Event Services & Solutions
Cafe & Catering Services
Commons Conference Center Staff
Nick Fomin - Director
Nick arrived at the Commons in 2021 after working in program and event management in higher education across Washington, Georgia, and at UT. Over the course of 20 years working at colleges and universities, he has enjoyed working with a diverse mix of clients, vendors, and stakeholders at all levels of industry to deliver high quality outcomes across thousands of events and initiatives. He is always seeking improvement, feedback from customers, and opportunities to make the Commons an even greater resource to the UT community.
Andy Sharp - Technical Services
Andy handles all of the Audio/Video needs of the events at Commons and can also be seen helping in other random areas all over the building. Andy graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelor of Science in Radio-Television-Film. He has worked in event, music and video production for over 25 years.
Jamie Hodge - Events Manager
Jamie started as a conference coordinator in 2012 and has enjoyed learning all aspects of the conference center, including both front and back of the house. Jamie graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Hospitality Management and has spent the last 20 years in all areas of the hospitality world.
Jessica Ruvacaba (Jess) - Program Coordinator
As a Program Coordinator, Jess will assist you from beginning until end. With room reservations to tours, event details to food & beverage. With over 10 years in the hospitality industry, she has had the pleasure of coordinating, managing and leading thousands of events, from expos, conventions to weddings and much more.
Commons Event Services & Solutions Staff
Jessica Van Amburg - Business Development Manager
Jessica has worked for the University of Texas at Austin since 2012. She has held several roles within the University, from Conference and Program Coordinator to Implementation Specialist to Quality Assurance Coordinator. Jessica is currently the Business Development Manager for Commons Event Services.
Ashley Ivye - Senior Administrative Program Coordinator
Ashley provides billing and financial services for the Commons Event Services. She joined the University of Texas at Austin in 2021. After obtaining her Bachelor of Arts in English, she has built a strong professional foundation in administration, management, and English education.
Amanda Congdon - Training Coordinator
Amanda worked in various roles before joining the University of Texas at Austin in the fall of 2017 as an Administrative Associate for the McCombs School of Business MBA Program. In 2019, she became the MBA Program’s Events Coordinator before transitioning to the Commons Event Services team in the Spring of 2021. Currently, she is the Training and Implementation Specialist for the venue space management solution.
Commons Kitchen Staff
Chris Starche - Food Service Unit Manager
Chris manages the food service operations for the Cafe and Conference Center.
He came to the Commons as a Cook after graduating from Texas Culinary Academy in 2006 and worked his way through various roles until moving into the Chef's office in 2020.
Chris and the kitchen staff at Commons take pride in serving quality comfort food and being a bright part of our patrons' day.
"I came to food-service because I love food, I stayed because I love people"
Gregory Kamoono - Cook
Gregory started at Commons in October 2022 as prep cook. Gregory started kitchen work at the Marriott during covid and decided to stay in the industry. You can see Gregory on the grill during lunchtime.
Luz Pallares - Prep Cook
Luz has been with Commons since January. Previously she worked in accounting but made the move to the hospitality world and loves it! Her willingness to help wherever needed, to learn new things and keeps the kitchen organized has been a huge help to Chef Chris and the rest of the kitchen staff.
Soo Han - Sous Chef
Soo started at Commons in 2018 under Chef Dai at the garde mange station, then moved to the pastry chef position. When Commons reopened in fall 2021, Soo came back as chef assistant and creates all the wonderful sauces and vegetables from the kitchen. She has over 25 years of kitchen experience.
Bruce Duncan - Jack of All Trades
When Commons reopened in September 2021, Bruce was one of Commons first employees. He has worked pretty much every position in the kitchen, from dishwasher, prep cook, server, and bartender. His versatility and eagerness to help with whatever is needed has been a huge assist to Commons.
Cristina Daza - Line Cook
Cristina started at Commons in January. Previously she bartended in Chile and was a fry cook in Columbia. She has been in hospitality for the last three years and currently enjoys working garde manger station, creating the most beautiful fruit and cheese platters for events, and interacting with cafe patrons on the line during lunchtime.
Commons Cafe and Catering Services Staff
Liliana Ramirez (Lili) - Catering Staff
Lili started full time with Commons this spring, as our conference center has gotten busier and busier. Lili has worked in food and service industry for more than 20 years. Many long time clients will recognize Lili as she previously worked at Commons from 2007-2016 and we were thrilled that she agreed to come back onboard!
Destiny Chairez - Cafe Boss
Destiny started at the University of Austin in 2016 with PTS. She moved to Commons Cafe in 2018. When Commons reopened in fall of 2021, Destiny was thrilled to come back to Commons Cafe! Our cafe regulars know and love Destiny and Destiny enjoys engaging with PRC staff daily.
Neil Kalloo - Catering Services Coordinator
A part time job at Hilton International as a teenager blossomed into a career that spanned 18 years in Catering, Conference & Banqueting Operations. Neil has managed events that hosted world leaders, local and international sporting competitions, high profile personalities, entertainers & athletes.
‘Being a part of this team, I have no doubt that we will continue to do great things and you will keep coming back time and time again. Hospitality to me is my pleasure and opportunity to provide special care to each visitor that crosses my path.’