Paula Thomas

Bernardo Alatorre

Michael Wray

Michael Wray, Ph.D., is a professor in the School of Hospitality at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He has decades of collegiate teaching experience within culinary, brewing and beverage management and hospitality management industries.

As a chef and sommelier, Wray is active in the food and beverage industry by consulting with companies in restaurant design, menu and recipe development. He has also provided instrumental input into the vision that led to the creation of MSU Denver’s Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center and complementary laboratory classrooms. Wray has developed key partnerships with community and civic leaders for major events and charities such as Food for Thought Denver and the Denver Food and Wine Festival. He recently developed the framework for the brewery partnership with the Tivoli Brewing Company, leading to $7 million facility enhancements to the Tivoli Student Union and establishing integrated learning laboratories for students studying brewing.

As the former food and beverage director with Ramada Renaissance and Holiday Inn Hotels, Wray is regularly interviewed regarding his knowledge and creative abilities in food, wine and beer. His research interests include hospitality competency, learning environments and learning communities. Most recently, he co-authored the article “Effects of cooperative learning on Chinese students performing a formal table setting for American style service” in the Journal of Foodservice Business Research.

Wray received his doctorate in education leadership from University of Colorado, Denver, a master’s in business management from Salisbury University and a bachelor’s in nutrition and foods from Virginia Tech. He also holds multiple credentials in food and beverage, including Sommelier Diploma, Certified Wine Specialist, Master Certified Food Service Executive and Certified Culinary Instructor.

Cory Tipton

Cory Tipton, J.D., is an affiliate faculty in the School of Hospitality at Metropolitan State University of Denver. She teaches courses on alcohol beverage law and hospitality law.

Tipton has been the vice president of The Tipton Law Firm since 2007. She has nearly 15 years of experience practicing law and extensive expertise with clients in various administrative fields including all areas of liquor licensing and alcohol beverage regulation, as well as casino gaming licensing in the state of Colorado. Tipton specializes in assisting new breweries, wineries, distilleries, beverage distributors, and retail liquor stores. She has also assisted related trade organizations in the legislative and governance aspects of the alcohol beverage industry.

Prior to law, Tipton pursued a career in aviation as a commercial pilot for the airlines and still holds a pilot license. She continues to work in aviation on the administrative side of aviation law. She is also the current chair of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Colorado Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Tipton received her juris doctor from University of Denver and a bachelor’s summa cum laude in aerospace science from Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Katie Strain

Katie Strain, M.S., is a laboratory services manager of Alcoholic Beverage Quality Assurance/ Quality Control and a lecturer in the School of Hospitality at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Her areas of expertise are fermentation, microbiology, chemistry, data analysis and experimental design.

Prior to joining MSU Denver, Strain worked as a laboratory operations coordinator and graduate student at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. She was also a research associate at Colorado State University and laboratory technician at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Strain received her master’s in environmental toxicology from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale in 2014 and a bachelor’s in biochemistry from University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2005. She is a triple TTB certified chemist allowing her to conduct analysis of beer, wine and spirits for purposes of export.

Shellie Kark

Shellie Kark, B.A., is the program manager of the Meeting and Events Incentive Program for the School of Hospitality at Metropolitan State University of Denver. In addition, Kark serves on the Culinary Council of Sterling Rice Group where she innovates and creates new product lines for the food and beverage industry. She is also the co-founder of KitchenCUE™, a series of technique-based videos that teach the fundamentals of food preparation and presentation through a simple, step-based approach. The KitchenCUE™ methodology has been utilized as a foundation for the development of an array of culinary programs spanning across diverse populations and has national recognition in a variety of publications, including O Magazine.

Prior to working at MSU Denver, Kark was a culinary professor at Johnson and Wales University Denver Campus and worked to establish the Cook Street School of Fine Cooking, where she was the Chef de Cuisine. She has spoken at the American Personal Chef Association annual summit, routinely develops and tests recipes for published cookbooks and consults with health and wellness organizations around nutritious, cooking and eating.

Kark received her bachelor’s in finance and accounting from Simmons University and procured her license as a CPA working for Arthur Andersen & Co. She graduated from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and has worked in a number of renowned restaurants including La Folie in San Francisco, Seattle’s Dahlia Lounge and The Palace Kitchen.

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