service at Illinois State University in Normal as a sous chef for their catering department.   In 2011 he accepted the position of Dining Services Manager/Executive Chef at Pueblo Community College.  James' passion for food is in the creativity and diversity of what you can do with it.  While using food as an educational tool, he enjoys persuading people to step out of their comfort zone & to try new things. 

Photo of Mark Hayes Joel Bagley
Food Service Business Manager

Joel grew up in Woodland Park, Colorado, entered the Air Force in October 1992 and recently retired from active duty after 21 years of service.  He has vast experience in restaurant, hotel, fitness, officer/noncommissioned officer club and emergency management. His Air Force duties sent him and his family to bases in Wyoming, New Mexico, North Dakota and Colorado. He has also served overseas in Turkey and Germany as well as a number of deployments to Southwest Asia in support of operations Desert Thunder, Desert Fox, Northern and Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom. Joel also served 6 years as senior management in public relations, mentorship and leadership positions. During his time on Peterson Air Force Base, he helped lead a section comprised of 190+ active duty officers, enlisted, civilians that supported over 50K customers.  

Joel is a recipient of multiple awards for outstanding performance and professionalism in the United States Air Force and earned his Bachelors of Science Degree in Organizational Management all while attaining the rank of Senior Master Sergeant which has a selection rate of only 2 percent of the enlisted force. He also earned his Professional Manager certification from the Community College of the Air Force.  

During his leisure time Joel enjoys spending time with his family; Peggy, his wife of 19 years and his kids, Claudia and Kenneth. He also enjoys playing golf, horseback riding, traveling, reading, camping and attending sporting events.

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader."  Chris LeDoux

Photo of Mark Hayes Nanna Meyer, PhD, RD, CSSD, FACSM
Associate Professor, Sport Dietitian, Healthy Campus Nutritionist & Advisor

Nanna Meyer is an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs in the Department of Health Sciences and specifically, in the Sport Nutrition Graduate Program. Her research interest in sport and exercise relates to bone health and body composition in athletes. She also conducts applied research that refines the efficacy of sport nutrition services for athletes. Nanna has been a working group member of the International Olympic Committee Medical Commission related to winter sport nutrition, body composition, health and performance, and relative energy deficiency in sport. Nanna is the past president of Professionals in Nutrition for Exercise and Sport (PINES) and has been in Olympic sport nutrition for the past 20 years. As the world's urgency to address climate change is rising, more of Nanna's time is devoted to the topic of food and environment. Nanna promotes food literacy, especially leveraging co-benefits of health and sustainability, using creative educational approaches, which her graduate students deliver to the local community.  And as UCCS' Healthy Campus Nutritionist and Advisor to the UCCS' Leadership in matters of good food and healthy lifestyles on campus, Nanna supports the University's Sustainability Strategic Plan and UCCS' Dining and Food Services Food Vision to promote and cultivate a sustainable food system in support of a healthy campus culture.  

Photo of Mark HayesSamran (Sammi) Maier
Banquet Manager

A well-known and highly visible personality on campus, Sammi was born in Thailand where she attended Bangkok culinary school and earned a cooking degree specializing in vegetable and fruit carving.  She comes to us via the Middle East and Canada picking up experience in various world cuisines. Working in country club catering services has additionally added to Sammi's vast customer service background.  Working for Sodexo in local school districts as a cook and caterer since 2000, Sammi started at UCCS as catering supervisor with in 2008.
Photo of Mark HayesNaomi Leigh
Student Director

Naomi is a graduate student at UCCS, pursuing a Master's Degree in Leadership in Student Affairs. She currently serves Dining and Food Services as the Student Director. She was born and raised in Wyoming and earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Wyoming.  Naomi loves everything about food and is excited to be part of the new department here on campus.  In her spare time she enjoys reading, photography, listening to music and improving her culinary skills.
Bethany Frieler
Student Staff - Healthy Campus Initiative
Bethany earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Central Washington University (CWU) with a double major in Clinical Physiology and Food Science & Nutrition with a specialization in dietetics. She recently moved to Colorado Springs from Washington to pursue a Masters degree in Sports Nutrition here at UCCS. She says that sustainability has become a focus of hers and is excited to be a part of the Healthy Campus Initiative. While here at UCCS, she hopes to empower students to make educated decisions while purchasing food and raise awareness about the environmental impact food choices have.