Our Board of Directors

Sheryl Morris

Executive Director

Sheryl began her journey with UHCHI in May of 2021 and has been charged with building a strong program, team and organization that will grow and become the premier hospitality training provider in the Chicagoland area. After 10 plus years in the private sector, Sheryl decided she had a greater responsibility to herself and to her community, so she made her transition to the nonprofit sector. She began her nonprofit career working with high school youth funding extracurricular activities and eventually leading programs that prepared hundreds of first-generation youth to apply to and gain access to colleges around the country. During the economic downturn, Sheryl was invited to work in the workforce development community for a well-established agency that needed someone with a vision, a plan and grit to re-operationalize their training department. Since that time in 2010, Sheryl has built a brand on her ability to create systems and coach teams through organizational change. Due to her innovative and strategic approach, Sheryl has worked for some leading nonprofits in Chicago and nationally, including: College Summit, After School Matters, Cara Chicago, Jane Addams Resource Corporation and POAH. She has spoken on several panels and presented at various conferences both locally and nationally about how to grow and strengthen your brand through innovation, strategic planning, creating systems and being present to teams’ emotional needs during change. Sheryl sits on the Executive Committee for the Southside Center of Hope for women in recovery. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago and an MBA from Walden University.

Karen Kent

President

Karen got her start in the hospitality industry more than 20 years ago, working as a server at various restaurants and hotels across the country. In the late 1980s, as a banquet server and union committee at the Holiday Inn in Palo Alto, California, she began organizing the union. Since that time, Karen has led campaigns with UNITE HERE across the country in California, Las Vegas, New York City, Dallas, Chicago and beyond. Before serving as President, she was elected Executive Vice President of Local 1 in 2007.

Eric Centazzo

Secretary

Eric fell into the hospitality business 30 years ago after returning from a yearlong backpacking trip through the South Pacific post college. He was also lucky enough to serve as an adjunct professor at New York University, teaching in their Hospitality and Human Resource programs. Several years later Eric joined the Starwood Chicago team as the Complex Director of Human Resources for the Sheraton Grand Chicago and Westin Chicago River North. Thereafter Starwood was acquired by Marriott Hotels and Eric was appointed as Labor Lead for the Chicago Market. And in early 2020 he was promoted to market Director of Labor in Marriott’s Western Region.

Dan Miller

Dan has been a member of UNITE HERE Local 1 since 2000, serving as Organizer, Lead Organizer, and Organizing Director. He has been assigned to several sectors of the hospitality industry including university dining, casinos, hotels, airport concessions, and airline and event center catering in the Chicago area. Dan has been designated by the Union to serve as Chief Negotiator in several negotiations across sectors and employers throughout the years.

Nicholas Jorgensen

Nicholas Jorgensen is a training manager for the Local 150 Apprenticeship and Skill Improvement Program. Nick joined the Operating Engineers union in 2005 and has worked for many different contractors in the construction trades operating many different pieces of large construction equipment in and around the city of Chicago. Nick and his wife live in a suburb of Chicago with their two sons. He is a devoted father who enjoys fishing and attending as many of his son’s games as he can.

Our Chef Instructors

Chef Victor Martinez

Lead Chef Instructor

Chicago native Victor Martinez, who worked his way up from his father’s bistro as a teen to some of the most respected kitchens in the country, is now bringing fundamental teachings to the culinary internship program at UHCHI.

Victor’s upbringing in the kitchen is where he honed his love for cooking. After culinary school, Victor’s resume quickly took shape within the hotel Food & Beverage world. After positions at Hyatt, Sofitel, Renaissance, and Four Seasons, he started to look at cooking as an art form. Victor continued his career helping run the show at the luxurious Conrad Chicago, Hilton Oak Brook Hills Resort and The Drake Hotel downtown Chicago.

During this time he was introduced into the world of teaching, assisting at Purdue University’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program. He became passionate about imparting the knowledge he had acquired through his 25 years experience to the next generation of chefs. Now he continues sharing his culinary knowledge and industry experience with his students at UNITE HERE Chicago Hospitality Institute’s Chef de Partie Apprenticeship Program.

Chef Keith Potter

Chef Keith Potter

Chef Instructor

Hendrix, Tiffany Headshot

Chef Tiffany

Assistant Chef Instructor

Our Staff

Lisa Gunn

Lisa Gunn

Director Of Programs And Services

Richards Nicole

Nicole Richards

Program Operatins Liason

Jim Cicero

Business Service Liaison

Culinary entrepreneur, Jim Cicero, joined UHCHI in December 2023 as Business Services Liaison after more than 25 years working in the hospitality industry.

Jim studied at Kendall College and honed his hospitality skills through early stints at the Ritz Carlton-Chicago, Lettuce Entertain You and Compass Group.

A veteran of both Front and Back of House operations, Jim is excited to work with our Culinary Apprentice Trainees, helping to get them truly ready to take the next step on their career paths.

Andrew Pitts

Accounting Operations Specialist

Andrew Pitts is a service-oriented individual who graduated from New York University with a degree in Philosophy and brings the probity, diligence, and humility he learned there to every aspect of his work. It has been an absolute dream for him to work toward providing better employment outcomes and trade education opportunities in the greater Chicago area. Before joining UHCHI, Andrew spent a service year with the Americorp Vista Program working with 826CHI, a Chicago based non-profit dedicated to amplifying Chicago youth voices. Andrew is a dedicated friend, a loyal partner, and an Eagle Scout, who genuinely believes that we all deserve nice things and who can’t quite figure out why we can’t all get along.

Join the team

While UHCHI is currently not hiring, we would love to hear from you if you are passionate about our work and think you would be a good fit for our team. Reach out to us and we are happy to keep a copy of your resume on file for any upcoming openings.