Speaker Bio

Vanessa Hayes

Vanessa Hayes

Keynote Speaker

Vanessa Hayes is dedicated to school nutrition. With a diverse educational background, she exemplifies a profound commitment to enhancing the well-being of students through healthy meals. Her journey began in Colquitt County, where she completed her high school education, setting the foundation for a remarkable career dedicated to the betterment of school nutrition.

Venturing into the culinary world, Vanessa earned her Associate's degree in Culinary Arts from the prestigious Art Institute of Atlanta. However, her educational pursuits didn't stop there. Vanessa went on to achieve a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Tuskegee University, a historic college, demonstrating her versatile skill set and commitment to a well-rounded education.

With a passion for public service and administration, Vanessa pursued and successfully earned a Master's degree in Public Administration from Valdosta State University. Equipped with this comprehensive educational background, she further honed her expertise in School Nutrition, obtaining the Georgia SN Certification from the University of Georgia and earning her SNS credentialing from the School Nutrition Association (SNA).

Vanessa's impactful journey in School Nutrition took root in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, where she began as a cafeteria manager. Her dedication and leadership skills propelled her to the position of SNP Director in Dougherty County Schools, and she currently serves as the Chief Nutrition Officer for Tift County Schools.

Throughout her career, Vanessa has been actively involved in the Georgia School Nutrition Association, holding various key roles such as Education Chair, System Level Chair, Conference Chair (multiple times), State President, Advisor to the President, and Regional Director for the Southeast. These roles exemplify her commitment to advancing education and professional development in the field of School Nutrition.

Vanessa's understanding of the pivotal role played by Child Nutrition Services in the educational process became evident early in her career. She passionately believes in their mission, recognizing that hungry children cannot fully engage in the learning process. In 1994, her life was forever changed by this realization, shaping her into the advocate and leader she is today.

As a professional, Vanessa Hayes is not just a chef with a diverse toolkit; she embodies qualities such as passion, education, tenacity, integrity, spiritual and moral accountability. Beyond her professional accomplishments, she is a proud mother to Vanae Briann. Vanessa Hayes stands as a game-changer, tirelessly working to ensure that no child goes hungry, and every student has the opportunity to thrive in their educational journey.